Officers killed in Minkler honored in an artistic way
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Saturday marks the anniversary of one of the most stunning attacks on law enforcement officers ever in the Valley. In the end, two officers lost their lives and the impact of that shootout in Fresno County is still felt.
A patriotic business owner is using the two year anniversary of the attack to pay his respects to the officers involved. Fresno County Sheriff's detective Joel Wahlenmaier and Reedley police officer Javier Bejar were killed in the incident during that shootout in the town of Minkler. Two years later, a Fresno car wash known for its patriotic tributes has unveiled a brand new mural honoring Wahlenmaier, Bejar and a third fallen officer.
The Great American Car Wash in Central Fresno is known for its patriotic murals commemorating veterans and fallen heroes who've defended our country overseas. And now a new mural honors three local officers who died in the line of duty. "As law enforcement, we will never forget what the ultimate sacrifice our members have made in fulfillment of their duties. They were doing what they wanted to do," said Capt. Jose Flores with the Fresno County Sheriff's Department.
Fresno Police Officer William Lehn, Fresno County Sheriff Deputy Joel Wahlenmaier and Reedley officer Javier Bejar are the fallen heroes depicted in this colorful 30 foot high mural.
The dedication ceremony comes on the eve of the two year anniversary of the tragic Minkler shooting that took the lives of Wahlenmaier and Bejar. "It's an honor and it's great to know that people and the community, they still remember what happened after 2 years," said Orlando Bejar, Javier Bejar's brother.
Family members were on hand to see the memorial for themselves. They were also honored with a plaque containing a small pictorial of the mural with their loved one. "Being there, it's important, it's a picture, it's an image. They may not know him but we know that he served our country, he served this community," said Bejar.
The mural is just one way car wash owner A.J. Rassamni pays tribute to those who put their lives on the line. He also gives discounts and free car washes to veterans to show his appreciation. "I lived in a country without law, without safety, without democracy, without freedom. And this is something personal for me, it's emotional," said Rassamni.
An emotional day for many who came to see the memorial that took the artists two months to complete, with the thought of others to appreciate for generations to come.
minkler, fresno county, fresno, local, carlos saucedo
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