Hundreds of mourners gathered Wednesday in an arena on the Michigan State University campus to honor a firefighter who was killed while collecting money for charity in what authorities say was a deliberate hit-and-run.
Among those who turned out for Dennis Rodeman’s funeral were hundreds of first-responders from throughout Michigan and other parts of the country, as well as many fellow Marines, the Lansing State Journal reported. Fire trucks from all over the state were parked outside the Breslin Center during the service.
“Today we mourn the loss,” Vermontville Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Wetzel told the gathering. “Tomorrow we carry on without you. Rest easy brother. We will take it from here.”
Rodeman, 35, was married in June, and his widow, Kate, is pregnant with their first child. He was a volunteer firefighter in Vermontville before joining the Lansing Fire Department, where he worked for seven years. He also served in the Marines in Iraq.
“He was everything we value in America, everything we value in our fire department, everything we value in our families,” Lansing Fire Chief Randy Talifarro said during the service. “He was a good man.”
Rodeman was hit Sept. 9 in Lansing while participating in an annual Fill the Boot fundraising campaign for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the International Association of Fire Fighters. Rodeman later died at a hospital.
Grant Taylor, 22, is charged with murder, failing to stop at the scene of an accident causing death and fleeing police.
Police say Taylor told investigators he was upset that the firefighters were slowing traffic while collecting for the charity and that he didn’t like how they responded when he expressed his frustration, according to court records.
The Lansing State Journal, citing court records, reported that Taylor’s mother petitioned the Ingham County Probate Court twice in the past two years to involuntarily hospitalize him for mental health reasons.
Taylor’s attorney, Stacia Buchanan, didn’t immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment on the allegations against him left Wednesday.
U.S. and Michigan flags were lowered to half-staff at the Capitol and other buildings by order of Gov. Rick Snyder.
SOURCE: The Associated Press