20 years later: remembering Officer Eryk T. Heck

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – 20 years later, people honor the life of Officer Eryk Heck. He was shot and killed in 1997. Heck worked with the Allen County Sheriff’s Office for 5 years. He was 27 at the time of his death. Dozens of people showed up for a memorial service Tuesday.

People found it hard to believe it’s been 20 years since he was killed. A rare tragedy took his life two decades ago but his legacy still lives on.

His mother, Gerri Matheny, traveled to Fort Wayne for the ceremony. She also worked in the department. “It’s very devastating. I got through it but I’ll never get over it. He was a

wonderful son and it’s been 20 years but it still seems like yesterday.”

Heck was killed during a burglary. He and another officer were watching a truck near the home of the burglary when a suspect approached and started shooting the officer. Heck jumped in front of him to protect him and took bullets to the neck, leg and jaw. Even more, he was able to shoot and kill the suspect before hitting the ground. As his mother explains, he wasn’t even on duty. “That’s the way he was. He always cared for people and wanted to help.”

Heck was the baby of her six children and only boy. The night of his death, he was on his way home to his own family. “I wish I wouldn’t have taken so many things for granted. I wish I could have told him I loved him one more time and he could have watched Taylor grow up,” Deb Heck-Anderson said.

Taylor, their only child, was just 10 months old at the time. “I feel like everyone just tells me the good stories and sometimes it’s kind of nice to hear the funny stories or the not so great stories so I can get a better view of who he was.”

Tuesday as the sun was shining on his grave, dozens of people remembered who he was. Sheriff Gladieux said it’s a night he’ll always remember. “I’ll never forget that night. Everybody here will remember exactly what they were doing that night.”

Gladieux was behind Heck on the way to the scene. “The wrong guy left this earth that night there’s no doubt about it.”

His family was honored by the turnout at the memorial. “It’s so wonderful to see everybody that these people would take time out and care about him. I appreciate it so much,” Matheny said.

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