Family of injured officer continues support at Ogden fundraiser

Feb 5 2012 - 7:59am

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(ERIN HOOLEY/Standard-Examiner) Bonnie and Barry Holinski, mother and stepfather of Officer Kasey Burrell, talk to people at a fundraiser for Burrell and the other wounded officers in front of the Ogden Federal Building on 25th Street on Saturday. People were able to drop off donations and write messages to officers wounded in the Jan. 4 shootout.
(ERIN HOOLEY/Standard-Examiner) Bonnie and Barry Holinski, mother and stepfather of Officer Kasey Burrell, talk to people at a fundraiser for Burrell and the other wounded officers in front of the Ogden Federal Building on 25th Street on Saturday. People were able to drop off donations and write messages to officers wounded in the Jan. 4 shootout.

OGDEN -- Bonnie Holinski spent the last month supporting her son, wounded Ogden police officer Kasey Burrell, by visiting him every day in the hospital.

He's home now, and she's tired, but still there she was Saturday in front of Ogden's federal building on 25th Street, supporting her son and the officers wounded with him.

"He's home. He's getting better every day," Holinski said, adding, "It's been a hard month."

Holinski, her husband, her daughter and her son's mother-in-law stood beside a table where visitors could write messages to Burrell and the other wounded officers or the family of Jared Francom, the Ogden officer killed in the Jan. 4 shoot-out in Ogden.

They were four of a dozen or more people collecting money, gifts and just moral support for the officers and their families. Visitors could buy wrist bands, photos of Francom's funeral and tickets to a benefit banquet on March 2. They could leave a get-well card, cash donations or even games and candy.

The event was hosted by Northern Utah Community Support Group, an ad hoc gathering of people who felt a need to do something, anything, after the Jan. 4 shooting, but weren't sure what.

"I actually don't know any of them," meaning the police officers, Tom Evans, of Ogden, said. "We started, in fact, for the amphitheater," a petition drive to have Ogden's amphitheater named after Francom.

Since then, "we've actually organized into a permanent group," which he said will be there "to help anybody. We're in the community. We want to be the voice of the community somehow. Right now the voice is trying to say 'Thank you' to our law enforcement."

The effort to name the amphitheater for Francom is still underway, he said. "We have had some talks. They're very supportive."

Saturday's event was a continuation of that effort.

"We're just opening it up for everyone to come say 'Thank you.' Say they're sorry, whatever," he said. "They can sign the guest book, whatever, just a way of saying thanks."

Some items for sale were handmade. Tracy Wiedmeier had bins of rescue bracelets in blue and black, police colors for a fallen officer. They're like friendship bracelets, only made of six feet of braided parachute cord that can be unfurled for use in an emergency.

She cranks out 50 a night. What sort of emergency are they for?

"If you're in an elevator and you need to deliver a baby and you need something to tie off the cord," she said, waving a bracelet.

Wiedmeier's father was a police officer and her mother a dispatcher, but she's helping out in this cause just because it's the right thing to do. She doesn't know any of the injured officers or their families.

Holinksi watched people she's never met write encouraging things to her son, such as "Thank you so much, I appreciate everything you do for our community."

The pages of notes will be bound and given to the six families. The money raised will be split evenly to use however they need.

Holinski said her son appreciates it all. He's had a rough time.

"He's alive and we're grateful for that," she said. "He's a strong boy -- a strong man, I should say."

She said the past month began with that first horrible phone call the night of the shooting.

Burrell's wife, Natalie, is pregnant with their third child. Holinski said the other officers of the force have been amazingly supportive to her and everyone involved.

"Sitting with us at the hospital, they were amazing," she said. "But I guess, if you have to depend on someone for your life, to back you up, you're pretty close."

Does she want her son to go back to the same job? She shrugged.

"They grow up and do what they want to do," she said. "I'm proud of the kind of police officer he is. I'm just glad they're still with us. He's a very driven person, and I think that's why he's healing like he is."

Also at the table was Linda Panunzio, of Plain City, introduced as Kasey's mother-in-law, a term she quickly corrected.

"He's my son," she said firmly. "He's been part of my family for 10 years. The day he married my daughter is the day he became my son. We're so proud of him."

Her daughter, she said, is "strong. Very, very strong. I'm very surprised by how strong she really is." Natalie Burrell works as a nurse at McKay-Dee Hospital, which is where Kasey spent the last month, and she said the entire hospital was amazingly supportive.

As has everyone, Natalie said. That was her message Saturday.

"We just want to thank the community for all their love and support and prayers."

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