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Wisconsin firefighter’s family says support is ‘astonishing’

in News
APPLETON, Wis. (AP) — Residents of a Wisconsin city have paid their final respects to a firefighter who was killed after a shootout occurred between police and a suspect.Hundreds lined a procession route for Mitch Lundgaard, 36, that wound through Appleton on Monday, starting at a funeral home and ending at Appleton Alliance Church, where a visitation was held. Lundgaard will be taken back to the funeral home following a private evening service.

The funeral service included eulogies from family and friends. Longtime friend Justin Wisneski talked about how Lundgaard found his calling as a firefighter. Wisneski says Lundgaard switched his college major from architecture to pursue a career as a firefighter following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Lundgaard’s family released a statement saying the “outpouring of support” from the community in the past week “has been astonishing to us.”

Sheila Stojak of Grand Chute told the Post Crescent she came to “honor someone that’s given his life for all of us, so that we can be safe.”

Retired firefighter Linda Femal said the death of Lundgaard, a 14-year veteran of the Appleton Fire Department, hits “close to home.”

“You never think maybe you can die in a fire, but not a shooting. You’re just going to a medical call and he ends up losing his life,” said Femal, who attended the procession to show her support.

About 90 minutes after the public visitation began, the city reported the church was at capacity and asked the community not to go there because there was not enough time to get everyone through.

The husband and father of three was killed Thursday in the crossfire of a gunfight between police and a Wausau man who also died in the exchange of gunfire.

Lundgaard was the first Appleton firefighter in 86 years to die in the line of duty.

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