by TaLeiza Calloway – firstname.lastname@example.org
About 50 people packed into the lobby of the McDonald’s restaurant in St. Joseph Tuesday to celebrate the opening of the business and to remember Brian Klinefelter. Tuesday marked 17 years since the St. Joseph police officer was shot and killed after stopping a vehicle carrying three liquor store robbery suspects.
The business hosted a grand opening event Tuesday. Joe and Valerie Silva, co-owners of the McDonald’s said the restaurant will donate 20 percent of Tuesday’s profits to the Brian Klinefelter Foundation.
“The community has really embraced this,” Valerie Silva said of the event.
The foundation focuses on prevention programs for youth and has funded scholarships for students pursuing a career in law enforcement. Tuesday marked the beginning of a long-term partnership between the local business and the foundation.
Joe Silva, co-owner of the St. Joseph store, said the festivities were about more than celebration but remembrance. A former Chicago police officer himself, he said “once you’re in law enforcement, you’re always in law enforcement.” The gathering Tuesday was a reminder of this commitment to service no matter the department.
“This may be a grand opening, but this is about keeping Brian’s memory alive,” Joe Silva said.
Klinefelter’s parents, Lois and Dave Klinefelter, were glad to see so much community support. And the fact the Silvas never knew their son is even more touching to them. The Klinefelters live in Sartell.
“The support has been great and it was when it happened,” Lois Klinefelter said. “It has carried on. That’s the most meaningful part, that he’s not forgotten.”
From phone calls and texts to Facebook posts, Wendy Klinefelter Tragiai said the support has been overwhelming for the foundation and her family. She is grateful. Tragiai was married to Klinefelter at the time of his death. Their daughter was 3 months old when her father was killed.
“It’s just been fantastic,” Klinefelter Tragiai said. “It’s been a nice day of remembering. After 17 years, it means a lot.”