MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A hardware store in the west metro is giving away hundreds of blue light bulbs in honor of a fallen Wayzata officer.
Officer William Mathews, 47, died in the line of duty Friday after being struck by an SUV on Highway 12.
The nine-year veteran of the Wayzata Police Department had stopped to remove debris from the road. The driver of the SUV, 54-year-old Beth Freeman, of Mound, was arrested and is expected to be charged with criminal vehicular homicide.
Over the weekend, Long Lake True Value decided to give out blue light bulbs for free in honor of Mathews, who was customer at the store.
“It’s our duty to shine light upon him for his service and support our Officers who sacrifice their lives to keeping us safe,” a Facebook post from the hardware store said.
Long Lake True Value says it’s trying to give out as many free blue bulbs as possible. The public is asked to shine the lights in the front of their homes in honor of Mathews and other fallen officers.
In the Facebook post, the store said it worked Saturday with True Value corporate to get a shipment of 500 bulbs. The store also bought out the supply of blue bulbs at a local Menard’s.
On Sunday, a customer even brought 50 bulbs purchased at a big box retailer to the store so that True Value could give them away.
The store is taking donations for Mathews’ family. The Facebook post says that the family contacted the store and expressed appreciation.
“It’s not only an honor, but beyond humbling to get a call like that in the darkest time of their lives,” the Facebook post said. “Know that they and all law enforcement appreciate this simple gesture of compassion.”
Long Lake True Value is open until 5 p.m. Sunday.
Owner Mike Kokesh came up with the simple way for his customers to show their support for law enforcement.
“One of the things people always ask is how can we honor Officer Mathews and how can we honor fallen officers and the simplest thing you can do is unscrew a light bulb and put in a blue bulb and turn it on at night,” Kokesh said.
He also serves as a Minnetrista police officer.
“These type of things are very, very difficult for law enforcement in general and all first responders — fire, EMS,” he said.
He hopes the little blue lights will eventually go up across the state of Minnesota.
“We took out 500 light bulbs to bring up here to give away for free and in fact today we had a customer of ours that went to another store and bought out 50 light bulbs and donated them to us just for free just to keep giving them away,” Kokesh said.
Small symbols of gratitude illuminating a community struck by profound sadness.
“That’s honoring Officer Mathews, his family, the Wayzata Police Department and all law enforcement in general,” Kokesh said.