KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. — Kalamazoo County deputy Ryan Proxmire served with the Sheriff’s Office for nine years, and for the last five he willingly shared his locker with another staff member because there weren’t enough for everyone, said Sheriff Richard Fuller.
He said it was a testament to the kind of person Proxmire was.
“We will not forget how he loved his family and the community. We will not forget how he cared deeply for the people he served for and with,” Fuller continued. “There have been many stories shared in the last 24 hours, things like how he built his friendships with his coworkers, how he trained and encouraged others to stay in shape, even worked on 5Ks and running together.”
Deputy Proxmire died on Sunday after being shot during a chase on Saturday night.
Sheriff Fuller, joined by officials with the Kalamazoo Public Safety, Galesburg and Michigan State Police, spoke about what Proxmire meant to the department and to the local law enforcement. community.
“Ryan J. Proxmire, deputy sheriff, a man who responded to trouble so others would not have to. He did so with dignity, honor and respect,” Sheriff Fuller said. “Tragically his life was cut short this past weekend by the wicked actions of a criminal.”
Saturday night, deputies encountered the suspect at a gas station in Galesburg, he said, with the intention to talk to him.
“We know that there had been an incident the day before with other agencies and that the person was wanted to be talked to at that point,” Sheriff Fuller said. “Right now without going into great detail that’s pretty much what was happening was that there was a concern to talk to this person and things escalated out of our control.”
Immediately the suspect took off and had a gun, he said. The suspect led deputies on a chase from Galesburg to Climax Township, where Proxmire was shot near MN Avenue and 38th Street. A Good Samaritan stopped to aid him. However, Proxmire died the following day at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo.
“Deputy Proxmire ran towards the danger so others didn’t have to. Deputy Proxmire was a professional. He went about his duties competently, treating all people with dignity, honor and respect. He is already missed,” Sheriff Fuller said before taking an emotional pause. “I want to thank all of our supporters.”
Once word spread of his passing, dozens of police officers, deputies, firefighters and community members gathered for an impromptu vigil Sunday at the Sheriff's Office on Lamont Street.
As for the suspect, he was shot and killed by the other deputies involved in the chase.
“One of the things that you’ll never hear from my lips is that person’s name,” Sheriff Fuller said. “Earlier you might remember that I put in here that this person had criminal activity or was a criminal I think I said. I worked very hard to come up with the right word. I don’t know of the right word for a person that does what’s happened here this week.”
Sheriff Fuller said his focus is on making sure that Proxmire is honored for the hero that he was.
“We will work through this loss” Sheriff Fuller said. “But we will not forget the importance of the women and men going out into the community to be a part and to serve all peoples.”