Wausau Daily Herald
03/26/2017 - Page A01
Force loses ‘a special guy’
Friends of officer slain in shooting: Weiland was tough, sensitive, funny
NORA G. HERTEL
USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSIN
WESTON - Jason Weiland was the kind of friend who would respond to a call in a heartbeat and leave his buddy feeling better.
Weiland, 40, a veteran detective for the Everest Metro Police Department, died Wednesday when he was shot in the line of duty. He leaves behind a family and a group of longtime friends, some of whom shared with USA TODAY NETWORK Wisconsin their memories of him as funny, sensitive and tough.
He was shot establishing a perimeter around Aspen Street Apartments in Weston following shootings at Marathon Savings Bank in Rothschild and the Tlusty, Kennedy & Dirks law office in Schofield. Three civilians also died during the spree. Suspected gunman Nengmy Vang, 45, was later shot by police. He survived but has been under "intense medical care," police said Thursday.
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"That police force sure lost a special guy," said Eric Wetzel, who graduated high school with Weiland in 1995, and now lives in Iowa. He and Weiland were in each other’s weddings.
The Everest Metro detective established a group of friends at John Muir Middle School in Wausau who stayed close through Wausau West High School and into adulthood. The friends continued to meet at least once a year to draft fantasy football teams.
Known as Jay to his friends, Weiland had a rough and tough exterior but was very loving, Wetzel said. That’s what made him a wonderful father, Wetzel said. "He never judged you. He was kind of that comfortable friend," Wetzel said. "He was that guy I could always rely on, who I could pour my heart to."
Weiland was also known for some hijinks in his youth.
Weiland studied criminal justice at Northcentral Technical College in the late 1990s. One day he called his childhood friend Dan Rennie and said he learned something new at NTC he wanted to show off, Rennie told USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.
When Rennie arrived at Weiland’s home, the door was partially open so he shouted in to his friend.
"All of a sudden, the door flies open. And he tackles me. And all of a sudden I’m in handcuffs," Rennie said. Rennie and Weiland’s friendship also dates back to middle school, and they were groomsmen for each other. "He was there for the birth of my two children," Rennie said. "I was there for the birth of his two children." Weiland’s job in law enforcement fit him well and he started talking about taking that path as a junior in high school, Rennie said. Wetzel choked up talking about how Weiland worked to become a leader in the Everest Metro department, investing and training others in his job there. "The Everest Metro (position) was his dream job," Wetzel said. "He just believed in protecting people." Thoughout their youth Wetzel saw his friend defuse a tense situation and fight when confronted. He didn’t back down, Wetzel said. "He was fearless in the face of imminent danger."
He has funny memories of Weiland, too. They would drive to baseball games together in Weiland’s silver Geo Metro they called "The Gerbil."
Once Weiland called Wetzel’s mother and whistled all of "Jingle Bells," without saying a word. Wetzel didn’t believe it until he asked his mom and she said, "Yeah, it was fantastic," Wetzel recalled.
"I just laughed so hard," he said. "Kindhearted and funny, that’s just kind of how he was."
Two visitations for Weiland are scheduled next week in the D.C. Everest Senior High School gym.
Weiland’s friends plan to wear Packers gear to the visitation, Wetzel said. Weiland owned a share of Green Bay Packers stock, a proud part-owner of his favorite team, he said. "He lived and breathed with the Green Bay Packers."
The three other victims of Wednesday’s shooting spree are Marathon Savings Bank employees Dianne Look, 67, and Karen Barclay, 62, as well as attorney Sara Quirt Sann, 43. Details on their visitations have not been shared yet.
A candlelight vigil will take place at 7 p.m. Sunday at Kennedy Park in Weston.
If you have memories, photos or stories of Weiland, Look, Barclay or Quirt Sann, please contact reporter Nora G. Hertel: nora.hertel@gannett wisconsin.com or 715-8450665.
DOUG RAFLIK/USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSIN