On March 15, 2010 at 9:59 p.m. Elyria Police Officer James A. Kerstetter, a 15 year veteran of the Elyria Police Department, was shot and killed while responding to a disturbance involving neighbors on 18th Street in Elyria. After making contact with the complainant Officer Kerstetter continued his investigation and entered the suspect’s home.
While inside of the home Officer Kerstetter was shot by the suspect. Officer Kerstetter was able to radio for help and advised that he had been shot. The suspect then exited the house and was confronted by back-up Officers who arrived on scene to assist Officer Kerstetter. The suspect was shot and killed by back-up Officers.
Jim Kerstetter was 43 years old.
After working with the Lorain County Sheriff’s Department, Jim Kerstetter was hired by the Elyria Police Department in September of 1994 where he served at the department’s Accident Investigator, Field Training Officer, and a member of the Special Response Team. He was also an Instructor at the Ohio Police Officer Training Academy (OPOTA).
Jim, also known as Jimmy, 177 and Sponge, loved to work in the community in which he was raised. It was important to him to preserve the childhood memory of his community, to make it a safe place for everyone. Jim recognized his career as a service to the citizens, not a job for himself. He was a friendly, and when necessary, firm Officer.
Chief Duane Whitely of the Elyria Police Department described Jim as having integrity, courage, honesty and pride. “Jimmy was a professional every day.”
Jim’s positive outlook on life, work, family and friends was more than contagious. His mere presence was uplifting no matter what the situation.
Jim’s coworkers more affectionately knew him as “Sponge”. He earned that moniker in a number of ways. He would not hesitate to share “your” meal and he would work every available shift, detail or side job.Sponge truly set the example of the oath he swore to uphold. He was kind, loving and playful. The only thing he held more important than his career was his family and friends. Officer James A. Kerstetter is survived by his wife Tammy, three daughters Misty, Shelby and Bailey, his parents James and Carol Kerstetter and his three sisters Kathy, Kelly and Kristy.
On March 20, 2010 thousands turned out as Jim was laid to rest. Jim’s funeral was attended by hundreds of Officers from around the Unites States and Canada. The procession route was lined by thousands of people and signs saying Thank You to Jim.