Be the Change: Officer receives overwhelming support after home burns down

By  | 

This man's job is to protect and serve, and the Rapid City community returned the favor.

After a fire destroyed this police officer's home, his brothers in blue came to his rescue.

We'll see how they gave him a hand in this week's Be the Change.

On the afternoon of February 15th, Rapid City Police Officer Brian Fletcher was resting from a midnight shift when he heard windows breaking, and woke up to his home engulfed in flames.

Eric Pichler says, "And I saw Officer Fletcher sitting in his truck. I knew that he lived in the area, but at the time, I didn't put two and two together that this was his house that had actually burned down."

Officler Fletcher escaped without injuries, but his home and all of his belongings perished in the blaze.

And after finding out the home belonged to a man he considered family, Officer Pitchler felt extra motivated to lend a hand.

Eric Pichler says, "Those of us in law enforcement, we, I think we all join this career field because we want to take care of others, so like I said earlier before I found out it was his house, I immediately felt the need to want to take care of this individual and I felt empathy for them."

Officer Pichler asked his wife deputy Crystal Pichler to start a GoFundme account to collect money for his brother in blue.

And as someone who sees the good and the bad for her job on a daily basis, deputy Pichler says losing your sanctuary is devastating.

Pennington County Sheriff's Office Transport Deputy Crystal Pichler says, "It's your life. It's where you come to, especially in this line of work. Going home is your out. Being able to go home and having all of your own possessions is important."

Within 23 hours of starting the GoFundMe, the Pichlers exceeded their $10,000 goal.... with people donating not only from South Dakota, but a dozen other states as well.

Crystal Pichler says, "It's amazing how close-knit we are. It's a small town, but it's a huge outpouring of support. And networking beyond Rapid City was extremely helpful and we're all extremely appreciative of it."

People can also drop off checks or cash donations to the 3rd floor of the Public Safety Building at 300 Kansas City Street.

If you'd like to drop off furniture donations, message Eric Pichler on the GoFundMe page or call the police department at 605-394-4131.

Do you have someone in mind for next week's Be the Change?

If you know someone who's making a positive change in the Black Hills community, send me their contact information to katrinal@blackhillsfox.com.