Support grows for Kasson officer critically injured in suicide attempt
Soon after Peggy Marquette moved to Kasson last August she came across Officer Julio Baez late one night. He assisted her in getting money from one of the banks. It was an encounter that left a lasting impression on her.
“We really liked him,” Marquette says. “He’s really a nice cop. He was such a happy guy with a big heart,” she said.
Marquette couldn’t believe it when she learned Baez was the Kasson officer who attempted to take his own life. “It was a shock,” she said. “Everyone really likes Officer Baez.”
On Friday, Dodge County Sheriff Scott Rose identified the Kasson officer involved in a shooting incident June 2 near Mantorville as 51-year-old Julio Baez. He is a 14-year veteran of the department. He remains in critical condition at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, according to Rose.
For several days Marquette noticed Todd Pearson of Spring Valley in the downtown area marching with a sign “Law Enforcement Lives Matter.” Because he was alone, she decided to do something about it and join in to show her support.
“We saw him and I said we should go help him out and offer support,” Marquette said.
She went home to grab her grandchildren and her son’s girlfriend to join Pearson, but not before making their own signs to demonstrate their support for police. By the time Marquette returned, Pearson had left. But she wasn’t discouraged and decided to jump in. “He wasn’t there, but I said let’s take his place,” she said.
Marquette said she is tired of hearing all the negativity about police officers. “All this hate,” she says, “Seems like they’re hated in the world.”
But Marquette said officers need to know they are not hated. “They put their lives on for us every day,” she pointed out. “Police are always first in line. I’m sick of hearing cops are bad,” she said. “If we didn’t have cops, who would protect us?”
She has relied on police officers in other communities to help her out of tough situations in the past, including an abusive relationship. “I have all due respect for police,” Marquette said.
Standing out on a street corner holding signs, Marquette says, is one way to teach others, including her grandchildren, how police should be supported. “I’m showing them a cause to respect the police officers when they grow up,” she said.
Marquette said she isn’t done in her crusade to offer support for police. She plans to be back out at the same corner this weekend with more family members and signs.
“It’s amazing what Todd (Pearson) was doing,” Marquette said. “It touched me. I really want to show support that we stand behind him.”
Marquette is glad she moved to Kasson. “It seems crime-free,” she said. “They do a very good job in keeping this town the way it is,” she added.
Baez was found with self-inflicted gunshot wounds in a grassy area outside of Mantorville around 6:15 a.m. June 2. Mayo One airlifted Baez from the scene to the hospital.
The case is being investigated as an attempted suicide by sheriff’s investigators, Rose said.