High school remembers fallen officer Justin Winebrenner with special honor

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BARBERTON, Ohio- Athletic, passionate and caring.  Those are words used to describe fallen police officer, Justin Winebrenner who received a special posthumous honor from his former high school.  The school retired his soccer jersey, as his family and fellow officers looked on with pride.

Tuesday night, Barberton High School's varsity basketball team battled arch rival Wadsworth High School.

"What a great game to choose that he's between both cities since he's played and he lived in both cities," said the fallen officer’s father, Rob Winebrenner.

Justin Winebrenner played soccer for both schools, graduating from Barberton in 2000.  The Akron police officer was shot to death in November at the Papa Don's Pub in Akron.  Investigators say he was trying to remove an unruly customer, 35-year old Kenen Ivery, who they say later opened fire, killing Winebrenner and injuring several others.

Officer Justin Winebrenner
Officer Justin Winebrenner

"Obviously I have a lot of anger. I still hold a lot of anger in me, but I think right now pride overcomes that anger right now," Rob Winebrenner said.

During half-time of the basketball game, Barberton High School held a moment of silence and retired Justin Winebrenner's number 10 soccer jersey, and presented it to his family.  Another jersey will hang in a hallway at the school.

"He was a very successful soccer player here at the high school, our first ever first team all-district player, and a fine young man who took great pride in his community and had great pride in his job," said Barberton High School soccer coach John Sabol.

Officer Winebrenner's family says their focus is now on his daughter, Charlee Ayn, who turns five in a few weeks.

They say they always want her to remember her dad as the hero he was.

"She started out last year playing soccer and someone even said, 'Oh maybe she's not cut out for soccer; we'll try cheerleading,'  but she said now that she's gonna try soccer one more time, just for her dad," said Charlee Ayn’s mother, Alyse Shanafelt.

School leaders and Winebrenner's family say they hope his retired jersey can be an inspiration for current and future Barberton students.

The school also presented Winebrenner’s family with a plaque, listing all of his sports accomplishments.  His father says he continued to play soccer in various leagues, and played just a few months ago.

*Read more on Officer Winebrenner here*

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