Remembering Justin Winebrenner: Family, friends gather to pay respects a year after his death

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BARBERTON, Ohio – It’s an emotional day for Rob Winebrenner as he remembers the life of his son, Justin.

Justin, who was an Akron police officer, died while trying to protect patrons inside a bar. He was off-duty at the time.

Monday will be the one-year anniversary of his death.

"Everybody always asks, 'how do you handle things?' How do you do that? And I say, 'I stand tall because they make it happen. The people around me make that happen. I don't believe it's something inside of me. I believe I am held up by all of these people that come out here today,'" said Winebrenner.

Close friends helped him set up Sunday’s ceremony, and a lot of people showed up to pay their respects. Justin’s daughter, Charlee, was also there. The five-year-old is a little shy, but her mom Alyse Shanafelt said they’re thankful for all the support.

"We really appreciate everyone coming out on such a beautiful day to honor such a beautiful life that Justin had,” she said.

During the ceremony, Charlee was given a very special surprise. “Hero’s Rock” hand carved a rocker for her. It’s modeled after Justin’s police car.

"Scott Snyder and his wife Trish have done a remarkable job,” said Winebrenner.

He said it’s hard to describe how he’s feeling about everything, but he said one thing is for sure: He’s a proud dad.

To learn more about Justin Winebrenner and the Blue Light campaign created in his honor, CLICK HERE.

To read more stories about Justin Winebrenner, click here.

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