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One Illinois Police Department Loses 2 Officers to COVID-19 Within Days: 'Extremely Difficult'

·2-min read
Officer Brian Shields Sergeant Ken Thurman
Officer Brian Shields Sergeant Ken Thurman

Aurora Police Department/Twitter

Two police officers in Illinois have died this month after contracting COVID-19.

According to the Aurora Police Department, officer Brian Shields, a 16-year veteran of the APD, died of the virus on Jan. 11. His funeral was held on Jan. 19.

"Our condolences and prayers go out to Brian's family, his friends, and to all those he served with during his more than 16 years as an officer with the Aurora Police Department," the department wrote in a tribute.

"Our police department family will do everything possible to provide support and comfort to Brian's family," the statement continued. "Brian's memory will live on forever at APD."

Shields' death was then followed by Sgt. Ken Thurman, who succumbed to COVID-19 complications on Jan. 19 after a two-decade career with the department.

"Sgt Thurman was known throughout the department and the community as one who always put others before self. In both his words and his deeds, Sgt. Thurman enhanced the quality of life in those he served," the APD said of Thurman.

RELATED: N.J. Police Officer & Father of Three Dies from Coronavirus at 45: 'We Have Truly Lost a Hero to All'

Both Shields and Thurman died at the age of 51.

"This has been an extremely difficult few weeks for the men and women of the Aurora Police Department," Aurora Chief of Police Keith Cross said, referring to the deaths of both officers. "Our entire department is mourning; please keep our APD family in your thoughts and prayers."

RELATED: LAPD Sergeant and Mother of 3 Dies of COVID-19 Complications: 'You Will Be Greatly Missed'

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, COVID-19 was the number one killer of law enforcement officers in 2021. The page features a list of more than 400 officers who are said to have died of the virus.

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It is unclear if either Shields or Thurman were vaccinated against COVID-19.

A GoFundMe campaign has been created to raise funds for Shields' family and has raised nearly $2,000 as of Friday afternoon.

"Brian was always doing so much for his family, so attentive, selfless, generous, and loving," a description on the page reads. "He set the bar high. He poured so much love, advice, and truth into his children."

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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