Slain Detroit firefighter honored at funeral

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — Family and friends gathered Wednesday at St. John’s CME Church to honor the life of slain Detroit firefighter Jack Wiley II who was killed during what police have described as a robbery.  

Detroit Fire Department officer Rodney Brown, right, hugs a fellow DFD officer during the memorial service for Detroit firefighter Jack C. Wiley II at St. John's CME Church in Detroit.

The honor guard entered with members of the Detroit Fire Department to pay their final respects to Wiley. His Engine 57 team and classmates stood at the forefront. 

A Detroit Fire Department colleague sang “Worth Fighting For” by Brian Courtney Wilson as immediate family members, dressed in white, gathered around Wiley. His family locked arms around one another and cried as his gray casket was closed. 

Wiley was laid to rest three days before he would have turned 30. He was the youngest of five children and joined the fire department in November 2014. He was a Detroit Public Schools graduate and a mentor to many youths while working side by side with his father, Detroit fire chief Jack Wiley, who is retired. 

“From a young age, he wanted to serve others, and from a young age, those thugs who took him away wanted others to serve them,” Detroit Fire Commissioner Eric Jones said at the funeral. “We thank his family for sharing him with us. Jack Wiley II was truly one of Detroit’s greatest.”

Attendees gave a standing ovation for Detroit Police Chief James Craig and the detectives who arrested the two 18-year-old men who have been charged in connection with Wiley’s killing. 

The program for firefighter Jack WIley II's funeral.

Wiley was found slain Aug. 21 in his home on the 15000 block of Penrod on the city's west side by his sister, according to police. His vehicle had been stolen.

Read more: Detroit firefighter found dead in home

Arondez Carter and Shomari Walker have been charged with felony murder, first-degree premeditated murder, armed robbery, tampering with evidence, fourth-degree arson, and felony firearm in connection with Wiley's death.

Read more: Two 18-year-olds charged in Detroit firefighter's murder

Authorities allege that Carter and Walker went to Wiley's home to rob him, and shot  him during that crime.

Family members of Detroit firefighter Jack C. Wiley II wipe tears before the memorial service at St. John's Church in Detroit on Wednesday.

The suspects allegedly took items from his home and set fire to what they stole, in what authorities believe was an attempt to conceal the theft.

The Detroit Fire Department had a moment of radio silence before dismissing mourners from the church. Wiley's casket was carried out to a fire truck, where the flag hung off the ladder.

"Whatever those thieves took, he would have just given to them anyways ... they didn't have to take his life. It's priceless to us, not to them," said friend Edwin Jones. 

Jones said Wiley was always the life of the party and they had prearranged a 30th birthday cabaret party for Saturday. After he was killed, his friends still gathered to honor him. 

"We wanted to celebrate his life, but many people who were supposed to come didn't and it was a very sad gathering," Jones said. 

The immediate family did not speak at the funeral. Wiley Sr. and his wife were the last to exit the church and entered a car following their son to be laid to rest. 

"To know him was to love him," said Stephanie Dorsey, a family friend. "Why would you take from a person who would give you anything?"