Hotels offer free rooms to law enforcement attending fallen Deputy U.S. Marshal memorial service

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Pulling together: two local women are helping people from across the country attend a memorial service for a fallen Deputy U.S. Marshal.

That service for Deputy Christopher Hill will be held Thursday in Dauphin County.

He was shot in the line of duty last week, while serving a warrant on Mulberry Street in Harrisburg.

Those two women, one who is married to a fire chief, the other a police officer, say they hope the community would reach out to help them if something happened to one of their husbands.

They took it upon themselves to reach out to hotels in the area, hoping to offer law enforcement officers attending Deputy Hill’s memorial service a free place to stay.

Katie Ibberson and Kara Johnsen are not only best friends but also wives of first responders in Dauphin County.

"Instead of going to bed angry - we don’t go to work angry because I want to know he’s coming home, but that’s not always 100 percent," said Johnsen.

“It’s one of the most honorable positions to be able to support my husband who sacrifices his life and his time every single day," said Ibberson.

When Deputy Hill was killed in the line of duty, the women immediately knew they had a job to do.

“We’re coordinating this hotel donation effort to make sure that police officers don’t have to endure extra expenses by coming to honor their fallen comrade," said Ibberson.

“We need to get out nationally to all the different law enforcement officers so they can know those rooms are there for them," said Johnsen.

The women are working with a number of hotels in the Hershey-Harrisburg area to offer law enforcement members attending Deputy Hill's memorial service a free stay.

Those places just need bookings.

“Everybody in the community wants to help which is why we have so many donations and why the rooms aren’t being booked yet because the officers coming from out of town don’t know they are available," explained Johnsen.

"We have had a lot of phone calls, people offering to pay - I can’t tell you the phone calls I’ve taken and the people who’ve sent in credit cards to pay for the marshals rooms," said Toni Rieber, the assistant general manager at the Crown Plaza in Harrisburg.

Law enforcement officers are asked to just show their badge at one of the participating hotels.

Their rooms will then either be paid for, or they’ll be offered one at a discounted price.

“It’s kind of a pay it forward. They take care of us everyday, they put their life on the line everyday," said Rieber.

Besides coordinating the hotel stays, the women say they will soon also have a list of restaurants in the area offering free or discounted food to the men and women in blue attending the memorial service.

There is also efforts underway to collect freezer meals, household items, and gift cards to be presented to Deputy Hill's family.