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Southern Illinois communities mourn the loss of second law enforcement officer in two months

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WATERLOO, Ill. – In Waterloo, Illinois they’re getting ready for Saturday’s annual pumpkin festival, but there’s sorrow in people’s hearts. For the second time in two months, a law enforcement officer who lives in the rural area has been killed.

St. Louis County Police Officer James Ellis served in the Jennings precinct. He died Thursday night in a collision while on his way home from work. He was 49.

Ellis died on Highway 159 after a driver slammed into his vehicle head-on. Ellis was going home to his family in Hecker, not far from Waterloo.

In August, Illinois State Trooper Nick Hopkins was killed while serving a search warrant in East St. Louis. Two officers from the same rural area, gone.

“This is a small town and we support everyone like that,” said Donna Pisani, who works in Waterloo.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said Officer Ellis will be missed.

Ellis served in the Marines from 1992 to 1996 and then returned to the military after 9/11. He became a St. Louis County police officer in 2011.

“It’s tough. It’s tough for the police officers here that worked with mitch, it’s tough for the chief of police, the captain, whoever it may be,” Belmar said. “We don’t want to lose our department family.”

In Waterloo, there were pledges to rally around Officer Ellis’ family just as people did when Trooper Hopkins was killed.

“You got to rally, you got to have neighbors, and in small towns, we do we know one another and we care about one another,” said David Scharf, who lives in the area.

Officer James “Mitch” Ellis is survived by his wife and five children.

BackStoppers says it’s currently reviewing the case to see if assistance can be provided to Ellis’ family. Ellis was killed Thursday night after getting off work at Jennings Pct.

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