Emilee Klein instantly wanted to help when she heard the Johansen family’s story; the story of a husband and father being gunned down for seemingly just crossing paths with the wrong person.
"I read about it online and it just kind of touched my heart,” said Klein. “I can't imagine going through what they went through."
On Sept. 23 at about 10:30 p.m., Verland Johansen, who friends knew as Scott, was driving to work the overnight shift at the Frisco hotel he managed when investigators said he came across 53 year-old Stephen Bielicke at a convenience store, a man they say Johansen didn’t know.
According to reports, Bielicke had been driving to convenience stores in the area to call and threaten his ex-wife from pay phones while witnesses also observed him trying to start fights with customers, including Johansen.
Officers believe Bielecke then followed Johansen and shot at his vehicle, injuring him. Johansen's vehicle eventually crossed a grass median and hit the interstate guardrail. He was later found and transported to a hospital where he died a few days later.
Bielecke is currently in the Denton County Jail awaiting trial for murder, terroristic threats and unlawful carrying of a weapon on alcohol premises.
Klein said she instantly wanted to help Johansen’s family and thought about trying to do something for them, but she didn’t expect the family to show up at her door to help her out first.
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Klein had just opened a restaurant, Badger’s BBQ, on the border of Lewisville and Flower Mound.
Klein gave the restaurant a law enforcement theme, since she’s the wife of a peace officer herself, and hung law enforcement patches on the walls to honor officers from all over the world.
When she put out the call for more patches to be donated online, Johansen’s widow, Ellen and daughter Amanda Rice, came forward.
"I think he always wanted to be a firefighter,” said Rice.
For many years, Johansen had owned a full-sized replica of the Engine 51 fire truck seen on the 1970s TV show "Emergency!"
"He was the dad with the fire truck,” laughed Rice. "One time he did actually drop me off (at school) in the fire truck."
Often firefighters who came to see the engine would give Johansen a patch and, like Klein, he developed a collection over the years.
So the family decided to donate Scott’s patches to the restaurant just up the street from their home in Flower Mound.
"It was just very ironic how everything happened,” said Klein.
Johansen now has his own section of patches with a small memorial on the wall of Badger’s BBQ, and to help the family, Klein has vowed to donate 15 percent of all sales Thursday to the Johansens.
They will also take donations through Sunday and allow people to leave well wishes for Johansen's wife, kids and grandkids as they continue to struggle with the loss, less than two months later.
"Everyone has maybe lost a parent before and they understand what it's like to lose a parent, but it's not the same as your father being murdered or killed, of having to struggle with that, that somebody took his life,” said Rice. "I might be at work and start crying for no reason."
Rice and Scott’s wife both keep imprints of his fingerprint on necklaces so he is always close to their heart.
They said they will attend Bielicke’s trial when it comes up and hope to see him answer for the crime for taking their loved one.
Anyone wishing to donate at Badger’s is asked to make checks out directly to the Ellen Johansen and to put well wishes in sealed envelopes from the family.
Klein said a percentage of proceeds on orders over $75 through Sunday will also go to the family.
While the benefit may only last through the week, Klein said Scott Johansen will always have a place on the restaurant’s wall and the family will always have a place there, as well.
“They will be in my heart forever,” she said.