Merrillville police officer remembered at Franklin College

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By Marisela Burgos

INDIANAPOLIS (FOX 59) – A former Franklin College student is being remembered by professors and students.

Nick Schultz, 24, graduated from Franklin College in 2013. He received a degree in criminal justice and sociology. He joined the Merrillville Police Department after college. Officer Schultz was killed in the line of duty Friday night. According to authorities, Schultz was the first officer to be killed in the line of duty since the Merrillville Police Department was formed.

Schultz was responding to a call with other officers Friday night. According to authorities, a man who had been evicted from a condo had returned. Schultz was shot in the head once as he and those other officers tried to get inside that home.

“Anytime you hear about a law enforcement officer getting hurt, it bothers you especially (since) he just graduated and I feel like his life was just starting in a lot of ways and that’s really frustrating,” senior Daniel McHale said.

While at Franklin College, Schultz played for the football team. His teammates voted him captain during his senior year.

“Nick was a model student. The one (that) professor’s really want(ed) to have in the class. He was diligent, insightful. (He) would spend time really thinking about the work he was doing and (he was) delightful to have in class,” professor of sociology Denise Baird said.

Baird taught Schultz. She said he had a way of balancing his academics, other projects, and his sport.

“I think that we can be proud of that example that he set,” Baird said.

Whether students knew Schultz or not, they heard about what happened and they are united as Grizzlies.

“I’ve heard that he was (a) really well liked student,” Leilah Hendricks said. “I heard a lot of people saying that they had a lot of good memories of him and that he was very funny and he would just do silly things to make people laugh."

Franklin College football coach Mike Leonard said:

“We recruited Nick in the spring 2009 and we were happy to get a Lowell Red Devil on our team. They have something special in Lowell called RDP (Red Devil Pride). I thank Coach Keith Kilmer and everybody in Lowell for helping Nick come to Franklin.

He was an offensive lineman here for three years, and a very good one. Nick tried his hand at defensive line as a freshman, but after the season we thought he would be better and he thought as well that he would be a better offensive lineman. He played it very well.

When I think of offensive linemen in general (Nick was a left guard in the interior of the line), they have three qualities. They are very unselfish people. Secondly, they are extremely hard working because they are right in the front lines with tough, hard-nosed combat on every play.

Thirdly, offensive linemen do not care about credit. They do not care about stats. That typifies to me the type of person Nick Schultz was. He didn't want publicity.

Nick was voted his senior year in the season of 2012 a team captain. It is a tremendous honor for anybody knowing that they are voted in that position by their peers. Captains come in different personalities and shapes and sizes, too. Nick’s personality was that he was not going to be a vocal leader in front of the whole team very often. He did his leading by example and communicated with the other offensive linemen next to him. Those five guys have to play as one for the team to have success. Nick did that extremely well. That is what everybody knew about

Nick Schultz. If you wanted to find a guy that worked extremely hard and wanted to follow that type of guy, then he was the leader because Nick did it the right way.

He comes from a great family. I always loved seeing his parents, sister, and girlfriend at games.

They are family to Franklin College as they are to Lowell High School. We grieve along with them during this tough time.

I have memories of Nick helping with community service on our team. We do the Polar Plunge each late February. Nick was an active participant in his years here of the 20-25 players that went to Eagle Creek Reservoir to jump in the freezing cold waters for a great cause to help raise money for Special Olympians.

It doesn't surprise me that Nick was on the front lines with the Merrillville Police Department.

And, when he was given the order to be the first one in the door, that does not surprise me at all.

He was a guard. He was a protector on the football field. I think he was a guard and a protector of the people in Merrillville. We are all proud to have known Nick Schultz and will carry his memory with us.”