HOWARD COUNTY, Ind. -- In the last year, Kassie Koontz has watched her son Noah learn how to walk. She witnessed him say his first words. He is even starting to look like his dad. That part is hard, but Kassie is thankful.
“His personality. His facial features. It’s all Carl," she said as she sat down with FOX59 to share her late husband's story.
It has been one year since Deputy Carl Koontz was fatally shot in the line of duty. On March 20, 2016, he was shot while serving a search warrant in Russiaville. He died from his injuries hours later. He was 26 years old.
Koontz was the love of Kassie's life. The couple met in 2007. Both were working at a restaurant. Kassie remembers the exact moment she met Carl. It was love at first sight.
"As soon as I’d seen Carl the first day I worked with him, I sat there and I told myself, I’m going to marry that boy.”
And she did. After six years of dating, the couple had a gorgeous wedding. And then there was a baby on the way. Kassie shared a video with us of their gender reveal party.
Carl really wanted a boy, she said. When a bunch of blue balloons came floating out of a box, Carl yelled 'Yes!'
"Three times," Kassie smiled.
She showed us a picture of Carl holding Noah in the hospital.
“You could just see the joy in his face from holding him," she said. "Finally getting to meet his first son.”
Life was perfect. The little family was making plans for the future.
The night Carl was shot, Kassie remembers he came home for dinner. It wasn't common, so she is grateful for that time together. Then he got a call and went to work.
Carl was supposed to come home later that night. Instead, Kassie remembers waking up around 1 a.m. and then hearing a knock on the door. There were officers from the Howard County Sheriff's Department standing on the other side.
At first, Kassie didn't think anything too serious had happened to Carl. The thought never crossed her mind.
“Nobody wanted to tell me anything until I got to the hospital and that’s when they told me he got shot.”
When she first walked into Carl's hospital room, she remembers him turning his head towards her and his blue eyes looked at her. Then his eyes shut.
"He was there. Even though he couldn’t talk, he was there. He had a tear run down his left eye. And his right eye was puddled up with tears," Kassie told us as she started crying. "He knew what was happening. And I kind of think that was his way of saying sorry.”
He was sorry, Kassie said, for not being able to fight anymore.
Her last words to Carl were also an apology.
"I just kept saying I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you can’t be here with your son. And I thanked him a lot. And I thanked him for being there. I thanked him for being an amazing husband. I thanked him for giving me Noah."
Raising Noah on her own hasn't been easy. There's pain in seeing bits of Carl in her son. There are questions about why this tragedy fell on their family? And then there are fears about whether she will make Carl proud.
"Would Carl be okay with how I’m raising him?" she wonders. "I want him to make a difference just like his dad did."
Kassie's biggest wish is for her son is for him to know how important his father was; how much good he did as a Sheriff's deputy and how many lives he touched as a school resource officer.
She said Noah gives her the strength to carry on.
"We all have to move forward so one person knows who Carl was. And that one person is a little boy who never had a chance."