KOKOMO, Ind. (March 28, 2016)-- They came from throughout Howard County and across Indiana.
By the hundreds, law enforcement officers in uniform, black ribbons covering their badges, citizens and neighbors clutching tissues, they stood for two hours and more as the line slowly moved past tables covered with flowers and photographs of Carl Koontz, the Howard County Sheriff’s deputy who died a week and a day ago serving a search warrant on a wanted man in Russiaville.
In the gymnasium of Northwestern High School, where Deputy Koontz was a resource officer, under a banner proclaiming allegiance to the Tigers basketball team, the fallen lawman rested in a casket, its lid open, a portrait of him in uniform rendered on the inside.
“It just brings everyone together. It just tightens up the community. It gives you perspective as to what the really important things in life are,” said Jerry Jumper, a retired Howard County Sheriff’s deputy. “I had met Deputy Koontz for the first time three months ago and he was very impressive. Very wonderful young man.”
Koontz was known not as a deputy but simply by his first name to the staff and students at the high school.
“He had a way of making them comfortable and they felt like they could talk to him and turn to him if they had any problems if they had any concerns,” said Dana Demoret, a lunchroom employee. “I’ve had a few of them say, ‘I always felt safe and knew Carl watched after me.’”
Savannah Demoret attended Northwestern and left to pursue an education major which brought her back to the school as a student teacher.
“Carl was just real easy to talk to and he really took the time to get to know everyone.”
Koontz was a three-year veteran who left behind a wife and 8-month-old son.
“You go and you put your uniform on and you want to come home, you want to be with your family,” said Jumper, who said Howard County never lost a deputy in his 32 years on the force, “and on this particular night this officer gave the ultimate and by fate of God we’ve all walked there.”
Governor Mike Pence will attend the Koontz funeral beginning at 11 a.m. Tuesday with burial to follow after a processional to Albright Cemetery in Kokomo.
On the pole outside the school, where the flag flies at half-staff in response to Governor Pence’s order, a plaque commemorates former students who were wounded or killed in battle while in the armed services overseas.
It's likely the name of one more soldier will be added to that memorial.