Deputy Carl Koontz Sunday became the first line-of-duty death in Howard County for at least 50 years. But who was the man behind the badge?
Sheriff Steve Rogers said Deputy Koontz was an outstanding officer and a wonderful husband and father. But he also made a tremendous impact as a school resource officer with the Northwestern School Corporation.
Superintendent Ryan Snoddy said Deputy Koontz kept his office by a window so he could see who was coming and going. His job was to protect the students, and Snoddy said Koontz did that and more.
"He was a school resource officer for us for the past three years. He was just a gregarious, happy guy and had a real passion for a job as a deputy and a true compassion for students here," Snoddy said.
In a district of 1,700 students, Dep. Koontz dealt mostly with the 800 in middle and high school.
"He was able to connect with middle school and high school students in a way that a lot of law enforcement officers can't," said Snoddy. "He would sit at the lunch tables every day he was here, make it a point to be a first responder. My last memory was him going to a slide-off a student had on our last icy day and being there with the student, getting him to the school, talking to his parents. He's just a great guy."
"He was a funny man," added 11-year-old Madison Alexander of Kokomo. "I won't be able to see his face anymore, but I know when this world ends, I will see him again and it will be so fun to see him when he jokes around with me. I just miss him so much."
His impact on children wasn't limited to his work as a resource officer. A few weeks ago, Brianne Harness, a mother, was having trouble keeping her 3-year-old daughter in her car seat so she drove her to the sheriff's office and asked for a deputy to come out and talk to her daughter. They sent out Koontz since he was the father of an 8-month-old boy.
"He was sweet," said Harness. "He was very patient with her....It was very good. She has not climb out of her car seat since."
The school district will have counselors and ministers available Monday for students who need to talk about their grief.
Superintendent Snoddy said it's a great loss to the district. He can't even imagine the size of the loss to the deputy's family.
Later Sunday night, a memorial began to form as individuals, families, members of the law enforcement community and people of all walks of life stopped to pay their respects.
"It's a young life loss way too soon," said Amy Alexander of Kokomo. "He was doing what you love to do."
"I actually worked at the sheriffs department at one time and I know family and friends of both of the officers," said Sue Beahrs of Kokomo. She came to the memorial to feel connected with what she calls "a caring community."
Missy Gibson of Kokomo felt the same way. She has a lot of friends in public safety - and a lot of faith in what they do.
"Stop the violence of police officers," she said. "He's got a little baby, too. So I'm just showing my support....I ask everybody in Kokomo to put blue lights on their porch."
The Fraternal Order of Police has organized an official GoFundMe account to help support Deputy Koontz's widow and son. Click here if you would like to donate.