- Associated Press - Monday, March 28, 2016

KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) - Hundreds of law officers and members of the public queued up to pay final respects Monday to a central Indiana sheriff’s deputy shot and killed in the line of duty.

People stood in line for as long as two hours at Northwestern High School, where visitation was held in the gymnasium for Deputy Carl Koontz, who was mortally wounded during a gunfight March 20 inside a mobile home in Russiaville. The shooter killed himself.

Koontz served as a resource officer at the school outside Kokomo. Lunchroom employee Dana Demoret said the 27-year-old officer was on a first-name basis with the school’s students and staff.

“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,” Demoret said. “I’ve had a few of them say, ‘I always felt safe and knew Carl watched after me.’”

Police officers on motorcycles and squad cars escorted Koontz’s casket to the school in a procession from a funeral home Monday morning. The front of the school, where the funeral will be held Tuesday, was lined with dozens of American flags.

“He was such a great person,” said Dominique Beaty, a student. “He had such a great impact on students’ lives. I had to be here. It is something I had to do.”

Another student, Eli Dubbels, said Koontz “taught me how to respect others and be there for others and to smile.”

Jerry Jumper, a retired Howard County Sheriff’s deputy, said the services for Koontz would bring everyone together and make the community tighter.

“It gives you perspective as to what the really important things in life are,” Jumper said. “I had met Deputy Koontz for the first time three months ago and he was very impressive. Very wonderful young man.”

Koontz was married with an 8-month-old son.

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