The original goal for the GoFundMe page, set up for the family of Howard County Sheriff's Deputy Carl Koontz on Sunday was $1,000. Donations started pouring in. That goal was passed in fewer than two hours.
So the goal was upped to $25,000. By the end of the day Sunday, that had been passed.
By 5 p.m. Tuesday, more than 800 people had donated more than $42,600 towards the new goal of $100,000. And the donations have kept coming. More than $5,000 has been donated in cash and checks.
Kokomo Police Officer Drew Wallsmith, who serves as treasurer for Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 078 and oversees the GoFundMe page, said it’s been overwhelming to watch so many people give to the family of an officer who died in the line of duty.
“It’s been an outpouring of support not only from local individuals, but people across the state and nation,” he said. “It’s been a big response from all over the place.”
The website fundraising is just one way the community has wrapped its arms around Koontz and his family.
Wallsmith said the phones at the FOP lodge have rung non-stop since Sunday, and the callers all have one thing to say.
“We’ve had so many people who have called and said, ‘Just tell us how we can help. Tell us what to do and tell us what you need,’” he said.
Some have wanted to donate food and meals to the Koontz family. Others have asked about hosting motorcycle rallies to raise money. A few people have offered to set up free child care during Koontz’s funeral on Tuesday.
Throughout the city, flags flew at half-staff. Businesses and schools put up messages on marquees thanking Koontz for his service and asking for prayers for the family.
Many homes had blue, outside lights glowing to commemorate the fallen officer. In fact, Menards and Lowes both reported completely selling out of blue light bulbs Monday.
Hundreds of flowers, flags and other mementos were placed around a squad vehicle outside the Howard County Sheriff’s Department to honor Koontz.
The crowd inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse watching the Pacer’s game Tuesday night fell silent as they remembered Koontz, whose picture was put up on the gigantic screens around the stadium.
Gov. Mike Pence made a personal phone call offering his condolences to Koontz’s wife.
The New York Yankees even showed their support by sending a flower arrangement to the sheriff’s department with a message reading, “With our deepest sympathies, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Koontz family and the Howard County Sheriff’s Department.”
“You wouldn’t believe the outpouring of support from people locally, statewide and nationally,” Wallsmith said. “It’s been overwhelming.”
Other fundraisers have also sprung up since Sunday.
Kokomo Uniform announced Tuesday it was selling commemorative shirts for $15, with all the proceeds going to the family. The shirt reads “All gave some, some gave all,” and lists Koontz’s dispatch number, 34-76.
Owner Dawn Stoerger said by Tuesday afternoon, just hours after announcing the fundraiser, nearly 200 shirts had been purchased or ordered.
“Our phone and Facebook page is going nuts with all the orders,” she said. “It’s awesome. It’s shocking. It’s amazing. It think it’s great everyone is showing this support. We can’t wait to get the money to them.”
Students at Northwestern High School, where Carl Koontz worked as a resource officer, also plan to add $5 onto prom tickets this year, with all the extra proceeds going to the family.
Crew Carwash, 1824 E. Hoffer Road, announced it would offer a free car wash on Monday and Tuesday to any officer or emergency responder.
Jeff Stout, co-owner of Shirley & Stout Funeral Home & Crematory, which is in charge of the funeral arrangements, said nearly everything involved with the visitation and service next week has been donated.
He said officers from Howard and Marion counties are taking turns standing by the casket at the funeral home to provide a 24/7 vigil until it’s moved to Northwestern High School Monday for the visitation.
“It’s a brotherhood of officers,” Stout said. “He’s never left alone.”
It was Stout who drove the hearse from Indianapolis to Kokomo Monday, and he said the showing of support along the procession route was unlike anything he had ever seen.
“I’ve never seen anything like that in my life,” he said. “Every bridge we went under had firefighters and officers on it. I was proud to be a Howard County citizen yesterday.”
Stout said all of it – the donations, prayers and other outpouring of support – goes to show how the community takes care of its own, and how much Koontz was loved.
“Kokomo and Howard County are strong about this kind of thing,” he said. “People really take it to the next level.”
Public visitation for Koontz will be held at Northwestern High School from 1 to 7 p.m. Monday. Services also will be held at the high school at 11 a.m. Tuesday. Burial will be in Albright Cemetery.