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Fallen Deputy Koontz brought back to Kokomo

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On a day that included the identification of the man suspected of fatally shooting Howard County Deputy Carl Koontz and the release from IU Methodist Hospital of Sgt. Jordan Buckley, Koontz's partner early Sunday morning, the fallen law enforcement officer was brought home to rest.

During a procession that saw thousands of Hoosiers line the streets from the Marion County coroner's office to Stout & Son Funeral Home in Kokomo, Koontz was honored by his fellow law enforcement officials and mourned by gathered family members.

Included in the crowd assembled at Stout & Son was Kokomo Common Council Vice President Mike Kennedy, who spoke about the community and its response to Koontz’s death in Russiaville early Sunday morning.

With many in the community assuming such violence would stay out of Howard County – it has been more than 50 years since a deputy was killed in here – it’s no surprise residents reacted strongly to Koontz’ death, Kennedy said.

“I think we kind of get sheltered here because of our small town mentality, but it can happen here and most things that happen in the big city do happen here,” he said. “Sometimes, we just put those things in our back pocket and don’t think about them.

“But Kokomo has always been a great community, and we will continue to be that way. We will come in support and help out individuals any way we can. I think this just shows that we help people when we need to. We come together.”

Also showing their support were Roger Wells, Ann Wells and Wade Wells, who own the Phillips 66 on the corner of Dixon and Alto roads. With cars filling up their parking lot and a nearby field, Roger said it was imperative the community come together to respect Koontz, a regular customer of the gas station and convenience store.

“It was just the right thing to do … It seems like all over the country we are having this kind of a misrepresentation of our officers in the line of duty,” he said. “People are losing respect.”

“Everybody was just devastated,” added Ann Wells, who serves as the Howard County treasurer. “The more we hear, to see his child on the front page, it hits closer to home than just knowing he is a Howard County [deputy].”

The death also hit home for Cheryl Duncan, who stood at the Phillips 66 awaiting the procession. With family members in law enforcement, Duncan knows well the danger faced by officers on a daily basis. 

"I feel like right now police have a target on their backs," she said. "Right now, my heart just aches for the family. It is a young family, and he is just trying to go to work and provide for his family. It is heartbreaking that this has happened to our society."

Duncan did find a silver lining, though, when she pointed to the support, both financially and emotionally, given by the community. A GoFundMe page created by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 78 has raised $37,090 as of Monday evening.

"I think it is encouraging when I see the community coming together," she said. With the money they've raised for him, I am so proud of community that we can come together to help this family."

The incident also took on a more personal tone when the shooter was revealed Monday morning by Sheriff Steve Rogers to be 25-year-old Evan Dorsey. Dorsey, who was found dead at the scene, was wanted on a warrant for failure to appear, on a charge of possession of a syringe.

Autopsy information released Monday afternoon by State Police showed Dorsey died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, likely after the confrontation with law enforcement. Koontz, who passed away at 11:10 a.m. Sunday at IU Methodist Hospital, was killed by a single gunshot wound to the pelvis.

Public details concerning Koontz's funeral have not been released. 

Part of the in-depth investigation will be the finalized autopsy reports for Deputy Koontz and his suspected killer. Typically, final autopsy reports take several weeks to complete, according to an Indiana State Police release.

Local law enforcement was given something to smile about, however, when it was revealed Buckley, 35, who suffered an upper thigh wound, would be released from Methodist Hospital. Following his release, Buckley joined the procession to Kokomo, arriving at Stout & Son to a throng of simultaneously mournful and relieved officials.

“We are ready to bring Jordan home,” said Rogers during Monday’s press conference.

Buckley, who was recently promoted to sergeant, is expected to make a full recovery.

To help deal with the emotional stress, members of the Howard County Sheriff's Department and other agencies Monday attended a critical stress debriefing. According to a State Police press release, this is a standard procedure for line-of-duty deaths and will help those affected grieve, provide comfort and seek counseling. 

"It's affected the entire law enforcement agency here, but specifically those people that were directly involved. We know they need some special attention," Rogers said. 

During the press conference Monday, Rogers said the Howard County Sheriff's Department will continue to serve the community to the best of its abilities. He noted that other law enforcement agencies will assist local deputies. 

"We are grieving, but we are seeing to the fact that there are going to be patrols out there by the Indiana State Police, other sheriff's agencies," he said. "It's going to be business as usual as far as law enforcement to be provided to the citizens of Howard County."

George Myers can be reached at 765-454-8585, by email at george.myers@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @gpmyerskt.

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