KOKOMO, Ind. -- Kassandra Koontz's name was not listed as a speaker in the program for her husband's funeral. She was not expected to address the crowd.
But on the morning of Howard County Deputy Carl Koontz's funeral that changed. She wanted to document the moment as "her eulogy for Noah," their 8-month-old son.
"Carl has touched so many people, as you can see in this room. Even though his courageous act took him physically, his legacy will live on forever," she told the crowd of nearly 3,000.
Deputy Koontz was shot and killed while serving a warrant on March 20. He was just 27 years old.
But in those 27 years, friends and family described a man who went out of his way for others, and who was dedicated to his job.
“Carl believed in having a backup plan in case law enforcement was not for him. As it turns out, his concerns were not necessary, since he was an amazing officer. Law enforcement was made for Carl, he was dedicated to his career," Koontz said.
"Today, it’s not about a horrible tragedy, rather it’s about a hero. A man who sacrificed his life for another is the reason that we are all gathered here today. So I implore you not to think about the tragedy, but to think about his legacy," Deputy Justin Markley said.
“On a moments notice, Carl would drop anything just to lend a helping hand,” Deputy Jacob Gibson said, “Our shift ends at 11 p.m., but Carl’s shift? Well, I still can’t tell you when it ended.”
“I was convinced of his courage, when an undercover operation required a female to be driving a car when the bad guys showed up. Carl volunteered. Ladies wig, 6 foot 3, cleft chin, but he made it work. It took real courage for him to wear that wig in front of his peers," Howard County Sheriff Steve Rogers said.
Rogers said Koontz had plans to be the sheriff someday.
"I speak for all when I tell you he earned our respect for who he was and how he did his job," Rogers said.
Gov. Mike Pence called Koontz "a courageous man."
"Teddy Roosevelt said, 'The darker the night, the bolder the lion.' And this man went in the dark of night and his courage saved lives, of his fellow officers and in this community," Pence said.
And in a message read by his wife, Jill Donnelly, U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly said, "There is no way we can ever repay you for the sacrifice you have made."
There were stories told about the impact Deputy Koontz had on the kids he met with as a liaison at Northwestern schools.
Pastor Steve Cole mentioned one he had heard while at memorial set up for Koontz outside of the Howard County Sheriff's Office.
"I noticed a father and his young son together. I could tell that the son was really moved as they headed toward their cars. I told them thank you for coming and paying their respects to Carl. And the father said, 'I need to tell you something, you’ve got to hear this. You see, my son, he’s 12 years old, he’s been bullied at school.' He said, 'I want you to know that this officer, Carl Koontz, this officer went above and beyond the call of duty.' He counseled, he comforted, he made sure things changed for the life of this man, this 12 year old boy, his son. He said, 'I want you to know today that because of Carl Koontz, my son is living and leading a happy life. And is no longer bullied because Carl Koontz took a personal interest in a kid who was having tough times.'"
At one point in the funeral service, every police officer, firefighter, EMT, or public servant was asked to stand.
“We do not tell you thank you enough, but thank you. From all of us," Cole said.
A challenge was given to those who had stood and those who remained seated.
“As you leave here today I challenge you, I challenge you to be that good neighbor, that person that says 'Hi' to a complete stranger. I challenge you to go the extra mile, just to lend a helping hand. I challenge you to step up and be a courageous person. To do the right thing, even when no one is looking. And lastly, I challenge you not to take life for granted because like time and money, every moment and penny counts," Gibson said.
And a simple request from Kassandra Koontz for them to one day tell their 8-month-old son all she had told them about her husband.
“And for Noah, if you see him down the road when he’s older. If you could just say, 'I was at your dad’s funeral, that’d mean so much to him. I just want him to realize who his dad was.”