Services set for slain Indiana police officer

(Provided Photo/Franklin College)

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Services for a slain northwestern Indiana police officer are set to begin with visitation on Sunday, followed by his funeral the next day.

Squad cars from Indiana and Illinois joined a procession Wednesday as a hearse brought the body of Merrillville Patrolman Nickolaus Schultz from the medical examiner’s office in Chicago to a funeral home in his hometown of Lowell.

Blue ribbons lined the town’s streets and dozens of officers saluted as Schultz’s body was removed from the hearse in the southern Lake County community about 15 miles from Merrillville, The Times of Munster reported.

The 24-year-old officer died Sunday at a suburban Chicago hospital, two days after a man wearing body armor shot him during an apparent ambush. Officials said 33-year-old Michael Hrnciar broke into a Merrillville condominium from which he had been evicted and fatally shot himself Friday night after firing at Schultz.

Schultz’s visitation will be held Sunday afternoon in Merrillville. His funeral is set for Monday morning in a local 3,400-seat theater.

Kristen Mikesell, 23, of West Lafayette, grew up with Schultz and returned to her hometown for the procession. She teared up as she recalled the large gatherings their families had for football tailgates and the holidays.

Mikesell said Schultz wanted to become a police officer since he was in high school.

“He always wanted the best for people,” she said. “And he always watched out for people.”

Schultz was a 2009 graduate of Lowell High School and an offensive lineman on the school’s 2007 Class 4A state runner-up football team. He was a captain of the football team at central Indiana’s Franklin College and graduated from the school last year.

“He’s a small-town hero,” said Lowell resident Francy Goetz, who said she knows the Schultz family from school sporting events. “We all want to support the family.”

Schultz had just finished his one-year probationary period with the Merrillville Police Department. He was hired in July 2013 in the 35,000-resident town just south of Gary.

Many businesses along Lowell’s main street changed their signs to express their condolences.

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