FISHERS, Indiana – A visitation was held Friday for fallen Elwood officer Noah Shahnavaz. The 24-year-old Army veteran and native of Fishers was killed on duty last Sunday.
For five hours, people from across the country came to pay their respects at ITOWN Church in Fishers, including police officers from New York and Texas and Shahnavaz’s comrades in arms.
The group of soldiers, who served together in the 591st Military Police Company, said they keep in touch often. It was the first time they had been brought together again in a long time, and it happened under circumstances they could never have imagined.
“Everyone will tell you he was worth it. I’m from Texas, but I would have come from Mars if I had to,” said Gary Harris, who served with Shahnavaz.
Shahnavaz’s brothers and sisters in arms, who are some of his closest friends, have traveled in from places like New York, Texas and Hawaii and said it doesn’t represent even a tiny fraction of the people he’s impacted by and who are still in serving the nearby world or those who cannot travel to Indiana.
Julio Hernandez said he would give anything to be there for one of his closest friends, who he also considers part of his own family. He shared his fondest memories with FOX59 via video chat from overseas where he is currently on assignment.
“Just talking to him for hours, hanging out with him for hours and the memories now, it’s hard to fathom, to believe he’s gone,” Hernandez said. “Now I have to go through the steps to realize this is real and the grieving process.”
Shahnavaz’s comrades said the fallen hero dreamed of becoming an officer. It was a dream that he fulfilled until his last breath.
“It wasn’t just a job for him, it was fun. He loved going to work,” said Nicholas Tracy, who also worked for Shahnavaz. “I never heard him complain about having to work. It was just so important to him and just such a big part of his life. I mean, he probably talked about it every day.”
“It affected a lot of people and I think it has to do with his ambitions and his age; how young he was. He had just come out of the military. I think it’s a hurtful story,” Tracy said.
Shahnavaz served in the Elwood Police Department for 11 months, but his law enforcement career began long before that, when he served as a military police officer.
Tracy shared that during their time as MPs, the two often assisted each other with traffic stops and other calls. It’s those memories of “Shanny” that he and his brothers will treasure forever.
“In the military, when you don’t know what to do, it’s always like, look left or right to see someone doing the right thing,” Harris said. “He has consistently been the guy I always look to guide me in my military career.”
Mark Thompson said Shahnavaz was one of the driving forces behind his quest to become a sergeant.
“He would always say he would do it first, he would be first. He pushed me hard,” Thompson said.
The group laughed and cried, recalling memories of their brother having the ability to light up any room he entered. They also hope people will know who he was, even about the uniform he wore.
“It’s about a lot more than just his job. He was a caring person, he took care of us, he looked after us, he just spent a lot of time with us,” Tracy said. “He just took great care of him and he’s more than – he was more than just a cop. He was a brother, a friend and a family member.”
“When we texted him or we were in trouble, he was always there,” Thompson said.
“You could always count on him. He was always there when you needed him. He was so loving,” Hernandez said. “I love being with my family and it’s just always been fun to welcome him into my family.”
Hernandez said Shahnavaz was incredible for his son, who was very young when he first met him. When he stopped by, Hernandez and his wife shared that Shahnavaz would take their son to watch Disney movies, go to the park, or help with anything needed.
“My son adored him. He couldn’t say that Shahnavaz and Shanny were being silly to him. I asked him his name and he said to him, ‘It’s Noah.’ The only person I can remember calling him Noah, at least in my house, was my son,” Hernandez recalled.
His friends remembered Shahnavaz as an avid gamer who had the ability to bring communities of strangers together, a kind, caring and loving person with a heart of gold. They also said the best thing about him is undoubtedly his infectious laugh, or cackle as others have described it.
“I won’t be able to hear this again in person and it sucks,” said Hernandez, who plans to visit his fallen brother in Indiana when he returns home.
“The way he jumps up and down when he’s upset about something, definitely his laugh and his smile,” Thompson said, describing his favorite traits of “Shanny.”
There doesn’t seem to be anyone who disagrees.
“You can tell from a mile away. I mean, it was definitely one of the funniest laughs because it’s one of those laughs that just makes you laugh, even if you don’t understand what’s being laughed at,” Harris said. “You know right away it must be hilarious. It’s immediately contagious.”
His brothers in arms thanked everyone who came out to show their support for Shahnavaz and his family and said they hope to see a packed procession route tomorrow to pay respects to the man who laid down his life for his community.
“I just want to offer my condolences to his family,” Hernandez said. “As much as we believe he was our family in some ways; They were that real family and I know they hurt more than anything.”
Information on funeral services and processions
The funeral of fallen Elwood officer Noah Shahnavaz will be held at ITOWN Church in Fishers on Saturday. The funeral begins at 11:00 am but you will see the police officers arrive at 8:30 am. Officials from across the state and country are expected to attend the funeral.
The Indiana State Police announced the procession route that will take Shahnavaz from ITOWN Church to Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.
You can find out more about the route and important information under this link.
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