FISHERS, Ind. — On Friday a visitation was held for fallen Elwood officer Noah Shahnavaz. The 24-year-old Army veteran and Fishers native was killed last Sunday in the line of duty.
For five hours, people from across the country came to ITOWN Church in Fishers to pay their respects, including law enforcement officers from as far as 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 often keep in touch. It was the first time in a while they were brought back together, and it was under circumstances they could have never imagined.
“Anyone will tell you that he was worth it. I came from Texas, but I would have come from Mars if that’s what it took,” said Gary Harris, who served with Shahnavaz.
Shahnavaz’s brothers and sisters in arms, who are some of his closest friends, traveled in from places like New York, Texas, and Hawaii, and said that doesn’t even represent a tiny portion of the people he’s impacted that are still serving around the world or those unable to travel to Indiana.
Julio Hernandez said he would give anything to be there for one of his closest friends, who he also considers a part of his own family. He shared his favorite memories with FOX59 over video chat from overseas, where he’s currently on deployment.
“Just hours talking to him, hours being with him, and the memories now it’s hard to fathom, to think that he’s gone,” said Hernandez. “Now I have to go through the steps in realizing this is real and the grieving process.”
Shahnavaz’s fellow soldiers said the fallen hero dreamed of being an officer. It was a dream he fulfilled until he took his final breath.
“This wasn’t just a job for him, this was fun. He enjoyed going to work,” said Nicholas Tracy, who also served with Shahnavaz. “I never heard him complain about having to work. It was just so important for him and just a big part of his life. I mean he probably talked about it absolutely every day.”
“It’s affected a lot of people and I think especially it has to do with his ambitions and his age; how young he was. He had just gotten out of the military. I think it’s a hurtful story,” said Tracy.
Shahnavaz served on the Elwood Police Department for 11 months, but his career in law enforcement began well before that as he served as a military police officer.
Tracy shared that the two would often back each other on traffic stops and other calls during their time as military police officers. It’s those memories of “Shanny” that he and his brothers will treasure forever.
“In the military, they always say look to your left or your right to see someone who’s doing the right thing, if you don’t know what to do,” said Harris. “He was consistently the guy that I always look to, to you know, guide myself in my military career.”
Mark Thompson said Shahnavaz was one of the driving forces behind him striving to become a sergeant.
“He would always say that he was going to do it first, he would be the first one. He pushed me hard,” said Thompson.
The group shared laughs and tears, remembering the memories of their brother, who had the ability to light up any room he walked into. They also hope people know who he was, even beyond the uniform he wore.
“It’s much more than just about his job. He was a caring person, he cared about us, he would check in on us, he would just spend a lot of quality time with us,” said Tracy. “He just cared very deeply and he’s more than — he was more than just a cop. He was a brother, a friend, and a family member.”
“If we texted him or we were in trouble, he would always be there,” said Thompson.
“He was always reliable. He was always there when you needed him. He was so loving,” said Hernandez. “I love being with my family and having him being included in my family was just always fun.”
Hernandez said Shahnavaz was incredible to his son, who was very young the first time he met him. When he came over, Hernandez and his wife shared that Shahnavaz would watch Disney movies with their son, go to the park, or help with whatever was needed.
“My son adored him. He couldn’t say Shahnavaz and Shanny was silly to him. I asked him what his name was, and he told him, ‘it’s Noah.’ The only person I can recall that would call him Noah, at least in my house, was my son,” recalled Hernandez.
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, was unquestionably, his contagious laugh, or cackle, as others described it.
“I won’t be able to hear that in person again and it sucks,” said Hernandez, who plans to visit his fallen brother in Indiana when he returns home.
“The way he jump up and down whenever he got excited about something, definitely his laugh and his smile,” said Thompson as he described his favorite “Shanny” traits.
There doesn’t seem to be anyone who disagrees.
“You recognize it from a mile away. I mean, it was easily one of the funniest laughs because it’s one of those laughs that just makes you wanna laugh even if you don’t understand what’s being laughed at,” said Harris. “You just instantly know it’s got to be hilarious. It’s instantly contagious.”
His brothers in arms thanked everyone who has come out to show support to Shahnavaz and his family, and said they hope to see a packed procession route tomorrow to pay respect to the man who laid down his life for his community.
“To his family, I just give them the most condolences,” said Hernandez. “As much as we believe he was our family in some respect; they were that actual family and I know they’re hurting more than anything.”
Funeral service and procession information
The funeral for fallen Elwood officer Noah Shahnavaz will be held Saturday at ITOWN Church in Fishers. The funeral will start at 11 a.m., but you will see police officers start arriving at 8:30 a.m. Officers from across the state and country are expected to attend the funeral.
Indiana State Police announced the procession route that will carry Shahnavaz from ITOWN Church to Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.
You can learn more about the route and important information by visiting this link.