Slain Elwood officer's services may be largest in Indiana history

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Aug. 5—ELWOOD — The services for slain Elwood Police Officer Noah Shahnavaz may result in the largest public turnout of any fallen law enforcement officer in Indiana history, an organizer said.

Joseph T. Hamer, chairman of the Critical Incident/Memorial Committee of the Fraternal Order of Police, said based on the turnout Monday at the vigil for Shahnavaz in Elwood, he expects the service at ITOWN Church in Fishers to reach its 1,252-seat capacity.

The services are set for 11 a.m. Saturday at ITOWN Church, 12491 E. 136th St. in Fishers. Interment will take place at Crown Hill Cemetery, 700 38th St. in Indianapolis.

"We understand these will be very largely attended services. It may be one of the largest we have ever seen in the state of Indiana," he said. "It is a larger church, but by the same token, there aren't many churches around here that seat more than that."

Honoring Shahnavaz, which is expected to take the better part of the day will include law enforcement and religious ceremonies at the church, a 10-42 End of Watch Ceremony at the police station in Elwood and a 21-gun salute at the cemetery.

Hamer said he was uncertain which past law enforcement services drew the largest group of mourners, but he estimated it was larger than 5,000.

"There's not going to be an open seat within the sanctuary, for sure."

Law enforcement officials from as far away as Texas are expected to participate in the visitation Friday and/or the funeral service Saturday.

"Every officer will be given a white carnation that will be pinned upside down under their badge," he said. The carnations dipped in red represent the purity and sincerity of an honorable career.

The 77-mile procession route from the church to Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis by way of the police station in Elwood also is expected to break records, Hamer said. It is expected to travel through Hamilton, Madison and Marion counties.

"This may be the longest funeral procession because of distance."

Depending on the number of squad cars and personal vehicles in the procession, it also may set a new record, Hamer said. The longest procession he could recall was about 6 miles for Boone County Sheriff's Deputy Jacob Pickett, who was fatally shot in 2019.

"We're trying to figure out how to stop the trains," he said.

The ceremonies will be rich with symbolism, including a Garrison flag at the 16th and A streets in Elwood, a riderless horse with boots facing backwards in the stirrups and the playing of "Taps."

"As soon as the Garrison Flag goes up, nothing goes under that flag except for Noah's coach," Hamer said.

Follow Rebecca R. Bibbs on Twitter at @RebeccaB_THB, or call 765-640-4883.