FAIRWAY, Kan. — People who knew fallen Fairway Officer Jonah Oswald are mourning and remembering the man, husband and father he was.
The 29-year-old died Monday after he was injured in a shootout Sunday with two suspects at a Mission QuikTrip.
“He was the epitome of what a true law enforcement officer would be – devoted, a devoted father and husband willing to help his community,” said Robert Paul, a friend of Oswald’s. “(He) stepped into church, willing to be there on Sundays just to lend a hand. I think he was bigger than life itself.”
This is now the Fairway Police Department’s first line-of-duty death in its more than 70-year history.
Officials said the deadly incident began Sunday morning when Lenexa police were pursuing two suspects accused of stealing a car. Police said they rammed a patrol car before taking off, eventually crashing the car and running into a QuikTrip.
One suspect, Shannon Wayne Marshall of Ashland City, Tennessee, was also killed in the shootout that ensued.
On Tuesday afternoon, a procession of law enforcement escorted Oswald’s body to a Shawnee funeral home. It’s the first step in preparations to lay the 29-year-old father to rest.
Oswald will have a ceremonial guard watch over him 24 hours a day until the funeral service.
Now the city of Fairway and the Johnson County community are grappling with losing an officer in the line of duty.
“It’s a huge loss,” Paul said. “He was young and had a long life ahead of him I think. He’s going to be sorely missed.”
Paul said he and Oswald served together on the safety team at Life Church. He called the loss unimaginable.
“It’s very devastating. I don’t think it’s sunk in for the community yet and for me and for other folks that knew him personally. It’s still so fresh. It’s just hard to explain,” Paul said.
Friends describe Oswald as an outstanding husband with a passion for his job and serving others.
“You could tell that he loved his family and his children,” Paul said. “He talked about them, and his love for law enforcement was very extensive,” Paul said.
In a statement to FOX4, Life Church said:
“We’re grateful for how Officer Oswald served our church the past few years, and we’re absolutely heartbroken for his family. We’re praying for them in this incredibly difficult time as well as praying alongside the many people grieving his loss.
“We’ll always remember him for how he greeted each family and made them feel welcome. He loved giving all the kids high-fives.“
Meanwhile at Front Range, Fairway’s only coffee shop, the weight and gravity of Oswald’s death is heavy. Front Range sits about 250 feet from the police station and is a frequent stop for officers.
“It’s just heartbreaking,” barista Preston Frazier said. “You don’t ever expect something like that to happen around here, and thinking that it could have been somebody that you serve on a daily basis is just really tragic.”
A memorial is growing Tuesday at the Fairway Police Department as people leave flowers, crosses and other mementos.
Fairway residents are shocked this happened in their small Johnson County community.
“It’s a loss that’ll be felt. Again, it’s a small community. We know one another. We look out for one another and just a real tragedy,” one resident said.
“Everybody is so close around here,” Frazier said. “My heart goes out to the family and friends and co-workers and colleagues that were with the officer that knew him.”
The Surviving Spouse and Family Endowment will donate $25,000 to Oswald’s family. The city has also created a donation link for anyone who wants to help.
“Just knowing that he was young and loved to serve, and he was doing a job to protect his community, and his life was taken way to soon,” Paul said.