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By B. Scott Mohr
Dumbfounded as to how they could pay tribute to fallen Southport Police Lt. Aaron Allan, Ronnie Roessler, his wife, Lori, and several of their close neighbors bounced a few ideas off one another, from which was born the idea to drape big blue ribbons from the lampposts along Madison Avenue in Homecroft.
“It’s crazy how it all came together in 16 hours from an idea in a driveway between four neighbors to such an amazing outpouring of love and support,” Ronnie Roessler said.
“We got home from work Thursday and felt helpless when watching police work the crime scene. We took the police a case of bottled water and opened our houses to them if they needed to use the rest rooms, but we wanted to do more.
“Once we knew what our plan was, we got the word out on social media. The response was incredible. An Eastside florist donated 28 bows and Erin Warrner bought the material to make the bows,” said Roessler, whose driveway brigade included Warrner and Abby Schaney. “We have always tossed around ideas for getting the community involved in various events, but they never amounted to much; however, this one did,” he added.
“But I can’t stress enough that this is all about how a community banded together, not so much how the idea came about.”
While the ribbons were hung Friday evening, the area teemed with police officers and residents, and the streets were lined with American flags.
“The mood was somewhat somber, yet at the same time there was so much love and fellowship,” Roessler said. “It was one of those things that I cannot fully articulate. The love and respect for one another and our law enforcement officers is overwhelmingly amazing.”
Many of the supporters ventured over to the Southport Police Department, where Allan’s police car was covered with flowers, stuffed animals and notes of sympathy.
Chief Thomas Vaughn wiped away tears while remembering Allan, who had always dreamed of being an officer.
Allan joined the department in 2011 as a volunteer reserve officer while an officer for Franklin Township Schools. He was Southport’s Officer of the Year in 2015 and was named the department’s first full-time paid officer in January.
Allan, 38, who leaves behind a wife and two children, was shot 14 times July 27 – four times in the back while trying to crawl to safety – by the trapped driver of an overturned 2004 BMW 325 near Madison Avenue and Maynard Drive. Allan, who was later pronounced dead at Eskenazi Hospital, was trying to help the motorist.
The accused shooter, 28-year-old Jason Brown, has been arrested on a charge of murder and is recovering at Eskenazi from gunshot wounds.
Calling for Allan will be from 2-7 p.m. Friday at Crown Hill Funeral Home. His funeral is at 11 a.m. Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
To complement the ribbon campaign, SouthportStrong and HomecroftStrong decals are being given away for donations, all of which are going to the Allan family. More than $500 had been collected through Sunday. A GoFundMe page (www.gofundme.com/fallen-officer-lt-aaron-allan) has raised more than $75,000.
The decals were meant to be used at National Night Out on Tuesday (and they were), but Roessler saw a good use for them earlier than that. Most of the 300 decals from the original press run were gone by Sunday night.
“A little kid came up to me Friday evening with 35 cents and asked if he could get one. I said, ‘Sure. How many do you want.’ ”
Roessler, who is employed by TKO Graphix in Plainfield, said he went into work early Monday to print an additional 2,500 decals. The decals and commemorative T-shirts are available by visiting www.indianagoingblue. Some decals may be available at the Police Department, 6901 Derbyshire Road.
“My cousin owns the company, and he had no problem with the idea. It’s amazing how central Indiana came together to show their support. It is a beautiful, bittersweet tribute.”