At Funeral for Officer Paralyzed in 2003 Shooting, Words of Respect and Thanks
Hundreds turn out to honor and remember Kyle Olinger
Two marines display an American flag above the urn containing the ashes of Officer Kyle Olinger.
Retired Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger recalled placing a Medal of Valor over Officer Kyle Olinger’s head to a standing ovation from 1,000 people.
It was the kind of ovation reserved for true heroes, Manger said, though he looked into Olinger’s eyes and didn’t believe he felt like a hero.
“My hope is that in the ensuing years, Kyle was able to reflect back on that experience and on some level, understand how much he was appreciated, how much he was respected, and how much he was admired,” Manger said at Olinger’s funeral on Wednesday.
Hundreds of law enforcement and military members poured into the auditorium at Our Lady Of Good Counsel High School in Olney to honor Olinger, a county police officer who died at age 53 on April 18 from injuries sustained when he was shot during a traffic stop in 2003.
The former Marine was paralyzed in the incident more than 15 years ago, when 18-year-old Terrence Arthur Green shot him in Silver Spring. The officer’s death was ruled a homicide earlier this month and prosecutors are considering bringing additional charges again Green.
Olinger pulled over a car carrying Green on Aug. 13, 2003, according to news reports. Green reached for a gun, and Olinger responded by drawing his weapon, but did not fire it. Green shot the officer and fled.
Confined to a wheelchair the rest of his life, Olinger was forced to retire, but remained involved at the department. He routinely instructed officers on handling similar situations to the one that cost him the use of his legs, said Marcus Jones, the county’s interim police chief.
“What Kyle demonstrated to us was although dealt this bad hand in this thing we call life, he vowed to teach others valuable lessons, owning the mistakes he believed he made that dreadful night,” Jones said.
Justin Kyle Olinger, son of the officer, remembered the wisdom of his father more than anything, usually expounded over a game of catch.
“You control your own universe,” Olinger told his son, who shared the words. “If you think you’re going to fail before you even try, you are going to fail. Take a deep breath, center yourself, and put it out into the universe that you are going to succeed.”
An urn containing Olinger’s remains was brought to a field at Good Counsel and placed on a table, surrounded by rows of officers and military members. He was sent off with a 21-gun salute, followed by an end of service call by county police.
Two U.S. Marines unfolded an American flag and held it above the urn during the outdoor portion of the ceremony, then refolded it and delivered it to Olinger’s family. Six county police officers then did the same.
“We on this police department, and everybody that lives under the blanket of freedom and protection in this community, owe him our eternal gratitude and thanks,” said Russ Hamill, who recently retired from the county police force after serving briefly as interim chief.
Charlie Wright can be reached at email@example.com