The life and death of one of Montrose’s finest |

The life and death of one of Montrose’s finest

Katharhynn Heidelberg
Montrose Daily Press
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
KINTERKNECHT31-- Pallbearers carry the body of fallen officer David Kinterknecht at Cedar Cemetery in Montrose. RJ Sangosti/ The Denver Post

MONTROSE, Colorado – Not was. Is.

Montrose Police Sgt. David Kinterknecht’s family told Montrose and the state that their fallen father, husband, brother and uncle did not cease being a great man when he died in the line of duty last week.

“Instead of saying ‘He was a great man,’ say ‘He is a great man.’ Because that will never change,” Kinterknecht’s niece, Kaylee King, told mourners at his funeral Friday.

Kinterknecht, 41, was taken from his family, friends and the Montrose Police force July 25 in a shooting incident that also injured his two brother officers, Larry Witte and Rodney Ragsdale.

A sea of uniformed men and women rose along with community members as Witte entered the services at Montrose High School in a wheelchair. Outside a few minutes earlier, policemen and firefighters hugged Ragsdale as he was loaded off an ambulance and taken in on a small reclining bed.

The two officers also accompanied Kinterknecht’s casket out of the gymnasium after the service.

“David is sitting up there with a big smile on his face, knowing this is all about him,” Kinterknecht’s brother-in-law, John King said.

Law enforcement agencies from around Colorado attended Kinterknecht’s service, including Garfield County Sheriff’s Office and other county municipalities.

During his eulogy, King credited Kinterknecht with his own career in law enforcement. “I have David to thank for not only allowing me to become part of his family, but for being the one who got me interested in law enforcement,” he said. “I know David would be very humbled by this today.”

“You left our lives way too early,” Denise King, Kinterknecht’s sister, said in a letter her husband read. “There’s a huge hole in my heart and soul. I love you, my baby brother.”

Family members and dignitaries alike struggled through tears when remembering Kinterknecht as both a decorated officer and a loving family man with a sense of humor as bright as the Hawaiian shirts he was fond of (except the one that made him look like a bumblebee).

He was the kid in the Montrose Police Explorer’s program who would go see his beloved grandmother at lunchtime. Unbeknownst to the police commander who dropped him off, though, Kinterknecht was watching soap operas with her.

He was the attentive husband who sent his wife flowers and did the grocery shopping – partly because it allowed him to buy Reese’s peanut butter cups.

With a mother who worked at the Montrose County Sheriff’s Office, he caught the law enforcement bug early, ultimately becoming both a cop and a firefighter, excelling at both.

And dying for one.

“David is not a stranger to death and dying, yet he lived his life to the fullest, because life mattered to him. It mattered to him that people felt safe and secure in their homes. It mattered to him that complete strangers could depend upon him in a crisis,” Montrose Police Chief Tom Chinn said.

“Any flaws in his character have been forever erased. … We may be daily pressed, but we are challenged to pick up the gauntlet.”

Chinn said flags were flying at half-mast across the state in Kinterknecht’s honor.

“David deserves it,” he said, before citing other officers, deputies and firefighters who were at the scene July 25. He then addressed Kinterknecht’s wife and other family.

“Kathy, your husband was a dedicated officer and a leader,” Chinn said. “Andrea and Amanda, your dad was an outstanding officer and he loved you both. I am proud to have known and worked with David. I and the rest of our organization will miss him. God bless you all.”

Peace officers often miss out on important events because they are putting their lives on the line for others, Montrose Mayor Jose Abeyta said. “I want to thank the Kinterknecht family for sharing David with the community,” he said.

Gov. Bill Ritter thanked the family on behalf of the entire state. “We the people of the state, we honor the service and we honor the sacrifice. We take so much for granted with our law enforcement,” he said. “We believe they’ll protect us, but we forget that every day when they serve, they face the ultimate risk.”

Ritter said the Kinterknecht family has also made an ultimate sacrifice, and quoted from the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Voluntaries,” which says “justice conquers evermore.”

Ritter said the state could never repay the family for its sacrifice, but instead could only pay respects. “He found a way to be about the noble pursuit of justice. We thank you, we love you, we owe you,” the governor said.

Family members offered poetry of their own, with Kinterknecht’s stepson reading about meeting him “just around the corner.”

“So many thoughts in my head, so many things left unsaid,” Kaylee King read from her poem. “I never thought I would have to write something like this.” She told her uncle she could never say enough how much she loves him.

She also read a statement on behalf of 12-year-old Amanda Kinterknecht: “His spirit lives on and always will.”

While other speakers might have pondered the meaning of the word “hero,” Andrea Kinterknecht had no question.

“You were a hero to so many,” the teen said as she cried. “You’re my inspiration to go out there.”

A few hours later, Sgt. Kinterknecht was carried by antique fire truck to his final resting place under a banner of bagpipe music. His beloved family and hundreds of officers from Montrose, the region, the state and beyond, marched in after him.

Soon, a 21-gun salute would be fired, and the 23rd Psalm read. Soon, “Taps” would play mournfully over the grave site.

For a brief moment after loved ones filed in, though, the only sounds were of wind-stirred leaves.

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