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Murder of Beloved Active-Duty Coast Guard Member Stuns North Florida Community, Family and Friends

Caroline Schollaert on duty with the Coast Guard

Caroline Schollaert on duty with the Coast Guard, as seen on GoFundMe started by those who knew her.

As she confronted a burglar, 27-year-old Caroline Schollaert was shot and left to die outside of her own home in northern Florida. Now, authorities from several different law enforcement agencies are offering various cash rewards for information leading to the arrest of the person who killed the beloved Coast Guard specialist.

According to local independent television station WJXT, members of the Coast Guard have been going door-to-door in the Riverside neighborhood of Jacksonville, Fla. asking the neighbors of their fallen friend and colleague if they could check their surveillance cameras for potentially case-breaking footage–and offering in excess of $20,000.

The Coast Guard Investigative Service is intent on unearthing any information they can find about the death of Schollaert, an active-duty member of the national defense and policing organization who was assigned to the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, an armed combat force which is focused on drug interdictions that has been based out of Jacksonville for well over 20 years.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of a member of our Coast Guard family and we offer our deepest condolences to their family and those impacted by this tragedy,” the agency said in a recent statement. “The Coast Guard is ensuring support resources are available to aid the member’s family and shipmates as we navigate this difficult time. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is the lead agency for this investigation with assistance from the Coast Guard Investigative Service. We are coordinating with them as they conduct their investigation.”

In addition to the $20,000 reward mentioned on the CGIS flyer, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office noted last week that in conjunction with First Coast Crime Stoppers, there is a $4,000 reward as well as a $5,000 reward from the Fraternal Order of Police Foundation.

Investigators say that Schollaert was talking with 911 dispatchers as she attempted to stop the burglar who was breaking into cars during the early morning hours on Aug. 3. One shot was fired at around 5:30 a.m. and first responders arrived within roughly 10 minutes to find Schollaert lying unconscious in her driveway. They rushed her to a nearby hospital where she succumbed to her wounds.

Grainy, black-and-white security camera footage of the alleged burglar and killer was quickly released by authorities.

Later, police issued another video which shows a running man who is believed to have been in the area at the time of Schollaert’s death.

An additional man is also being sought in connection with the incident but is not believed to have been involved or considered a suspect. Rather, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office believes the man, known to reside or frequent the Riverside area, may have pertinent information about the case.

“This lady was serving her country,” neighbor Billie Fagan told WJXT. “She was doing good. To have a life taken away like that so quickly is really what makes me so sad.”

A GoFundMe campaign was started four days ago by those who knew Caroline Schollaert, including a friend of Caroline’s fiancé. The campaign organizers said they hope to raise money to help increase a potential reward and to help Caroline’s family cover funeral costs.

“On Tuesday, August 3rd we lost a beautiful soul. Caroline was a devoted daughter, loving fiance, fearless Coast Guard member, and incredible friend. She was taken from us far too early and in such a horrific way. Please help us bring peace to Caroline’s family and all those who are heartbroken by her loss by identifying her attacker and bringing him to justice. First Coast Crime Stoppers and the Fraternal Order of Police Foundation are working together to offer a $9,000 reward for information leading to the suspects arrest. Our hope is to double this reward in an effort to remove him from the streets of Riverside as soon as possible,” a post on the campaign says. “The first $9,000 dollars raised will be withdrawn and provided to First Coast Crime Stoppers in the form of a bank check. They have agreed to add our funds to their existing reward in an effort to increase tips and involvement in the case. Any additional funds raised over the $9,000 goal will be withdrawn and provided to Caroline’s family via bank check to aid in funeral costs. In the event that her killer is not apprehended all funds raised will be sent to Caroline’s family to help cover the cost of funeral expenses. All funds will be delivered personally by me upon withdrawal. Both beneficiaries have agreed to this transaction.”

“Please help us find Justice for Caroline – she was brave, bold, and gone far too soon. She is missed by many and loved by all,” the post concluded.

As of Monday afternoon, more than $17,000 has been raised.

Schollaert is a native of Virginia. The family left within minutes after they got a call saying that Caroline was shot, but she died at the hospital while they were on their way to her. Her father Pat Schollaert remembered his daughter as a “beautiful girl” who was always the most fierce advocate […] particularly [for] the women on base.”

“They have a very, very good evidence,” the grieving father said of Florida authorities during a WTVR interview. “And I’m confident that they’re going to get this person.”

[image via WTVR screengrab]

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