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Virginia woman killed by gunman trying to break into car was 'fierce advocate,' father says

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Posted at 10:03 PM, Aug 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-08 12:58:53-04

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A Powhatan father is mourning the loss of his daughter after she was shot outside her home in Jacksonville, Florida, Tuesday, according to police.

"We first got the call from her fiance, she was being taken to the hospital," Pat Schollaert recalled.

It was a call informing Schollaert that his 28-year-old daughter, Caroline, an active member of the U.S. Coast Guard, had been shot outside her Jacksonville home.

“Within minutes we had just thrown a few things in a bag and were on the way to I-95 south," Schollaert said. "And within I guess, within about an hour and a half -- almost to the state line -- we've gotten the call that she had passed."

Schollaert's daughter later died at the hospital. He said she was shot Tuesday morning, after confronting a man breaking into her car while she was on the phone with police.

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Caroline Schollaert

Father: Coast Guard member was 'fierce advocate' for women on base

“She was an absolutely beautiful girl... with a smile that was infectious," Schollaert said. "But the real beauty was inside."

Schollaert reflected on his daughter's legacy and her service in the U.S. Coast Guard.

“This was her eighth year," Schollaert explained. "Her first deployment was in New Haven, Connecticut. She was a what they call aids to navigation.”

Schollaert was currently assigned to the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron in Jacksonville.

“She's always brought smiles to the people she worked with," her father said. "She was always the most fierce advocate, for particularly the women on base."

As the Schollaert family prepares to come home to Virginia, he said the support from the Coast Guard has been powerful.

“From the very top levels, down to the folks that you work with everyday, has been overwhelming," Schollaert said. "They've embraced us like family. It's helped us get through this difficult time. We're still we still have a ways to go."

Officers have 'very good evidence,' father says

Police are still investigating the incident and asked the community to help catch the suspect. Officers released a new video they believe showed the suspect, who appeared to be wearing a backpack, a hat and possibly a face mask.

Schollaert is hopeful his daughter's killer will be caught.

“They have a very, very good evidence," Schollaert said. "And I'm confident that they're going to get this person."

Loved ones created a GoFundMe online fundraiser to help with funeral costs. As of 10 p.m. Saturday, more than $15,300 had been raised.

The family also plan on having the Honor Guard escort her body back home to Powhatan.

Anyone with information about the case is urged to call the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at 904-630-0500 or email them at JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward of up to $9,000 contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.