‘That smile - it was infectious’: Powhatan County native killed during attempted burglary in Florida

Published: Aug. 8, 2021 at 5:22 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 9, 2021 at 6:21 PM EDT
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POWHATAN COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - The community is rallying behind a Powhatan family after their loved one was killed in an attempted burglary in Jacksonville, Florida.

Caroline Schollaert, 26, was shot on Tuesday, Aug. 3 outside of her home, authorities said she later died at the hospital.

“It’s a struggle, minute by minute,” said Patrick Schollaert, Caroline’s father.

In 2013, Caroline graduated from Powhatan High School. Her father described her as a caring young woman who looked out for her fellow classmates.

“She looked out for the kids who were picked on and bullied, and she never quit that,” he said.

That kindness carried into her adult life as a member of the U.S. Coast Guard.

“[She began] a support group for women in the Coast Guard,” Schollaert added.

Caroline was an aviation maintenance technician with the elite HITRON unit.

“They are the only unit the Coast Guard has to do drug interdiction,” Schollaert explained.

It was why the 26-year-old was stationed in sunny Jacksonville, Florida.

“She maintained those fast helicopters that chase those drug-running boats that go real fast,” Schollaert said. “They’ve got better toys and better choppers that go even faster. She made sure they were in tip-top shape.”

However, that dedication to serving her country was ripped away nearly a week ago.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office stated a man tried to break into Caroline’s car, and when she confronted him while on the phone with 911, he shot her.

“He could have just ran off,” Schollaert said. “He didn’t have to do that…just have no regard for anything or anyone. They have no regard for life.”

Now authorities are looking for two persons of interest in connection to Caroline’s murder.

Her father is also in Florida overseeing the work.

“I’m overwhelmed at the efforts they’re doing,” he said. “We’re getting calls throughout the weekend, late at night. It’s been absolutely reassuring.”

There has also been support coming in from all the way in Virginia.

A $9,000 reward has been set up by the Fraternal Order of Police for information leading to an arrest in the case. A GoFundMe has also been set up with hopes of assisting the family with funeral costs and doubling the reward money. As of Monday evening, more than $17,000 was raised via the fundraising website.

“That smile - it was infectious,” Schollaert said.

That smile captured the heart of a colleague who just three days before Caroline’s death, had asked her to spend forever together, according to her father.

“They were soulmates,” he added. “Her fiancé is absolutely devastated.”

The family is focused now on making sure that her smile is everlasting.

“When they looked like they were having a rough day - she was gonna make them smile whether they liked it or not,” he said.

The Schollaert family will return home Tuesday with Caroline. She is expected to be buried in Powhatan County this coming weekend.

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