NewsLocal News


'His heart was so bright, it radiated through his badge': Fairway police, family honor Jonah Oswald

Ofc. Victor Buitrago
Posted at 2:27 PM, Aug 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-14 19:06:31-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Officer Jonah Oswald was just 29 years old but had an impact that reverberated through his community.

"He was brave, selfless, honorable, respectable, talented and skilled," Ofc. Victor Buitrago, Oswald's friend, said while speaking at the service on Monday.

The Fairway Police Department, as well as departments from around the Kansas City area and the country, paid their respects to the young officer, who was killed in the line of duty on Aug. 7.

They were there to support Oswald's family, wife, and kids, saying goodbye to the bright and ambitious man they admired.

Buitrago shared fond memories of their friendship and their time on the job. One night, they tried to go out for a few drinks, although Oswald wasn't much of a drinker. They ended up eating McDonald's in a gas station parking lot, just talking. It would become one of their best memories together.

Buitrago recalled how Oswald would go out of his way to give thoughtful presents for birthdays. He helped move Buitrago into a new apartment, asking nothing in return.

Since he knew Buitrago loves Texas and whiskey, Oswald gave Buitrago an ice cube mold engraved with the Texas flag so he'd have personalized ice for his whiskey.

Buitrago talked about Oswald's love for classical piano and trying his best to avoid sweets, even smelling cupcakes to avoid giving into temptation.

Above all, Buitrago said Oswald was a simple man who knew how to be a good friend, father, husband and officer.

"He loved serving, but I always knew he worked hard in order to provide for his family, which is how we initially bonded," Buitrago said. "His passion for the job coupled with his love and devotion for his family was honorable and commendable. And it mirrored my views and values. Our combined love for the job became the center of what would turn out to be one of the greatest friendships I've ever experienced."

Oswald's journey to the Fairway Police Department started in California, where he was born in 1994. He and his wife moved here to the Kansas City area, where they had their two boys.

Oswald's wife met with Chief J.P. Thurlo at a coffee shop, telling him how bad Oswald wanted to be a police officer.

Thurlo saw his potential, but said he needed some experience. So, Oswald went to the Army, where he completed boot camp, then worked for the Buckner Police Department for three years. Then, Thurlo welcomed him to the small Fairway police force.

"He was an amazing officer," Thurlo said. "Bright, funny, and most of all, he was brave. When a call came out he was always the first one out the door. His heart was bright, it radiated through his badge."

A few weeks before his death, Thurlo said Oswald was involved in a pursuit, where a suspect lead officers on a chase throughout north Johnson County. Eventually, Thurlo said the suspect was cornered in a cul-de-sac.

He said Oswald blocked the suspect in, despite the suspect ramming his police car. Oswald got out of the car, prepared to engage with the suspect. Thurlo said Oswald chose not to shoot, although he could have, and the suspect was taken into custody with no injuries.

Afterward, Thurlo asked Oswald if he was okay. Oswald said he was but that the "car's hurt real bad."

Thurlo said he was beaming with pride but sternly told Jonah, "You did good."

Oswald's car door from that pursuit was displayed at the funeral.

Thurlo said Oswald, true to the spirit, was one of the first on scene at that QuikTrip on Aug. 6, where a suspect wanted in a car chase ran inside the bathroom.

"Jonah gloved up, then he went in with the other officers," Thurlo said. "He made the ultimate sacrifice for those other officers and the people he was sworn to protect."

After finding out the news that Oswald was killed in the shooting, Thurlo visited him in the hospital to say goodbye for the last time.

As he'd told Oswald before, Thurlo held Oswald's hand and said four words:

"I said, 'Jonah, you did good.'"

Thurlo made a pledge to Oswald's wife and two young boys that he and the department would always be there for them.