Tint Shop Owner “Backs the Blue”January 11th, 2017 by Katherine Coig
Dark tint and law enforcement may appear to have a checkered relationship but, for one small town in Georgia, Kyle Whalen, owner-operator of Superior Auto Glass in Hartwell, is proving that’s not quite the case.
On December 12, 2016, Lavonia, Ga., police officers, Capt. Michael Schulman and Officer Jeffery Martin, responded to a call that was supposed to be a routine traffic stop on a suspect out of Greenville, S.C., wanted for a stolen vehicle. Upon arrival, the suspect, 22 year-old Khari Anthony Dashaun Golden, opened fire on the two officers. Golden eventually was apprehended after fleeing from the scene, but both officers were wounded.
“Thank God he didn’t kill any of them,” says Whalen, who’s known Schulman for quite some time. “The Captain was shot in the chest cavity, and the other officer was shot in the hand.” According to Whalen, the bullet that struck Schulman entered through his armpit right above his vest, landing him in the ICU on a ventilator for a week; Martin was shot in his right hand and had to spend the night at the hospital.
The following day, Whalen felt compelled to do something and began the “Back the Blue” campaign. He started making vinyl decals and donated 100 percent of the proceeds to the officers. Another company caught wind of Whalen’s efforts and provided him with T-shirts to make, which sold out in just two days. “We had someone ask us to ship [decals] to Texas,” Whalen says, “and we also had some t-shirts and decals sent to the Captain’s brother in Arizona.”
Whalen, with the help of his girlfriend, says the campaign “blew up” on social media. “We sold the decals through Facebook, and people were wanting to buy 800 to 900 of them,” he says. “A lot of people wanted to help us, too.”
Prior to the incident, Captain Schulman created and sold yard signs that showcased the “Back the Blue” slogan in an effort to raise money for each officer in his department to get a concealed armor rapid response (CARR) pack.
“In a CARR pack, there’s a medical kit, armor plating—anything you’d need in the case of an active shooter. There’s a lot of necessities in those packs,” Whalen explains. But CARR packs are expensive and can range upwards to $500 a piece.
Collectively, Whalen raised $3,000 for the two officers. “We gave them each $1,000 in cash, and the remaining $1,000 was used to purchase CARR packs for both of them,” he says. According to Whalen, the officers weren’t aware of his efforts until after their releases from the hospital, and both were very grateful.
When Schulman was released from the hospital, a motorcade was assembled to escort him home, and more than 400 people joined in to follow the officer.
“It brought us all closer together; we’re a small town,” says Whalen. “If anything, it shows him our standpoint.”
“Kyle Whalen is one of those people that services the community with his window tinting business, but he also recognizes that the officers support and protect us daily. His efforts as a person and as a business owner truly show the depths of gratitude that our industry reaches,” says Jody Knight, national trainer/sales rep at Scorpion Window Film. “We are very proud of Kyle and his team, and we’re thankful that he is part of the Scorpion Family!”