Dakota Pitts, a five year old boy from Indiana, was nervous to return to school after he’d lost his father, Terre Haute police officer Rob Pitts, who was shot and killed as he responded to a call at an apartment complex a week earlier, so he asked his mum if one of his dad’s friends could accompany him. Responding to his plea, not just one but 70 Indiana police officers showed up to comfort the little boy on his first day back to school.
Les Hamm, a detective with Terre Haute police department told CNN affiliate WTHI TV, “Dakota asked his mom if one of his dad’s friends could take him to school so she reached out to Rob’s friends and families.”
What’s even more touching is the fact that the police officers weren’t just from the Terre Haute police department – officers from surrounding departments also showed up to show their support for Dakota. SWAT officers also brought gifts for Dakota, including his very own SWAT shirt and badge.
Speaking to CNN, Sullivan Elementary Principal Samantha Phegley said the school wanted to facilitate Dakota’s return to school as much as possible. She said, “A student’s return to school after the death of a loved one, especially a parent, is difficult. Having the support of Rob’s police family helped Dakota take those first few steps. Our hope is that Dakota’s first day back to school after his father’s passing is one that he will remember forever and that he will always know how much his father’s sacrifice meant to all of us.”
Kelli Jones, Rob Pitts’ sister, told WTHI-TV, “He will definitely know his dad was a hero.” She added, “ Blood doesn’t always make family and I think the blue family went above and beyond.”