Losing a parent is one of the most devastating things you can possibly go through as a child.
While childhood is often deemed to be the most care-free and joyful period in our lives, it’s also when we’re at our most vulnerable.
And when one of the people who always looked out for you and kept you safe is taken from you, it can be completely earth-shattering.
When one five-year-old boy by the name of Dakota Pitts, lost his beloved father, Officer Rob Pitts, he wanted desperately to remain as close to him, his memory, and his legacy as possible.
On Monday, Dakota went back to school for the first time since his father was killed in the line of duty on May 4.
In a beautiful show of solidarity and compassion, the young boy was joined by 70 of his late father’s co-workers:
They escorted him in uniform so that he wouldn’t have to go back to his Indiana elementary school all on his own.
The very poignant moment was filmed and the resulting footage shows the officers standing side-by-side along the sidewalk, just in front of the school’s entrance.
And it was all because Dakota asked to be taken to school by one of his dad’s officer friends.
Well, he didn’t just get the support of one his dad’s friends, but 70!
“Dakota asked his mom if one of his dad’s friends could take him to school, so she kind of reached out to Rob’s friends and family,” said Les Ham, Terre Haute Police Department detective. “He will definitely know that his dad was a hero. Blood doesn’t always make family, and I think the blue family just went above and beyond,” Kelli Jones, Officer Pitts’ sister, told WHTI-TV.
Dakota – along with his brother and sister – has now been left without a father and wanted to wear his dad’s badge on the way to school. He was also given a SWAT shirt as he headed to the front entrance of Sullivan Elementary School.
The officers gave the child gifts and assured him that they would always be there for him.
Dakota’s father Rob Pitts, a 16-year veteran with the force, was tragically killed by 21-year-old Christopher Wolfe in a shootout at the age of 45.
Hours before his death, he and his team want to an apartment complex where an armed murder suspect was barricaded inside.
Wolfe was suspected of fatally shooting a 26-year-old man at a house in Terre Haute.
After a three-hour standoff, Wolfe shot at Pitts and his team from the second floor of the apartment, and the 45-year-old ultimately sustained fatal gunshot wounds.
He was taken to Terre Haute Regional Hospital where he died.
Later, a SWAT team managed to enter the apartment, found the suspect, thereby ending the standoff. The team opened fired on Wolfe and he, too, was killed.
“Rob is deeply missed, but we are grateful for the time we had with him. Thank you for your continued prayers,” Terre Haute police spokesman Ryan Adamson said.
“It is another tragic loss for the Wabash Valley and the Terre Haute Police Department,” Sgt. Joe Watts of the Indiana State Police said.
Chief John Plasse organized a news conference to announce Pitts death.
“People are engaging law enforcement and we are losing our lives. He was a fine officer and he was going toward danger to help his fellow officers apprehend a homicide suspect,” he said.
What these officers did for young Dakota Pitts is incredibly heartwarming. All the grieving boy asked was for one of his dad’s friends to support him, and what he ultimately got totally surpassed his expectations, and showcased to the world the amazing values shared amongst our police forces.