On Monday, five-year-old Dakota Pitts returned to school for the first time since his father, a police officer, was killed in the line of duty. But, he didn’t have to return to his elementary school alone. Instead, he was accompanied by 70 of his father’s uniformed coworkers while he proudly wore his dad’s badge.
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The touching scene was captured on video, showing some of Indiana’s finest lining the sidewalk as Dakota walked towards Sullivan Elementary School’s front door. Dakota received a special SWAT shirt as he proceeded down the line and had on his father’s badge.
One of the officers walked alongside him, while many of those in attendance provided Dakota with support, letting him know that they’ll always have his back.
Dakota’s father, Rob Pitts, was a 16-year veteran with the police force. He was killed on May 4 at the age of 45 during a shootout while on duty, according to a report by the Daily Mail.
Rob and his team were approaching an apartment complex where murder suspect Christopher Wolfe, who was armed, had barricaded himself inside.
A standoff ensued, lasting approximately three hours. Then, 21-year-old Wolfe opened fire from the apartment’s second floor. Rob was fatally wounded and passed away not long after arriving at Terre Haute Regional Hospital.
SWAT eventually entered the apartment, ending the standoff. Wolfe was killed during an exchange of gunfire.
The entire return-to-school event was coordinated after Dakota asked his mother if one of his father’s friends could take him to school.
“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 Terre Haute Police Department detective Les Ham.
“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,” said Rob’s sister, Kelli Jones.