Five-year-old Tatum Raetz was cheered on by hundreds of police officers on Wednesday at her kindergarten graduation.
What was going to be a happy occasion took a heartbreaking, tragic turn when her father, Phoenix Police Officer Daryl Raetz, was struck and killed by a car on Sunday during a DUI arrest.
The officers were there "in proxy for Daryl and to let her know that we're here for her," Police Officer Keith Garn told CBS5. The Phoenix Police Department made sure that although Tatum had lost her dad, she had gained an entire family of police officers.
The girl was escorted to the graduation by a police motorcade and accompanied by hundreds of officers, who lined the room three deep, applauded and stood as she got her kindergarten certificate.
The squad had initially intended to keep the event limited to the Raetz's squad and precinct, but word got out and other police officers showed up.
"She had 300, 400 parents up here for her this morning," Officer James Holmes told AZfamily. "It was absolutely amazing. It was bittersweet, and it was a bit overwhelming for all of us."
To Officer Raetz's daughter and entire family...we love you THIS much! twitter.com/phoenixpolice/…
— Phoenix Police (@phoenixpolice) May 22, 2013
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