When a teen ran up to an elderly woman in the rain, he had no idea that a police officer was watching his every move. The minute he crossed the parking lot toward his ride, the cop stopped him. At first, the driver thought it was a big misunderstanding, but it quickly became clear the cop knew exactly what he was doing.
Officer Joe Holt with the Independence Police Department in Independence, Missouri, was sitting in his cruiser in a local grocery store parking lot during a downpour when a young man caught his eye. As the cop watched, a young black teen exited the backseat of a van in the pouring down rain and made a beeline for an elderly woman who was struggling to cross the parking lot in the rainstorm.
Unaware that the cop was watching, the boy, who Officer Holt would later learn was named Tyrea Pryor, took off his coat and held it over the woman’s head, protecting the elderly white female from the elements the best that he could. Tyrea followed the stranger all the way to her car, not knowing he was being watched or that the officer had snapped a picture.
“It was pouring down rain, and all [of] the sudden I see this teenager running across the parking lot, taking his coat off,” Holt recalled. The officer watched Tyrea walk back to his car, all the while “not saying a word to his Auntie or Mom when he exited or re-entered” the van. That’s when the cop knew he had to speak up.
Officer Holt followed Tyrea to his mom’s van where he decided to have a talk with the boy’s mother about what her son had just done. “I followed him to the van and approached the driver who was his mom,” Holt explained. “I told this young man I was impressed and he should be proud because I was. His mom had no idea what was happening.”
“She thought she had done something wrong since I was in uniform,” Holt admitted, but he quickly cleared up the misunderstanding. “I told his mom that she has done amazing with him and I hope and pray he goes places. She started tearing up because I was a cop and took time out of my day to call him out on what I witnessed,” Holt wrote in a Facebook post.
“It was a moment between the both of us. I mean I teared up a little bit. I’m a parent as well. So, I told her that I was very impressed with him and that he should be proud,” Holt said. The officer later decided that he wanted to reunite with the young man. “I’m touched by this kid,” he admitted.
“I know the chances of this reaching his mom is slim, but kid you impressed me,” Holt posted on social media, hoping to reach the boy. “I experienced something that actually set me back a little. It didn’t set me back because I was shocked but because I got to witness it first hand,” he wrote.
“With all the hate, fueled by color, belief, sexual preference, or race, it actually pisses me off. Why, because most of it is based off [of] what they read in the papers. Most [of it] isn’t based-off personal experiences,” Officer Holt added. “This kid cared less about race, religion, or color. The only thing this kid cared about was being kind.”
Because of the impression Tyrea Pryor had made on him, Officer Joe Holt then made an offer, hoping it would get back to the boy who had made his day. “Kiddo, if you see me on the street again this guy owes ya a dinner. You ever need anything I will come running to ya,” Holt promised. And, he got to make good on his word as his wish came true.
Officer Holt got his wish and was able to reunite with Tyrea after a family member saw the post on IPD’s Facebook page and called the police department, according to Fox4KC. He took the 14-year-old and his mother Ebony out to dinner to show his appreciation for what the boy had done for a complete stranger on that rainy day.
“As promised, after finding him, I took him out to dinner. He and his wonderful mom Ebony enjoyed some Red Lobster,” Holt said, adding, “this kiddo who I have only known a short time already means the world to me.” The local news also caught up with Tyrea, but the humble teen didn’t think he had done anything out of the ordinary.
“I’ve been doing that since I was young, just like helping people,” Tyrea said, explaining that he has made helping people a habit. “It looked like she needed help,” he said, referring to the elderly woman. “I was raised to like do right toward anybody,” he added. “It doesn’t matter what race or anything.” That’s the definition of being a good citizen. Let Tyrea’s character and his words be an example for us all: “It doesn’t matter who it is, just do what you know is correct,” he said, and you really can’t argue with that motto.