KERNERSVILLE, N.C. -- Friday morning was a tough one for law enforcement officers across the country after five officers were killed Thursday in Dallas.
The emotions coming out of Dallas even resonated more than 1,000 miles away in the North Carolina town of Kernersville.
“I’ve been doing this for 18 years and my heart sunk,” said Kernersville police Lt. Damion Marotz. “It’s one of the saddest things I’ve ever witnessed.”
While the officers walked in to work on Friday, the community they serve met them to show their support.
“Right after 9/11, there was a huge outpouring from the community, but I think this has just been even more,” Marotz said.
It started with cookies and cupcakes.
“The next thing you know we’re getting balloons and flowers,” he said.
Members of the community kept showing up, filling the parking lot to hug officers, some with tears in their eyes.
“It was something I’ve never felt before. It gave me goosebumps every time I hugged someone,” said Officer Melissa Kearns.
Kearns approached one woman, and gained a unique experience.
“I asked her if I could give her a hug. She happened to be shaking extremely bad. I asked her what was wrong and she told me she was extremely nervous,” she recalled. “She didn’t want us to think that all black people were bad and I explained to her that we don’t think that as police officers.”
So, not only did Kearns say it, but she showed it, by going to the woman’s house to meet her grandchildren.
“It was awesome, because the kids came running up to me as soon as I got there and they had the biggest smiles on their face,” Kearns said.
Kearns brought fake tattoos and balloons to the children.
“They happened to run inside the house right away to put the tattoos on, to come right back out and show me they had badges on their arms, and one of the little girls brought me a bag of Doritos to share with me, it was like her last bag of Doritos that she wanted me to eat,” she said.
A picture of the encounter was posted to the town’s Facebook page, where dozens of people commented to continue showing support.
“It makes you realize that the citizens of Kernersville love their police department just as much as we love them,” Marotz said.