Officers help 5-year-old boy with autism celebrate birthday after friends decline party invite

CANYON COUNTY, Calif. -- A Canyon Country mother's heartbreaking Facebook post about no friends attending her 5-year-old son's birthday party ended up with numerous strangers going to the event Saturday, including personnel from the Los Angeles County sheriff's and fire departments.

Latrice Jones had planned a birthday party over the weekend to celebrate her son's birthday. Gregory turned 5 on Tuesday, so she planned a party and invited his few friends.

"He’s on the autism spectrum, so sometimes it's hard for him to interact with other kids," Jones told KTLA.

But all of Gregory's friends declined, and the only ones expected to show up were his grandparents, aunt and uncle, and two cousins.

"I had to tell him nobody’s coming to his birthday party, and it was really heartbreaking," Jones said.

Frustrated and upset, she took to the Santa Clarita Mommies Facebook group to vent.

“Do you know how hard it was for me to tell him yesterday that no one he invited is coming?” Jones wrote in a post on the page. “I just hope that he has as much fun as possible today and just remembers how much fun he had and not that no one showed up.”

But Jones didn't have to worry about people showing up to her son's birthday after all. Within hours of writing the post, she received messages from strangers who wanted to attend the party, including one from Los Angeles County Deputy Joane Warren, a new mother herself.

"I was like, 'We can help him out," Warren told KTLA. "He seems like a really, really cool kid. So, I just wanted him to have a very happy birthday."

Warren messaged Jones, asking if she could stop by the party with some of her friends. She then emailed as many people as she could.

Come party time, dozens showed up to the event, including deputies from the Santa Clarita Sheriff's Station in patrol vehicles, and firefighters from the L.A. County Fire Department in a fire truck. A K-9 officer was also on hand for the celebration.

Attendees brought gifts and sang Happy Birthday to the youngster, who told KTLA the party made him feel "happy."

The Sheriff's Department posted about Gregory's birthday, thanking the family for the invitation.

"We are so glad we got to celebrate with the big birthday boy, his family, new friends and an amazing community that always comes together to help. Happy Birthday, Gregory!!" the post read.

Jones expressed kindness and gratitude to those who helped turn her son's birthday party around and made it one to remember.

"It’s definitely a memory that we’re going to have for the rest of our lives," she said.