HOUSTON (KRON/CNN) – In the wake of three recent shooting deaths of law enforcement officials across the country, a deputy in Texas is telling her story about an act of kindness from a teenage stranger.
Harris County Deputy Constable Tommi Jones Kelley says she was alone in the rain at a gas station near Houston, when a teenager offered to watch over her as she got gas. This happened just days after her colleague, Harris County Deputy Darren Goforth was gunned down while he was filling his patrol car with gasoline at a suburban Houston convenience store.
Kelley was so touched by the gesture, she snapped a selfie of her and the teen and posted the photo to Facebook. The post has gone viral. As of Monday afternoon, more than 216,000 people had shared the photo.
In the post she wrote, “this teenager I’ve never met before is standing right behind me & says, ‘ma’am, do u mind if I stand here behind you while u get ur gas?’”
She asked him why. The young man, whom she identified as Mckinley Zoellner, answered “to make sure You stay safe!” Kelley wrote.
Kelley was extremely moved by the act, particularly in light of the recent unprovoked deadly attack of fellow deputy Darren Goforth.
Investigators say Goforth was shot dead on August 28 while refueling his patrol car. The 10-year veteran was in uniform at the time. Officials described it as an “execution-style” attack.
Authorities say Shannon Miles, 30, came up behind him and fired into his back, then stood over him and fired more shots. Miles is charged with capital murder. Goforth was buried Friday with full honors.
Even after Kelley pumped the gas, Zoellner was still standing there in the rain, Kelley wrote. Then he got into the car with his mother. “I told her she has an amazing son,” Kelley wrote. “…she said he wanted to make sure no one hurt me.”
Though she was armed with her service handgun, Kelley wrote, Zoellner “stood there empty handed, but he for sure had my ‘6’ while my back was turned.” In police and military jargon, “got your six” means got your back, referring to it as the six o’clock position.
“With all the terror going on nationwide, this reassured me there are still some pretty awesome individuals out there!” she said.
CNN’s Jackie Castillo and Faith Karimi contributed to this report.