VIRAL: Act of kidness by Texas officer captures internet attention
ODESSA, Texas (Derek Drake) -- A Texas police officer is getting international attention thanks to a viral photo that captured a touching act of kindness.
Cpl. Jeremy Walsh of the Odessa Police Department was on patrol in mid-January when he stopped next to a local diner and offered a pair of his boots to a well-known homeless man.
The photo, captured by a patron at the diner which the homeless man, who only goes by A.J., was resting.
"It seemed like the right thing to do," Cpl. Walsh told NewsWest 9. "I had something that somebody else needed that I didn't need."
A.J. is someone that Cpl. Walsh and others in the community have come to be familiar with, but not in a bad way. A.J. is an Army veteran who often turns down help from others.
"From what he's told me, he was in Colorado for a good while," Cpl. Walsh said. "He ended up getting frostbite, losing the front part of his feet."
Walsh said he'd noticed A.J. had been without shoes for sometime. ""He used to have some steel-toed Dockers," the officer said. "They ended up falling apart on him.
"Well, I have some boots that I never wear because they're a size too small and they're just collecting dust in my closet. So I figured A.J. could use them a lot more than I could."
Walsh said he had to do a little back-and-forth with A.J. before convincing the homeless vet to accept the boots as a gift. But, according to Cpl. Walsh, A.J. vowed to pay him back.
"I saw him today," Cpl. Walsh described to NewsWest 9. "He said, 'I haven't forgotten about ya.' I said, 'It wouldn't be a gift if we were trading, bro!'"
Walsh said he wasn't expecting all the attention and wasn't aware of the photo until one of his friends pointed it out on his Facebook feed. "I've had a lot of supportive comments and pats on the back from the guys," he said. "Transients or homeless people, they're still people. If I can help him, or anyone else, I can and will."
NewsWest 9 tracked A.J. down in Odessa and asked his thoughts on all the attention. A.J. told the crew he felt the picture was keeping Cpl. Walsh from his regular duties, but he was grateful for the boots.