SULLIVAN, Ind. – It was tough for the son of a fallen Indiana police officer to return to school Monday, more than a week after his father died in the line of duty. Nevertheless, some influential members of the community were there to help.
Dakota, the 5-year-old son of the late Terre Haute patrol Officer Rob Pitts, only asked if one of his dad’s friends could ride in his father’s police car on his way to school, according to FOX59. But when Dakota arrived, he was shocked to see who was there to greet him.
About 70 Terre Haute police officers and Virgo County Sheriff’s deputies greeted Dakota at the door to show him support on his first day back.
The SWAT Team presented Dakota with his own SWAT shirt and badge.
It’s a moment Officer Pitts’ sister says gave her chills.
“He will definitely know his dad was a hero,” Pitts’ sister, Kelli Jones, told WTHI-TV. “Blood doesn’t always make family and I think the blue family went above and beyond.”
Pitts was killed earlier this month in a shootout with a homicide suspect who later died from injuries he suffered in the crossfire, authorities said.
Officer Pitts was investigating a homicide that had occurred earlier in the day. Evidence and witness statements brought officers to the Garden Quarter Apartment Complex where the suspect was believed to be located.
Pitts, along with three additional officers, located the suspect when he suddenly appeared in a second floor window above the front door to the apartment.
From the elevated position, the suspect fired upon all four officers. Pitts was struck by rifle fire from the wanted man.
One report indicated Pitts was struck in the head.
Officers returned fire, wounding the suspect.
His partners pulled Pitts to a safety while they continued to engage the suspect in the gun battle.
Pitts was transported to the Terre Haute Regional Hospital were he succumbed to his gunshot wounds later in the evening.
After the initial gun battle, the suspect barricaded himself in the apartment. As a result, a SWAT team was called. SWAT team members found the suspect about three hours later, suffering from a gunshot wound.
After the scene was secured, medics provided medical care for the suspect. However, he later died of his wounds.
Terre Haute Police Department issued this tweet announcing Pitts’ death.
We are sad to report that Patrolman Rob Pitts #196 was the Officer killed in yesterday’s incident.Officer Pitts was a 16 year veteran of the Terre Haute Police Department.Rob is deeply missed, but we are grateful for the time we had with him.Thank you for your continued prayers.
— Ryan Adamson (@THPDPIO) May 5, 2018
Pitts was the first Terre Haute officer to die in the line of duty since July 2011. He was a 16-year veteran of the police agency. Officer Brent D. Long was serving an arrest warrant with a U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force when he was killed.