UPLAND (CBSLA) — The son of a slain Pomona police officer got a touching sendoff Wednesday for his first day of school.
Police motorcycles rolled into the student drop-off area of Citrus Elementary School with much fanfare.
“I had no idea what was going on,” said 6th grader Jayden Heftman.
KCAL9’s Nicole Comstock reported that 4-year-old Greg Casillas was also in for a big surprise.
“The innocence in his eyes, he quite doesn’t know what it’s all about,” said Upland Police Captain Marcello Blanco. “He is excited.”
On his first day of transitional kindergarten, Casillas walked hand-in-hand with his mother and the Pomona police chief.
“I’m sure that he remembers his dad, in uniform, and being excited about it,” Blanco says.
The send-off was special but, no doubt, bittersweet. Little Greg’s father should have been there for his first day of school. But back in March, 30-year-old Gregory Casillas lost his life in the line of duty — he was shot by a man barricaded in his apartment.
“The first day of school can be hard enough for a child but it can be especially hard for a child following the death of a parent,” says Pomona Police Chief Mike Oliveri. “We are here to step in and escort his son, little Greggorio, to class for his first day.”
He added, “We hope little Greggorio’s first day of school is one he will remember forever, and when he gets older will understand just how much his father’s sacrifice meant to all of us.”
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Comstock asked Captain Blanco if he got emotional.
“I did…you know, you kind of have to hold back a little bit,” he said.
Blanco says his officers were happy to show Greg that he still has the support of an extended law enforcement family.
“It was beautiful watching him so excited to come to school and just running down and saying hi to all the officers,” said Sandra Heftman.
She and her son Jayden caught Greg’s sweet smile as he walked to his classroom.
“Great morning. It was emotional, but it was heartwarming,” said Citrus Elementary’s Principal Mario Carranza. “It really was.”
He said the school is excited for Greg’s bright future.
And volunteers to help Greg learn the ropes won’t be hard to come by.
“If I had a chance I will give him a tour around the school,” says Jayden.