ST. LOUIS — On a hot St. Louis summer day, Shay Gillespie took her 9-year-old son, Diggy, and his older brother downtown to hand out water and snacks to the homeless.
While they were there, two officers stopped by and offered to accompany them to make sure there were no problems.
Gillespie said Diggy has Down syndrome and a lot of people are drawn to him, but in this instance, Diggy was immediately drawn to officer Chad Cross.
“My tattoos were showing at the time cause it was hot. And he came up and kind of rubbed on them, I guess thinking they were going to rub off and his mom explained to him they were tattoos and he kind of looked at my gun,” Cross said.
The family and officers spent the afternoon together and when it was time to go, Cross went back to his car to get something for Diggy.
“And he had this watch in his hand. And I had my camera, my phone in my hands … and so I just started recording, cause I didn’t know what he was doing,” Gillespie said.
Cross spent eight years in the Marines and did three deployments. That afternoon, he gave Diggy the watch he wore while he was deployed in Iraq.
“That watch meant a lot to me. You know, it was special to me and that young man was special to me right away, so I wanted to do that for him,” Cross said.
Gillespie said Diggy was ecstatic.
“It definitely impacted both of my kids and that’s what you want in life you know. You want things to impact them in a positive way,” she said.
A mixed martial art fighter and former Marine, cross’ exterior looks tough, but what he really enjoys is getting to know people to give them a positive police experience.
His friends say they are not surprised by this gesture.
“I’ve known Chad for years,” Bryan Guidry said. “I know that he did a tour in Iraq and part of his mission over there was winning over the hearts and minds of individuals and that is no different than some of his jobs everyday here on the streets of St. Louis.”