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Huge show of support for fallen officer's daughter

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PHOENIX -

It was an incredible show of support for a young girl who lost her father over the weekend.

On Wednesday, dozens of officers attended the kindergarten graduation of Tatum Raetz, the daughter of Daryl Raetz, who was struck and killed early Sunday while investigating a DUI.

Graduating from kindergarten should be an exciting time for any child, but for one in particular, it was a bittersweet day.

"The purpose of us is to be here in proxy for Daryl and to let her know that we're here for her," said Phoenix Police Officer Keith Garn.

Since Tatum's father couldn't be there, in his place, about 100 officers from across the valley streamed in one by one to the small auditorium to watch Tatum get her diploma. Her mother in the front row had tears in her eyes, cheering her on.

"This is the most important thing we could do is to provide support from the family," said Sara Garza, Phoenix PD Drug Enforcement Bureau.

A tight-knit community of law enforcement officers -- although Raetz may be gone, he will never be forgotten.

"Most of these officers here today were in uniform, but they weren't working, they were here on their own time," said Phoenix Police Sgt. Ben Kartchner.

Officers say seeing the little girl smile, if even for a second, helps ease the pain.

"Maybe not everybody knew him personally as an officer, but he's our brother and he always will be and we will support his family forever and this is just the first step," said Garza.  "We honor his memory, but we celebrate and we're there with his family and that's the most important thing we can do."

"I hope she knows we're never going to replace her father but that we're going to do the best we can," said Garn.

Later Wednesday, a fundraiser was held at the Sheraton Resort in Phoenix. The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association held a barbeque to help raise funds for Officer Raetz's family until 1 a.m.

The event was also sponsored by the Phoenix Professional Firefighters of Arizona. It's also helping to raise funds for the family of fallen firefighter Brad Harper.

Barbeque Fundraiser
Through May 23, 1am
Sheraton Crescent Hotel
2620 W. Dunlap Ave.
Phoenix, AZ
(602) 943-8200
www.sheratoncrescent.com

Funeral for Officer Daryl Raetz
May 25, 9am
Christ's Church of the Valley
7007 W. Happy Valley Rd.  
Peoria, AZ 85383
(623) 376-2444
www.ccvonline.com

Fundraisers for Daryl Raetz
www.gofundme.com/2z7dno
www.100club.org/web/100Club
www.handsacrossanthem.org


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