The flag outside of Fawcett Elementary School was lowered Thursday for Tacoma police officer Reginald “Jake” Gutierrez.
The officer died Wednesday after being shot just a few blocks north of the school while answering a domestic violence call.
Inside the school, second-graders were busy writing letters of appreciation to Gutierrez’s fellow officers.
Slade Weisenberger, 8, said his letter told officers, “how they help out a lot, and that we’re appreciative of them.”
“Thank you for sacrificing your lives,” Slade wrote. “When you are around, we feel safe.”
He ended it: “You rock.”
The letters were the idea of teacher Samantha Guilford and two other instructors.
“We just wanted to do something to help support our kids as well as our community,” Guilford said. “We are a tight knit community especially with the police station on 56th.”
Kids arrived at school Thursday with varying levels of knowledge about Wednesday’s incident, she said.
“They were asking questions — a lot of them,” Guilford said. “Some of them knew a lot of detail and some of them knew very little.”
The teachers told the students they were safe, and the incident had ended.
“They seemed to be in good spirits,” Guilford said. “They didn’t seem to be afraid.”
Josiah Walker, 7, thanked the officers for investigating crimes and catching crooks.
“You lock up criminals,” he wrote them.
“I feel sad,” Josiah said as he paused from the letter. But then he added, “I’m happy for their protection.”
Guilford said she is always hesitant to bring up tragedies with her students. She doesn’t know what parents have told them.
But with this incident occurring within blocks of the school she felt she had to.
“It’s a tough line to walk, but I think it is important for them to know because it did happen in our community,” Guilford said.
The teachers planned to deliver the letters to police Thursday evening or Friday morning.
Jenna Ly, 7, said she likes to see police officers driving around town because she figures they’re on their way to catch criminals.
“Stay safe,” Jenna wrote to the officers. “I feel safe when you are around.”