ASCENSION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - It was the first school dance at Prairieville Primary for Fynleigh Gerald, 4. The dance though, was a father-daughter dance. Fynleigh's dad, Baton Rouge Police Officer Matthew Gerald, was one of the three men killed in an ambush shooting on law enforcement in 2016.
"It's sweet, but it's bittersweet because I know it's the first time Fynleigh is going to go to a dance and her daddy isn't here," said Gerald's widow, Dechia.
"I wish Matt was here to do the dance, but the guys are doing it for him," said fallen officer Gerald's father, Ronnie Gerald.
The guys Ronnie is referring to are his entire squad.
"It's the heart. I wish we did not have to do it, but I am honored to do it," said BRPD Cpl. Brad Barr, who was on Gerald's squad.
A group of nine men from fallen officer Gerald's squad each suited up in uniform, had their boutonnieres pinned on, and slid a corsage to a pre-k princess for her first dance. But what's a dance without lots of pictures? With her dad's portrait right behind her, the men did just about everything they were told to do for pictures.
"I'm very blessed that his squad from day one has stepped up anytime we have needed anything," said Dechia. "I don't think I would be where I am if it weren't for the squad and their wives."
When it came time to head to the dance, a procession of BRPD officers with their lights on escorted Fynleigh to her school. With the squad, her mom, baby brother, and her grandparents at her side, Fynleigh walked up and made her way into the cafeteria for a night that'll be one for the books. It's a night that at 4-years-old, may be hard to truly grasp. Years from now though, she may be taken aback by the event.
"It's never ending. Matt is gone, but we will always step up and always do whatever we can whenever we can for as long as we can and forever," said Cpl. Barr.