The young daughter of a fallen Arizona law enforcement officer got a bittersweet sendoff from her family in blue July 21. Her very own Sheriff’s escort saw her safely to her first day of kindergarten.
Five-year-old Julianna Kinnard, from Chandler, received flowers from Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office deputies outside Conley Elementary School, and they offered hugs and words of encouragement. Several mounted deputies were also present, a nod to Julianna and her late father’s shared love of horses.
Detention officer Joshua Kinnard was killed by police on Feb. 26, 2018. A former Marine, Kinnard had been suffering a PTSD-related episode at the time, according to Julianna’s mother, Maggie Jones.
“It really, truly was so heartwarming to see so many of Josh’s partners come out and be a part of her first day,” Maggie, 38, told The Epoch Times.
“Knowing we were facing one of the biggest milestones since his death, without him, was difficult. MCSO rallied around us and made it a little easier knowing I didn’t have to do it alone, which in return made Julianna feel very loved and supported.
“[I] couldn’t have asked for a better second family.”
Julianna was thrilled to see the deputies on horseback. Her first time in the saddle had been with her father by her side. She also loved riding in a police cruiser and seeing so many familiar faces from her father’s unit.
The department shared photos on Facebook, saying that officers had been “honored” to make her first day of kindergarten extra special. “We wanted to show our support as she starts her new journey,” they posted.
In memory of Joshua, Maggie co-founded the Joshua Kinnard Foundation to raise awareness for veterans and first responders suffering from PTSD. The nonprofit provides countywide resources and activities such as art, music, and equine therapy.
Encouraging those suffering from PTSD to seek help can save lives, says Maggie, who remembers Joshua as her best friend and true love.
“He was so loving … He was the guy who always stopped to help others in the road,” she said. “He made you smile, and life was just better with him in it.”
Without Joshua around, raising Julianna—a driven child she describes as kind, caring, loving, and attentive to others’ needs and feelings—is tough for Maggie.
“She misses him terribly, and one of the hardest parts is trying to console her when she cries,” Maggie explained. “Trying to explain Heaven to a 5-year-old is not an easy task, but all I can reassure her of is her daddy is always with us.”