A Texas police officer’s simple act of kindness toward a homeless man when he thought no one was watching has made him something of an Internet celebrity.
According to Odessa Police Department Public Information Officer Steve Lesueur, a Facebook user sent the city of Odessa a photo of Corporal Jeremy Walsh giving a pair of his boots to a homeless man outside of a local bakery. The city posted the picture on its Facebook page Monday, and the image has since gone viral.
"The response has been very positive," Lesueur told HLN. "Corporal Walsh is a genuinely good guy.”
AJ, the homeless man, is someone Walsh says has come to know pretty well from his patrols around the city.
“He [AJ] generally doesn’t panhandle or bother anyone and he is more of a barterer than a beggar,” Walsh told HLN. The policeman also said that AJ spends a lot of time outside the bakery on 8th Street, where the only handouts he ever accepts are a few pastries and waters from the women who own the establishment.
Walsh noticed that AJ’s shoelaces had rotted and the soles of his shoes had fallen off, so the homeless man was walking around with trash bags over his feet. The police officer remembered that he had a pair of barely worn boots at home that he didn’t use anymore. He said he thought AJ might be able to use them.
"It just seemed like the decent thing to do,” Walsh said. He took the boots to AJ last week.
Because of AJ's aversion to taking handouts, Walsh said the first thing the homeless man said to him was “I don’t want your help.” Walsh said he told AJ he wanted to give him the shoes as a gift. AJ then offered to give Walsh something in exchange, but Walsh says he countered by saying, “It is hard to consider something a gift if you are looking for something in return.”
Ultimately, AJ reluctantly agreed to take the boots, thanked Walsh for his kindness and still promised to repay him in the future.
Although Walsh, an Army veteran, says he was blindsided by all the attention his photo has received, he is glad to be able to shed a positive light on police officers. He says he wants people to know he is by no means the only officer who does good stuff, he just happened to be the one who got caught.