“You shouldn’t be afraid to get gas or have your hand on your hip when you get gas,” Deputy Tommi Kelley remarked to CBS Houston affiliate KHOU-TV.
But Kelley wasn’t alone the last time she needed to fill up, the station reports.
“He walked up behind me and said, ‘Ma’m, ma’m,’ so our first reaction is, ‘Yes?”‘ said Kelley.
“I was like, ‘Can I watch you pump your gas,”‘ said McKinley Zoellner. “She asked me why and I said to make sure you’re safe.”
Zoellner is just 16 years old and he had the deputy’s back at pump #1.
“I was right there, kind of front in her, just watched and made sure no one was coming, making sure nothing was going to happen to her,” said Zoellner.
“The poor kid was getting rained on,” said Kelley. “It was pouring. After a full tank of gas, he’s still getting rained on.”
It was just a simple act but it made a huge difference.
“It was just amazing to see her face, and after that she gave me a hug,” said Zoellner.
“When I hugged him, he said ‘I’ve never been hugged by a cop,!” said Kelley.
And she gave him more than a hug. The two snapped a selfie together — and that photo has now gone viral all over the world. It’s been shared more than 200,000 times.
“I hope people understand that we would risk our lives for them,” said Kelley.
So to know a young teenage boy would stand by her side and do the same, means the world to Kelley.
“To be nervous having to pump gas is sickening to me. So when you have someone that is so young and mature and thoughtful, and came up to help, I was very impressed with him,” Kelley said.
“I was just trying to do something good for someone, but people found out and it turned into a little more than I expected,” said Zoellner.
Both Deputy Kelley and Zoellner say they’ve gotten messages of support from all over the world. Now Zoellner hopes more people follow his lead and do whatever they can to help protect officers and keep them safe.