Nearly five months after the shooting, the Springfield community hasn’t forgotten about Officer Aaron Pearson.
Cards and well-wishes from strangers still arrive at the Pearson home in southwest Missouri. When the family is out to dinner, people come to the table to say thank you. Others have wanted to pick up their check.
“They say, ‘We’re praying for you,’” said Amanda Pearson, Aaron’s wife. “We’re both just blown away by the support.”
It started as soon as the community heard the news Jan. 26. While on duty, around 1:30 a.m., Pearson was shot in the head.
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He responded to a scene in a high-crime area where another officer noticed a man, who was driving a van, acting suspiciously. At one point the driver parked outside a home, and the officer soon noticed a man and a woman standing outside the van. As the man walked toward the home, the woman “looked up and down the street repeatedly” as if serving as a lookout for the man, according to a court affidavit.
When Pearson arrived, he went to find the man as the other officer spoke to the woman. Another woman was inside the van.
“Officer Pearson had radioed (that) the male was not stopping for him,” court records show. The other officer “then heard multiple gunshots from the area where Officer Pearson was attempting to contact the male.”
A man has been arrested and is awaiting trial.
Since the shooting, members of the community have told Pearson’s family what the officer means to them and how his work on the city’s north side made a difference. Amanda remembers one moment at the hospital when a man got in the elevator with her.
“Is your husband going to be all right?” he asked.
She explained that the medical team was working with him and watching his progress.
“He said, ‘Good,’” Amanda recalled. “‘He was always so nice to me when he was arresting me and my wife. He always let me smoke.’”
Many sent donations. The Springfield Police Officers Association organized events. Businesses held fundraisers.
The bottom line of all that community support: Pearson’s family has received more than $500,000.
“At one point,” said Tom Dempsey, Aaron’s father-in-law and a retired Springfield police sergeant, “my tears were no longer for Aaron. I just can’t get over the generosity of this community.”