KENT, Wash. -- The outpouring of love for Kent Police Officer Diego Moreno was clear Monday as flowers and handmade cards were left as a memorial outside the Kent department.
But perhaps the most heartbreaking is the image of three teddy bears left behind for the officer’s wife and two young kids.
One man who dropped flowers off at the memorial on Monday held back tears after learning the officer had kids of his own.
“God bless you,” said the man.
Moreno’s service to the Kent community and his journey on becoming an officer is highlighted in a recruitment video.
“I never, ever thought I would be a cop. I grew up in Venezuela so a Third World country,” Moreno said.
In his eight years as an officer, Moreno worked on the graveyard shift to keep the public safe as a patrol officer. He also became a hostage negotiator and a defensive tactic instructor. He often used his Spanish skills to translate.
“I love the challenge, I love learning new things,” Moreno said.
Kent Mayor Dana Ralph said Moreno was awarded twice for saving two lives, including a child who nearly drowned in a pool.
“Jumped the fence, located the child who had been in the pool for 2 to 3 minutes. Officer Moreno started chest compressions and saved that child’s life,” Ralph said.
Those who knew him say Moreno’s compassion made him endearing. A type of police officer who would never miss a 'Shop With a Cop' event and step in to buy toys for kids with his own money.
“That’s the kind of person he was,” Ralph said.
Employees at the Little Gym say that kind of nurturing personality was in full display even before Moreno became a police officer.
“He was fun, enthusiastic, loving and caring,” Emily Egee said.
Egee, who is the director of the Little Gym in Renton/Kent, says Moreno had a way of making people feel special.
“Even after he left the Little Gym, he would come by when he was on duty, off duty, in uniform just to say hi,” Egee said.
Now Egee is trying to be there for Moreno’s wife.
“Shelly is a strong, amazing woman. This is just a tragedy and I can hope we can rally around her and give her what she needs at this time,” Egee said.
Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla says his department and the community will be there for Moreno’s family.
“Outstanding father and incredible human being, an example for all of us. We are going to celebrate his life,” Padilla said.