When a disturbed suspect pulled out a gun in the Panera Bread and shot and killed Senior Deputy Pat Dailey, in a fraction of a second, he had ended the life of a 30-year veteran of the Harford County Sheriff's Office and left Dailey's sons without a father.
His youngest son, Tyler, was just 17 years old.
"On that day, February 10th, I knew what I wanted to do,” said Tyler. “I knew I wanted to be a deputy with the Sheriff's Office and I knew my family knew that and that's all I wanted to do. Once I set my mind on something, I'm going to do it and I'm here today."
Thursday, Tyler signed on as the first cadet in the history of the Harford County Sheriff's Office.
After seeing his deputies mentor other teens interested in law enforcement only to have them join similar programs with other agencies, Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler says he wasn't about to let it happen again.
"I think he looks great in this uniform,” said Gahler. “It would have broken my heart to see him in something other than this. So obviously I'm very pleased."
It is an emotional day for Tyler's mother as well.
Through her work at the county's 911 center, she knows she may have to dispatch him on calls that could put him in the line of fire.
"In the back of my mind, yes, I'm worried,” said Robyn Harrington. “I'm scared, but I am so proud of him because I know this is what he wants to do. He's worked so hard to get here that overrides my fears. You just have to let it go."
And now a son will follow in his father's footsteps drawing upon the heart, the courage and the sacrifice that made him a hero.
"I love Harford County. This is the community that my father fought and died for and this is where I grew up,” said Tyler, “I've rode fire trucks down at Joppa-Magnolia Fire Company since I was 16 and to continue to serve with the Sheriff's Office for my career, it's an honor. It's exactly what I want."
As a sheriff's cadet, Tyler will make $14.72 per hour and he won't be able to become a deputy until he's 21 years old.
In addition to his new duties, he says he'll continue his work with the volunteer fire company just like his father did.