SAGINAW (CBSDFW.COM) – Several hundred North Texas police and firefighters got a big “thank you” on Monday. The kudos came in the form of an appreciation lunch for those who helped bring an arrest in the murder case of Saginaw 6-year-old Alanna Gallagher.
Among those at the luncheon Arlington police Detective Charles Lodatto, who police say was shot by the suspect in the murder case. Lodatto was part of a team that went to serve a warrant at the home of 17-year-old Tyler Holder, who lived just two doors down from the Gallagher household.
Police say Holder opened fire, striking Lodatto. Officers returned fire and shot Holder in the head. The teen remains under guard at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.
While at the luncheon, Lodatto spoke to the media for the first time since being shot. “Right now, I just thank God for being here. He pulled me through this deal and without Him and the family and the brotherhood that surrounded me that day… I’m just very thankful,” he said.
Saginaw Fire Chief Doug Spears also attended the luncheon and said he was honored to be there. “It’s overwhelming and greatly appreciated, greatly appreciated. They went all out for us.”
The recognition luncheon was the idea of 19-year old Taylor Pippi, who received expressions of gratitude over and over. She said people told her, “Thank you very much. Thanks for this; it was a good idea.”
Euless Fire Captain Gary Landers said the idea of a thank you lunch is pretty ingenious. “This is awesome when a community can come together and actually support their law enforcement and their fire department personnel,” he said, while remembering, “It’s just a shame that you had to have this kind of an incident to have it.”
When Taylor came up with the idea of a recognition meal her mother, Kim Hudspeth, helped get things going. “We had put it on of the Facebook pages,” Kim said. “Just within 15 minutes we probably had 100 responses [asking] what could we bring or what could we do.”
Civil servants from across Tarrant County and the state, along with FBI agents were all invited to the Saginaw Recreation Center. Chief Spears said everyone who came out was, “Grateful that they did it. We’re glad to be thanked by the community, well respected and appreciated.”
Expenses were few for the luncheon since along with the community restaurants in the area stepped in with donations. “We had El Sombrero that donated Mexican food for the lunch, 400 cupcakes. Albertson’s donated a bunch of cakes,” Taylor recalled. “We had JR.’s Café donate a bunch of pies and cakes, cookies chocolate, everything. Chicken Express did tea and everything else.”
The body of Alanna Gallagher was found on July 1. The little girl had been bound and was wrapped in a tarp. It was more than three weeks later that law enforcement officials went to serve the warrant at Holder’s house.
Detective Lodatto, who was just released from the hospital last week, said he is eager to get back to work, but will remain on leave until he is cleared by doctors. Like many of the officers there, the 21-year police department veteran said he was humbled by the event. “It’s nice to have recognition. That’s not what we’re doing it for, we’re doing it because we have a calling to do this job… but it is very nice,” Lodatto said.
Holder has been charged with attempted capital murder in the shooting of Detective Lodatto and capital murder for Alanna’s death. He is being held on a total bond of $1,000,000.
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