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Law enforcement and veterans escort child to school who lost father

Posted at 4:35 PM, Jul 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-21 20:31:30-04

GILBERT — The first day of school can be memorable, sometimes more so for parents than for children, especially when it's the first day of kindergarten.

That is why Maricopa County Sheriff's officials, Gilbert police, and veterans from local organizations showed up Wednesday morning to escort a young child to her first day of school.

The groups lined up outside Conley Elementary School in Chandler as Julianna Kinnard and her mother Maggie Jones drove up in an MCSO patrol car to the front of the building.

A sheriff's deputy greeted the 5-year-old child at the car. As she walked between two lines of veterans and law enforcement officials toward her classroom, each person handed the child a yellow rose.

Julianna's kindergarten teacher Halle Schliesmann and school principal Lisa Schore were on hand to greet her and escort her to her classroom as well.

"We wanted to make her first day as special as it can be, just as we do for every kindergartener," said Schore.

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Julianna lost her father Joshua Kinnard when she was just 2-years-old. Kinnard was a marine corp veteran diagnosed with severe PTSD.

"Joshua was filled with nothing but service. He loved his country. He served his country, and then he came home and served his county as an MCSO corrections officer," said Maggie Jones, Kinnard's fiancée and Julianna's mother.

Kinnard was tragically shot and killed by Gilbert police officers three years ago, after a mental health episode involving guns.

"It is so humbling to know that even through a tragedy, so many people rally together," said Jones.

It was an overwhelming day for the mother, as she knew she would have to face this milestone of their child starting her educational journey alone. Seeing so much support filled her with joy.

The mother said Julianna had been talking about her father as she was getting ready for school, and wishing he was there.

"My gosh, he loved that little girl something fierce," said Jones. "I told her daddy is always with us," she added.