By Julie Muhlstein Herald Columnist
Officer Gage Hancock-Stevens was on duty. A break-in was reported at a Microsoft Global Security office in Bellevue.
Gage is just 13.
Saturday’s break-in was staged.
It was all part of a two-day wish come true for an Everett boy sworn in Sunday as an honorary officer with the Bellevue Police Department.
“Apprehending the burglar at Microsoft, that’s what he talked about. He’d say ‘I got to arrest a bad guy,’ ” said Shauna Hammer, Gage’s mother.
“He’s really all about helping the good guys,” said Jan Catey, a volunteer with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. “He told the bad guy, ‘You’re going to jail,’ and then leaned in and said ‘You made a very poor choice today.’ “
Before turning 3, Gage was diagnosed with an optic glioma brain tumor, affecting his optic nerves. It stole his sight. Legally blind, Gage has very slight vision in his left eye and none in his right.
Gage was featured in this column in 2011 when he was treated with cutting-edge proton therapy at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Hammer said Tuesday that her son’s tumor is stable. He is now getting no treatment for it.
An Evergreen Middle School student last year, he just started eighth grade at the Washington State School for the Blind, a boarding school in Vancouver, Wash. Gage gets home every weekend. Last weekend was one he’ll never forget.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation, with many volunteer hours from Bellevue officers, packed Gage’s schedule with police work.
“I was warned that you’re going to fall in love with Gage when you meet him. Boy, was that the truth,” said Bellevue Police Maj. John Manning, who was at Gage’s side throughout his adventure. “He was full of questions. And so much life and love just pour out of him.”
Jessie Elenbaas, wish manager with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Alaska &Washington, said she worked with police for months “to make this big for Gage.”
Saturday morning, Manning drove a patrol car to Everett to pick up Gage. They arrived at police headquarters with a motorcade escort. The boy was outfitted, head to toe, in a real uniform from Blumenthal Uniforms &Equipment, where officers get their duty duds.
“One highlight was getting his own pair of handcuffs,” Elenbaas said. He was also given a utility belt and a training gun made of blue rubber.
In the Defense Tactics Room, he worked with officers Dave Rivera and Yong Lee. Gage joined in virtual shooting practice, met police dogs, and learned crime investigation tips from Brian Orr, a forensics technician in the department’s crime lab.
Lunch with police pals at Bellevue’s Rock Bottom Restaurant was interrupted by that burglary-in-progress call.
“They needed Officer Gage,” Elenbaas said. “Over at Microsoft. Security let us in. They made it feel so real. He got to capture the bad guy and handcuff him. He had so much fun.”
His fun was just beginning. After a night at Bellevue’s Hyatt Regency hotel, Manning surprised Gage Sunday when he took him to Renton to catch a ride on a King County Sheriff’s Office helicopter. It was the day the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Walk for Wishes fundraiser was being held at Marymoor Park in Redmond.
After the chopper ride, Gage was inducted as an honorary officer in front of about 800 walkers at Marymoor. He was sworn in by Bellevue Police Chief Linda Pillo.
Catey is a longtime volunteer with Make-A-Wish and Gage’s Everett neighbor. “I’m his wish granter,” she said, explaining that volunteers sign on to help with wishes proposed by the foundation.
She credits Manning for elaborate planning, and is grateful to all the officers who donated time. “He is such a special boy. You truly walk away thinking you are so lucky to spend time with this kid,” Catey said.
Manning said the weekend was only the start of his friendship with Gage. “He and I are buddies for life,” said Manning, who plans to invite Gage back to headquarters for coffee — “he liked saying cocoa was his coffee” — and doughnuts.
After Gage nabbed the guy at Microsoft, Manning said, the boy wouldn’t leave his pseudo suspect, even to check out snazzy technology in the building. The officer said Gage told him, “I’m guarding my prisoner.”
“This is a cop — and such a sweet boy,” Manning said.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, firstname.lastname@example.org.