Woodinville High School graduate Esteban Underwood is greeted by Tulalip Police’s Jeff Jira along with many other law enforcement officers from various departments at his school’s graduation ceremony at Xfinity Arena on Monday, June 19. Underwood’s father, a Des Moines police officer, was shot and killed in the line of duty in 2001. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Woodinville High School graduate Esteban Underwood is greeted by Tulalip Police’s Jeff Jira along with many other law enforcement officers from various departments at his school’s graduation ceremony at Xfinity Arena on Monday, June 19. Underwood’s father, a Des Moines police officer, was shot and killed in the line of duty in 2001. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

100 cops greet son of slain officer at Woodinville graduation

EVERETT — On the top shelf of the locker rests a police officer’s hat. It is peaked and crisp, the kind one might find worn in a color guard.

The hat is bracketed by two photos: one of an officer behind the steering wheel of a patrol car; the other a portrait of a little boy, not quite 2, smiling broadly and nattily dressed in a vest.

The locker door was removed years ago, replaced by tempered glass to protect the contents from dust.

The officer loved the boy whose name is Esteban. He talked about him often.

He’d been looking forward to his son’s 2nd birthday and had gone to a bakery near his home to see if someone could decorate an Elmo cake for the grand occasion.

The cake was never made.

On March 7, 2001, Des Moines police officer Steven Underwood was shot and killed in the line of duty. He’d stopped four teens while they were walking along Pacific Highway. One of the young men had felony warrants for his arrest. He shot Underwood. The officer’s firearm was holstered at his side.

Bob Crane, a master police officer with the Des Moines department, often peers into the locker that is now a shrine. It contains Underwood’s uniform, boots, badge and commendation award as well as his hat and family photos.

Crane had been one of Underwood’s closest friends.

Sixteen years ago, Crane made a promise to Underwood’s widow: The law enforcement family would always look out for Esteban.

Crane and others have kept their word.

That commitment was evident last Monday night when Esteban attended his graduation from Woodinville High School at Xfinity Arena in Everett. He’d also taken classes at Cascadia College during his senior year.

Instead of boarding a bus with his classmates, Esteban was driven in cap and gown to the ceremony in the front seat of Crane’s patrol SUV. A small procession of patrol cars and Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office motorcycles accompanied him to downtown Everett.

As the SUV rolled up, Esteban’s eyes grew wide.

“Wow,” he told Crane, who was thinking the exact same thing.

Roughly 100 uniformed officers from many agencies and several counties lined the steps leading to the arena.

Crane had no idea there would be so many officers.

Sgt. Craig White, of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, had worked with Crane and Underwood in Des Moines. Underwood was his friend, too. White had reached out to tell officers across the region about Esteban’s milestone. He wanted it to be a special day, for Esteban to feel the support of his second family, the ones in uniform.

“His dad was one of a kind, a great guy,” White said.

Sharron Underwood is Esteban’s grandmother. Officer Steve Underwood was her son.

She watched with pride as Esteban stopped to shake every officer’s hand and thank them.

The display of support was overwhelming, a reminder that her son has not been forgotten.

“There was not words for it,” she said. “It was all of those officers going there to represent my son.

“It just fills my heart with joy.”

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.

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