Seven-year-old Bryan Jeffery cried tears of joy Saturday afternoon when the detective who took on the case after his bicycle was stolen presented him with a brand new bike.
“I wasn’t expecting this,” the 7-year-old told the Log Cabin Democrat. “I was very surprised.”
Bryan and his family live in an apartment complex near the Walmart on Skyline Drive. His bicycle was stolen on July 14 while Bryan and his older sister were inside the store.
The stolen bicycle was a Christmas gift the boy received, the family said.
The day after police released security footage of the suspect taking the bike in hopes the public would be able to help identify the man in question, authorities said the suspect returned the bike to the same spot he took it from.
Detective Tim Gray attempted to pull fingerprints from the recovered bicycle in an attempt to identify the suspect but was unsuccessful. However, with help from the public, he was able to get the young boy a new bike.
The detective wouldn’t take credit for brightening the boy’s birthday and said that several people played a role in turning Bryan’s frown upside down.
“It really wasn’t on me,” he told the Log Cabin Democrat just before taking off for a parade that was organized for the young boy Saturday afternoon. “When I initially received this case, I noticed that his birthday was on the 23rd. I thought: ‘That’s awful for a 6-year-old to lose his bicycle right before his birthday.’”
Later that night, the detective said he received several messages from those wanting to lend a helping hand.
One woman found a bicycle that looked almost identical to the bicycle that was stolen from Bryan.
Carla Evans picked up the bike at the Walmart in Heber Springs and had it inspected for safety at The Ride in Conway.
“I thought back to my son at that age and it just broke my heart. I juste wanted to help him smile again,” Evans said of her efforts to find Bryan a new bicycle.
Detective Gray was also able to track down a helmet and a bicycle lock for the young boy.
Conway Police Department officers and a few of Bryan’s family members organized a surprise birthday parade leading to a bounce house and Batman cake. Julie’s Sweet Shoppe donated the cake.
The 7-year-old boy’s mother also cried tears of joy during the surprise event she helped organize.
“I am definitely in awe with law enforcement and the police department, especially detective Gray,” Carmen Jeffery, the boy’s mother, said. “I appreciate everyone for their concern about my son, and I appreciate everyone for making his seventh birthday so special.”
The birthday bash was made possible thanks to Matt Brown with Hendrix Public Safety, Sharpe Videography, The Ride, Tandy Hunjan, Jack Morterson, Derrick Shaw, James Water as well as Evans and detective Gray.
Bryan’s mother said the event was special to him because not only did he receive a new bicycle, but he was able to spend time with local law enforcement, adding that he hopes to one day be either a police officer or a firefighter.
“When he was in pre-k, they asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He dressed up as a police officer, and he still wants to either be a police officer or a firefighter,” Carmen said. “He just wants to help people.”
Detective Gray said he was thankful for the community’s efforts in bringing joy and a smile to Bryan’s face.
“It was a whole lot of people coming together for Bryan … I’m not going to say right a wrong, but to correct a wrong the best that we can,” Gray said. “It’s just good that the whole community of central Arkansas came together for this.”
Before the bash ended, the detective took off his shoes and jumped in the bounce house with Bryan. The two held hands and smiled as they slid down the bounce house slide together.