6-year-old becomes police chief for a day after raising money for Kinloch firefighter injured in shooting


ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – A 6-year-old boy who raised thousands of dollars to help a Kinloch firefighter who was nearly killed in a shooting over the summer got to be police chief for a day in St. Charles County.

Cooper Wallweber received his paperwork and badge after being “sworn in” as chief Thursday morning. But behind Cooper’s cool badge, there’s a heart of compassion.

Cooper raised $6,000 over the summer for Arlydia Bufford.

On Thursday, Bufford attended the swearing in ceremony as a surprise guest. Strangers brought together by an act of kindness in the aftermath of a tragedy.

“I came here to support him because he supported me when I was in the hospital,” she said.

In June, Bufford was seriously injured during a shooting at an Applebee’s restaurant in St. John. Two other women were shot that night; one of the victims died.

While Bufford recovered in the hospital, Cooper and his sister raised thousands with a lemonade stand. The Wallwebers donated the money to Bufford’s family in early July.

The Kinloch firefighter left a medical rehab facility in August and has been a beloved friend of the Wallweber family ever since.

Cooper got to sit inside a police cruiser, visit the crime lab, and even see stuffed teddy bears for children in need alongside Bufford. It’s an unlikely match made by pure empathy.

“Oh gosh, that just gave me chills because I didn’t hear her say that, so I hope that her and Cooper, despite the huge age difference, they are able to maintain a connection for a long time,” said Michelle Wallweber, Cooper’s mother.

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