KELSO, Wash. (KOIN) — The Kelso community honored fallen Deputy Justin DeRosier by retiring his high school football jersey number before Friday night’s first home game of the season.
The Kelso High School Color Guard, police officers, and deputies lined the field as fans cheered for a player who will always be in their hearts.
He wore number 73 and graduated from Kelso High in 2008.
“[He] gave his all when he was here as a player, gave his all to the community” said Coach Pat Hymes. “[He] had the opportunity to really work anywhere and came back here to Cowlitz County and pay the ultimate sacrifice for us.”
It has been five months since 29-year-old DeRosier was shot and killed on duty. His home team is still rooting for him. His alma mater is retiring his jersey–a number his former coach knows well.
“Saw just from young all the way through, playing youth football,” said Hymes. “It touches you. It just draws you back.”
The school gave his family the offensive lineman’s jersey, along with a portrait created by a local artist. A second set will also be placed in the high school in his honor.
“They are overwhelmed,” said Cowlitz County Sheriff Brad Thurman. “He comes from a large, local family, and the community response, again, has just been overwhelming.”
Since his death, the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office has hired four new officers–with one always on their minds.
“He is certainly at the forefront of everything we do,” said Thurman. “We are trying to work through it and we are going to honor him always.”
After graduating from Kelso High School, DeRosier went on to graduate from Washington State University in 2012. He stayed in Pullman as a deputy with the Whitman County Sheriff’s Office until he returned home in 2016. DeRosier was a member of the SWAT team in Whitman and was slated to join the Cowlitz County drug task force the summer of 2019.
“He was always positive and always had that outlook of ‘we can do it, we can do anything together,'” said Thurman. “It kind of puts closure on things.”
The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office said they have plans of their own to continue honoring DeRosier, including building a memorial in front of the Hall of Justice.