5-year-old boy who survived fire is police chief for a day in Miami

Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 12:03 PM EDT
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MIAMI (CNN) - A 5-year-old victim of a house fire was picked this week to lead the Miami Police Department for the day.

Meet Miami, Florida’s newest police chief, TJ Mack. Like any good commander, he checks in with troops. TJ was bestowed the department’s highest honor for a day, enjoying the full privileges Tuesday.

It was a dream come true for this 5-year-old who loves superheroes.

“It’s amazing. It’s a dream for him,” said Angel Lankford, TJ’s grandmother. “He loves policemen. He loves firemen.”

Chief Mack is a fighter. Burns can still be seen on much of his body.

In April, TJ’s mother Stevangela Lankford was able to shield her son as they escaped the fire consuming their apartment.

She later died from her injuries, leaving the little boy without his mom and a long road to recovery.

“It brings joy to my heart because watching him every day knowing his mom not here, trust me it hurts,” Angel Lankford said.

TJ Mack, a 5-year-old boy who was burned in a fire and lost his mother, is honored with being...
TJ Mack, a 5-year-old boy who was burned in a fire and lost his mother, is honored with being Miami police chief for the day.(CNN Newsource)

The Miami Police Department worked to create long-lasting memories for TJ, touring his home city, visiting the aquarium, meeting the Miami Dolphins and getting a special ride in a police helicopter.

“It’s a feeling that we’ve been wanting to accomplish,” said Major Albert Guerra, Miami police. “Someone said that the police departments are there in bad times, but it’s good to be in the good times as well.”

The 5-year-old has already been through so much, with 17% of his body burned and more than likely many surgeries ahead. But this day was about having a special moment in blue.

“When I say it’s amazing, it’s amazing,” Angel Lankford said. “God is good.”

A GoFundMe has been set up for the family to help pay for medical and other needs.

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