Cop Who Responded to Murder Scene Adopts Survivor

Detective Mike Blair bonded with injured boy in the hospital
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2021 11:34 AM CDT
Updated Aug 1, 2021 7:00 AM CDT
Detective Adopts Boy Whose Father Tried to Kill Him
Ronnie and his new family.   (Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office)

A Florida boy who was stabbed and set on fire by his own father now has a new dad—one of the officers who responded to the scene. Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Detective Mike Blair says that when he arrived at the scene in March 2018, he was told 7-year-old Ronnie's mother and disabled 9-year-old sister had been murdered and the boy had been taken to Tampa General Hospital in critical condition and was not expected to live. Blair said during father Ronnie Oneal III's trial last month that he heard the boy was a football fan and used his connections to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to try to cheer him up as he recovered in the hospital weeks later, WFLA reports. In a video posted on the department's Facebook page, Blair says that after he took him to a Bucs practice the boy "kind of held onto my hand as I left, and he said, ‘Could you watch a movie with me?’"

Blair says he had planned a date night with his wife Danyel that night, but he asked if they could watch a movie with Ronnie instead, Fox reports. She says she knew that night that she would want to take Ronnie home with them. The couple—who already had five older children—readily agreed months later when a court-appointed guardian asked if they could take care of Ronnie. They have now formally adopted him and they say they have given him a mantra he repeats in times of stress: "I am safe, I am loved, and I am part of this family." "They are the best moms and dads, and they really take care of me," Ronnie says. "There is no one else better than them." The boy, now 11, was cross-examined by his father during the trial last month. Last week, Oneal was sentenced to three life terms plus 90 years. (Read more Florida stories.)

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