As police raced to a rural section of Texas highway on Friday night after DPS Trooper Chad Walker was shot, a brother in blue some 1,500 miles away got word.
"I heard of Chad's story almost immediately when it happened. I was praying for him, hoping for the best," said Jonny Castro, an Iraq war veteran and Philadelphia police officer. "Once I got the news he wasn't going to survive, I decided I would start his portrait."
Eight hours later, Castro was finished.
"It's a drawing tablet connected to a laptop. You just as you would if you are drawing on paper or a canvas. It's also digital," Castro explained.
Over the past five years, Castro has captured some 900 faces of fallen first-responders, veterans and crime victims. Each portrait is a father or mother, son or daughter, brother or sister, perhaps even a husband or wife.
"It is therapeutic. It's a way to tell their story through art," he said. "I've painted 52 officers from Texas over the past five years. Texas has the most line of duty deaths out of any state."
Trooper Walker's story hits especially close to home because it's exactly the type of tragedy law enforcement, no matter where they live, face when they pin on the badge every day.
"Just pulling up to help out, render aid to someone he didn't know, and it turned around at the drop of a hat and he lost his life because of it," Castro said.
The portrait is resonating online, receiving thousands of comments and likes on Facebook and Instagram.
Castro simply hopes it resonates in Central Texas.
"His wife's close friend reached out to me. So these prints will be going to her, and she'll present them to his wife, and also the police department," he said.
Call it a small gesture to ease the pain of one very big loss being felt in Texas and across the country.
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