A Johnson City police officer is getting much-needed assistance from fellow officers after his home burned down in a fire on Oct. 28.
Officer Matthew Cope got a call around 4 p.m. that day, ironically National First Responder’s Day, that his home was on fire.
Fortunately, his family and pets were able to get out safely. Cope’s wife Kelly, his 7-year-old son Jonathon, and their two cats Moshi and Sirius were at the home when the fire broke out.
Kelly Cope said she and her son had only been home for 30 minutes before hearing a crackling noise. She then smelled smoke and realized the back porch was on fire.
According to Erwin Police Chief Regan Tilson, most of the family’s possessions were destroyed either by fire, water, or smoke.
Matthew Cope is new to Johnson City, Tennessee, as he moved from Florida with his family specifically to work for the Johnson City Police Department. As such, Cope doesn’t have any relatives in the area, but he’s relying on his new coworkers and friends to help out.
“For a public servant who has responded to many emergency situations and been there to offer aid to anyone in his community, there is nothing to prepare you when it is your family on the other end of the need,” Brittney Eberhardt, Johnson City Police MPO II and Cope’s co-worker told Johnson City Press.
Eberhardt immediately began looking for ways to help after hearing about the fire. At the moment of writing, the Cope family is in a one-bedroom apartment. They have already received some furniture donations.
The American Red Cross has also chipped in money for clothes, and Eberhardt started a GoFundMe account for the family, hoping that the law enforcement and Johnson City community will help out.
“Now it’s time for his law enforcement family and the community to come together and help them rebuild and bring life back to their happy home,” Eberhardt said.
Eberhardt and others are also helping the family with their insurance problem. It was unclear if the house was insured at the time of the fire.
The GoFundMe aims to reach $10,000, and has already started receiving steady donations. However, Eberhardt says the financial goal will likely need to increase to provide for Jonathon’s home-schooling supplies – such as books, a computer, and other materials.
Kelly Cope expressed her gratitude to law enforcement and the community for their help.
“It’s been an overwhelming amount of love and support from everyone … people I’ve never met before, officers not on Matthew’s shift, asking what our shoe sizes are,” she said. “We’re definitely grateful for everybody. We wouldn’t want to go through this alone.”
If you’d like to support the Cope family, the GoFundMe is located here.