BURIEN, Wash. -- A retired police officer and a teenage boy are forever bonded by separate shootings that left them both blind.
Retired Mount Vernon Police Officer Mike McClaughry was shot and blinded in the line of duty in 2016.
Fourteen-year-old Andy Isidoro suffered the same fate after a random shooting along State Route 509.
Together, a man and a boy facing the same obstacles began a lifelong bond upon meeting in Burien.
"His challenges are going to be pretty strong," McClaughry said, speaking from experience. "This is all about [Andy]. This is all about giving him as much understanding as possible."
On Monday, Andy got to meet a hero of his. He said he was so excited to meet McClaughry that he couldn't fall asleep the night before.
"Can you give me a big hug, big guy?" McClaughry asked, his hands embracing Andy's shoulders. Andy wrapped his arms around McClaughry's body, a moment that caused witnesses to tear up. "There you go, a little tighter, that's it."
Authorities are still looking for the person or people they believe is responsible for a string of shootings along SR-509.
"I just hope they catch him so he doesn't cause too much damage," Andy said.
The damage is already done to Andy, who faces a new, uncertain life of blindness.
"I do everything I can to be brave," Andy said.
It's a life McClaughry can help him navigate. Now without sight for more than two years, he has learned to accept the challenges he faces and lean on his family for support. In meeting Andy, he hopes to give him the confidence to move through this new world.
"Everybody will reach out to give you a hand," he told Andy. "It doesn’t matter where you go, it doesn’t matter where you are, people will be more than happy to give you a hand and help you out."
"I’ll still have my dream to be a police officer, like Mike," Andy said.
"You never know, you never know, so you just keep the faith," McClaughry replied.
Faith and a friendship the two will now share for a lifetime.
Authorities have been looking into a string of 11 shootings on SR-509 since last June. They believe at least some of them may be connected.
If you have any information about the shootings, you can make an anonymous tip on a tip line or send an email.
Task Force Tip Line - (425) 401-7880
Task Force Email - SR509shootingtip@wsp.wa.gov
You can also submit an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound at http://www.P3Tips.com or call 1-800-222-TIPS. Crime Stoppers will pay a cash reward of up to $1,000 if you can identify the suspect.