The widow of a Forest Acres police officer who was killed in the line of duty in 2015 appeared on NBC’s “Today” show Thursday to share the story of how she turned the tragedy into something positive and found love again.
Kassy Alia’s husband, Forest Acres officer Greg Alia, was shot and killed while struggling with a suspect inside Richland Mall in September 2015. Their son had turned six months old that day, she said during a segment that left host Megyn Kelly in tears in her eyes by the end.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Alia told NBC of the anger she felt in the months after Greg’s death at seeing news reports of officer-involved shootings.
“With that came a flurry of divisive and polarizing opinions,” she said on the show.
Because Alia wondered if her late husband’s service was appreciated, and because she wanted their son to know how his dad touched people’s lives, Alia took to Facebook and asked people to share their stories of interactions with Greg using the hashtag #HeroesInBlue.
So was born a nonprofit called “Heroes in Blue” that showed appreciation for law enforcement and, eventually, turned its focus on community service initiatives such as a partnership with Harvest Hope Food Bank and others that focus on narrowing the divide between police and communities.
The nonprofit has changed its name to “Serve & Connect,” and started initiatives in recent tragedies in South Carolina including donation drives for victims of the recent hurricanes and fund raisers for the families affected by the Florence shooting that killed one police officer and injured six others.
Alia also told NBC about the friendship that blossomed through her work with Serve and Connect with Mitch Ray, whom she knew as an acquaintance long before her husband was killed.
“It’s the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Ray told NBC, “how something so good can grow out of something that was so terrible.”
The two got engaged last year and will be married this weekend in Columbia.