Hundreds of bikers gathered Saturday morning at American Legion Post 61 in Avondale for a motorcycle ride around the Valley to raise money for the family of Phoenix Police Officer Tyler Moldovan, who was shot multiple times during an early morning police investigation in December.
The motorcycle ride began at the post near Dysart Road and Western Avenue around 10 a.m.
“We actually had a huge turnout. We had originally, just from this post, 251 riders but other riders joined from separate posts. So there was well over 300 riders that came out,” said Jason Emm, president of American Legion Post 61.
Ride raised thousands for Moldovan and family
Motorcyclists had to pay a $20 participation fee to join the ride-along, which led bikers east on Interstate 10 to Phoenix Police Department Headquarters where they did a rally around the station to show support for Officer Moldovan. The route also took bikers to other American Legion Posts for rest stops along the way.
“They would give me $40 and say the other 20 is for donation,” said Kara Granillo, an organizer at the event.
Granillo says the last she checked, around midday Saturday, there was over $1,000 raised for Officer Moldovan.
“We’ve gotten more since then. It’s so high, it’s something we didn’t expect,” she said.
Besides the participation fee, money was also raised through a raffle and an auction of various items donated by individuals and local companies to support the cause.
“Everything that you see here that are on these tables right now is a collection of all the donations that we get from either individuals or big companies,” said Emm, gesturing to tables covered with gift baskets, art pieces and more. “Some of the big companies that helped was the Arizona Diamondbacks. They supplied us with two gift baskets with some game tickets in it.”
Emm also said that all proceeds collected at the event will go straight to Moldovan’s family.
Phoenix officer helped organize ride
“The turnout was amazing. It was a lot better than what we initially expected,” said Phoenix Police Officer Aaron Souza. “I work for Phoenix Police and I actually brought it up to the American Legion riders… like, ‘Hey, one of our officers was shot in the line of duty.’ There are people out there that do care about him.”
Souza said he also met Moldovan a few times at the police academy and wanted to organize the event to support law enforcement.
“Tyler’s dad actually came out this morning. He was here with us and everything. We got to show him around. He got to see the support that he didn’t think he had,” Souza said.
Moldovan’s wife issued a statement on Tuesday saying that her husband has made “marvelous” progress since he was shot on Dec. 14.
She said her husband has “extensive neurologic injuries” and he remains in stable condition.
The man suspected of shooting Moldovan is Essa Williams, 24, who was booked into jail on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder, resisting arrest and prohibited possession of a weapon, according to court documents. His bond was set at $3 million, although online Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office records show he was still in the Fourth Avenue Jail as of Saturday night.
“I’m riding because I happen to be the daughter of a police officer,” said Angelique Gabriel, a participant of the event.
“What happens is the motorcycle community says ‘We have a rider down or we have an officer down or someone in the military has fallen.’ What we do is turn around and say ‘We have got someone down, we need to do a ride so we can raise money and donate it wherever we can.’ Everything we can do is going to the family.”
The Phoenix Police Foundation is currently accepting donations to support officer Moldovan and his family at phoenixpolicefoundation.org/moldovan.
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