Brandon Paugh, son of slain Deputy J.D. Paugh, aspires to be an architect some day. (WRDW-TV / Nov. 18, 2011)
News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, Nov. 18, 2011
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It's been almost a month since Richmond County deputy J.D. Paugh was shot and killed. Since then, a lot of local groups have set up funds to help J.D.'s son Brandon.
They are selling everything from patches to bracelets. The Sheriff's Office also set up a trust fund for Brandon, and earlier in the week, the Riverhawks announced the plans for their Memorial Night. Chick-fil-A also collected money for the family Thursday night.
Brandon showed us the roller coaster he has just designed on his computer. His roller coaster is full of ups, downs, sharp turns and unexpected moments -- a lot like the emotions he has experienced in the past month.
"It's been different. I've met a lot of people. It's been sad, happy," he said.
Brandon just turned 14 years old -- his birthday was bittersweet.
Thursday night, a family friend stopped by to drop off a gift. This is just a glimpse of the support Brandon has felt since the death of his father.
"At the beginning, there was a lot. I had about 1,000 notifications," he said.
One of the most memorable was Fort Gordon's Major Gen. Alan Lynn.
"He said, 'I'm really sorry' and gave me a little gold coin," Brandon said.
Brandon is in the eighth grade at Lakeside Middle School. While he had to miss a week of school when his father died, he says now that school is when it's easiest for him.
"What would people tell you?" asked News 12's Sheli Muniz.
"It's like, well most people would say, 'I heard about your dad. I'm really sorry. If there is anything that you need, just call me,'" he replied.
The story of his father is well known.
"What made you want to do this interview?" Muniz said.
"Just to say thanks to all the people," Brandon said.
That's because since the death of J.D. Paugh, the community has wrapped its arms around him. Even celebrities like country singers Kenny Chesney and George Strait have reached out.
"They signed two guitars, one with each name and they sent them to Ale House and they auctioned them off and all the money would go to me," Brandon said.
Muniz asked what that was like for him.
"Pretty amazing, I mean I'd like the guitar, but still," he said.
From the Sheriff's Office college fund to a Riverhawks Memorial Night, the support just keeps coming.
"They didn't have to do that, they didn't have to spend their money on me, but I'm really thankful for it," he said.
So what are Brandon's future plans? He quickly ruled out reporting after having a go at it.
"Own an amusement park," he said.
"Do you know where you want to go to school?" Muniz asked.
"Harvard," he replied.
His sights are set high. You'll remember that roller coaster he designed and like it, life comes with highs and lows, too, but through it all, he knows his dad is alongside and he has your support.
"For everyone who donated. All of the people of Augusta, Kenny Chesney, George Strait, I really appreciate it and so does all my family," he said. "You've given us so much support and I'm just really thankful."