A Family Makes Do In The Woods, Until Cops Find Them

A Family Makes Do In The Woods, Until Cops Find Them


Facebook/ Pressestelle

Johnny pulled up to the open field. His partner, Tim, unbuckled his seatbelt and checked the rear-view mirrors. Red plastic cups littered the area. “Students,” Tim laughed. “Let’s check it out.” They scoured the area. The firepit was fresh from the night before. Stones were stacked as chairs. Tins and plastic bottles were tucked neatly behind the chairs. They turned around and began to walk towards their car. Then, they heard a rustle in the bushes behind them.



Youtube/ CBS Sacramento

Tim Yee and Johnny Le, deputies of the Sacramento County Sheriff were used to strange calls over the years. From verbal disputes to assaults, to accidents, these two have seen it all. And if they haven’t seen it, then they’re definitely heard of it. However, on very rare occasions, these two can still be shaken to the absolute core.

Danger Ahead

Facebook/ South Carolina Dept of Public Safety

Like many police officers, Tim and Johnny have been tarred with the same brush. Every morning they get dressed and leave their families not knowing if they'll return. After multiple scandals of police brutality and unarmed shootings, the Sacramento Police Department has worked hard in a bid to change the public’s perception of officers. But not everything can be forgotten so easily.

Old Wounds

Facebook/Evergreen State News

Earlier this year, protests erupted in Sacramento following the shooting of a young man in his grandmother’s yard. Police officers who open fired on the young boy were under the impression he was carrying a firearm when in reality, he was reaching for his phone in his pocket. The incident sparked outrage in the city. Unfortunately, all the officers felt the public’s scorn.



The protest was made up of young, old, boys, girls, and everything in-between. Outside the Golden 1 Center, they linked arms and chanted at the fans waving their tickets in the air. “Join us or go home!” That night, the Sacramento Kings defeated the Atlanta Hawks but hardly anyone was there to witness the momentous occasion. And the police’s next moves were being watched by hawks.


Hard Work


Although Johnny and Tim had no involvement in the shooting, they, along with the rest of the department, received constant scrutiny from the public. During the peaceful protests, they made no arrests. Instead, they allowed the community to voice their anguish. It had taken time and effort to become reputable, especially among families. And then, Johnny and Tim started making headlines.


Facebook/Sacramento State Police Department

The red and blue flashing lights instilled fear in the public rather than relief. People are generally quick to judge an officer’s intentions. Johnny and Tim have arrived at situations in a bid to help, only to watch crowds flee the area. For them, it was disheartening. They joined the force to keep the community safe. But it seemed their reputation was still flawed by their colleague’s mistakes. What could they do to change it?

Good Intentions

Facebook/ Shannon Loveless

Johnny and Tim struggled. How could they do right when the community feared being anywhere near them. Sacramento was where they lived, where they raised their families, where they planned to stay forever. They dedicated their lives to protecting everyone in need of it. But even those who needed it didn’t necessarily want it. Callouts could go either way and they had to be prepared for the worst. Then, they got wind of a female in the woods.

A Call

Facebook/ Douglas Taylor

When Johnny and Tim got reports of a homeless camp behind a Walmart store on Elk Grove-Florin Road, they were apprehensive. Past experiences of homeless camps had led them to addicts and alcoholics, who they had to make pack up and leave. Those days were the hardest. But they never expected to find these campers.



Youtube/ CBS Sacramento

Johnny and Tim searched the site from top to bottom. “Area clear,” Johnny called into his radio mic. Just as they turned to leave, they noticed a van parked nearby. Then, they heard movement. Their hands went to their sides and hovered above their firearms. But when a little girl peeped from behind the bushes, they were horrified.


Facebook/ Photography by Alexandru

What was she doing here? Where was her family? The deputies were shocked as the little girl answered their questions. Her hair was matted, her face was dirty, and her stained clothes were far too big for her small frame. She pointed them to the van that was parked close by. When the deputies looked inside, their eyes filled with tears.


Youtube/ CBS Sacramento

Inside the were the Loveless family, comprising of three adults and two more children. The three kids were aged 3, 5, and 7. Shannon, their mother, was no longer able to work, so was depending on food stamps to feed her family. Her eldest 22-year-old son struggled to find any work to help support his younger brothers and sisters. How long had they lived like this?

Van Life


The Loveless family had been living in their van for four months. Shannon had set up the camp behind the Walmart store to make meals for her children. They had nothing, but they were getting by. The officers noticed their small rations and that the family “struggled to make due with their meals.” The squalor conditions moved Johnny. They couldn’t leave them like this.



Facebook/ Shannon Loveless

“I kind of choked up a little bit, just to see the kids hungry,” Johnny later shared. But Shannon was terrified. Was she in trouble? Would they take her kids? “It was a shock because I didn’t know if we were going to get in trouble,” she explained. The deputies couldn’t comprehend the children’s happy demeanor when they were living in such poverty. Then, they did something unimaginable.

Good Deeds

Youtube/ CBS Sacramento

Johnny and Tim did everything they could for the Loveless family. The later returned with food, toys, and a key for a motel room. Shannon was gobsmacked by their kind gestures. “It’s been awesome. We only see the negative side of police officers, and to see this side of them is something really awesome.” These two deputies are setting a high standard of what it means to protect. “I’m going to call that day a miracle,” Johnny shared. Finally, the Loveless family has a chance to get back on their feet.