It was 35 degrees outside the night 25-year-old NYPD officer Lawrence "Larry" DePrimo bought a pair of $100 Sketchers boots and some socks for a homeless man on the corner of 44th and Broadway.
"It was just so cold that I had to do something," DePrimo told reporters yesterday, recalling the blisters that were coating the man's naked feet.
Normally assigned to the West Village, Officer DePrimo was working special Midtown detail on November 14th when he overheard some people make fun of a transient for having no shoes. "I went up to him and said, ‘Where are your shoes?'" DePrimo recounted. "And he said, 'It's OK. I've never had a pair of shoes, but God bless you.'"
DePrimo recalled being moved by the man's humility in the face of life-threatening hardship. "What sticks out in my mind is that he was just such a kind gentleman that I really had to help him," DePrimo said.
So the two-year policeman ran ahead to a nearby Sketchers store and asked for help. Staff offered to sell him a pair of insulated "Sketchers North" boots at half-off the MSRP of $99, and he jumped at the opportunity. After running across the street to pick up some socks, DePrimo returned to the man and helped him put on his new boots.
"He smiled from ear to ear," DePrimo told Newsday. "It was like you gave him a million dollars."
Meanwhile, standing close by was Jennifer Foster, a 911 dispatcher from Arizona visiting New York with her husband, who happened to witness the officer's random act of kindness.
"I have been in law enforcement for 17 years," Foster told CBS News. "I was never so impressed in my life."
She decided to snap a photo of the moment as a keepsake, and later sent it to the NYPD, which put it up on its Facebook page. The photo quickly went viral, garnering over 500k likes and nearly 200k shares to date.
The generosity may have surprised many, but his parents were not among them. "It doesn't surprise me one bit that he'd do that," his father told the New York Post. "That's the kind of guy he is."