MOORE, Okla. — With cold weather sweeping around the Sooner State, a former homeless woman is speaking out about an officer who helped her in a time of need on a bitter cold night.
Maria Johnson told News 4, back in the winter of 2016, she was living out of her car.
Johnson said, one Saturday night, the wind chill was below zero and, on top of that, it was snowing.
"I believe in prayer, and I kept saying, 'God, take me to a safe place, please, take me to a safe place' and I didn't have that much gas. Imagine that, a cold night like that,” she said.
As she was running out of gas, Johnson said she pulled into the First Baptist parking lot off I-35, looking for a safe place to spend the night.
"I was sound asleep and, then, all of a sudden, I feel lights on my face. When I opened my eyes, there were flashing lights,” she said.
It was an officer with the Moore Police Department.
It wasn’t a shock to Johnson because she was driving with an expired license plate. So, she assumed she was about to get a ticket.
"He knocked on the window, and he said, 'Mam, are you okay?' And, he looked around, and I said, 'Yeah, I'm okay, just trying to get some sleep.' And, then, he looked at me and said 'Are you homeless?' I said, 'Yes, sir, I am,'” she told News 4.
Without hesitation, Johnson said he took her to a nearby McDonald’s so she could warm up and he bought her some food.
“Then, he took me back to my car and he said Maria, I don't have any money, but I do have $5 in my pocket,” she said.
The generosity didn’t end there. Johnson said after he left her, the officer returned to that church parking lot later that night.
"He says, I spoke to my lieutenant and he says there's no way you should be out here in the cold because it's going to get colder. He says, if it's okay with you, we'll get you a room in a hotel. He said you'll have until morning,” Johnson said.
Now, several years later, Johnson said the cold weather that’s currently sweeping through Oklahoma reminded her of the life-changing experience and she wanted to share the story because she feels the law enforcement community doesn’t always receive the praise they deserve.
"I said, 'God, you have sent me an angel,'” she said. "I find this young man, you know, in front of me, giving me $5, and I said to him 'No one had ever given me money before.'”
We were unable to reached the officer, who is now a sergeant. Johnson said he still checks in on her from time to time.