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Father says slain Miss. officer had ‘fire in his soul’ for policing

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Ronald Tate wants the world to know his son wasn’t a faceless man in a blue uniform.

To you, his photo might seem like a snapshot of a 24-year-old policeman slain in the line of duty — one of two officers gunned down during a traffic stop in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on Saturday. But Ronald Tate sees much more.

“This was my baby,” he told CNN’s Poppy Harlow, “and that’s all I see.”

Liquori Tate was a little boy who once loved police cars. The flashing lights fascinated him. He scooted around in a motorized miniature cruiser.

For years he followed a path that took him through community college and into a career at auto parts stores. But one day, he told his father that he had a new dream: He wanted to be a policeman.

“He had this enthusiasm, this fire in his soul, and I knew he meant that,” Ronald Tate said.

That doesn’t mean Liquori Tate didn’t know he was putting his life in danger when he joined the force.

“He really knew the risk,” Ronald Tate said, “but I think my son just thought people…are generally good people, so let’s treat them all with dignity.”

Liquori Tate graduated from the police academy last year and trumpeted the news on Facebook.

Now, there were photos of him in a crisp new uniform.

Ronald Tate still saw his baby.

The two talked every week and texted every day. He loved how happy his son’s passion for policing made him.

“He was just wonderful,” Ronald Tate told CNN. “He was doing what he wanted to do.”

The notion “that all police are out to get people or they’re bad,” Ronald Tate said, simply isn’t true.

Liquori Tate was many things, Ronald Tate said. He was his sister’s protector; they were born just 11 months apart and were practically twins.

He was a man with many friends from many different backgrounds, ever since he grew up in Germany for five years while his father was stationed there in the military.

“My son didn’t see color. .. We didn’t have all this animosity between races, and my son didn’t see that. He didn’t have time for that. He was just mellow and laid back and didn’t want to get into that,” Ronald Tate said.

Liquori Tate, his father said, was so much more than the uniform he was so proud to wear. His family is still reeling and trying to come to grips with his death.

“This was my baby, who I was willing to allow to go into this type of dangerous work,” Ronald Tate said. “A guy who understood and loved everybody. Peaceful, passive, understanding. Wouldn’t hurt anybody.”