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Community holds final farewell for officer killed in the line of duty

Posted at 5:02 PM, Jun 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-09 20:02:30-04

White Mountain Apache Officer Adrian Lopez was shot and killed June 5, 2022 during a traffic stop. Investigators say the suspect then stole his patrol vehicle before leading police on a 40-mile pursuit, where he was later shot and killed.

In Whiteriver Thursday, the public had a chance to say their final goodbyes to this fallen hero.

Full honors for a police officer, veteran, husband, father and hero.

Law enforcement from all corners of the state gathered outside the Chief Alchesay Activity Center in Whiteriver to salute Officer Adrian Lopez one final time.

Inside, hundreds of people filled the gymnasium. Some knew Officer Lopez and his many contributions to this community, others were total strangers who just wanted the chance to say thank you and goodbye.

"We will always honor and remember Officer Lopez as one of the finest most beloved members of our community," said White Mountain Apache Chairman Kasey Velasquez.

Meantime, a memorial outside of White Mountain Apache Police Headquarters continues to grow, one week after Officer Lopez was killed.

"For me, it is really sad," explains Roberta Henry, a former dispatcher who was laying flowers at the memorial with her daughter and son. "It’s sad that his life was shortened. But his memory will always live on in our hearts. He will always be our officer and our hero."

Many people at the services mentioned how Officer Lopez was a hero even when he wasn't in uniform.

Two women stopped reporter Nick Ciletti and told him off camera how Officer Lopez used to volunteer at area schools, hoping to motivate at-risk students. It's quite a reputation for someone who had only been with the force since January, but if you asked his colleagues, they would tell you that's just what kind of man Officer Lopez really was — a loyal servant to his community until his very last breath.