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Family remembers fallen White Mountain Apache Police officer, Adrian Lopez

Posted at 8:22 PM, Jun 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-09 15:22:55-04

WHITERIVER, AZ — For several days now a community has gathered to remember a fallen officer killed in the line of duty.

The town of Whiteriver welcomed the family of Adrian Lopez Sunday.

He was shot and killed Thursday night after a traffic stop turned into an altercation.

Deputies said the suspect, Kevin Nashio, was also killed after a pursuit and shootout with police.

"When I heard that doorbell and I opened the door, two FBI agents," said Lushana Lopez. "I just said, I didn't wait for them to introduce themselves, I said what happened to my husband."

That visit came early Friday morning for Lushana Lopez.

Her husband of 10 years, a father of two, was shot and killed in the line of duty.

"Devastating like a bad dream, a nightmare." said Adrian's sister Sonia Felix.

She told ABC15, she already lost her father and another brother. Now, she's the only sibling left.

"He protected his community," said Felix. "Ever since he was a little kid, he said he wanted to be a police officer. That dream came true and it also took his life."

Adrian's wife and sister spoke with ABC15 Sunday at Sky Harbor Airport, traveling in from Los Angeles.

They say being a police officer was his dream. He served first in the Army and then moved from the Los Angeles area to Wyoming and later Arizona, becoming a police officer.

"He was trying to make his way back home and that was the closest he got," said Lushana.

Adrian's wife said she's proud of her husband, and her face still lights up when describing him.

"He was very unique very charismatic very funny very outspoken and he had a heart of gold he loved to help anybody in need."

Adrian started with the White Mountain Apache Police Department in January.

The community of Whiteriver has treated Adrian like family.

Holding processions, creating a memorial and greeting the family all to honor his sacrifice.

"All the support. The tribe. I mean we are just overwhelmed with so much love. You know? I think that is helping us grieve at this point,” added Lopez. "I still feel the pressure. I lost my soulmate. I mean we used to crack jokes every day. He was just a fun character,” added Lopez.

"He's a hero to them, that community has been very very supportive to him and to all of us," Felix said.

The family says they now plan to take Adrian back home to California, knowing he's always with them.

"I'm going to miss every little thing about him," said Lushana.

"Everything. His jokes. Him being sarcastic at times. Playing jokes on us,” said Felix at another vigil held on Monday.

The White Mountain Apache Police Department has dealt with tragedy before. They lost one officer, in the line of duty in 2020, another in the line of duty in 1999. The sister of that officer, who happens to work for the department now, was at the vigil with her family.

"Working with Officer Lopez, with his attitude and niceness, is what I had seen in my brother. It kind of reflects the same way,” said Trudy Fall, the sister of Tenny Gatewood, Jr.

Another White Mountain Apache Officer was also hurt last Thursday. Sergeant Lonnie Thompson was shot during a 'gun battle' with a suspect.

"I am still trying to process through it. So, at the moment, I don't think I am ready to talk about that night just yet,” said Sgt. Thompson.

Sgt. Thompson says he wanted to keep Monday's vigil focused on his friend Adrian.

"Tonight is pretty emotional for me. I did love him. Even though he was here with us for only five short months, we definitely had a good bond and connected together,” added Sgt. Thompson.

The funeral for Officer Lopez is scheduled for Thursday, June 9.