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On one year mark, community remembers fallen White Mountain Apache Police Officer David Kellywood

White Mountain Apache Police Officer David Kellywood
Posted at 4:53 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 20:44:54-05

Wednesday marked one-year since the shooting death of a White Mountain Apache police officer, killed in the line-of-duty while responding to a call.

White Mountain Apache Police Officer David Kellywood, 26, was fatally shot while responding to a call near Pinetop-Lakeside in the early morning hours of February 17, 2020.

"Last night was the night, a year ago, that we sent him off to work," said Ofc. Kellywood's widow, Kamellia. "Not knowing that was going to be the last time that we would see him."

Kamellia Kellywood told ABC15 her two boys, Gabriel, 6, and David Jr., 4, are still too young to fully comprehend what happened.

"They just know that he's been gone for a long time," Kellywood said. "They miss him. I have tried to help them by making a memory book with all of our pictures in there."

Kellywood said her husband enjoyed his job as a police officer. She noted the outpouring of support from the community over the past year.

"I just want people to remember who he was as a police officer, as a father, as a husband, as a sibling," Kellywood said. "He was an amazing person."

White Mountain Apache Police Officer David Kellywood

Ofc. Kellywood had been on the force with White Mountain Apache Police for nine months when the shooting occurred.

"We're still recovering, that's a traumatic event that you just can't tuck away and not remember it anymore," said Gwendena Lee-Gatewood, Tribal Chairwoman for the White Mountain Apache Tribe.

On Wednesday morning, a memorial run was held in Ofc. Kellywood's honor.

"Our hearts are on the mend," Lee-Gatewood said. "We are doing what we can to move forward. We will never forget Officer Kellywood and his tremendous amount of work for the White Mountain Apache Tribe."

Kellywood said her husband had a passion for his work. "He just loved working for his community and serving the people," Kellywood said.

In the weeks following the tragedy, Kellywood told ABC15 she found new hope in, of all things, the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I was pulled from my job to become a contact tracer with COVID," she said. "So I immersed myself completely, 100% into my work."

Kellywood told ABC15 she enjoyed the opportunity to help others, which also helped keep her busy after the sudden death of her husband.

"COVID for me was a blessing in disguise," Kellywood said. "I feel that it helped save me from...going downhill, from just falling down that hole that I couldn't get back out of."

Still, she knew the one-year mark of Ofc. Kellywood's passing would be a tough day.

"Today I want to remember the kind of person he was," she said. "How he lived, to remember him alive and happy and any room he walked into he just had this big smile."

She told ABC15 her children are also helping carry on Ofc. Kellywood's legacy.

"My boys are half of him and half of me," Kellywood said. "I hope that they grow up to carry on their dad's name."