By Corinne Murdock |
On Tuesday, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office lost an officer to gunfire: Sergeant Richard Lopez, 51. Lopez’s death marked the second officer killed in the line of duty this year. White Mountain Apache Tribal Police Department Officer Adrian Lopez, Sr., was killed by gunfire on June 2.
According to the latest National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) counts released earlier this month, there have been 14 officers shot in the line of duty so far this year in Arizona. Since that report, at least one unidentified Phoenix police officer was shot. That’s more than double the total number of officers shot last year (six). Only one law enforcement official, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Group Supervisor Michael Garbo, was killed by gunfire last year.
National attention fixated on the increased violence against officers last December when Phoenix Police Officer Tyler Moldovan sustained near-fatal injuries from eight gunshot wounds. At the time, Moldovan hadn’t yet received his official police badge. He finally received it on Sunday.
According to the FOP, ambush-style attacks on law enforcement nationwide increased by 115 percent last year.
Lopez was in pursuit of a theft suspect, later found barricaded in his home and placed in custody on first-degree murder charges. In a press conference on Tuesday, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office said they wouldn’t divulge more on the arrest because they lacked the details. The Arizona Department of Public Safety has taken over the investigation.
Governor Doug Ducey was one of many who condemned the lawlessness that led to Lopez’s death.
Sheriff David Rhodes shared that Lopez was known affectionately as “R-Lo,” and a regular participant of the community outreach event for underprivileged or struggling families, “Shop With a Cop.” Lopez leaves behind a wife and two daughters.
“I can’t think of anything low enough to speak of this shooter, this person that decided to take this life. We’re hurt,” said Rhodes. “I’ll tell you this — the violence against law enforcement, it’s escalating everywhere. And it has got to stop.”