Memorial service held for slain White Mountain Apache officer

An Arizona police officer who was killed while on duty was laid to rest on June 9.

Officer Adrian Lopez, who served with the White Mountain Apache Police Department, was shot and killed during a traffic stop on June 2.

Officer Lopez was 35 when he died. Besides Officer Lopez, another officer was injured as a result of the incident. That officer was taken to a hospital in the Phoenix area for treatment.

According to reports, Officer Lopez only served with the department for five months before his death. He is reportedly the second White Mountain Apache police officer who died while on duty in two years.

Community members paid respect

On June 9, a procession for Officer Lopez started near Show Low, and ended in Whiteriver. In Whiteriver, people lined the streets to pay their respect to the fallen police officer.

An auditorium in Whiteriver was filled with members from the community, as well as Lopez's family members from California, and law enforcement from all over the country, from parts of Arizona to as far away as Texas and New York.

"Officer Lopez was a true Apache warrior," said Lt. Steven Kane with the White Mountain Apache Police Department. "That is how I look at it, coming from a full-blooded Apache."

Lopez leaves behind a wife and two children. Fellow officers are remembering him for the kind and hard-working officer he was.

"He fit in from the beginning," said Lt. Kane. "He was a friendly person. He communicated well with our agency, with the public. He was a good person to be with."

Officer Lopez's body will be taken to Phoenix Sky Harbor airport on June 10. He will be transported to his home town of Los Angeles.

Shooting happened on native reservation

As for the shooting that took Officer Lopez's life, it happened when Lopez pulled over a vehicle on East Fork Road in Whiteriver at around 7 p.m. on June 2.

"An altercation occurred between the officer and the person operating the vehicle," officials said. "During the altercation, the officer was fatally shot."

The suspect in the case was identified as Kevin Dwight Nashio. Nashio reportedly stole Lopez's police car and fled, leading other White Mountain Apache officers on a 40-mile chase through the Fort Apache Reservation that ended near Hawley Lake. 

"During that vehicle pursuit in very primitive, rugged area, a rolling gun battle, if you will, took place between the officers and the suspect vehicle as he was fleeing that scene," said Navajo County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Brian Swanty.

"Little did we know that was the suspect that was driving by," said a resident in the area where the pursuit happened. She said she witnessed a police car speed by while she was out of her porch, but she did not know that an officer was not behind the wheel.

Officials with NCSO say they do not know yet how many shots were fired before Nashio crashed into a tree.

A gun battle broke out after the pursuit, officials said. Nashio was killed in the battle.

"It is very, very difficult to try to imagine this for a training scenario," said Chief Deputy Swanty. "This is something that is not even fathomable. As I’ve talked to my colleagues here in this room, none of us have seen anything of this nature. I can’t imagine what those officers were going through during this event."

We have reached out to a member of Nashio's family, who said the family will not be making any statements at this time. 

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.

Scene of a deadly officer-involved shooting on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation.

Scene of a deadly officer-involved shooting on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation.

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