EL MIRAGE, Ariz. (KSAZ) - A community gathered Thursday night to remember an El Mirage officer who died in the line of duty Tuesday.
Officer Paul Lazinsky was just months from retiring from the force when he died while pursuing a suspect. DPS is still trying to figure how Officer Lazinsky died, but as the community gathered, they remembered how he lived: selfless, humble, and a friend.
The mood in El Mirage was somber, as the town is still coming to grips with the loss of one of the good guys.
"Once I found out, it was shocking. Very shocking," said Adaricia Hermosillo.
"He's impacted the community," said Octavio Cerda. "You can feel it, just day to day. The community's pretty hard, taking it pretty hard."
Officer Lazinsky was pursuing a 14-year-old suspect on foot, near Grand Avenue and Greenway when he suddenly collapsed and died.
Lazinsky was a 20-year army vet, and a police officer for 17 years. People in El Mirage, however, say he was so much more.
"He was a great guy to the kids," said Mindy Glittenberg. "He would stop by and give them stickers."
"He didn't look at it as just a job," said Hermosillo. "It was more of a way to help out the community. The way to help a kid at school. Being an SRO sometimes, subbing in. He did a lot for the community."
"One of the best officers, good role models," said Cerda. "Hopefully, his legacy keeps on going and we get more good police officers to run the streets and protect us."
The teen suspect Officer Lazinsky was chasing was reportedly in the hospital Wednesday for an unrelated issue, and will reportedly be booked once he's released.
Officer Lazinsky leaves behind a wife and three adult daughters. Funeral plans were announced earlier on Thursday.