By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
A former Wind River Indian Reservation police officer was shot and killed Thursday in Arizona when a traffic stop became a gunfight, authorities say.
Officer Adrian Lopez Sr., 35, died Thursday while on duty, the Navajo County, Arizona Sheriff’s Office confirmed Monday to Cowboy State Daily.
Lopez served on the Wind River Indian Reservation as a Bureau of Indian Affairs officer in 2021.
“We offer our condolences to the family of officer Lopez, who not too long ago was serving the Wind River Indian Reservation,” the Eastern Shoshone Tribe announced Saturday on its social media page.
Lopez, a White Mountain Police officer serving on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona, had stopped a car driven by Kevin Dwight Nashio, 25, of Whiteriver, according to police authorities speaking at a televised press conference.
Nashio reportedly shot and killed Lopez, stole his police vehicle, and led other officers on a 40-mile car chase.
“During that vehicle pursuit in a very primitive, rugged area, a rolling gun battle took place between the officers and the suspect as he was fleeing,” said Brian Swanty, Navajo County Sheriff’s Office chief deputy at the press conference.
Nashio crashed the vehicle into a tree, then engaged in a gun battle with Sgt. Lonnie Thompson, 29. Nashio was killed and Thompson sustained non-life-threatening injuries, ABC News reported.
“Last night a wife lost her husband,” said Kacey Velasquez, chairman of the White Mountain Apache Tribe during the press conference. “Children lost their father. Our tribe has lost a beacon of light.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has taken over the investigation, but did not respond Monday morning to a voicemail requesting comment.