Two dead in ‘shooting’ involving officer at Fort Apache Indian Reservation | Crime and courts

A White Mountain Apache police officer and an unnamed suspect were fatally shot Thursday night.

Adrian Lopez Sr., 35, was identified as the White Mountain Apache police officer shot dead Thursday night in the town of Whiteriver on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. He had only been with the department since January, according to the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office. Previously, he served as a police officer with the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs from March 2021 to December.

“There’s no possible way to try to describe the chaotic event this was,” Deputy Chief Brian Swanty told a news conference.

An altercation broke out after Lopez stopped a car driven by Kevin Dwight Nashio, 25, on East Fork Road near downtown, authorities said. Nashio, a Whiteriver resident known to local police, shot Lopez, Swanty said.

Nashio then took the officer’s police vehicle and drove off with White Mountain Apache officers in pursuit. Officers pursued the suspect through rugged and remote areas of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation to the Lake Hawley area, more than 40 miles from Whiteriver. There, the officers and the suspect engaged in a shootout. Another officer was shot and wounded and the suspect was killed in battle. The injured officer was airlifted to a Phoenix area hospital.

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Personnel from multiple agencies assisted in the incident, including law enforcement officers from the White Mountain Apache Police Department, White Mountain Apache Game Rangers, San Carlos Apache Game Rangers, Pinetop-Lakeside, Navajo County Sheriff’s Office, Apache County Sheriff’s Office, Federal Government. Arizona Bureau of Investigation and Department of Public Safety.

The investigation will be led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Any other information related to the investigation should be directed to the FBI Phoenix Public Information Officer at (623) 466-1999 or [email protected]

In a press release, the White Mountain Apache Tribe released the following statement:

“The tribe is indebted to our police department and emergency services for their swift and courageous response, and grateful for the assistance provided by our neighboring jurisdictions. Our prayers this evening go out to the families of the officers involved and to all of our first responders. »

Nohemi M. Moore