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White Mountain Apache tribal police officer fatally shot during traffic stop near Whiteriver

Authorities in eastern Arizona say a tribal police officer with the White Mountain Apache Nation was fatally shot Thursday night during a traffic stop.

According to the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office, the officer, Adrian Lopez, Sr., 35, pulled the suspect over in the town of Whiteriver. The reason for the stop is unclear at this time.

An altercation ensued in which the suspect fatally shot the officer, then fled the scene in his patrol car. The suspect was pursued by other White Mountain Apache police officers. Gunfire was exchanged, wounding a second officer and killing the suspect.

Officer Lopez had only been with the department since January, according to sheriff officials.

This marks Arizona’s first line of duty police officer death so far this year.

In 2020, 26-year-old David Kellywood, an officer with the White Mountain Apache Police was shot and killed while responding to reports of gunfire near the Hon-Dah Resort and Casino in Pinetop.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the number of officers killed nationally in the line of duty in 2021 nearly doubled over the previous year.