CORDES LAKES, Ariz. — Sergeant Richard Lopez, or ‘R-Lo’, as his friends called him is remembered as a beloved father, husband, and colleague.
After 14 years with the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, he was shot and killed by a suspect on Tuesday.
“We lost an incredible member of the YCSO family,” Sheriff David Rhodes said. “We lost a friend, we lost a mentor, we lost a father, we lost a husband, we lost a community servant.”
‘R-Lo’ transitioned to law enforcement after leaving a career in management, Rhodes said.
The Sergeant served as a detective and negotiator in the SWAT team.
A deputy who worked under Lopez told 12 News “he was everything you wanted in a supervisor.”
Lopez's end of watch
On Tuesday, Lopez was conducting surveillance on Robert McDowell’s home for a search warrant at his residence, near Stagecoach Trail and Red Rock Road in Cordes Lakes.
Court records said the surveillance was in relation to a prior civil incident that the Sergeant was investigating.
Around 12:30 p.m. a resident called 911 and reported that a man was chasing a Yavapai County Sheriff's Deputy, documents said.
Moments later another person reported hearing a gunshot, looked outside their window and saw the deputy on the ground.
A neighbor told 12 News the deputy was lying in the street, motionless.
The neighbor said several people called out to the deputy, asking him if he was okay, but Lopez never replied. They then saw people then ran up to him, trying to render aid.
Arizona Department of Public Safety troopers later arrived. They took Lopez to a nearby fire station, where he was airlifted to a hospital, Sheriff Rhodes said.
Lopez underwent surgery at a Valley hospital but died surrounded by his family Tuesday night.
“The community is hurting,” said Carl Dahlin, who lives near where the deputy was shot.
Dahlin said he spoke to the Sergeant early Tuesday morning, when the law enforcement officer was allegedly working a scene near his home.
“About two and a half hours [before], I had just talked to him, and then he was shot and killed,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it. I’m still heartbroken,”
Shooting, standoff, arrest
After Lopez was shot, the man accused of killing him, 61-year-old Robert McDowell barricaded him inside his home.
For hours, authorities negotiated with him using the S.W.A.T. team and armored vehicles, including a bulldozer that was used to rip holes in the mobile home.
McDowell was seen pacing back and forth inside his residence with an AR-15 rifle, court records said.
The suspect initially refused commands to surrender, and briefly communicated with the Arizona Department of Public Safety negotiations unit, but he ultimately surrendered and was taken into custody, his arrest paperwork said.
In November 2021, court records said that during an encounter with the suspect, he told deputies “if you come in here, you’re going to have to shoot it out with me.”
Honoring a ‘community servant’
A small memorial began to grow Wednesday in Cordes Lakes to honor Lopez.
Flowers, balloons, and crosses were placed near the spot where he was shot on Stagecoach Trail.
The memorial is in front of the home where the man accused of killing the deputy was barricaded for hours after the shooting.
A sign that read “R.I.P. Sgt. R. Lopez our community mourns” welcomed people who are driving into the small town. Black ribbons were placed along the road.
A public memorial service for Lopez will be held on July 6 at 1 p.m. in the Findley Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.
Helping Lopez’s family
For anyone interested in helping the Lopez family, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office released the following ways to donate:
"If you would like to donate, you can send checks, money orders/cashier’s checks or bring cash to the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office. All checks must be made out to YCSO Employee Fund with, “Benevolence Fund: Richard Lopez” written on the memo line.
These funds can be mailed or brought to: The Sheriff’s Office, Attention Kelly Fraher, 255 East Gurley Street, Prescott, AZ 86301."