Hundreds of police officers lined the streets of Baldwin Saturday to pay their respects to fallen Nassau County Police Officer Arthur Lopez, who died in the line of duty Tuesday after being fatally shot in the chest when he made a routine traffic stop.
Uniformed officers from local and statewide departments created a sea of blue stretching for a half mile down Merrick Road. Police came from as far as New Jersey and Connecticut to support Lopez’s family and fellow NCPD officers in their time of mourning.
Bagpipes filled the brisk air, drums broke the silence and mourners linked arms as the eight-year veteran officer’s casket slowly made its way to St. Christopher’s Church.
Dozens of onlookers also came to honor the 29-year-old officer, as did the family of Raymond Facey, the Queens man who was carjacked, then gunned down by the same ex-convict that allegedly shot and killed Lopez, police said.
“This has been one of the most tragic weeks in the history of the Nassau County Police Department,” said Nassau Police Chief of Department Steven Skrynecki. The department buried highway patrolman Joseph Olivieri earlier this week after he was killed on the Long Island Expressway assisting an alleged drunk driver.
“Our hearts go out to the family in their time of need,” Skrynecki added, members of the Emergency Services Unit standing behind him. Lopez was a member of the elite unit.
Inside the church, Gerard Gordon, the police department chaplain, turned to Lopez’s mother to console her, saying: “There is nobody here that can fully understand what you’re going through.”
To Lopez, he said: “Rest well, great Arthur.”
Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Dale also spoke during the funeral service, pledging to Lopez’s family that the police department will always be by their side.
“You can see and have experienced in the last few days that the Nassau County police is a large and tight-knit family,” he told the fallen officer’s family. “Mr. and Mrs. Lopez you and Arthur will always be part of this family. I promise that we will always be there for you as your son was for his fellow officers and citizens of Nassau County. This is what we do.”
Lt. Adam Scheiner, commanding officer of the department’s Emergency Services Unit, said Lopez’s supervisors told him “this is the guy you want,” when he considered bringing Lopez into the unit. He told stories of a man that enjoyed joking around with his fellow officers, and about a man who was devoted to his police work and his family—always cleaning his parent’s house and calling his mother everyday before work.
“I fought hard to get this kid with no time on the job into the unit and everybody rid me about it,” he recalled. “But Artie proved me right. Right from the start he was a diamond in the rough.”
“Everybody will tell you that Artie always greeted you with a big smile and a hardy handshake,” Scheiner added. “He’s a guy you just wanted to be around.”
Lopez was with his partner near Bellerose Terrace on Tuesday when he spotted a car allegedly fleeing an auto accident. After pulling the car over and having a “short exchange of words,” with the driver, Darrell Fuller allegedly shot Lopez in the chest, killing him. Lopez was not wearing his bulletproof vest, officials said. Fuller then allegedly carjacked and murdered Facey.
Fuller has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder.
“Emergency services individuals are not typically involved in the type of [incident] he was involved in,” Skrynecki said. “In this case our officer saw a simple traffic accident…and he took action. That was the type of person he was.”