NBC 4 New York
A never ending line of blue in Merrick Thursday night, as police officers and civilians paid their respects to Nassau County Police Officer Arthur Lopez. News 4's Ida Siegal reports.
Thousands of officers and civilians lined up outside a Long Island firehouse Thursday evening to pay their respects to 29-year-old police officer Arthur Lopez, slain Tuesday by a gunman near a busy highway on the Queens-Nassau border.
"Artie was just an infectiously happy guy," said Lt. Adam Scheiner outside the wake in Merrick. "A great worker, and the kind of guy who could come into a sad room like today and just make it a happy room."
Lopez was just one week shy of his 30th birthday when he was allegedly shot and killed by 33-year-old Darrell Fuller. Fuller was arraigned on two counts of first-degree murder and remanded without bail Thursday.
Lopez's family is "destroyed," Officer William Staker said at the wake. "They lost their only son."
His colleagues showed media pictures of Lopez, displaying his bravery and dedication to saving lives as he worked in Nassau County's Emergency Services Unit. One showed him standing next to the President's helicopter while he worked a special detail during the presidential debate earlier this week.
"He enjoyed going out and helping people," said Officer Marcus Negron. "He was an excellent cop and wonderful friend."
Even more mourners are expected to show up for Friday's wakes, and 10,000 people are expected to attend Lopez's funeral Saturday at St. Christopher's Church in Baldwin.
Officers in Nassau County had attended the funeral of another Nassau County police officer just a day before Lopez was killed: Joseph Olivieri was killed last Thursday when he was hit by a car at a crash scene where he had responded.
Lopez lived on Long Island and was single. The highly decorated officer joined the police force in 2004, and was also a volunteer firefighter and EMT. He is survived by his parents Alfonso and Mirella, and a sister, Charo.
Flags will be flown at half-staff on all Nassau County government buildings from Nov. 19 through Dec. 19 in honor of Lopez. They're currently at half-staff in honor of Olivieri.
A PBA-sanctioned memorial fund has been set up for Lopez. Donations may be made to the Police Officer Arthur Lopez Memorial Fund at 89 East Jericho Turnpike, Mineola, NY.