Slain Nassau Officer Arthur Lopez called good neighbor
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Officer Arthur Lopez was a helpful neighbor on his Babylon Village block, a respected Nassau police officer, a former volunteer firefighter and good son, people who knew him said.
"You hear about police officers getting killed -- but this is so close to home," said neighbor David Carter, 48.
An eight-year veteran of the force, Lopez, just days shy of turning 30 on Nov. 1, was a member of the Highway Patrol Emergency Services Unit, where in 2010 he and Officer Robert Blum were recognized by the Town of Hempstead for coaxing a distraught man from attempting suicide.
And in March, Lopez snared a pit bull that menaced a woman overnight in Roosevelt.
Lopez, who started with the force on July 29, 2004, was shot to death Tuesday by a man he and his partner had been pursuing along the Cross Island Parkway near the Queens and Nassau border, Nassau police said. The suspect then drove away, carjacked a motorist's vehicle and shot him to death, police said.
Lopez is survived by his parents, Alfonso and Mirella Lopez of Flushing, and his sister Charo Lopez of the Bronx.
Word of the death of a man who was both a good neighbor and a good cop devastated the people who had come to know him since he settled on their block.
"Oh, God. It breaks my heart," said neighbor Narrie Carter, 89. "He was such a nice fella." Most Christmases, Carter said, Lopez would bring her apples and apple cider.
His 79-year-old neighbor, Marie, who didn't want her last name used, said she used to talk with Lopez at the fence separating their properties. When he moved in about three years ago, he introduced himself, and when a bad storm knocked a tree down in her yard and cut out her lights a few years ago, he offered a helping hand.
"He came home," she said. "He and his partner came in, through the wires, mind you, and made sure I was all right and made sure I had flashlights."
Lopez told her at the time that he would look after her -- a promise he has kept ever since.
"He's the best thing that happened around here," said Marie, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than four decades.
"This is just a shock to us right now," said Michael Cullen, 51, another neighbor. "We're all devastated now," he said, adding that he saw Lopez on Saturday. "Artie was so friendly."
Carter, who also did landscaping work for Lopez, was stunned when he first heard news that his friend and neighbor was killed in the line of duty.
He said that Lopez, who lived alone, liked cars and that when Lopez went on vacation, his parents stayed at the house.
"Artie was a great guy," Carter said. "He stayed to himself. He worked hard and did a lot of overtime."
Carter added that Lopez would often make neighborly gestures. Last year, Lopez gave Carter a Police Benevolent Association card and replica of a badge in a leather carrier. Engraved inside the leather holder was "Officer's friend."
The special gift didn't surprise Carter. "Artie was very quiet, very nice, very caring," Carter said.
When the two men were mapping out a landscaping job, Carter showed Lopez different designs, but Lopez wouldn't fuss over the details.
He said, "Don't worry. I trust you," Carter said.
"He was just a wholesome, all-around good kid who wanted to be a cop," he said.
When Lopez graduated from the police academy, Mahdesian said he went to the ceremony "to honor him."
Natividad Ortiz, 79, has lived on the same floor of a Flushing apartment building with the Lopez family since Lopez was 5.
"They are like my family," she said. "He used to play outside with my grandson."
She said Lopez often visited his parents.
"Just last week he came to see his mother, and she made him chicken and rice," Ortiz said. "They are so proud of him."
With Ann Givens,
and Matthew Chayes