Update: Today, Denver police officer Tony Lopez Jr. is slated to undergo his third surgery since being shot multiple times during what started as a routine traffic stop on December 8. See our previous coverage below.
In the meantime, authorities have finally released the name and photo of the man suspected of gunning down Lopez.
He's Jason Wood, 36, who's been racking up violent crimes for the better part of two decades.
Wood reportedly received treatment at Denver Health Medical Center (the same facility where Lopez remains) for a gunshot wound to the leg, presumably inflicted by Lopez after bullets began flying toward him.
As we've reported, Lopez radioed dispatch after 11 a.m. on the 8th to let police command know that he was pulling over a vehicle that investigators now believe was occupied by Wood and a female passenger, Melinda Espinoza.
Two minutes later, he called again to say he'd been shot. A bulletproof vest protected his torso, but he took bullets to his extremities.
Police subsequently tracked down Wood following a carjacking — and an AK-47 is said to have been recovered.
In the days since then, Lopez's condition has gradually improved, and his visitors have included Denver mayor Michael Hancock, who tweeted the following photo.
Yesterday, Lopez's family reinforced this message via a post on the Denver Police Department Facebook page.
Two days after Officer Tony Lopez was injured in the line of duty, we are happy to report that he is doing well and in good spirits. His family came forward today to thank the community for the outpouring of support. Many of you have asked how you can donate to the Lopez family. The Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Federal Credit Union is the only fundraising effort endorsed by DPD and the Lopez family.
To make a financial donation to Officer Lopez through the Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Federal Credit Union, account number 23017285, donors can call 303-458-6660, send checks by mail, or stop into any of their locations (www.rmlefcu.org). If mailing a donation, please send it to 700 W. 39th Ave, Denver, CO, 80216, in care of Officer Lopez.
As for Espinoza, she vanished in the immediate aftermath of the shooting only to turn herself in to authorities some time thereafter.
Here's a look at her booking photo.
Thus far, no formal charges have been pressed against Espinoza, who has a rap sheet that includes shoplifting, forgery and car theft.
Such offenses are minor compared to those for which Wood has been investigated or prosecuted.
His first run-in took place in 1997, when Wood was busted on suspicion of homicide and aggravated assault with a gun.
Those charges apparently fell apart, but others stuck, including ones related to burglary, assault, attempted escape, perjury, a parole violation, menacing and weapon possession, earning him varying stints behind bars or on probation. And at the time of the December 8 shooting, he was facing allegations tied to a Denver home-invasion robbery.
Look below to take a larger look at Wood's mug shot, followed by a 7News report featuring comments from Wood's family prior to his official naming and our earlier coverage.
Original post, 5:46 a.m. December 9: At this writing, news crews from multiple Denver TV stations are set up outside Denver Health Medical Center.
The reason: the shooting of Denver police officer Tony Lopez Jr. — an officer who the Denver Police Department had credited as being among its best cops in 2014 thanks to a good deed involving a little girl and a McDonald's Happy Meal.
Lopez was reportedly shot five times yesterday during what began as a routine traffic stop. He spent the day in critical condition, but the most recent reports about his recovery from surgery are optimistic.
A suspect who was also wounded is in custody. However, at least one other person thought to be involved in the attack apparently remains at large.
The first official communication about the incident came via this Denver Police Department tweet, sent out at 11:34 a.m. yesterday.
Subsequent tweets revealed that an officer later identified as Lopez had been transported from the scene.
He was said to have suffered multiple gunshot wounds.
According to 7News, Lopez radioed dispatch to let authorities know he was conducting a traffic stop.
Two minutes later, he called again to say he'd been shot.
Sources tell the station that Lopez was wearing a bulletproof vest that protected his torso.
However, he was still struck by five bullets. Two shots hit an arm and a total of three pierced his legs.
As for the suspects, they're thought to have left the scene on foot and headed to a nearby U.S. Bank branch, where a vehicle was carjacked.
It didn't get far.
Denver police officers pursued the second ride.
The chase ended near the intersection of 20th and Chestnut.
There, a thus-far-unidentified suspect was taken into custody. He had also been shot in the leg. Additionally, an AK-47 was recovered from the car.
Shortly thereafter, media arrived on the scene.
Here's a quick video from Fox31's Ashley Michels from the location:
Quick video update from 20th & Chestnut pic.twitter.com/j2yL1i10bZ— Ashley Michels (@ReporterAshley) December 8, 2015
In the evening, 7News reported that a second suspect in the case — a female — had been taken into custody.
However, the DPD subsequently denied that this was the case.
In the meantime, well wishes poured in for Lopez, who was named one of 2014's best cops on the department's Facebook page.
Here's the photo designating the honor....
...and the DPD account of his good deed:
Earlier this year, a four year-old girl called 911 after her mother passed out, and Denver Police District 2 Officer Tony Lopez did more than respond to the scene. The mother was revived by paramedics, and Officer Lopez learned she was having serious medical issues. Her daughter, who acted bravely in the face of a very scary situation, was noticeably nervous about Officer Lopez’s presence on the scene. Later that same week, in an effort to improve the child’s comfort level with law enforcement, Officer Lopez returned to the home to visit, with a Happy Meal in hand for the little girl. Her attitude and comfort level with Officer Lopez had noticeably improved. While there, Officer Lopez learned that the little girl’s birthday was coming up, but due to the mother’s medical bills, she would not be able to provide presents or throw a party for her daughter. Officer Lopez, again went out of his way, purchased gifts for the little girl and arranged for a local Skate City to donate a skate party for her birthday. Officer Lopez is undoubtedly a “Top Cop” and we couldn’t be more proud to have him amongst our ranks.
After the post, Lopez's father, Tony Lopez Sr., a well-known Denver police commander, posted, "Very proud of you, son."
Another person chimed in: "I met Tony a few weeks ago and spent a shift with him. He actually made some of the arrangements for this little girl while I was with him. I have 12 years of LE experience and I can tell you that Tony is a great officer. Denver is very lucky to have this fine man serving their community."
Added his future mother-in-law: "He will be married in June to my daughter. And yes, he is 1 in a million."
Yesterday afternoon, the DPD wrote about Lopez again — but this time, the reason was the shooting. The item reads:
WE'RE ALL PULLING FOR YOU, TONY!
Friends, you may have all heard by now that today, Denver Police District 1 Officer Tony Lopez Jr. was conducting a traffic stop this morning when he was shot. Officer Lopez was transported to Denver Health suffering from multiple gun shot wounds. He is out of surgery and remains in critical condition. We know Tony is a tough dude and we are sending him healing thoughts and support. Please join us in wishing him the best and thanking the staff at Denver Health for taking such good care of him!
This is hardly the first recent incident during which a local police officer was injured. Last week, an Aurora police officer was brained with a meat cleaver after another routine traffic stop; 25-year-old Tuan Hoang was later killed by cops who pursued him. Additionally, SWAT Officer John Ruddy was shot in the leg while trying to bust Phillip Munoz, who was wanted on an assault warrant. (Munoz died in the incident.) And, of course, five police officers were injured and CU-Colorado Springs officer Garrett Swasey was killed in Robert Dear's attack on a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood facility.
For his part, Lopez lost a lot of blood, doctors confirm, but he survived surgery, and it's hoped that he will pull through. We wish him a speedy recovery.
Look below to see two 7News reports — the first about the shooting, the second concentrating on Lopez.
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