Former police chief remembered for desire to serve
Jan 01, 2013 (Quay County Sun - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Friends describe Daniel Lopez as a man who cared about his community, was compelled to serve and above all loved his family.
Lopez, 45, was a former New Mexico State Police captain and Tucumcari chief of police. He was elected in March as the District 3 city commissioner.
He was found in his home late Saturday, suffering from a gunshot wound, and later died at the Tucumcari hospital. Preliminary autopsy results show he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, officials said.
Friends said they did not know why Lopez would take his own life. They focused on fond memories this week.
"He had a vision for Tucumcari," said Eric Rivera.
Rivera said he knew Lopez since high school when they were wrestling teammates who became best friends.
"He was my 'little brother,'" Rivera said. "He was younger than me though I looked up to him."
Rivera said he spent a lot of time with Lopez as a workout partner, golfer and friend. He said Lopez had a competitive spirit that drove him to be the best and encourage others to be their best.
"We talked about how he wanted to bring the commissioners together to make Tucumcari better," Rivera said.
Rivera said it is going to be hard not hearing from his friend on a daily basis; it's like having a piece of his heart ripped out. He said Lopez had a golden heart and a great sense of humor.
"He loved a good joke and pulled his fair share of pranks," Rivera said.
Rivera said when Lopez won the commission election, friends bought him a gift -- a pink bunny that danced to "Can't Touch This." He said Lopez kept it on his desk and would play it from time to time.
"He loved his family so much," Rivera said. "He was telling me that he is the proudest because his kids are going to make a difference."
Eddie Encinias said he spoke often to Lopez, about a great many things.
"You always felt good talking to Daniel," Encinias said. "His demeanor while talking to you was so confident and knowledgeable. He understood so much and if he didn't know the answer he'd go out of his way to find the answer for you."
Encinias said the community has lost a great motivator and a person who was concerned about the welfare of the community.
Encinias said Lopez was a source of inspiration to many.
"Daniel was the 1985 state champion (wrestler) for the Rattlers," Encinias said. "He shared his knowledge with myself and the members of the team."
"His persona, was amazing," Encinias said. "He was a great source of motivation for the kids."
Lopez was the kind of man who believed in treating people right and respecting their beliefs, said State Police Capt. Jimmy Glascock.
Glascock said he met Daniel early in his career.
"He was a person who believed in enforcing the law, but also doing what was right," Glascock said.
"He'd never ask you to do something he wasn't willing to do himself," Glascock said.
Glascock said Lopez always cared about Tucumcari and was driven to serve the community.
"While his dedication to his community was great, his dedication to his family was greater," Glascock said.
Funeral services were not immediately announced.
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