A Yavapai County, AZ, deputy died Tuesday after being shot while trying to apprehend a possible theft suspect. Sgt. Richard Lopez, 51, succumbed to his injuries at a Phoenix hospital following surgery, says Yavapai County Sheriff David Rhodes.

Lopez, according to Rhodes, came into contact with the suspect but it's unclear what happened next reports FOX10. Neighbors called 911 to report an officer in distress and when deputies responded they discovered Lopez unresponsive on the ground. The deputies attempted life-saving measures and the wounded deputy was taken to the nearest fire department, where he was airlifted to the hospital.

After the shooting, the suspect barricaded himself inside his home but was later apprehended by the sheriff’s department SWAT team and has been charged with first-degree murder. The Arizona Department of Public Safety is leading the investigation.

During a press conference, the sheriff shared that Lopez was a 14-year veteran of the department and had left a career in management to become a deputy. He served as a detective and was a member of the department’s SWAT team.

“Our agency is hurting. I will tell you this, the violence against law enforcement — we are seeing it escalate everywhere and it has got to stop. These are people that are out there serving the community, protecting life, liberty, and property and they do not deserve this,” says Rhodes.

Sgt. Richard Lopez, a 14-year-veteran of the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, died after being shot Tuesday. - PHOTO: Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office – Recruitment & Selection

Sgt. Richard Lopez, a 14-year-veteran of the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, died after being shot Tuesday.

PHOTO: Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office – Recruitment & Selection

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