Vigil planned for fallen El Mirage officer

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A vigil is scheduled for Thursday for 17-year El Mirage police veteran Ofc. Paul Lazinsky. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) A vigil is scheduled for Thursday for 17-year El Mirage police veteran Ofc. Paul Lazinsky. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Lazinsky was a fixture in the mobile home community, patrolling the grounds, waving to residents and stopping nearly every day he was on duty in the office. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Lazinsky was a fixture in the mobile home community, patrolling the grounds, waving to residents and stopping nearly every day he was on duty in the office. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Lazinsky was known as “Officer Paul” in the park and even helped the residents set up a block watch program. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Lazinsky was known as “Officer Paul” in the park and even helped the residents set up a block watch program. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
EL MIRAGE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

The death of 17-year El Mirage police veteran Ofc. Paul Lazinsky, 58, has hit the small city west of the Valley quite hard.

"He just was the epitome of a police officer. What you have in your mind that you think that they should be. Somebody that is caring and you know is willing to work with the community. He was just wonderful. He's going to be dearly missed," said Chris Woodards, one of the managers of The Palms Mobile Home Park.

Lazinsky was a fixture in the mobile home community, patrolling the grounds, waving to residents and stopping nearly every day he was on duty in the office.

News spread fast through the residents of Lazinsky's death. Many of the folks were still trying to accept the fact that he’s gone.

“People are devastated, they're devastated. They lost a friend. They lost somebody that they knew was looking out for them to protect them," Woodards said.

Lazinsky was known as “Officer Paul” in the park and even helped the residents set up a block watch program. He was a familiar face that will be missed.

“He always had a kind word. Just helpful in any way he could be. If I had a problem in the community he would come in and we would chit chat about it, what I could do about it. I knew I could call him. He gave me his cell phone number,” said Woodards.

Lazinsky died Tuesday afternoon after collapsing while running after a teen suspect who had a warrant out for his arrest.

[READ MORE: El Mirage police officer dies during foot pursuit of suspect]

For much of the day Wednesday, the less than 50 officers who make up the El Mirage Police Department were not on duty. They were being relieved and given time to mourn. Officers from the Surprise Police Department and Peoria Police Department were covering their calls.

A community vigil is set for Thursday night in El Mirage at 6:15 p.m. at the Veteran’s Memorial Plaza at El Mirage City Hall.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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Donna RossiEmmy Award-winning reporter Donna Rossi joined CBS 5 News in September 1994.

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Donna Rossi

In that time, Donna has covered some of the most high-profile stories in the Valley and across the state. Donna's experience as a four-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department gives her a keen sense of crime and court stories. She offered gavel to gavel coverage of the 1999 sleepwalking murder trial of Scott Falater, and the trial and conviction of retired Catholic Bishop Thomas O'Brien for a fatal hit and run accident. She also spent 2 straight weeks in northeastern Arizona in the summer of 2011 covering the Wallow Fire, the largest wildfire in Arizona history.

Donna's reputation as a fair and accurate journalist has earned her the respect of her colleagues and community. Her talent as a reporter has earned her more than a dozen Arizona Associated Press Awards and five Emmy statue.

Donna previously worked as an anchor and reporter in Tucson and got her start in broadcast journalism in Flagstaff. Donna is a past president of the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences and currently serves on the NATAS board. She is a member of IFP/Phoenix, a non-profit organization of local film and documentary makers.

Donna was born in New York and moved to the Valley with her family when she was 9 years old. She is a graduate of Maryvale High School and attended Arizona State University. She graduated cum laude from Northern Arizona University.

In her free time, Donna enjoys boating on Bartlett Lake, all forms of music and theatre. Donna frequently donates her time to speak to community organizations and emcee their events. She is a past board member of DUET, a non-profit which helps promote health and well-being for older adults. Donna also loves donating her time to youth organizations and groups who work to secure and safeguard human rights.

On Oct. 17, 2015, Donna was honored for her amazing work over the years. The Rocky Mountain Chapter of the National Academy of Televisions Arts and Sciences inducted her into its Silver Circle. It's one of the organization's most prestigious honors for which only a few candidates are selected each year.

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