Man who allegedly killed Yavapai County sergeant previously threatened shootout with deputies

Officers from different agencies lined up outside the downtown Phoenix medical examiner’s office to send off the fallen sergeant.
Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 10:37 AM MST|Updated: Jun. 29, 2022 at 10:43 AM MST
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CORDES LAKE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Investigators say the man who shot and killed a Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office sergeant had made prior threats against law enforcement, including threatening to have a shootout. Robert McDowell, 61, is accused of killing YCSO Sgt. Richard Lopez on Tuesday night in Cordes Lakes.

Court paperwork says around 12:30 p.m., a neighbor called 911 after they saw McDowell chasing Lopez. The neighbor told officers they heard a gunshot, looked out their window and saw Lopez on the ground. DPS troopers arrived and found Lopez unresponsive. Lopez was then flown to a Phoenix hospital and later died. Lopez leaves behind his wife and two kids.

Investigators say deputies were in the area trying to find McDowell to give him the paperwork from a prior incident where he threatened authorities. According to court documents, in November 2021, McDowell threatened law enforcement, saying “if you come in here, you’re going to have to shoot it out with me.”

Court documents say it’s still unknown what led up to McDowell shooting Lopez. After the shooting, an hours-long standoff began between authorities and McDowell when he barricaded himself inside his home. Officers saw McDowell pacing back and forth inside his home with an AR-15 rifle. Court documents say McDowell refused to come out at first, but ultimately surrendered and was taken into custody.

A procession began on Wednesday evening to escort Lopez’s body from Phoenix back to a funeral home in Prescott Valley. Officers from different agencies lined up outside the downtown Phoenix medical examiner’s office to send off the fallen sergeant. Prescott Valley patrol cars and Cordes Lakes residents were lined up a quarter-mile away from the funeral home as the procession arrived.

Cordes Lakes Community Shows Support For Fallen Sergeant

The small town of Cordes Lakes was shaken up after the shooting and came out to show its love for Lopez. Residents began to set up a memorial, putting out crosses, balloons and flowers for Lopez.

“He was out here helping us,” said Donna Chavey. She had driven by the home where the shooting happened to pay her respects. “...doing things for us and now he’s not here anymore. It’s so sad,” she said, getting choked up while talking about Lopez.

Many residents in Cordes Lakes came out to pay their respects after Sgt. Richard Lopez was shot and killed on Tuesday night.

Another resident, Stormy Hanson, says she worked with Lopez at Safeway years ago before he joined the department. “He wanted to help people, that was his goal. He didnt want to hurt people. He wanted to help anybody he could; everyday he got up and put that uniform on,” said Hanson.

Hanson says Lopez was the type of officer to help anyone if they were stranded on the side of the road. “I cried all night long. I woke up this morning crying. I feel like I got punched in the stomach. Like when I got the call and they told me it was Rick Lopez I said ‘are you serious, are you for sure?’” she said.

The community braved the cold rain on Wednesday night when Lopez’s procession arrived in Cordes Lakes. “I can’t stop crying inside, you know. It hurts and I feel so bad for his family,” said Hampton King, a Cordes Lakes resident.

Sgt. Lopez was affectionately called by his peers “R-Lo” and served 14 years with the department. He was also a regular volunteer at “Shop with a Cop” events. Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office is now taking donations to help Lopez’s family. For more information on how to donate, click/tap here.

McDowell was booked into Yavapai County jail and faces a charge of first-degree murder.