Tony Lopez Jr.'s sister said the Denver officer has repeatedly told his family members to stop crying at his hospital bed.
The policeman underwent a second surgery Thursday for injuries related to multiple gunshot wounds. Two days prior, Lopez pulled over a man in a routine traffic stop on Federal Boulevard. The Denver Police Department says the man shot at Lopez several times, striking the officer with five bullets. Police caught the unidentified suspect at 20th Street and Chestnut Place after a chase.
Meghan Lopez, one of the four Lopez siblings, said in a press conference that her brother is alert, aware of what happened and he's asking questions, like everyone else. Another extensive procedure is scheduled for Friday, and the family is thankful Tony made it this far already.
"Tony's doing much better than we could have ever anticipated. The phone call we received on Tuesday is the one you always dread," she said. "It was the worst feeling in the world. Your stomach sinks."
Meghan and her family have gotten that call before. Their father, Tony Lopez, Sr., is a commander with the Denver Police Department. The calls were very small compared to this week's.
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Fear and worry never stopped Tony's dreams of becoming an officer.
"This has been Tony's dream his entire life," Meghan said with a smile. "There was never any other possibility for him." That's still true now. Tony's sister says he already incessantly asks doctors when he can return to work. She says Tony is like her dad.
"He is the strongest person I have ever met in my life. He is the protector. That's what he does."
Meghan repeatedly thanked all officers, paramedics and "miracle workers" at Denver Health for saving her brother's life. The first 24 hours were the worst but all things considered, she says Tony is great. The family thinks of each piece of happy news as a milestone and knows recovery will be long. If Friday's procedure goes as planned, doctors hope Tony will soon put weight on his legs, and eventually begin physical therapy.
Meghan asked for prayers and pleaded with the community to donate blood to help anyone who needs it. Tony lost nearly his entire blood supply this week. Donations saved him -- that, in addition to the skilled tourniquet work done by paramedics. Family members hope first responders across the country implement the training DPD and other first responders recently underwent.
Tony's sister spoke on behalf of him, as well, saying he wants all of the officers involved to know his gratitude.
"Tony wanted me to thank all of his brothers and sisters in blue. Tony keeps telling us over and over again that the Denver Police Department is the best family he could have ever asked for."
In the meantime, family members say they're trying not to cry, because Tony's not.
"I've only seen him cry maybe twice," Meghan said. "His rabbit died. His first and only pet."
The suspect, as of Thursday afternoon, hasn't been released from the hospital for treatment for a gunshot wound.