KALAMAZOO (WWJ/AP) – Family members of a slain Kalamazoo public safety officer and the man authorities say fatally shot him before killing himself praised the officer for his service to the community and care for its people.
The Kalamazoo Gazette reports the officer Eric Zapata’s sister said the 10-year veteran of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety was a “good man” who “loved being a member” of the department. Irene Ferguson read a prepared statement Wednesday surrounded by family at police headquarters.
Police said Zapata and others responded to reports of shots Monday night when they came across 31-year-old Leonard “Danny” Statler of Kalamazoo standing on the porch of a home in the area. When they tried to question Statler, gun fire was exchanged, and Officer Zapata was killed.
Police said Statler then fled, and apparently shot himself.
Statler told reporters, Wednesday, that “two great people” died that day. Mykee Castle said Statler wasn’t “a monster” but made a poor choice by getting involved in the deadly confrontation with police.
Castle said Zapata helped him leave a local gang.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.