Public Safety Officer Eric Zapata Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Michigan EoW: Monday, April 18, 2011

zapataPatch image: Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, Michigan

Public Safety Officer Eric Zapata
Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety

End of Watch: Monday, April 18, 2011

Biographical Info
Age: 35
Tour of Duty: 10 years
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Date of Incident: Monday, April 18, 2011
Weapon Used: Gun; Unknown type
Suspect Info: Committed suicide

Officer Eric Zapata was shot and killed after responding to reports of a shots fired call on Hays Avenue.
Another officer had also responded to the call and approached a man standing on porch. As the officer asked the man if he had heard any shots the man suddenly pulled out a gun and exchanged shots with the officer.
The subject then ran in between two houses where he confronted Officer Zapata. More shots were exchanged and Officer Zapata was struck in the head and chest. The man then committed suicide.
Officer Zapata had served with the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety for 10 years.

Agency Contact Information
Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety
150 E Crosstown Parkway
Suite A
Kalamazoo, MI 49001
Phone: (269) 337-8120
Please contact the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety for funeral arrangements or for survivor benefit fund information

 (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – A Kalamazoo Public Safety officer has been killed.
After a report of shots fired just after 11:00pm Monday night, officers were dispatched to the 1400 block of Hays Park Ave.
KDPS officials say the officers that responded encountered 31-year-old Leonard “Danny” Statler of Kalamazoo standing on the porch of a home in that area. They asked him if he had heard any gun shots.
The man then went towards an officer, showed a handgun, and shots were exchanged.
He then took off and ran between houses. That’s when he ran into Officer Eric Zapata.
Officials say that Zapata was shot and killed.
Statler died at the scene from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
An investigation is now underway.
Officers coming in and out of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety building this morning are wearing black bands across their badges in remembrance of Officer Zapata.
Newschannel 3 talked with several members of the department today who spoke while fighting back tears. They tell us they are all hurting over this, remembering Zapata as a happy guy, and great officer. He was a 10 year veteran of the force.

Officer Eric Zapata grew up in Lake Odessa and joined the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety in 2001. He worked in the Edison Neighborhood and had just switched to the night shift.

Officer Zapata leaves behind three children.

KDPS Chief Jeff Hadley said that Zapata was "friendly, happy, always smiling. Somewhat of a jokester, but always got the job done."

The suspect has been identified as Leonard “Danny” Statler of Kalamazoo.
The reaction in the Hays Park Neighborhood has been one of shock and sadness. But  residents say that violence and crimes are nothing new to the area.
Many say they are shocked to hear Leonard "Danny" Statler was the cause of the violence.
"He was a great guy, nice, caring father. His little girl meant the world to him," said one resident.
They say that Statler has been going through a lot of personal issues with a very difficult custody battle and it’s recently taken a turn for the worse.
His mother says that Statler started drinking within the last week and she believes he was not in his right mind last night when he pulled the trigger. Statler’s family say that though he’s had some issues in his past he’s been working to better himself.
They say Statler adored his 4-year-old daughter and was fighting for custody of her.
"I don’t know what was going through his mind when he did this. All I know is that it must have been something that he really didn’t think he could deal with for the rest of his life and this was the outcome," said Statler’s mother Rae Booth.
We did look into Statler’s criminal background. We found that it’s been clean over the last few years. But we did find a concealed weapons charge from 2007 and a conviction of malicious destruction of fire or police property from 2002.
We’re also hearing from people in the neighborhood who witnessed the events. On our website one viewer said quote: “My wife was probably the last living person to see him before his death as he raced out of his cruiser and through our side yard to help a fellow officer that had been shot at. Now a good man is gone, another man is dead for reasons he took with him to the grave, and a community is left to pick up the pieces.

This is the first Kalamazoo Public Safety officer who has been killed in the line of duty. The last law enforcement officer that was killed in Kalamazoo County was in 1867.


2 Responses to “Public Safety Officer Eric Zapata Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Michigan EoW: Monday, April 18, 2011”

  1. 1 Bill Wallace,NREMT-P (Ret) April 21, 2011 at 10:55

    I lived in Sturgis, Mi. for many years, and still have relation in the area. I spent most of my adult life in emergency services so I know just how dangerous the profession can be. I did not know Officer Zapata, but one thing I do know is he was not thinking of his own personal safety when he went between the two houses. He knew a brother officer was in trouble, and it was his job to help. By doing this he gave the ultimate sacrifice one can give for anyone, his own life.

    I grieve for his family and friends. But most of all I grieve for the City of Kalamazoo who has lost a true hero.

    Bill Wallace, B.S., R.R.T., N.R.E.M.T.-P. (ret.)

  1. 1 Health Department seeks for-profit rent |Best refinancing Trackback on April 19, 2011 at 21:13

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