White Mountain Apache Tribe mourn police officer’s death

Dalton Walker

Updated: Officer David Kellywood, 26, leaves behind wife, Kamelia, sons Gabriel and David Jr.

The White Mountain Apache Tribe is mourning the death of a tribal police officer.

Officer David Kellywood was killed early Monday morning after responding to a “shots fired” call near the tribe’s Hon-Dah Resort-Casino in Pinetop, Arizona, according to a Navajo County Sheriff’s Office news release. Pinetop is about 180 miles northeast of Phoenix. The sheriff’s office issued the news release on behalf of the White Mountain Apache Tribe and tribal government.

On her Facebook page, Chairwoman Gwendena Lee-Gatewood issued a statement Monday, saying Kellywood was a husband and father of two young boys.

“He was compassionate, caring, tough and brave,” she said. “He served with humility and quiet dignity. But for his family and community, he was more than an officer. He was a father, husband, brother, son, cousin, uncle, sports enthusiast, a man who is a child of God.”

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White Mountain Apache Tribe Police Officer David Kellywood with his wife Kamelia and sons Gabriel and David Jr. (Photo via Chairwoman Gwendena Lee-Gatewood, Facebook)

On Feb. 17, just before 1 a.m., Kellywood was the first to respond to the call and found a male matching a description of the individual involved and the male started a “violent, physical altercation” with Kellywood when Kellywood was shot, according to the sheriff’s office. A second responded officer arrived and shot the male. Kellywood and the male shot were taken to a hospital where both died.

Kellywood joined the police department nine months ago and was a tribal citizen.

“He died serving his community today,” Lee-Gatewood said. “He reflected the very core of what it means to have citizenship. His wife, Kamelia, their son, Gabriel and David Jr., their hearts are burdened with pain. David had a great abiding love for his wife and his children. He was so proud that he was beginning a career in law enforcement and spoke how proud he was that his wife obtained her master’s degree in public health. Wherever he went, he had a smile, friendly demeanor and warm greeting. We will miss that.”

Many tribal law enforcements and tribal leaders across Indian Country shared messages of support to the Kellywood family and the White Mountain Apache Tribe. Some replaced their social media photo with a police officer badge with a band to honor the fallen officer.

 “David was a fine officer and genuine man of character,” Council Member Jerold Altaha wrote in a Facebook post. “His loyalty and devotion to the public safety of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation will always be remembered.”

A special run and walk to honor Kellywood will take place at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday at the N’dee Bii Fitness Center in White River.

The event is in conjunction with young runner Zechariah Cartledge’s Running 4 Heroes campaign. Cartledge runs 1-mile and carries a Blue Line flag in his hometown in honor of fallen law enforcement and to bring awareness and raise money for families of fallen police officers. Running 4 Heroes’ announced Cartledge’s run on Facebook and encouraged agencies and others to take part across the nation in their own run to honor Kellywood. The Facebook page has more than 100,000 Likes and the post on Kellywood’s run had almost 700 shares in eight hours.Kellywood will lie in state at the Chief Alchesay Activity Center on Feb. 27 and his funeral will be Feb. 29.

Donations to help the Kellywood family are being accepted at any Wells Fargo branch in Memoriam of Officer David Kellywood, account number 1274804507, according to Lee-Gatewood’s post.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ordered flags lowered to half-staff Tuesday to honor Kellywood.

The sheriff’s office said the FBI was leading the investigation into the shooting. Pinetop-Lakeside is about 180 miles east of Phoenix.

Dalton Walker, Red Lake Anishinaabe, is a national correspondent at Indian Country Today. Follow him on Twitter: @daltonwalker or email him at dwalker@indiancountrytoday.com

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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