Phoenix police are investigating after a local political consultant died in an apparent suicide, reportedly by setting himself on fire.
Phoenix police confirm the man was Paul J. Lopez, 46.
Lopez worked as a consultant for several political campaigns for Arizona Democrats, with a long family history in Phoenix politics.
On Tuesday, July 24, at 4 p.m., Phoenix police officers responded to a call of an injured person the parking lot of Church of the Nations near Central Avenue and Bethany Home Road.
Officers say they found Lopez with burn injuries.
He was transported to a hospital and was later pronounced dead.
No foul play is suspected.
Police say preliminary information indicates that the injuries appear to be self-inflicted.
"I'm in shock," said local attorney Lawrence Robinson. "No signs."
Robinson had been close friends with him for over a decade.
"The thing about Paul is Paul would be the guy to call you or show up at your door or find you at a coffee shop and hug you from behind, so I didn't know it was going to be bad news like we heard," said Robinson.
Robinson said he and Lopez worked together to help elect former mayor Greg Stanton. And one of his best memories is when the two helped pass the anti-discrimination ordinance they drafted.
"We passed it right there in the Orpheum and it's because of Paul that Phoenix is where it is today," said Robinson.
Lopez leaves behind a wife and young daughter, among many friends. And Robinson said while nobody understands why the beloved family man would do something so tragic, it's a reminder that somebody who appears to have everything, maybe battling something nobody else can see.
"That type of a guy who gives of himself and is very public. I guess sometimes you don't see what's behind the private lens," said Robinson.
Arizona's Family did talk to the Lopez family Wednesday. They are thanking everyone for their support but ask for privacy as they grieve and try to figure out how and why this tragedy happened.
Former Phoenix mayor, Greg Stanton, tweeted his remembrance of Lopez Wednesday night, saying in part. "I couldn't ask for a better friend than Paul Lopez. Through ups and downs, good times and bad... He was always there for me and my family."
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, there is help available 24/7.
You can call the national suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-talk.
Phoenix City Councilwoman Laura Pastor released the following statement about Lopez's death:
"It is with profound grief and a very heavy heart that I mourn the death of my good friend and associate Paul Lopez. Paul was someone I had known since a young age, and I have remained close with his family for quite some time. His intelligence, wit, and love for his community were the hallmarks of his demeanor and professionalism; and as a man of conviction and family, he personified the values which made him a true example for others to look up to. My heart breaks for his wife and daughter and the rest of the Lopez Family, with whom my sincerest thoughts and prayers are during this undoubtedly painful time.
I strongly urge you all to care for your loved ones and show them exactly how much so, because you never know what sort of unspoken pain someone may be experiencing, or what lonely path he or she might be struggling to navigate."
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