Tulsa, OK – A recovering Tulsa police officer who was shot in the head during a traffic stop in June recently received a personal birthday shoutout from his favorite band, Five Finger Death Punch.
“Who your favorite band?” Tulsa Police Officer Aurash “Zark” Zarkeshan’s friend asked him in a Facebook video on Aug. 31.
“Five Finger Death Punch,” the 27-year-old officer quickly responded from his wheelchair.
That’s when Officer Zarkeshan’s friend excitedly leaned over and showed him a couple of videos that FFDP’s Zoltan Bathory and Chris Kael recorded just for him.
“Hey, Zark – what a man,” Kael said in one video. “Friends of yours reached out and said that you have been going through some real s—t over there.”
“Ah, it’s not that bad,” Officer Zarkeshan quipped as the video played on.
“I just wanted to send some words of support and encouragement,” Kael continued. “I can’t imagine, man.”
He urged the recovering officer to continue to “find that strength to pull up.”
“F—k these mother—kers…keep that inner strength going, brother. You got this,” Kael said. “We are here for you, brother. We love you, and get well soon.”
Next up was a message from Bathory, who launched into a brief heavy-metal version of “Happy Birthday” on his guitar before wishing Officer Zarkeshan a happy birthday and a speedy recovery.
“We’re always supporting the Thin Blue!” he declared.
Officer Zarkeshan broke into a smile after watching the birthday greetings.
“That’s f—king bad -ss!” he told his friends.
Officer Zarkeshan has been making massive strides in his recovery during his stay at an out-of-state rehabilitation facility, KOTV reported.
He’s now able to walk, and said he is looking forward to getting back to his home.
Officer Zarkeshan and his fellow officer, Tulsa Police Sergeant Craig Johnson, 45, were shot while they were out on a traffic stop near 21st and Memorial at approximately 3:20 a.m. on June 29, KTUL reported at the time.
Police had stopped the alleged gunman, David Ware, for allegedly driving his blue Chevy Cobalt with expired paper tags.
Bodycam video showed that when the officers told Ware that his vehicle would have to be towed, he refused to get out of his car and began arguing with them, claiming they were violating his rights.
The argument escalated and after three minutes, one of the officers deployed a Taser at Ware, KTUL reported.
But Ware tore out the prongs and kept arguing, according to the affidavit.
The officer deployed pepper spray at Ware, but still he refused to get out of his car, KTUL reported.
That’s when the officers went hands-on and tried to pull the driver out of the vehicle.
Ware fought the officers and reached under the car seat for a gun, KTUL reported.
The affidavit said neither officer realized Ware had a gun until he began shooting at them, hitting them each three times, according to investigators.
Then, after both officers were down, Ware stood over one of the wounded officers and shot him three more times, according to the arrest affidavit.
Ware fled the area but was later apprehended at a residence in the area of Garnett and 31st, KOCO reported.
His alleged getaway driver, Matthew Hall, has also been arrested, KOTV reported.
Sgt. Johnson and Officer Zarkeshan were rushed to a hospital in critical condition, Tulsa World reported.
Both had been shot multiple times in the head and torso, police said.
After arriving at the hospital, Sgt. Johnson was rushed into emergency surgery, the TPD said in a press release.
His prognosis did not improve after the procedure, and Sgt. Johnson was subsequently placed on life support in order to give his family time to be with him, according to his department.
“Today, June 30, 2020, in a decision made with his family, Craig’s organs will be donated as his final act of service for our community,” the TPD said.
Sgt. Johnson passed away at 1:19 p.m. that day, leaving behind his wife and two young sons.
Trent Shores, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma, said that Sgt. Johnson and Officer Zarkeshan both represent how essential law enforcement officers are to communities as a whole, Tulsa World reported.
“Brave men and women like Sgt. Johnson and Officer Aurash Zarkeshan make up the thin blue line that stands between order and chaos,” Shores said. “Sgt. Johnson’s death will not lessen our resolve, but rather reaffirm the collective duty of all those in law enforcement to serve and protect. May God bless Sergeant Johnson and all of our nation’s police officers.”