East St. Louis, IL – Illinois State Police Trooper Nick Hopkins was murdered in the line of duty while serving a warrant on Friday morning.
“I stand before you to inform you of the untimely and tragic death of another Illinois State police trooper. The fourth in 2019,” Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly told reporters at a press conference on Friday night.
Trooper Hopkins, 33, was fatally shot while serving a warrant with his team at a home near Caseyville Avenue and North 42nd Street at about 5:26 a.m. on Aug. 23, KMOV reported.
Director Kelly said that the warrant service was a major undertaking that involved a large number of officers.
“This was a standard, organized, well-executed, SWAT-executed search warrant,” Director Kelly explained.
“There was an exchange of gunfire at the residence and Trooper Hopkins was struck,” he continued.
The trooper was shot in the head.
Trooper Hopkins, a 10-year-veteran of the Illinois State Police, was transported to St. Louis University Hospital with life-threatening injuries and died at 6:10 p.m., according to Director Kelly.
He said police quickly took three suspects into custody after the trooper was shot.
Trooper Hopkins was a 2004 graduate of Waterloo High School, according to the Republic-Times.
He went on to McKendree University in Lebanon where he played football from 2004 to 2008.
His older brother, Zack Hopkins, is a police sergeant with the Columbia Police Department and their father, Jim Hopkins, is a longtime alderman in the town of Waterloo, the Republic-Times reported.
Trooper Hopkins is survived by his wife, four-year-old twins, a newborn daughter, three sisters, and two brothers.
Director Kelly said that Trooper Hopkins served seven years on patrol but spent the majority of his time with the Illinois State Police in SWAT.
“He had an excellent reputation and the position that he was in was one of the people who go in first,” the director said.
He thanked all of the police officers and sheriff’s deputies who assisted the state police after Trooper Hopkins was shot.
Director Kelly also thanked the state troopers who “performed CPR for an extended period” so that Trooper Hopkins’ family would be able to see him alive one more time and say goodbye.
The director said that Trooper Hopkins was the first SWAT operator lost in 20 years.
He also said that in the Illinois State Police’s 100-year history, the agency had never lost three troopers in a year.
“In this darkness, we have to grasp for the light,” Director Kelly said. “Nick Hopkins was a bright light in this world. Outwardly shining with the integrity and pride of serving in the Illinois State Police as an Illinois State Police trooper.”
He said that Trooper Hopkins was an organ donor.
“Even now he continues to serve others,” Director Kelly said. “He will donate his organs and his very body to help others. He would want us all to know that he was healthy as a horse, and that a healthy body like his can help save or improve the lives of as many as 40 people through organ donation.”
“Even in death, even in this dark moment, his light is shining,” he said.
Steven D. Weinhoeft, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, said federal prosecutors were already assisting with the investigation.
“At a time when law enforcement is increasingly under attack, the United States attorney’s office and the federal government is here to say ‘enough,” Weinhoeft told reporters. “We are here to pledge that we will bring every resource that we have to bear to support this investigation, to support the state police, to support the state’s attorney’s office, and to ensure and seek justice in this case.”
“This situation is a terrible, terrible tragedy,” he continued. “It reminds us of the risks that law enforcement faces every day and the tremendous courage that is displayed by the men and women in law enforcement who go out and work. They deserve our gratitude, they deserve our respect, and today, they deserve our deepest sympathies and our support.”
Director Kelly said the investigation into the incident was ongoing and he wasn’t able to share many details of what happened inside the house where Trooper Hopkins was shot.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Illinois State Police Trooper Nick Hopkins, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Trooper Hopkins, your life mattered.