Days after an Illinois state trooper was fatally shot, a woman posted an emotional tribute on social media recalling the time he came to her aid on the side of the road.
Cynthia Stanley said she still remembers the time Trooper Nicholas Hopkins helped her on the side of a highway four years ago.
Recalling their meeting in a Facebook post Thursday, Stanley wrote about how Hopkins took her to a gas station, filling her tank as the two talked about their families.
"During this event he smiled the entire time and talked about his newborn twins and being a doting husband," Stanley wrote, saying she was motivated by the recent tragedy to post her story. "He was excited about seeing his babies grow and being a husband to his wife. He shared some endearing moments and I never forgot him." [[558700121, C]]
The post included photos of Stanley and Hopkins together, smiling, as well as two of Hopkins filling the gas tank on Stanley's car.
Hopkins, 33, was executing a search warrant earlier this month in East St. Louis when he was fatally shot in an exchange of gunfire, officials said. Prosecutors said Saturday that a suspect named Chris Grant was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting and ordered held on $5 million bond.
Hopkins, of Waterloo, was a 10-year veteran of the force and is survived by his wife Whitney and three children: twins Evelyn and Owen, as well as younger sister Emma. [[558067202, C]]
Stanley said one of her colleagues at work read out loud an article about a state trooper being shot - and her mind jumped to Hopkins.
"My heart about sunk and my first thought was please don't let it be him. Please don't let it be him....It was him," Stanley wrote. "Tears filled up in my eyes as I continued to read the rest of the article."
"This is beyond my understanding," she continued. "He was one of the good ones just making a living like the rest of us and building a legacy for his family. His kindness will forever live within my heart and I thank him."
Stanley's post garnered more than 48,000 shares and 15,000 comments as of Thursday morning.
Earlier in the week, Hopkins' family shared a touching statement remembering the man they said played many roles - but loved his job as husband and father the most.
"Words cannot convey the pain of the loss and the emptiness in our hearts," the Hopkins' family's statement begins. "Words also fail to describe the lasting impact Nick had on the lives of everyone who knew him." [[238427591, C]]
"Nick will live on through the memories we cherish and in how we emulate his passion for life: 'You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.' It brings us comfort to know Nick’s legacy will live on by the actions of others," his family wrote, thanking his colleagues, the law enforcement community, the medical staff at the hospital, their city and so many others for their love, care and support.
"Know that your kindness and support has not gone unnoticed, your actions are imprinted on our hearts forever," Hopkins' family said.
Hopkins was scheduled to be laid to rest in services at Waterloo High School this weekend, beginning with a visitation on Saturday afternoon and a funeral the following morning.