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Arizona Navajo police officer dies from coronavirus

Officer Michael Lee. (Navajo Police Department Photo)

PHOENIX — The Navajo Police Department announced on Friday afternoon that officer Michael Lee had died due to COVID-19 earlier that morning.

Navajo police confirmed that this was the first law enforcement death due to the coronavirus, according to a press release.

“On behalf of the Navajo Nation, we offer our heartfelt condolences and prayers to Navajo Police Officer Michael Lee’s family, friends, and colleagues,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in the release.

“Officer Lee fought on the front lines to combat coronavirus and we are grateful for his dedication to our community. His steadfast commitment to protect and serve will be remembered and honored.”

Lee served with the department for 29 years and was serving the Chinle Police District at the time of his death.

“Our police department lost a truly honorable and distinguished person,” Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer said in the release.

“We also pray for the people of Chinle and surrounding communities, who welcomed Officer Lee throughout his time in service to that region.”

Lee is survived by his wife and children.

“We are devastated and heartbroken,” Police Chief Phillip Francisco said in the release. “Officer Lee was a husband, a father, a son, and a protector of his community.”

On Friday evening, Gov. Doug Ducey ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff on Saturday from sunrise to sunset in honor of Lee.

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