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Thursday, September 25, 2008
Shotgun Blast Kills APD Officer
By T.J. Wilham
Journal Staff Writer
When Albuquerque Police Department officers were bashing one another on an anonymous blog, Lt. Todd Parkins signed on, identified himself and told the officers they should respect one another.
He was defending an officer who supported a controversial union contract, even though Parkins had voted against it.
"That's the type of guy he was," said longtime friend Deputy Police Chief Michael Castro. "He was the type of guy who would stand up for his fellow officer and give them the shirt off his back."
Parkins, 38, was killed Wednesday when his shotgun accidentally went off inside his Cedar Crest home. He was standing near his wife and one of his sons when the gun went off.
Parkins was preparing to leave with a group of officers on a four-day camping trip to the Pecos Mountains when he was either getting the gun out of a safe or putting it back in when it fired a shot into his chest. The 15-year APD veteran was taken to University of New Mexico Hospital, where he died.
He is survived by his wife and two sons, ages 11 and 8.
Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department deputies, who are handling the investigation, said they do not know what caused the shotgun to go off, although Undersheriff Sal Baragiola said it appears to have been an accident.
As a lieutenant, Parkins was in charge of the Police Department's Traffic Unit. His unit was responsible for traffic control of major events. He had just finished organizing traffic control for the New Mexico State Fair and two presidential candidate visits when he decided to go on a four-day break with several other officers.
He wanted some time off before the start of this year's Balloon Fiesta.
"There is going to be a void for quite some time at APD," said Mayor Martin Chávez, who knew Parkins and his parents. "He was on the fast track. There was no question. This is an absolute shock."
Parkins, a graduate of Baylor University, was considered one of APD's rising stars, officers said. He had worked in several divisions and climbed up the APD ranks. Many thought he could become a deputy chief.
"Todd was going places," said Castro, who was Parkins' training officer when he was in the Police Academy. "This is a great loss, not just to the department, but to the community."
Parkins married another Albuquerque police officer, Sue, who left the department to be a stay-at-home mother.
Fellow officers say Parkins was a prankster, smiled a lot, was an avid outdoorsman, loved horses and ended every e-mail with a random Bible verse.
Services for Parkins are at 10 a.m. Saturday at Hoffmantown Church.
"This is something you just don't expect," said Police Chief Ray Schultz, who promoted Parkins in 2006. "The entire law enforcement community is mourning right now."