A memorial outside Indio City Hall honoring U.S. Marine Cpl. Hunter Lopez, an Indio resident who was one of 13 service members killed in a bombing in Afghanistan, continued growing Wednesday as residents brought flowers and other tribute items to the site.
The city shared a photo on social media Wednesday afternoon of the memorial for Lopez, 22. Placed in the shade of a large Afghan pine tree on the west side of City Hall, it includes a large photo with the words, “In grateful memory of the service and sacrifice of U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez. You are forever a son of Indio.”
The city invited residents to place their own tributes to Lopez by the memorial, and after two days, the memorial has grown quickly.
“We thank everyone who is adding tributes and messages to the Lopez family, who are valued and respected members of our community here in Indio,” the city’s social media post stated.
Lopez and 12 other service members died last Thursday in a suicide bombing at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, amid the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country.
Lopez was the son of Riverside County sheriff’s Deputy Alicia Lopez and sheriff’s Capt. Herman Lopez. According to the Riverside Sheriff’s Association, Hunter Lopez was a Riverside County sheriff’s Explorer Scout with the Palm Desert Station from September 2014 to August 2017, and he planned to become a sheriff’s deputy upon his return from Afghanistan.
The Lopez family responded to the outpouring of support Monday.
“We are grateful to those who have paid tribute to Hunter by sending us bouquets of flowers, posting so many heartfelt messages on social media, or otherwise sharing in our sadness as well as the celebration of his short but incredible life,” they said in a statement. “We wish we could thank all of you individually, but that would be nearly impossible, as there has been an overwhelming amount of people helping us. Whether checking on us, praying, making donations in Hunter’s honor, we will forever be thankful for all of you.
“So many people told us that they couldn’t find the right words to express their sympathy. We, likewise, realized that there were no words to express our deep level of appreciation adequately. We have only two words for everyone: thank you.”
Indio officials said residents can leave items of remembrance and tribute at the City Hall memorial through Sept. 11. They asked that people do not leave lighted candles.
“Hunter was selfless in his desire to serve his country and in so doing paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Indio Mayor Elaine Holmes said in a statement this week. “Thank you Hunter, and all whose lives were lost, and all who serve, for fighting to protect our freedom.”
Lopez was one of two Riverside County residents killed in the Kabul bombing. Kareem Mae’Lee Grant Nikoui, 20, a Marine lance corporal from Norco, also died in the attack.
Also among the dead was Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga in neighboring San Bernardino County.