It was a knock on the door that Whitney Hopkins wished never came.
Her husband, Illinois State Police SWAT team member Nicholas Hopkins, had been shot early in the morning of Aug. 23 while executing a search warrant at a home in East St. Louis. He was rushed to a local hospital after suffering what police described as “catastrophic injuries” – and passed away that night.
“Unfortunately, being a police officer’s wife, you have these hard conversations. I always told him, ‘Don’t worry, go, go, have fun, do what you love,” Hopkins said at his funeral about a week later. “I told him if anything would happen, we would be ok. We would be strong. We would be brave."
She continued: “How I wish that knock on the door didn’t come. But it did. It did come, and now we, all of us, my family… we are now challenged to face a new normal.”
Hopkins, 33, served with the Illinois State Police for a decade and grew up in Waterloo, the city he patrolled up until the time of his death. He is the fourth Illinois State Trooper to be killed in the line of duty this year and leaves behind a wife, three children, three sisters and two brothers – one of which, the agency’s acting director says, serves in another police department in the Prairie State.
“He is another great hero of Illinois that has paid the ultimate price while protecting and serving the citizens of this state,” Brendan Kelly told reporters last month. "This is a particularly bitter moment for me because it occurred in the home part of my state. It is hard, especially hard, for the entire state police.”
Kelly says Hopkins will continue to serve others by choosing to donate his organs.
“He would want us all to know he was as 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,” Kelly said. “Even in death, even in this dark moment, his light is shining.”
Whitney Hopkins said at his funeral that, in the wake of her husband’s death, she has tried to be mad at something, but “can’t think of anything to be mad about though.
“We have three beautiful kids. He worked so hard for everything that we have,” she said. “And he died doing what he loved. Next to a team of guys that meant so much to him.”
Hopkins also offered a powerful message to the crowd there: “Make time for what is most important.”
Fox News Melissa Leon contributed to this report.