During a candlelight vigil Monday for the first Clark County School District police officer to die on duty, CCSD Police Lt. Bryan Zink shared insights he learned about how Andrew Craft interacted with students.
“He was the guy that would take the extra time to talk to kids,” Zink said, relating what school administrators had shared with him. “As opposed to just showing in and taking enforcement action, he would spend the time and really get to know them on that level and to show them that we are people that do care about them as well.”
Zink, spokesman for the CCSD Police Department, doubled as part of the honor guard Monday to assist Craft’s son, Isaiah, 16, and his father, Robert Craft, 64, in lighting candles beside a photo of the smiling officer inside the Legacy High School gymnasium in North Las Vegas, where he had done some training and patrolled the campus.
About 150 people showed up for the vigil, many carrying flameless tealights given out by the service’s host, the Las Vegas-based Injured Police Officers Fund, that shined together when the gym’s lights were briefly turned off.
Andrew Craft, 37, pulled up last Wednesday in his patrol car at Mohave High School, at 5302 N. Goldfield St. in North Las Vegas where he was stationed, when he was stricken by an unknown medical emergency and died a short time later at University Medical Center, Zink said.
‘If you knew Drew, you loved him’
He had served two years with the Nevada State Police before starting his eight years with the school police and had just qualified to serve as a motorcycle officer, a position the CCSD police department has assigned to him posthumously, Capt. Dan Burgess said at the service.
“He was the kindest person, so loving,” said Chelsea Wilson, 32, Craft’s girlfriend of two and a half years. “He put everyone before him. If you knew Drew, you loved him. He was everything. He always had a smile on his face.”
“He’s a really, really happy and funny guy,” said Craft’s cousin, Marvin Day, 53. “This guy was a great man and fearless. I mean, this guy is fearless. He was a big motorcycle guy. He loves big cars. If he came to your house and had dinner with you, within 15, 20 minutes you’d love him.”
‘Always wanted to be an officer’
Robert Craft, who lives in Long Island, N.Y., said his son “always wanted to be an officer and he’s been at it since 14 years old. His interest in motorcycles goes back, way back.”
“He did achieve everything that he wanted to do, other than buying a home,” he added. “And he was about to do that.”
Zink said that when word came over the police radio Wednesday that Officer Craft needed emergency care, “it was just one of those chilling things. We were just like, ‘What did they just say?’”
Then CCSD police, North Las Vegas police and fire and Las Vegas police responded by blocking each intersection on Martin Luther King Boulevard so that the ambulance carrying Craft could make it as quickly as possible to UMC, he said.
“So, you know, that’s also a sad fact that this is the first in line of duty death that we’ve ever had in our department,” Zink said. “To have someone pass away on duty was just heart wrenching.”
A formal viewing service for the officer is planned for Wednesday followed by a celebration of life ceremony on Thursday, he said.