Tulsa, OK – A Tulsa police officer who was critically wounded in a line-of-duty shooting that killed his partner was given the VIP treatment by country music star Blake Shelton during a concert late last week.
Officer Aurash Zarkeshan, who was shot in the head during a traffic stop 15 months ago, used the opportunity to make the Sept. 24 show a night his longtime girlfriend won’t soon forget.
Shelton has been honoring local heroes throughout his 2021 Friends and Heroes Tour, according to Southern Living.
When he came through Tulsa last week, he surprised Officer Zarkeshan with front-row tickets to his Friday night show, Southern Living reported.
Bank of Oklahoma also made a $5,000 donation to Officer Zarkeshan’s charity of choice, the Tulsa Police Foundation, KOCO reported.
Officer Zarkeshan and his girlfriend were enjoying their spot at the front of the stage when Shelton began singing the love song, “Nobody But You,” according to Southern Living.
Cell phone footage posted by the Tulsa Police Department captured the moment when Officer Zarkeshan got down on one knee and proposed to his future bride.
“SHE SAID YES!” the TPD announced in the post. “In the words of Blake Shelton, ‘I don’t want to love nobody but you.’ A big congratulations to Officer Aurash Zarkeshan on his engagement.”
It wasn’t the first time Officer Zarkeshan was honored by a musician.
When he turned 27 in August of 2020, Zoltan Bathory and Chris Kael from Five Finger Death Punch recorded personal messages just for him.
“Hey, Zark – what a man,” Kael said in one video. “Friends of yours reached out and said that you have been going through some real s—t over there.”
“I just wanted to send some words of support and encouragement,” Kael continued. “I can’t imagine, man.”
He urged the recovering officer to continue to “find that strength to pull up.”
“F—k these mother—kers…keep that inner strength going, brother. You got this,” Kael said. “We are here for you, brother. We love you, and get well soon.”
Next up was a message from Bathory, who launched into a brief heavy-metal version of “Happy Birthday” on his guitar before wishing Officer Zarkeshan a happy birthday and a speedy recovery.
“We’re always supporting the Thin Blue!” he declared.
Officer Zarkeshan broke into a smile after watching the birthday greetings.
“That’s f—king bad -ss!” he told his friends.
Officer Zarkeshan and his fellow officer, Tulsa Police Sergeant Craig Johnson, 45, were shot while they were out on a traffic stop near 21st and Memorial at approximately 3:20 a.m. on June 29, 2020, KTUL reported at the time.
Police had stopped the alleged gunman, David Ware, for driving his blue Chevy Cobalt with expired paper tags.
Bodycam video showed that when the officers told Ware that his vehicle would have to be towed, he refused to get out of his car and began arguing with them, claiming they were violating his rights.
The argument escalated and after three minutes, one of the officers deployed a Taser at Ware, KTUL reported.
But Ware tore out the prongs and kept arguing, according to the affidavit.
The officer deployed pepper spray at Ware, but still he refused to get out of his car, KTUL reported.
That’s when the officers went hands-on and tried to pull the driver out of the vehicle.
Ware fought the officers and reached under the car seat for a gun, KTUL reported.
The affidavit said neither officer realized Ware had a gun until he began shooting at them, hitting them each three times, according to investigators.
Then, after both officers were down, Ware stood over one of the wounded officers and shot him three more times, according to the arrest affidavit.
Ware fled the area but was later apprehended at a residence in the area of Garnett and 31st, KOCO reported.
His alleged getaway driver, Matthew Hall, was also arrested, KOTV reported.
Sgt. Johnson and Officer Zarkeshan were rushed to a hospital in critical condition, Tulsa World reported.
Both had been shot multiple times in their heads and torsos, police said.
After arriving at the hospital, Sgt. Johnson was rushed into emergency surgery, the TPD said in a press release.
His prognosis did not improve after the procedure, and Sgt. Johnson was subsequently placed on life support in order to give his family time to be with him, according to his department.
“Today, June 30, 2020, in a decision made with his family, Craig’s organs will be donated as his final act of service for our community,” the TPD said.
Sgt. Johnson passed away at 1:19 p.m. that day, leaving behind his wife and two young sons.
Officer Zarkeshan spent months recovering from his wounds in the hospital and at an out-of-state rehabilitation facility, KOTV reported.
The rookie officer even had to learn to walk again.
Officer Zarkeshan returned to light duty in November of 2020, Tulsa World reported.
“I knew I was coming back,” he told Tulsa World the following month. “It’s just going to take time and hard work.”