MESA, Ariz. -- A memorial is growing along the chain link fence at Guerrero Park in honor of Mesa police officer Brandon Mendoza, who died early Monday morning while driving home after his shift.
A wrong-way driver who had been going for 35 miles hit Mendoza's vehicle head-on.
Mesa families are signing cards, lighting candles and leaving flowers at Guerrero Rotary Park. Mendoza was instrumental in rebuilding the park, turning it into a place for the community to gather and enjoy.
"He was a police officer but also as a person he made that commitment," baseball coach Steve Jimenez said. Jimenez says gangs used to disturb his practices until Mendoza stepped in and made changes.
"We felt safe once he was assigned here and we started playing here," Jimenez said. "He'd pull up and the kids would say hello to him and shake his hand we felt very safe when he was here."
Mendoza wrote his reports in the parking lot to show a consistent police presence and would get donations for the baseball team.
"He's indescribable. He's the most kind-hearted person I ever met," Mendoza's friend Avry Ross said. "Positive things were happening in his career. It's just so tragic."
"I could never have asked for a better son." says MaryAnn Mendoza. "From the moment he was a young child, he knew he wanted to be a police officer and he lived his life accordingly."
"We hired personalities like Brandon's," says Chief Frank Milstead. "Bigger than life, full of energy, smile on the face."