PHOENIX -- An officer with the Phoenix Police Department was killed after being hit by an SUV while on the scene of a DUI investigation.
It happened Sunday at about 3:30 a.m. near 51st. Ave. and Thomas Rd. The officer was on foot -- not in his patrol SUV as originally reported,
"Some of our officers were investigating a DUI case in the area of 51st Avenue and Cambridge," Said Sgt. Tommy Thompson with the Phoenix Police Dept. "They had stopped a vehicle they were in the process of processing that motorist when one of our officers was struck by a northbound vehicle on 51st Avenue."
The officer who was struck was 29-year-old Daryl Raetz. Officer Raetz was with the Phoenix Police Dept. for six years. He was an Iraq war veteran and leaves behind a wife and young daughter.
"This is a tragic day for the city of Phoenix," said Sgt. Thompson during a news conference in front of St. Joesph's Hospital Sunday morning.
"I honestly don't have the words to describe the sorrow in my heart for Daryl Raetz and his family," said Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia. "He was one of Phoenix's finest. One of our heroes."
"The men and women of our department are hurting," explained Chief Garcia. "We ask for our community support in recognizing our officers' loss, this city's loss."
"May 19, 2013 will go down in history in the City of Phoenix in many ways as a tragic day in our city," said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. "We lost two of our finest. We are so blessed to have, in my opinion, the finest fire department and police department in the entire county."
The SUV that hit the officer is described as a larger, lifted dark color SUV, possibly a Ford Expedition or Lincoln Navigator, model year 2004-2007. It is said to be a dark color, possibly dark gray or dark green with dark tinted windows. It is also lifted and has over-sized chrome wheels. It has fog lights and the right side does not work. It has been described as having primer in a one foot area near the exhaust pipe. The driver of that vehicle fled from the scene and was last seen going westbound on Thomas Rd. from 51st Ave., according to a spokesman for the Phoenix Police Dept.
"These are very difficult crimes to solve when there is a hit-and-run," said Sgt. Darren Burch, Silent Witness Coordinator for the Phoenix Police Dept. "Literally your crime scene, or the majority of it, left the scene ... You don't have the suspect description many times ... There's no connection between the suspect and the victim. All these are very problematic for investigators."
"The suspects in these crimes oftentimes aren't your hardened criminals," explained Sgt. Burch. "It could be your neighbor. It could be a friend, a relative or a colleague. The suspect may very well be acting very differently knowing that he has just basically committed a murder ... He may be more reclusive. He will probably be hiding that vehicle and not using that vehicle. He may have it in his backyard where it's normally in the front yard. You'll notice something different about the suspect either in his actions or as it relates to that vehicle."
Silent Witness is offering a $5,000 reward in this case. Anyone with information can remain anonymous.