Hundreds attend vigil for fallen Mesa police officer

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Candlelight vigil at Mesa Police Dept. Candlelight vigil at Mesa Police Dept.
Officer Mendoza's memorial at Mesa PD. Officer Mendoza's memorial at Mesa PD.

Hundreds of people gathered at Mesa Police headquarters Tuesday night to honor Officer Brandon Mendoza, who was killed in a head-on crash with a wrong-way driver early Monday morning.

The candlelight vigil was an emotional tribute to a man dearly loved by so many people.

The 32-year-old officer's mother told a crowd of supporters she could never have asked for a better son and that he was the most giving man she'd ever known.

"I know a lot of you met him through the course of his work," said Mary Ann Mendoza. "And some of you worked alongside of him. And just that little glimpse you had into his life and what a wonderful person he was, was only a 10th of what he really was."

Mesa's Vice Mayor Christopher Glover called Brandon Mendoza his friend and described him as a man of courage and conviction.

"His life was filled with love, loyalty and laughter," said Glover. "He had the biggest heart of anyone I knew."

Relationships with people and his community were clearly important to Brandon Mendoza.

For example, he kept in touch with his elementary and junior high school teacher Laura O'Connell  - taking her to lunch recently.

She said she would miss Brandon Mendoza's spirit and love of everyone.

"They called him ‘Hollywood,' and that fits because he was so good looking and he just shined in his uniform," O'Connell said. "He exemplified everything good about a police officer."

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