Strangers honor fallen Phoenix police officer

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- At the end of the work day, hundreds of people drive past 51st Ave. and Cambridge Ave. But on this day, few could do it, without thinking of Phoenix police officer Daryl Raetz.

Raetz was killed Sunday in an hit-and-run while working a DUI case.

Rob and Angeli Wesson don't know Officer Raetz, but they didn't need to to be moved by his loss, or by the mementos left by those who loved him the most.

"We even took a U-turn, just to show respect," she said. "To see 'I love you, Dad' just really took my breath away."

Many of the notes, flowers and candles were brought by Officer Raetz's family and friends. Earlier in the evening, they gathered at the spot where he died, offering support to one another. This afternoon, we heard from his best friend, Jeff Clement. He is also a member of the Phoenix Police Dept.

"We thought he was Teflon to be honest with you. We thought nothing could stick to him.  I couldn't ever imagine this day coming," he said.

Back at the scene, it was the Rodriguez's turn to come by and say a prayer. They were also here the night before. They feel they can't thank Officer Raetz enough.

"They're people that are helping us. Protecting us. So it really hit hard because it's our neighborhood," said Irma Rodriguez.

She is emotional, knowing Raetz left behind a 5-year-old daughter.

For her husband Antonio, his death makes this more than a simple street corner. It's now hallowed ground.

Monday night, Phoenix Police announced an account has been created for Officer Raetz's family. It is available through any Midfirst Bank, under Hands Across Arizona for the benefit of Daryl Raetz.