Growing memorial for veteran detective killed in line of duty

Posted: Updated:
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Fighting back emotion, colleagues of Phoenix Police Detective John Hobbs, including the elite unit for which he worked, visited the parking lot where a memorial grows for the 21-year veteran, who was shot and killed in the line of duty.

Hobbs was trying to arrest a wanted fugitive Monday afternoon near 43rd and Bethany Home, when Hobbs and a second detective were shot by the suspect. Officers returned fire, killing the suspect, identified as William Thornton.

Detective Hobbs died at the hospital. The second detective was critically wounded, but is said to be in stable condition as of Tuesday.

“It’s so sad,” said Suzanne Gomez who stopped by the growing memorial in the parking lot where the officer involved shooting occurred.

“He was just doing his job to protect us, and his life was gone like that," she said.

A steady stream of colleagues, friends, strangers and citizens left cards, balloons, flowers and candles for Detective Hobbs.

Molly Romero left a rosary. She met Detective Hobbs during a murder investigation last year.

“He was a really, really nice guy; nicest person I’ve ever met,” said Romero. “He was really thorough with stuff, assured us we were going to be fine.”

“He made us feel safe,” Romero continued. She remembered Hobbs talking about his family and his three children. “He told us he was going to retire soon,” Romero said.

“I pray for the families,” said Sabrina Peoples, who also visited the memorial site.  Peoples said her husband is a sergeant with El Mirage Police. She admits it was difficult to let him go to work Monday.

“It’s hard when something like this happens,” said Peoples. “You’re lying in bed, waiting for him to come home.”

The deadly shooting is a painful reminder of the risks of the job.

“It seems that violence against police officers and public servants is increasing,” said Johanna Mullins. “It’s not acceptable to me.”

Neighbors who live near the crime scene, and the community at large, are both outraged and heartbroken.

“I pray for all of (the officers); every time I see one,” said Suzanne Gomez.

A community prayer vigil is scheduled for Friday, March 7, at 5:00 p.m. in the TitleMax parking lot where the shooting occurred.