Fallen Phoenix police detective was 'the stuff movies are made of'

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- The closest colleagues of fallen Phoenix police detective John Hobbs described him as one of the best detectives in the department's Major Offender Unit.

“Hero just skims the surface on what this man was and what he stood for,” Sgt. Doug McBride said. “He is the stuff that movies are made of.”

Hobbs had served on the elite unit since it formed in 2007. His career with the Phoenix Police Department spanned more than two decades and he received at least 35 awards and honors, according to Sgt. Steve Martos.

“After 21 years of service, he used to come to work and it was like it was his first day,” McBride said.

The decorated detective was killed in the line of duty Monday during a shootout with a wanted fugitive that also wounded Det. A.J. Casados.

Lt. Sal Freni said the detectives were on their way to grab food when they decided to check on William Thornton, a 28-year-old man suspected of attempted homicide.

Thornton reportedly tried to flee in the area of 43rd Avenue and Bethany Home Road and then opened fire as officers approached him.

“(Hobbs) took a mortal wound. The bullet penetrated his heart,” Freni said. “He went down and from a down position on his side, he was able to put shots on target to stop the suspect. And from the conversations that he had with the officers, he knew he was mortally wounded."

Hobbs always wore his bulletproof vest but the dynamic nature of Monday's incident didn’t allow him time to put it on, Freni said.

“This department gave us the authority to chase the worst of the worst. John’s moral fiber gave him the drive to make sure none of those people hurt you,” said Det. Cory Geffre.

Hobbs fought for his life all the way to the hospital and for an hour in the emergency department, Freni recalled as he fought back tears.

“His acts from this day will go down as legendary, I believe,” McBride said.

McBride told 3TV that even some of Hobbs' informants visited the hospital to check on the beloved detective.

“John was a great cop because he was a great man. John was a great cop because he was a great husband and father,” Geffre said.

Colleagues say Hobbs' family always came first. The detective leaves behind a wife and three children.

Earlier in the day before the shooting, Hobbs was talking about how he was going to use his tax refund to take his wife out for a special dinner.

“He didn’t want to leave his wife and kids,” Geffre said. “But there was no way that man was going to stand by and let that knucklehead run into a building and take somebody hostage or shoot somebody else. So what he did is he stood there and he died fighting, and people need to understand that is the ultimate sacrifice.”