Raw video: Briefing on shooting death of Phoenix officer


by The Associated Press and azfamily.com

3TV team coverage

Posted on March 4, 2014 at 11:39 AM

PHOENIX -- A Phoenix police officer was out of surgery and recovering in an intensive-care unit after being critically wounded by a fugitive in a shootout that left a fellow officer and the suspect dead, authorities said.

Police Chief Daniel Garcia identified the suspect Tuesday morning as William Thornton, 28, saying he had been out of prison for less than two months and was a suspect in an attempted homicide in which he allegedly walked up to a person and shot him point-blank in the chest.

"This is a violent felony offender," Garcia said.

The injured officer was in stable condition Tuesday. Police are not releasing his name at this time but did say that he is 44 years old and has been with the department for nine years.

Garcia and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton asked for prayers for the families of both officers. The police chief thanked the community for all the support the department has received.

The fallen officer, Detective John Hobbs, a 21-year veteran, was a member of the Police Department's fugitive apprehension team and died of his wounds at a hospital a few hours after the shooting at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Garcia said.

"It is obvious that we lost a spectacular, spectacular police officer yesterday," Stanton said in a police briefing Tuesday morning.

Hobbs, 43, is survived by a wife and three children, ages 10, 8 and 6.

Police spokesman Sgt. Steve Martos described Hobbs as a "stand-up guy" and said he was loved by everyone in the department.

The shootout occurred after Thornton, who was wanted on a felony arrest warrant, fled in a car, caused a three-vehicle collision, then exchanged gunfire with officers outside a check-cashing and title loan business, authorities said.

Martos said Hobbs returned fire while lying on the ground.

"We're talking about an officer who gets shot and doesn't give up the fight," Martos said. "He is proned out, returns fire, hits our suspect multiple times. He didn't give up."

"This went from a surveillance to a felony arrest very quickly," Garcia said.

Martos said the officers were not wearing bullet-proof vests at the time.

"They didn't have time," Martos said. "It was too dynamic, too quick to occur."

"It was obvious that the guy was out of control," said Wayne Monton, who owns a nearby business and witnessed the shooting. "After the crash and the shooting, everybody just took off running. It was chaos."

Thornton came around a corner with a gun and a third detective shot him.

An 83-year-old woman and a 53-year-old man suffered minor injuries in the car crash that closed an intersection for several hours as authorities gathered evidence.

Nick Cusson, the manager of a restaurant in a shopping center near the intersection, said he heard more than a dozen gunshots a few minutes after arriving at work.

"The next thing you know, the whole parking lot is scattered with people," Cusson said. "Then within about 30 seconds, we see all these cops driving up."

Cusson said he had noticed several unmarked police cars parked nearby just before the shooting but didn't think much of it.

"Then I guess there was a shootout," he said. "We were all looking out the window. We were kind of curious. We weren't sure they were gunshots at first."

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.