Candlelight vigil honors fallen Phoenix police detective


by Natalie Brand

Posted on March 5, 2014 at 11:05 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 6 at 6:31 AM

PHOENIX -- Phoenix police and members of the community they protect stood side by side Wednesday night at a candlelight vigil to share in prayer and grief over the loss of veteran detective John Hobbs.

“As I pray, I just beg you to heal our community,” said a pastor who led a prayer.

Hobbs was killed and another detective, A.J. Casados, was wounded after a shootout Monday with a man wanted on attempted homicide charges. The suspect, 28-year-old William Thornton, also died.

“Our hearts were breaking,” said Lawrie Fitzhugh, who leads a neighborhood block watch group that organization the vigil. “It’s important for us to show our sympathy and support and concern.”

Not only did they show concern for Hobbs' and Casados' families, but for the men and women who wear a badge every day.

“It’s humbling; it’s actually awe-inspiring to see this because on a day to day basis, we don’t actually see it,” said Cactus Park Precinct Lt. Ben Leuschner.

Leuschner said he worked around Hobbs for 20 years and described the detective as a hard worker.

"He was just a humble, down-to-earth guy; truly a good guy that no one had anything bad to say about," Leuschner said.

He said words cannot not express what those who knew Hobbs are feeling.

“My heart is broken for his family,” said Breanna Giron, whose brother-in-law works for the department. “All the officers are a huge family.”

In addition to his colleagues, Hobbs leaves behind three children and a wife.

“I hope she knows there’s a huge support system out there for her,” Giron said.

“They have an extended family and they always will have an extended family,” said Cathy Henderson, whose son works in law enforcement.

A memorial fund for the Hobbs family has been set up at National Bank of Arizona. All locations are accepting donations.