Phoenix Police: Slain Detective John Hobbs Died Fighting

Lieutenant Sal Freni becomes emotional when speaking of the late Detective John Hobbs.
Lieutenant Sal Freni becomes emotional when speaking of the late Detective John Hobbs.
Sarah Dinell

Members of the Phoenix Police Department's Major Offender Unit, who worked alongside slain Detective John Hobbs, described him as a man who deeply loved his wife and three children, and well as a detective who fought until the end.

"John was one of the best [detectives] we had," Sergeant Doug McBride said at a press conference Thursday. "He was tactically sound, a veteran detective, someone you could count on."

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Hobbs served for 21 years on the police force and was seen as a leader and mentor to younger officers, including his partner, Detective Albert J. Casados, according to the officers. After attempted-murder suspect William Thornton began shooting at the detectives on Monday, Lieutenant Sal Freni said Hobbs was fatally shot almost as soon as he got out of his vehicle.

"Before [Hobbs] could even determine where the suspect was, he took a mortal wound," Freni said. "The bullet penetrated his heart."

But as Hobbs sank down to the ground on his side, Freni said he kept shooting, hitting Thornton a number of times and effectively stopping him.

"I without a doubt believe that John saved several people's lives that day, other officer's lives, by doing what he did," Detective Cory Geffre said. "He willed himself to get through that, to stay on target, to finish what he had to finish, so no one else would get hurt."

Police say that from the conversations Hobbs had with other officers, he knew he was fatally wounded. Hobbs died a few hours after the shooting.

"He spoke all the way to the hospital and fought for another hour in the emergency room for his life," Freni said.

But although the police officers described Hobbs' actions as heroic and the ultimate sacrifice, they also said he continued to do his job to the best of his ability.

"There is 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," Geffre said. "So what he did is he stood there and he died fighting."

"I think he embodied everything it is to be a police officer, and what the badge stands for," Sergeant Bob Knapp said. "He upheld that until the day he died."

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX.

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