Police identify John Hobbs as officer killed in line of duty

Mar 4, 2014, 9:18 AM | Updated: 1:00 pm

PHOENIX — Phoenix Police have identified John Hobbs as the officer who died Monday in a shootout that also left another officer in critical condition in a hospital.

Hobbs, a 21-year veteran of the department, was working undercover while serving a felony arrest warrant near 43rd Avenue and Bethany Road.

Police Chief Daniel Garcia called Hobbs, 43, a “well-rounded, respected, professional police officer. He will be greatly missed.” He was Phoenix’s first officer to be killed in the line of duty this year.

Hobbs was married with three children.

The other officer was out of surgery late Monday and is stable. His name has not been released.

The suspect, William Thornton, was killed during the shootout. He had been released from prison in late January. Although the officers were not wearing uniforms, Thornton believed them to be police and fled.

Neither officer was wearing a Kevlar vest.

Garcia said Thornton was “a violent felony offender.”

Hobbs was shot as soon as he got out of the vehicle, Garcia said, but he returned fire and hit Thornton.

“It’s a tragic day in our city,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said. Flags on city government buildings will be lowered to half-staff to honor Hobbs.

Gov. Jan Brewer also ordered flags to be lowered Tuesday in Hobbs’ memory.

Brewer said in a statement, “In honor and recognition of one of Arizona’s finest, Detective John Hobbs, I have requested that all state flags be lowered to half-staff until sunset today and on the day of his interment, for which services are pending.”

A woman who witnessed the shooting brought two candles to a makeshift memorial near the intersection in memory of both Hobbs and in prayer of the surviving officer.

“I’ve seen so much in my short 40 years of life,” said Madeline Hager. “Just to see something like that happen, it’s sad. I didn’t know them, but it’s sad.”

KTAR’s Sandra Haros contributed to this report.

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Police identify John Hobbs as officer killed in line of duty