Detective John Hobbs Phoenix Police Department, Arizona End of Watch: Monday, March 3, 2014

Detective John Hobbs | Phoenix Police Department, ArizonaPhoenix Police Department, Arizona

Detective John Hobbs

Phoenix Police Department, Arizona
End of Watch: Monday, March 3, 2014

Biographical Info

Age: 43
Tour of Duty: 21 years
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details

Cause of Death: Gunfire
Date of Incident: March 3, 2014
Weapon Used: Handgun
Suspect Info: Shot and killed

Agency Contact Information

Police Chief Daniel V. Garcia
Phoenix Police Department
620 W Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85003
Phone: (602) 262-7626

Detective John Hobbs was shot and killed as he and other members of the Fugitive Apprehension Team attempted to serve a felony warrant on a man who had recently been released from prison.
The subject fled in a vehicle and was pursued by the detectives until crashing at the intersection of 43rd Avenue and Bethany Home Road. The subject then fled on foot. He opened fire on the detectives as they pursued him, striking Detective Hobbs and a second detective. Despite being mortally wounded, Detective Hobbs was able to return fire and fatally shot the subject.
Both wounded detectives were transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital in critical condition. Detective Hobbs succumbed to his wounds at the hospital.
Detective Hobbs had served with the Phoenix Police Department for 21 years. He is survived by his wife and three children.

John Hobbs was dedicated to finding and arresting the worst of the worst, said friends and officials of the Phoenix Police Department.

Hobbs, a 21-year veteran of the department who died from gunshot wounds he received after trying to apprehend a man on a felony warrant, was part of a unit described as one of the “special forces” of the department – the Major Offenders Bureau.

Another detective in the unit was shot and underwent emergency surgery Monday at to St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix.

The two detectives were chasing a felony suspect in west Phoenix about 3 p.m. Monday when the suspect’s car collided with another vehicle and the suspect began shooting at the officers as he tried to escape on foot, according to police.

Police shot and killed the suspect at the scene and later identified him as 28-year-old William Thornton.

Sean Mattson, president of the 500-member Phoenix Police Sergeants and Lieutenants Association, was close friends with Hobbs and his wife Cathy for 17 years.

Mattson said he met Hobbs when Mattson was relatively new the department and joined a squad on the city’s south side where Hobbs, who was older, worked as second in command.

“He kind of took me under his wing and taught me,” Mattson said. “I was a little cocky had a chip on my shoulder. He kind of calmed me down a lot.”

Mattson said Hobbs, who had also worked in the department’s narcotics division and other under cover assignments, had a way with people that made Hobbs a good police officer and a great friend. He was able to comfort victims while also being able to chat up informants and suspects to obtain the vital information needed to make big busts, Mattson said.

“John just looked to shoot the crap with everybody,” he said. “Having the gift to make people comfortable around you was an asset.”

One particularly big drug bust —reported as the biggest in state history at the time— that Hobbs and his fellow officer made was featured in an article in The Arizona Republic in May 1999. Hobbs, Ritche Ramos and Sean Burton were responding to a burglary call near 25th Avenue and Buckeye Road on May 5, 1999 when they discovered $500 million worth of Colombian cocaine.

The officers went into the back yard and found two men walking out of the house carrying boxes used for home appliances like stoves and refrigerators.

“There was like a half-dozen of those boxes just to give you a visualization,” Mattson said.

The bricks of cocaine, which weighed one ton, according to police constituted the largest drug bust since 5,310 kilograms of cocaine were found in a Tucson warehouse in 1996. Drug officials said the Hobbs’ and his fellow officers’ find was a harbinger that Phoenix and Arizona was quickly becoming a major drug-transportation port.

‘”Phoenix has arrived,’” Thomas Raffanello, the special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Phoenix office said at the time. “This shows that the Valley is right up there at the top as a drug trans-shipment point.”

Mattson said Hobbs was highly decorated and his unit got the Police Chief’s Unit award from Phoenix Police Chief Daniel V. Garcia in 2013 for overall outstanding work.

“It was presented to them like a month and a half ago,” he said. “This group … that he’s part of has been such a good work taking violent offenders off the street, (he) the chief decided to give it to them.”

Fittingly, Mattson said Hobbs was likely working when Garcia gave the award.


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


1 Response to “Detective John Hobbs Phoenix Police Department, Arizona End of Watch: Monday, March 3, 2014”

  1. 1 Janet March 10, 2014 at 18:23

    My sympathy and thanks to ALL family of Detective John Hobbs. Without him several others could of been harmed, shot, or even held hostage and then who knows what.

    One of the bravest of the brave within the Phoenix Police Department.

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