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Phoenix Officer Shot and Killed While Pursuing Convicted Felon

By Angela Deines   |   Tuesday, 04 Mar 2014 03:59 PM

Phoenix police officer John Hobbs was shot and killed Monday in a shootout at a busy intersection with a convicted felon.

At a news conference, Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia said Hobbs, 43, a 21-year veteran of the police department, will be “greatly missed,” CBS 5 reported.

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Garcia said Hobbs and another police officer exchanged gunfire with William Thornton, 28, who was shot by a third officer and later died.

"Officer John Hobbs, though he was hit, returned fire, hitting the suspect multiple times," Garcia said at the news conference Tuesday.

Hobbs is survived by his wife and three young children.

Another officer also fired numerous rounds and hit Thornton before the suspect fell to the ground, CBS 5 reported.

The second police officer wounded in the shooting, a nine-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department, has been upgraded to stable condition and hasn’t been identified upon the family's request.

Thornton was released Jan. 9 from the Arizona Department of Corrections Lewis prison after serving time for attempted robbery and narcotics convictions. He was also a prime suspect in an attempted homicide in which the victim was shot in the chest from point-blank range.

Phoenix police Sgt. Steve Martos said Hobbs and the other officer were watching Thornton Monday afternoon because he was wanted on a felony warrant related to the earlier homicide, CBS 5 reported. That’s when Thornton apparently tried to elude the officers, crashing his vehicle into other vehicles at the intersection, injuring a 50-year-old man and an 83-year-old woman.

Martos said Hobbs and the other officer got out of their car and chased Thornton into a nearby parking lot where Thorton started firing at the officers. A third unidentified officer appeared on the scene and shot and killed Thornton.

On Tuesday, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton tweeted that flags would fly at half-staff in honor of Hobbs.

On Monday, before returning to Phoenix from a trip in Mexico, Stanton tweeted that he and his wife Nicole had the officers and their families in their prayers.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer also expressed her thoughts on the tragedy via Twitter:

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Phoenix police officer John Hobbs was shot and killed Monday in a shootout at a busy intersection with a convicted felon.

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