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The casket of Phoenix police detective John Hobbs is escorted during funeral services at Phoenix Memorial Park on Monday, March 10, 2014. The 21-year veteran died March 3 of gunshot wounds he suffered after trying to apprehend a murder suspect. / Michael Chow, The Arizona Republic

PEORIA, Ariz. -- It seemed as if Phoenix police Detective John Hobbs had been preparing his whole life to be a well-respected member of an elite police department team, thousands of mourners were told at Hobbs' funeral on Monday.

Friends recalled Hobbs as a boy, admiring the Jedi Knights in the Star Wars trilogy and later idolizing the undercover detectives made famous in the 1980s TV show Miami Vice.

But those childhood fantasies gave way to adult realities, said Terry Blogg, a friend who grew up with Hobbs in the Valley, and Hobbs found himself patrolling the streets of Phoenix and ultimately as one of the stars of the department's Major Offenders Unit.

Hobbs was killed last week in a shootout with a murder suspect who Hobbs shot and killed after the veteran Phoenix detective was struck, according to investigators.

Even after Hobbs had suffered what proved to be fatal wounds, he was concerned about others in his unit, said Mike Miller, a Phoenix police officer who was with Hobbs when he was shot.

Hobbs first asked about Miller and the health of another officer, Albert Casados, who was injured in the shootout, Miller said, before Hobbs' thoughts turned to his family. Hobbs asked Miller to tell his wife and children that he loves them, Miller said.

More than 3,000 mourners packed the Christ Church of the Valley in Peoria to honor Hobbs, including police officers and elected officials from throughout the state.

Phoenix Police Chief Daniel V. Garcia said they had come to remember a man whose passions included his friends, his family and most of all, his work with Phoenix police.

"John loves to hunt down criminals," Garcia said. "John knew that if a person could find his passion he could make a difference."

Hobbs' funeral was held at the Christ's Church of the Valley in Peoria and the interment is scheduled later Monday afternoon at Phoenix Memorial Park, 200 W. Beardsley Road.

As the procession followed the 10-mile route from the church to the graveside service, supporters hung signs from freeway overpasses that read "hero" and fire trucks were stopped along the route with firefighters holding American flags.

On March 3, Hobbs conducted surveillance with two colleagues on William Ray Thornton near an intersection in Phoenix.

Thornton, 28, was an attempted-murder suspect who authorities believed visited the surveillance area often. At 3 p.m., Thornton identified the surveillance team and escaped in a vehicle, according to officials.

Thornton crashed his vehicle and shot at police, fatally wounding 43-year-old Hobbs and hitting his partner, Casados, in the right side.

After being rushed to the hospital, Hobbs was pronounced dead. Casados was taken into emergency surgery and was released on Wednesday.

A 21-year police veteran, Hobbs was a part of the elite Major Offenders Unit, which pursued violent criminals wanted on felony warrants in homicides, shootings, aggravated assaults and crimes against children.

Hobbs' unit earned the Police Chief's Unit Award from Garcia for overall outstanding work last year.

While responding to a burglary almost 15 years ago, Hobbs and his partner at the time made the then biggest drug bust in Arizona's history, discovering a ton of Colombian cocaine valued at approximately $500 million dollars.

A barbecue held Thursday benefiting the Hobbs and Casados families raised more than $100,000 and PLEA Charities, the non-profit that organized the event, is continuing to accept donations for both families. Checks may be mailed to PLEA Charities, 1102 W. Adams St., Phoenix 85007.

A bank account has been set up for the Hobbs' family at the National Bank of Arizona, according to authorities, and donations can be made at any National Bank of Arizona branch.



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Thousands mourn fallen Phoenix police officer

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