EULESS, Texas (AP) — A man who had just been released from jail burglarized a North Texas house, stole a cache of guns and fired into the air before hiding in a drainage ditch and ambushing responding officers, fatally wounding one of them, the city’s police chief said Wednesday.
Police Chief Mike Brown said David Hofer, 29, who was among the officers responding to the “shots fired” report at J.A. Carr Park in Euless, spotted movement in the ditch and ordered the person to come forward.
Jorge Brian Gonzalez, 22, then rose and opened fire on the officers, fatally wounding Hofer before the other officers brought Gonzalez down with multiple gunshots, Brown said.
Gonzalez had been arrested Monday on a public intoxication charge and was released late Tuesday morning after being sentenced to community service, Brown said.
After that, Gonzalez forced his way into a house on a street adjoining the park, leaving with guns that he took to the park and fired several times, Brown said. Three officers were dispatched about 3 p.m. to the park where Gonzalez had taken cover in a drainage ditch, Brown said.
“It is our belief, based on the facts known to us, that the suspect took this position to ambush the responding officers,” he said. Brown later added, “In my honest opinion, he was there to do as much damage to the responding officers as he could possibly do.”
The park is in a residential area near an elementary school, and two nearby schools were placed on lockdown until the situation was resolved.
Brown said Gonzalez did not appear intoxicated at his court hearing Tuesday, but was calm and responsive. That is at odds with what his family contends.
Jorge Antonio Gonzalez, the gunman’s father, described his son to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as a drug addict who was high on methamphetamine when he was jailed.
The elder Gonzalez said Hofer had been called to the family’s apartment before and knew his son. Brown said he could not confirm that.
The father was remorseful for his son’s actions but also questioned why he was released from jail if he was still under the influence of meth.
“It’s their fault,” Gonzalez said. “Why would they let him out when he was on that stuff?”
Tarrant County court records show the younger Gonzalez had a criminal record that included charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and threatening family members.
Many people paid tribute to Hofer on Wednesday by leaving flowers, stuffed animals and other items in front of the Euless police station, with some saying quiet prayers.
Hofer had moved from New York to the Dallas area in 2014 because he wanted to be somewhere safer, his mother has said. A 2008 graduate of New York University, Hofer served in the New York Police Department for five years before coming to Euless, Brown said.
“He was wonderful child, a wonderful police officer,” his mother, Sofija Hofer, told the New York Post. “He was working this very difficult precinct, so he had a lot of traumatic experiences … He decided to go to a safer place.”
Hofer’s fiancée was out of town on Tuesday and needed to be called home and given the news, the Post reported.
Sofija Hofer said her son wanted to write a book about his experience with the NYPD.
“I thought he might be a scientist, like his father, but he always wanted to be a policeman, ever since he was a little boy,” she said.
David Hofer is the second officer to die in the line of duty in Euless, a suburb of more than 53,000 residents west of Dallas and east of Fort Worth. The other officer was Michael Williamson, who was killed by a drunken driver in 1982, according to the city website.