23-year-old Ariz. officer fatally shot
Officer Down: Officer George Cortez - [Phoenix, Arizona]
Incident Details: Officer George Cortez was shot and killed after responding to a cash-checking store to investigate reports of a forgery-in-progress.
By Jennifer Price
The Arizona Republic
PHOENIZ, Ariz. — A young Phoenix police officer, just two years on the force, was fatally wounded Friday night while trying to take down a forgery suspect at a west-side check-cashing business. The suspect remains at large.
Officer George Cortez was pronounced dead late Friday at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, and the weary duo of Police Chief Jack Harris and Mayor Phil Gordon appeared at a press conference after 11:30 p.m. to mourn the death. Cortez was 23.
"My colleagues and I are here tonight to mourn over the loss of a hero," Gordon said. "Officers go out every day to protect us; we offer our condolences to the father and the mother and the family. advertisement
Just hours earlier, the mayor and the police chief had appeared before reporters after two Valley television news helicopters collided as they followed a Phoenix police pursuit of a vehicle thief. Four people, two working for Channel 3 (KTVK) and two for Channel 15 (KPHX), were killed.
Cortez was responding to a forgery in progress about 8:30 p.m. at a store in the 2300 block of West 83rd Avenue, near Encanto Boulevard. He went into the business and was attempting to apprehend the suspect when he was shot, Harris said.
Cortez was married with two young children.
"He was a very young officer, and had two years in our department," Harris said.
The shooting occurred in the vicinity of Cricket Wireless Pavilion, where a Rush concert was taking place. Police searched fans cars leaving the concert in the search for the shooter, whose description was unavailable Friday.