23-year-old Ariz. officer fatally shot

Officer Down: Officer George Cortez - [Phoenix, Arizona]


Biographical Info

Age: 23

Cause of Death: Gunfire

Additional Information:
 Officer Cortez had served with the Phoenix Police Department for two years. He is survived by his wife, two sons, and parents.

Incident Details:  Officer George Cortez was shot and killed after responding to a cash-checking store to investigate reports of a forgery-in-progress.

At approximately 2030 hours, Officer Cortez responded to a call that a man and woman were passing forged checks at a check-cashing business on West 83rd Avenue, near Encanto Boulevard. Officer Cortez entered the business and was placing the male suspect in handcuffs when he drew a gun and shot Officer Cortez several times.

Officer Cortez was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital where he died from his injuries.

The suspects fled the scene. The suspects fled the scene, but were apprehended the next day. They were charged with capital first-degree murder, burglary and forgery.

End of Watch: Monday July 30, 2007

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 
 "We ask our city to pull together. This has been a very tragic day for our city, but we will move forward."

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.

Copyright 2007 Arizona Republic

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