By Bob Christie
PHOENIX The Phoenix police officer shot and killed early Wednesday while investigating a suspicious vehicle was a 29-year-old married father of two young children, authorities said.
Officer Travis Murphy's wife had given birth just two weeks ago to the couple's second child, police spokesman Sgt. Trent Crump said.
Murphy and his partner were first on the scene of a call where neighbors reported someone hit a parked car and was trying to hide a Ford Mustang in the carport of a vacant home. The officers got out of their patrol vehicle and split up in search of a suspect.
Moments later, shots were fired and Murphy's partner found him mortally wounded. Fellow officers put him in a police vehicle and sped him to a nearby hospital, but he was pronounced dead.
The Phoenix neighborhood where the shooting occurred was sealed off, and a police tactical team led by a canine unit began searching for a suspect, Crump said. They eventually found a naked man hiding in a backyard shed.
"He had a pretty good fight with a police canine," Crump said of the suspect.
Danny Ledezma Martinez, 30, was booked into jail on charges of first-degree murder and weapons violations, Phoenix police chief Jack Harris said at an afternoon press briefing. Martinez was ordered held without bond at his initial court appearance late Wednesday night. Authorities said a public defender likely will be assigned to represent Martinez.
"It is my understanding that he was born here in Arizona and that he has an extensive violent crimes record with the Department of Corrections and has spent time in the Department of Corrections," Harris said.
Martinez served more than three years in an Arizona prison on felony weapons misconduct charges in the Tucson area before being released in April 2009. He also was cited in the Tucson area numerous times, and pleaded guilty to drunken driving charges in October 2009 and theft in November 2003.
"There just aren't any words to be able to express how I feel about another tragic loss of one of my officers and our comrades that have spent years, and intended to spend many, many years of his life in dedication to our department and to our community," Harris said. "We will do everything we can to comfort the family, both our police family and the immediate family of Travis and do everything we can to honor his service."
The shooting came at the end of a 10-minute flurry of activity in northwest Phoenix that began at about 1:30 a.m. Crump said a shots fired call was handled by one precinct, and officers spotted a speeding Mustang leaving the area. They broadcast its description, and minutes later residents living in an area covered by another precinct began calling about the man hitting the parked car and acting suspiciously. The man was reportedly trying to cover the heavily damaged Mustang with a tarp.
Murphy and his partner arrived and the shooting happened within minutes.
Police believe all three incidents are likely related, but are not yet certain.
A gun has been recovered that investigators believe was used in the shooting, Crump said.
"Every life taken by violence is a senseless loss," Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon said in a statement. "Today, this loss of life is felt all across our city. The officer's loved ones, friends and colleagues have my deepest sympathies."
Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Copyright 2010 Associated Press