The man police say fatally shot a decorated North Texas police officer Tuesday stole the gun during a home burglary before luring police into an ambush, Euless Chief of Police Michael Brown said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
Brown identified the killer Wednesday as 22-year-old Jorge Gonzalez, a Euless man with a long rap sheet and well known to Euless police.
During a news conference Wednesday, Brown said Gonzalez had been in the city's temporary detention facility after being arrested for public intoxication on Feb. 29. He was released at about 11:30 Tuesday morning, March 1, after being given community service.
U.S. & World
After his release, Euless police said Gonzalez broke into a home near Carr Park and stole several weapons -- handguns and at least one high-powered rifle. Then, Gonzalez walked to the park and is believed to have begun firing rounds.
Brown said 911 calls were received at about 2:45 p.m. with callers reporting gunshots in Carr Park -- some of which could be heard in a 911 recording.
Three Euless officers were dispatched to the park and began searching for the armed person.
Brown described the park as a popular recreation area with many open spaces, a jogging trail and a large playground.
"Unknown to our responding officers, the suspect had taken a position of cover in a drainage ditch," Brown said. "The spot was somewhat below ground and isolated."
Police said he was there to kill as many police officers as possible, and succeeded in killing Officer David Hofer.
"It is our belief, based upon the facts known to us, that the suspect took this position to ambush responding officers. Three officers initially responded to the scene during the search of the park.
Hofer observed movement in the ditch and gave verbal commands to the person. The person stood up, began firing multiple rounds at the officers. Unfortunately one of these bullets struck David," Brown said.
The other officers returned fire, fatally striking Gonzalez, Brown said.
Brown said Gonzalez had "many" weapons at his disposal in the ditch, and it's unknown if it was a rifle or a handgun that killed Hofer. It's also unknown how many shots were fired in total.
"It's a sad day for this community, for this region and the state of Texas. We lost one of Euless' finest yesterday. We lost a friend, a family lost a son and a brother, a fiancée lost the love of her life. This community lost an officer with a huge heart and a servant's mindset," Brown said. "We are grieving as a department and a community. The outpouring of support has been amazing and is a true testament to the caliber of this city. Please continue to pray for my officers, David's coworkers, the family and all of his friends. We have much to do as investigation progresses."
In his short two years with the department, Hofer had been awarded eight commendations.
"We will be forever grateful to our brothers in the Euless Fire Department and to the treating staff at Baylor Hospital Grapevine. We knew they did everything they could do to save David's life. We are thankful for the overwhelming support to our community. we've received countless messages of condolences and words of encouragement as we struggle to deal with this senseless tragedy," Brown said.
Gonzalez's family told NBC 5 that Hofer knew the family well, had made many visits to the home and was aware of the man's troubled past and meth addiction. Gonzalez's family said Hofer was always courteous, respectful and professional.
They also expressed concern over why Gonzalez was released from custody. They said the young man was a daily drug user and still likely high on methamphetamine when he was released.
Brown said Gonzalez showed no sign of intoxication when he was released from police custody.
His family also said Gonzalez started using drugs after he was sexually abused as a young boy.
Court records confirm he was the victim of a sexual assault at the age of 8 and a man convicted of the crime is now serving a life prison sentence.
Witnesses to the shooting said they heard three separate periods of gunfire -- a total of a dozen or more shots spread out over about five minutes.
"I would say two to three shots at first," said Claudia Mascorro, who was waiting in a car line at a nearby elementary school to pick up her daughter from kindergarten. "And then it stopped for a minute or so. And then several more gunshots. About five or so. And then even more after that."
Mascorro said there was about a three minute gap between the first volley of shots and the second; followed a minute later by a final "flurry." She said she could easily tell when the rifle was being shot because it sounded "so much louder and deeper" than the volley of handgun shots.
"I want everyone to understand completely, that David Hofer's actions were heroic and saved other lives," Brown said.
New York City Police Sgt. Amber Cafaro worked with Hofer before he came to Euless.
"Officer Hofer was a genuine guy," she said. "You couldn't help but like him."
Cafaro and other members of the Brotherhood for the Fallen are planning to come to Texas for Hofer's funeral.
"We're all hurting," she said.
NBC 5's Frank Heinz and Scott Gordon contributed to this report.