Old Time Crime: Mesa man killed after saving wife & neighbor in 2005

MESA, AZ - A man who volunteered thousands of hours helping domestic violence victims was killed saving one more.

It was Saturday, August 13, 2005, when Mesa police responded to a home near Greenfield and Brown Roads on a domestic violence call.

Brian Hermes, age 32, had hit his 51-year-old mother with a rock several times and was holding her at knife point after she refused to give him money for drugs. 

He logged nearly 2,000 volunteer hours of work, helping victims of domestic violence.

The woman was able to get away and flee to a place she knew she could get help, the home of her neighbor James Early. Early, a retired Boeing engineer was a volunteer with the Mesa Police Department. Over three years he logged nearly 2,000 volunteer hours of work, helping victims of domestic violence. 

Early retrieved his handgun and demanded her release

The woman pounded on the door to get his attention but then moved on to another house. Hermes followed her to Early’s home and barged into the house as the garage door opened. Hermes now held Early's wife at knife point, but let her go when Early retrieved his handgun and demanded her release.

The two struggled over the gun and Hermes managed to get it away from Early shooting him from behind as Early was running away.

Mesa police arrived and surrounded the home. They saw Early lying on the driveway and got him away from the area, but not before he died from his injuries. 

After a two hour standoff, Hermes jumped into Early’s car and tried to escape, driving in reverse towards the officers, while pointing the gun out of the window. Six Mesa police officers fired at Hermes, killing him. 

In addition to attacking his mother, Hermes had a federal warrant for his arrest for probation violations, related to drug charges.

"A hero who definitely saved his wife's life."

Early was described by Mesa police as, "A hero who definitely saved his wife's life."

Other family members said there was never any doubt that he would help people in need, saying “He didn't like seeing people taken advantage of in any way."

 

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