Investigators work to identify driver who hit and killed Phoenix police officer

PHOENIX - Flags flew at half-staff on a still and somber Sunday night.

They were flying in memory of Phoenix police Officer Daryl Raetz, hit by a driver who's still on the run. 

That driver left Raetz to die near 51st Avenue and Cambridge. The missing SUV has been found, but now we're waiting to learn more about the driver, as police are still searching for him or her.

The sun was shining brightly on a single balloon on the corner where Raetz was struck. An officer knelt to pray at a small memorial, the only reminder of the tragedy that happened there just hours before.

"At about 3:36am, some of our officers were investigating a DUI case," Sgt. Tommy Thompson with the Phoenix Police Department said.

All of a sudden, one of those officers, 29-year-old Raetz, was hit and killed by another driver who took off.
Sunday afternoon, dozens of Phoenix police officers surrounded the Medical Examiner's van and saluted the flag-draped body of Officer Raetz.

"He's someone of great character and dedication to others," said Joe Clure, the President of PLEA, the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association.

Raetz was a 6-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department and Navy Corpsman who did two tours in Iraq. He's also a husband.

"She's upset, obviously. You just lost your husband, your best friend and your soul mate," Clure said.

And Raetz was the father of 5-year-old Tatum.

"I understand she graduates from kindergarten this week. So, a kind of milestone in a child's life and there's going to be an empty seat. It's going to be tough," Clure said.

It's just one of the reasons family friend Suzanne Murry set up a website to raise money. Donations range from $10 to $500, from those who knew him well and those who understand the family's loss and pain.

"We appreciate the support, and rest assured, we'll be out there tonight keeping the community safe," Murry said.

That's why the support of the community in tragic times like this is immeasurable. 

It's our chance to show gratitude to the men and women who risk their lives to serve and protect ours. 

This is the first time in Phoenix's history there's been a police officer death and a firefighter death at the same time. 

Usually, one department leans on the other for support during this difficult time. But now, and for quite some time, both departments are grieving.


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