When Ron Williamson heard the news of officer David Hofer’s death Tuesday, it brought back painful memories.
Williamson, a retired Euless police officer, was on duty in 1982 when he learned that his brother, Michael Ray Williamson, had been hit and killed by a drunken driver while on patrol.
“When something like this happens, you think about what happened in the past,” Williamson said Wednesday. “When an officer is killed, my thoughts go back to my brother.”
Hofer was shot during a gunfight Tuesday afternoon and died in surgery at a Grapevine hospital.
Williamson said Hofer “was someone I knew and had talked to at length.”
The city in Northeast Tarrant County was still in shock Wednesday over Hofer’s death.
At J.A. Carr Park, where Hofer was shot by Jorge Brian Gonzalez, 22, longtime Euless resident Lisa White, 47, was in tears.
Gonzalez, a drug addict who had been in out of jail in recent years, was shot multiple times by Euless police and was pronounced dead at a Fort Worth hospital.
“I feel like I’m in the dark,” White said. “I guess because I’ve been living in this neighborhood all my life I just feel like I want some answers.”
At the Euless Police Department, lighted candles kept vigil with flowers and signs bearing prayers around a bronze statue, an impromptu memorial to Hofer.
The shooting was the talk of the town in restaurants and coffee shops.
Hofer, 29, came to Euless in January 2014 after five years of service with the New York Police Department.
“You couldn’t have asked for a better person,” Williamson said of Hofer. “He was very friendly and energetic, and you could tell he had a passion for his job.”
You couldn’t have asked for a better person.
Ron Williamson, a retired Euless officer whose brother was the first Euless officer to die in the line of duty, referring to officer David Hofer
Jelpa Patel said she and her twin kindergartners often go to the park to play.
“It was a shock for me, because it’s a friendly neighborhood,” she said. “People can walk — they feel safe all the time — so that’s why it’s a shock for me.”
At Waffle House, Kirk McBurnett said he had, just by chance, met Hofer at a Chicken Express in Bedford about three weeks ago.
He said he shook the officer’s hand and recognized him after the shooting was on the news.
“It just shows you that you need to be nice to everybody,” McBurnett said. “You never know when you’re going to be gone.”
The Police Department is excellent; everyone gets along well with them.
Francis Omlor, 72, who lives near the park where the shooting occurred
Francis Omlor, 72, who was walking his dog in the park, said he was surprised to hear about the shooting.
“It’s a quiet little area,” he said. “The Police Department is excellent; everyone gets along well with them. It’s sad to hear.”
City spokeswoman Betsy Deck described going to the Police Department on Tuesday night and seeing the outpouring of support from the close-knit community with pictures, flowers and teddy bears.
“What has been the most heartwarming is to see all of the information posted on the city’s Facebook page,” she said. By Wednesday afternoon, the initial post announcing Hofer’s death had 311 comments.
Employees changed their profile pictures to show the badge with a line drawn through it, the symbol for a fallen officer.
“People posted from all over the world; they were words of encouragement,” Deck said. “It was very emotional.”
Staff writer Dylan Bradley contributed to this report.