The police officer who was killed this week in a gunbattle with a troubled drug addict was a dedicated cop who feared that he might someday have to “hurt” someone, his brother said Thursday night.
Officer David Hofer, 29, was a New York police officer for five years before joining the Euless police force two years ago. On Tuesday, he was shot by Jorge Brian Gonzalez, 22, who was waiting in ambush for officers at J.A. Carr Park, police have said.
Gonzalez was shot to death by other officers.
Hofer’s oldest brother, Boris Brawer, 40, spoke with the Star-Telegram from their parents’ home in Manhattan on Thursday night, hours before they were to fly to North Texas for his brother’s funeral Saturday.
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“My mom told several people, he was the one who was afraid he would have to hurt someone at his job. That was his biggest fear,” Brawer said.
Hofer, the youngest of three children, was born in New Jersey and lived in Germany, Switzerland and New York, as their father, Helmut Hofer, a mathematics professor, moved to different schools.
The family moved to New York when the father accepted a position at New York University, Brawer said. David Hofer was in the fifth grade.
In 2014, David Hofer made his own decision to move, this time to Plano, where he had no family, for a break from the intensity of patrolling New York’s streets, his brother said.
He moved with his girlfriend, to whom he had proposed in January 2015. The two had just built a house in Plano.
“I’m kind of numb and speechless,” Brawer said Thursday night. “It’s a senseless death for both people.”
Hofer was the first officer to die in the line of duty in Tarrant County since December 2010, when Arlington officer Jillian Michelle Smith was shot in the head during a domestic dispute.
Since 2001, 10 officers have died on duty in Tarrant County.
Nationally, Hofer was the 16th officer to die in the line of duty this year. Of those, 12 were fatally shot.
Gonzalez, who had been released from the Euless City Jail at 11:23 a.m. Tuesday, broke into a home on Bayless Drive, stole multiple weapons and fired several random rounds before taking a “position of cover” in a drainage ditch to ambush the responding officers, Euless Police Chief Michael Brown said Wednesday.
Hofer and two other officers were the first to respond.
Hofer located Gonzalez near the drainage ditch and “began to give verbal commands,” and Gonzalez “immediately began firing multiple rounds,” striking Hofer, Brown said. Dispatch radio traffic reported an officer-involved shooting at 2:54 p.m.
Jesse Barocas, 28, of Brooklyn, N.Y., said he became friends with Hofer in the fifth grade when the Hofer family moved to New York from Switzerland. The two went to Saint Ann’s School, an arts-oriented private school in Brooklyn, where Hofer graduated in 2005.
Hofer’s senior history teacher remembered when Hofer spoke of living in Greenwich Village and using the city’s resources.
Hofer said once, “No matter what I am interested in, I never run out of things to do,” according to a statement provided by Vince Tompkins, head of school at Saint Ann’s.
“That spirit is very much a part of who he is,” one teacher wrote.
“All of us at Saint Ann’s School mourn the tragic and senseless death of David Hofer, class of 2005. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, classmates, friends and colleagues,” Tompkins wrote in an email.
Another former teacher described Hofer as “not only cheerful, but also focused, determined, attentive, involved, mature, and self-driven.”
Another described him as “A very good egg. Honest, sincere, principled and sweet.”
Hofer went on to graduate from New York University in 2008 — the school that had brought his family to the city in the first place by hiring his father as a professor.
“I thought he might be a scientist, like his father, but he always wanted to be a policeman, ever since he was a little boy,” his mother, Sofija Hofer, told the New York Post.
Kathy Humphrey, a cafeteria worker at Oakbrook Elementary School, stopped at Carr Park before dawn Thursday to pay her respects to Hofer. She said he pulled her over about a month ago and let her off with a warning.
She said he could have given her a ticket for not coming to a complete stop, but didn’t after he pulled up her driving record.
“He let me go. He said, ‘Have you ever got a ticket before?’ and I said, ‘No, it’s been a long, long time,’ ” she said. “He said: ‘I’m not going to mess up your perfect record you’ve got going. Just don’t do that again.’ He was so sweet.”
At the Euless Police Department, dozens of memorial items covered the ground around a statue. Bouquets of flowers. A plaque bearing the Serenity Prayer. A sleeve patch from the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department. And notes, many handwritten:
“Thank you for sacrificing your life for the City of Euless. Prayers for your immediate family and your Euless police family”
— Coach family
“We’ll take it from here.”
— Euless Police Department
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends and family”
— no name given
“Thank you for your service Officer Hofer, may you rest in peace! From our family to yours”
— Euless Transmissions family
“May your spirit soar! Thank you for protecting and serving.”
— A Euless resident, USAF, retired
“We will always be grateful for your service to our community. May God’s love bring you safely home. Our prayers are with your family”
— Chaplain Cherie
Staff writers Christian Boschult, Dylan Bradley and Azia Branson contributed to this report, which includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.
Service, how to donate
Memorial service: 1 p.m. Saturday at Pennington Field, 1501 Central Drive, Bedford.
Road closures: A procession of law enforcement vehicles will form in the 1400 block of Precinct Line Road starting at 9 a.m. Saturday.
The 1300 block of Precinct Line Road to Airport Freeway will be closed from 9 a.m. to noon, according to Hurst police.
Donations: Two official funds have been set up. You may make checks payable to EPBO (Euless Police Benevolent Organization), My Credit Union, 1014 N. Industrial Blvd., Euless, TX 76039 or Gofundme, Official Euless PD, Ofr. David Hofer, http://tinyurl.com/hpzaco3