Everything seemed normal as Euless police officer David Hofer pulled his patrol car into J.A. Carr Park.
It was the first day of March, and a woman walked with her child. Three retirees made their way around a gravel trail.
“It was just another day at the park,” said Randy Moore, an attorney with the Texas Municipal Patrolman’s Association, which represents officers.
But about 2:45 p.m., everything changed.
Responding to a call of possible shots fired, Hofer and two other officers encountered a man hiding behind a creek bank. As Hofer approached the man, Jorge Gonzalez, and began to give verbal commands, Gonzalez opened fire.
Hofer was shot in the head at close range, Moore said, citing statements filed last week from officers who were at the scene.
“Before [Hofer] could even finish what he was saying, the guy came over the ledge and shot him point blank with the rifle,” Moore said.
Hofer, 29, was later pronounced dead at a Grapevine hospital. Other officers shot Gonzalez, 22, who died at a Fort Worth hospital.
The official police report, which will include the officers’ accounts of what happened, has not been released by the Euless Police Department. An investigation into the shooting is ongoing, said Lt. Eric Starnes, a police spokesman. Once finished, it will be turned over to the Tarrant County district attorney’s office.
The officers’ statements, as first reported by Star-Telegram media partner WFAA, paint a picture of what unfolded just before 3 p.m. that day.
All four of the officers Moore represents have been on administrative leave since the shooting, as is routine in deadly force incidents. He said three of the officers fired at Gonzalez, and one is a supervisor.
Moore said he is discussing the shooting because the officers “told me on multiple occasions that they want their story told.”
He declined to identify the officers.
They did their job perfectly and professionally, knowing their best friend was shot in the face,”
Randy Moore, attorney for Euless police officers
Officers were ‘best friends’
Gonzalez had been released from the Euless Jail at 11:23 a.m. on March 1 after being arrested the day before for public intoxication. His family has said he was high on “ice,” or methamphetamine.
Some time after being released, Gonzalez broke into a home on Bayless Drive — near the back entrance of Carr Park — and stole multiple weapons, police said. He walked across the street, fired off a few shots in the park, and then took cover in a creek.
At 2:45 p.m., Euless police received a 911 call about the fired shots.
Moore said two officers were dispatched to the scene. One drove to the park’s back entrance off Bayless. The other entered through the main entrance off Simmons Drive, where he met Hofer, who had been in the area.
All three officers were “best friends,” Moore said, and had known each other since they were officers in the New York Police Department.
The officer near the back entrance of the park stopped to approach a suspicious vehicle on Bayless.
At the main entrance, Hofer and the other officer began walking through the park.
“They have no idea what’s going on,” Moore said. “No one is acting unusual.”
By “random chance,” Hofer walked to the southwest corner of the park, where Gonzalez barricaded himself in the creek.
As he reached the creek bank, Hofer saw Gonzalez and began giving orders. Instead of complying, Gonzalez shot him. The other officer watched Hofer fall into the creek bank, landing close to Gonzalez, Moore said.
“He knows [Hofer] is hit, and he knows he’s hit bad,” Moore said. “Now [Gonzalez] turns on him.”
Gonzalez shot multiple times
The officer fired back with his pistol, trying to avoid striking Hofer. He ran out of bullets, and moved back to take cover. Gonzalez, meanwhile, dipped back into the ditch and out of sight, Moore said.
“What happened at that point in time is the suspect’s in the creek bed and no one can really see him,” Moore said. “You have to expose yourself to see him, and so the only way to see him is to get to the very end of the creek bed.”
Witnesses earlier this month said the park soon swarmed with police. About 15 shots were exchanged, a nearby resident previously told the Star-Telegram.
During the shootout, Gonzalez shot at officers with a rifle, shotgun and pistol, Moore said.
Moore told WFAA that at one point, Gonzalez put up his hands to surrender, then grabbed a long gun and continued firing.
“They did their job perfectly and professionally, knowing their best friend was shot in the face,” Moore said.
The officers’ statements indicated Gonzalez was shot five times. But even after being shot, and when officers closed in on him, he still wasn’t complying with orders, so they handcuffed him before the ambulance arrived, Moore said.
“I can’t think of a more horrific scene for a police officer than knowing your best friend is shot in the head and laying in a ditch,” Moore said.
Starnes said Friday that the guns used were still undergoing ballistics tests.