The childhood dream of becoming a uniformed police officer was cut short for Bradley Jones, a man whose “gentle, compassionate heart,” family and colleagues said, was apparent to anyone whose paths he crossed.
Just a week shy of when he was shot to death while on duty, Jones’ life and law enforcement career was recalled Wednesday night by colleagues and family members during an emotional, hourlong candlelight vigil attended by more than 200 people at the Glendale Civic Center Plaza.
Justin Harris, co-chairman of the Glendale Police Officers Coalition, said Jones made the ultimate sacrifice while in the line of duty to protect and serve Glendale’s citizens, actions which the 26-year-old seemed to undertake every day as a sworn police officer.
Although his law enforcement career lasted only four years, Jones’ personnel folder was routinely filled with numerous commendations.
“Brad will forever remain in our hearts, and the sacrifices he made will never be forgotten,” said Harris while trying to remain composed. “Tonight, we start honoring his heroic actions.”
Jones died Saturday morning after being shot the night before while assisting a probation officer during what was supposed to be a routine meeting with a man who officers would later find out had a checkered past.
The suspect, 20-year-old Ryan Heisler, pulled out a gun and began firing during the probation meeting at an apartment near 75th and Glendale avenues, striking Jones at least once before Heisler fled the scene in the officer’s vehicle, police said.
Jones managed to call for help and received first aid attention from fellow officers before he was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, where he later died.
Officers pursued Heisler in the stolen police car, which crashed near 81st and Glendale avenues. When the suspect tried to flee after the collision, three officers opened fire, striking Heisler in the upper body.
Heisler remains in critical condition at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center.
While Jones’ decision to accompany the probation officer ultimately ended his life, family members said he was doing a job he had grown up loving.
“He wanted to make the world a better place,” said Tom Engstrom, Jones’ uncle and a family spokesperson. “It didn’t surprise us he helped to protect children and other bystanders until his untimely death. He will always be remembered for what he loved doing most.”
Jones’ love for law enforcement was strong and well-known throughout the Glendale Police Department, though colleagues would be quick to point out his love for wife, Cindy, and his two daughters was even more apparent.
Jones’ parents, Rick and Shannon Jones, and widow, who wore a Glendale police jacket and hat, embraced and wept throughout the ceremony.
The Glendale community, comprised of moms, dads and children wanting to thank the Jones family for their son’s service, stood silently while holding hands and wanting to hear more about their fallen hero.
The ceremony had former colleagues sharing attributes of Jones that included “courageous,” “honorable” and “committed.”
“Most people who knew him would say he was too nice to be a cop,” said Engstrom, a retired police chief from Lakeport, Calif.
Sgt. Aaron Victor, Jones’ direct supervisor, said his colleague encompassed qualities that other officers only aspired to attain.
“If I could summarize Brad in one word, it would be ‘irreplaceable,’” Victor said.
A public visitation for Jones will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. today at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 12951 N. 83rd Ave., Peoria.
Jones’ funeral takes place 10 a.m. Friday at Christ’s Church of the Valley, 7007 W. Happy Valley Road, Peoria.
Zach Colick can be reached at 623-876-2522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.