Phoenix Police Officers Honored at 2023 Top Cops Awards
During National Police Week, the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) honored law enforcement officers from across the country at its 30th annual Top Cops Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., on May 12. Annually, members of federal, state, county, tribal and local agencies nationwide nominate their partners and colleagues for extraordinary actions taken during incidents in the preceding year. From the nominations, an independent committee of national law enforcement representatives selects one case for each of the 50 states and U.S. territories, and only 10 are named Top Cops Award winners.
Among this year’s honorees were Phoenix Police Officers Trisha Eskridge, Christopher Jones, John Noe, Austin Peru and Travis Spitler, who were recognized for their response to a tense ambush and standoff at a home in a southwest Phoenix neighborhood on February 11, 2022.
The incident began when Morris Jones called 9-1-1 in a panic, telling the operator that armed intruders had broken into his home and shot his girlfriend, Shatifah Lobley. Officer Peru arrived within five minutes of the call and found Jones waiting for him at the front doorway of the home. Jones quickly gestured for the officer to follow him inside. As Peru cautiously approached the front door, Jones pulled out a handgun he had been concealing and opened fire on Peru, striking him multiple times and seriously injuring him.
Unable to return fire immediately, Peru sought cover, running down the street while being pursued by Jones. Peru radioed responding officers about what was transpiring, but unbeknownst to him, his equipment had been shot and was inoperable.
Officer Jones arrived on scene shortly after Peru had been shot. He fired his duty weapon at the shooter, striking him and causing him to retreat back inside the home. At this time, Peru, who was losing a massive amount of blood and going in and out of consciousness, was rushed to the hospital, where he immediately started receiving lifesaving care.
Over the next few minutes, more Phoenix police officers arrived at the home and established a perimeter. A helicopter was also called in to survey the scene from above. Despite the increased police presence, Jones jumped in a car in his garage and attempted to escape, but his plan was thwarted by a police vehicle blocking the driveway. He ran back inside the home.
Minutes later, another occupant of the home, later identified as Lobley’s brother, walked outside holding 1-month-old girl in a baby carrier. Officers shouted at the man to put the baby on the ground and walk backward toward them. The man complied and was immediately detained. Officers Eskridge, Spitler and Noe then rushed toward the front of the home to save the baby, but as they got close, Jones reappeared, opened fire and struck the officers. The officers were unable to retrieve the baby.
Eventually, officers from the Phoenix Police Special Assignments Unit (SAU) arrived on scene with an armored vehicle. Officers were able to use the vehicle and their ballistic shields for cover to rescue the baby, who was later confirmed as Jones and Lobley’s child.
Soon after, SAU negotiators called Jones via cellphone to encourage him to peacefully surrender; however, he was uncooperative.
Left with no other recourse, SAU officers fired tear gas into the home to force Jones out. But there was no response. Officers cautiously entered the residence and found Jones dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. They also discovered that Lobley had tragically succumbed to her wound. It was later determined that she was shot by Jones and not by home invaders.
In all, five officers were shot during the incident and four more were injured by shrapnel or ricocheting bullets. Fortunately, all the officers survived the attack.
Officers Eskridge, Jones, Noe, Peru and Spitler were among the Phoenix officers who put their lives on the line to stop a man intent on killing police, causing violence and terrorizing the community. These officers went above and beyond the call of duty, and their actions truly exemplify what it means to be a top cop — as well as illustrating the immense dangers and sacrifices that come with upholding our oath to protect and serve. PLEA is proud of these officers for representing our Department at our nation’s capital. We thank them for their commitment and service.