Brandon Mendoza: Mesa, Arizona, officer killed by wrong-way driver in Tempe

TEMPE, Ariz. - An off-duty Mesa police officer and a suspect are both dead after a wrong-way crash in Tempe.

DPS officers said they first started getting calls about a wrong-way driver around 12:30 a.m on Monday. Officers said the driver was spotted going the wrong way on the Loop 101 and Cactus Road in Scottsdale.

DPS spokesman Carrick Cook said the driver continued going the wrong way on the Loop 101 and got on State Route 51 going the wrong way, where officers tried to intercept the vehicle. The driver eventually got on Interstate 10 going the wrong way.

Cook said the suspect was driving the wrong way on the westbound ramp to US 60 in Tempe when they crashed into officer's vehicle on Monday morning.

Cook said the suspect traveled about 35 miles for a half-hour before colliding in Tempe.

The suspect was killed during the crash, Cook said.

The other driver was off-duty Mesa police officer, 32-year-old Brandon Mendoza who was heading home from work. Mendoza was taken to hospital where he later died from his injuries, Mesa police said.

Mesa Police Chief Frank Milstead called Mendoza "Iconic." He said Mendoza epitomized what an officer is: approachable, empathetic, involved in community and a popular officer.

Milstead said Mendoza was very active in getting Guerrero Rotary Park at 8th Avenue and Country Club Drive in proper condition for the community. It needed a lot of repairs and had to be rebuilt.

Mesa police spokesman Tony Landato said, "We are saddened beyond words to report that one of our officers was hit and killed this morning by a wrong way driver.  The officer had completed their shift and was on their way home."

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