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Shooting victim dies; case tied to police death

PHOENIX -- A shooting victim whose alleged assailant was later killed in a gunbattle with an undercover Phoenix police detective has died.

Authorities said Mario Valenzuela, 39, died Thursday of injuries suffered when he was shot Feb. 25 at a Phoenix apartment complex, allegedly by William Ray Thornton.

Members of a police task force were seeking Thornton on Monday in connection with the Valenzuela shooting when a gunbattle erupted at a west Phoenix intersection.

Thornton, 28, died in the exchange of gunfire and one of the undercover officers, John Hobbs, later died of his wounds at a hospital.

Another detective, 37-year-old Albert ``A.J.'' Casados, was shot once on his right side and survived. The nine-year police veteran was released from a hospital Wednesday.

Police said neither detective was wearing a bullet proof vest at the time of the shooting. They say Thornton also was wanted on a probation violation warrant after having been released from prison in January, where he served time for a drug conviction and resisting arrest.

Casados and Hobbs, a 21-year police veteran, were members of the department's Major Offenders Bureau tasked with tracking down and arresting violent offenders and fugitives.

Valenzuela's family told The Arizona Republic that they are planning a fundraiser to cover funeral expenses.

A fundraising barbecue held Thursday for Hobbs and Casados raised more than $100,000, according to the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association.

Hobbs, 43, is survived by his wife and three young children. His funeral is scheduled for Monday in Peoria.

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