A veteran Phoenix police sergeant who stopped answering radio calls late Monday evening was found fatally shot and laying near his cruiser in a dirt lot in the South Mountain Precinct, the department announced.
Sgt. Sean T. Drenth, a 12-year veteran of the agency, was killed in the line of duty near 18th Avenue and Jackson Street.
At a public news conference Tuesday, Chief Jack Harris said the 34-year-old Drenth was "an outstanding and highly regarded" member of the department.
"Sergeant Drenth was found in an isolated dirt lot by a Capitol Police employee; he was lying near his patrol car," Harris said. "Our investigators are still on-scene this morning conducting a thorough investigation. I am confident they will determine what occurred."
Harris added, "Sean was the last sergeant I was able to promote before we entered the current budget crisis."
Sgt. Drenth joined the Phoenix PD on May 18, 1998. He began his career as a patrol and Neighborhood Enforcement Team (NET) officer in South Mountain Precinct where he remained for nine years. The next two years he worked within the Major Offender Unit and Training Bureau, and on Dec. 14, 2009, Drenth was promoted to sergeant. His new position took him to assignments in the Squaw Peak and South Mountain Precincts. Sgt. Drenth transferred to South Mountain Precinct on Oct. 11.
Drenth had been honored with one of the highest awards in the police department — the Medal of Valor. On Sept. 17, 2003, near 18th Street and Jones, the sergeant heroically rescued trapped residents of a burning apartment building engulfed in flames that had spread from a nearby storage shed.
Drenth is survived by his wife and mother.