The slain Gila River officer overcame hardships to follow in his father’s footsteps

Joshua Briese, 23, was a Gila River police officer who died June 1 after being shot while responding to a disturbance call in Santan, District 4, of the Gila River Indian Community.

Briese had been with the department for less than a year and was still undergoing field training, according to a Facebook post from the Gila River Police Department.

“It was a big surprise,” said Briese’s step-grandmother, Helen Briese. “He was a sweet boy. I loved him.”

Helen Briese told The Arizona Republic that she last spoke to Briese on Oct. 10, which she said was his birthday. “He was a wonderful person,” she said.

Briese always wanted to be a police officer, she said. In 2019, when he was 18, Briese told KULR News he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father, former Yellowstone County sheriff’s officer David Briese.

David Briese was also killed in an on-duty car accident in November 2006 on Interstate 90, near King Avenue West in Billings, Montana, while responding to a backup call for an officer dealing with a combative disabled man driver, the sheriff’s office said.

After his father’s death, Briese told KULR that he moved to Rapid City, South Dakota, with his older brother, mother and stepfather. But things were difficult at home, he said. At age 16, Briese said he became emancipated and returned to Billings.

Being alone at a young age brought more responsibility: going to school and working to pay bills.

In an interview with KULR, Briese said he would wake up at 1:30 a.m. and work at the airport for four hours before heading to Billings West High School.. But he also made time for extracurricular activities and was part of the school’s cross-country team, KULR reports.

Briese told KULR that he hoped his father would think he was doing well in life. Helen Briese said she thinks so, given what Briese had been through.

“He had a pretty tough life, but he survived,” Helen Briese said.

One other person died in the early morning shooting involving Briese. Four others, including another officer, were injured.

Gila River Indian Community Governor Stephen Roe Lewis called the incident “tragic.”

“I know I speak for our entire community when I say we mourn our fallen and injured police officers and every member of the community affected by such tragic violence,” Lewis said.

The Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office released a statement on Briese’s death:

“YCSO is heartbroken and in disbelief to receive word this morning of the death of Gila River Arizona Police Officer Josh Briese, Joshie as many of us called him,” the statement said. “All we can say is God Speed ​​and rest assured. Knowing that Dave and Josh are together again, both left this world to serve their community and do what they loved. REST IN PEACE.”

Law enforcement fatalities: The Gila River officer killed in the shooting was the son of the Montana officer who also died in the line of duty

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: The Gila River police officer killed in line wanted to make his father proud

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