Hours after police went on a massive manhunt, a suspected cop killer is in custody Sunday night in Stanislaus County. Authorities say that a central California deputy was killed after being shot in the head twice in a manner they are referring to as “execution style.”
The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department believe that the suspect, 36-year-old David Machado, was responsible for shooting and killing 53-year-old Deputy Dennis Wallace, who was a 20-year department veteran. The New York Daily News reported that the deputy was responding to a call of a suspicious person and van in Hughson, California. At the press conference the department held on Sunday, Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson advised reporters that the deputy had been killed at Fox Grove Recreation and Fishing Access after arriving there at 8:24 a.m. to investigate a dispatcher’s call about a stolen vehicle.
“This was an execution. We believe that Deputy Wallace was killed outside of the car, and we know for a fact that the gun used in this crime was in direct contact with his head when the trigger was pulled twice.”
The deputy is said to have radioed in for backup almost immediately, but in the middle of the call, everything went silent. When the other officers arrived at the scene about five minutes later, they found that the deputy had been shot and killed from two close-range gunshots to the head. The speed of the attack on Deputy Wallace meant that he had not even had the opportunity to draw his gun from his holster much less fire any shots at the suspect before he was shot and killed in cold blood. Deputy Dennis Wallace was taken to a nearby hospital where he died as a result of the two gunshot wounds to his head.
Deputy Wallace was much beloved in the community of Hughson and had been involved in youth soccer, working as a referee for football, and is also said to have served as a liaison between schools and law enforcement.
The police identified the suspect as David Machado, Jr., and vowed that he would be caught. The man had fled the scene of the “execution style” killing and carjacked a 2009 white Kia Rio from the nearby community of Keyes. The suspect was identified as Machado because of the van he abandoned nearby, the same that had been reported as suspicious earlier in the day and which he had been driving. When the press conference was conducted, the Modesto Bee reported that Christianson warned the public not to approach or engage the suspect if he was spotted, but to be on the lookout for the stolen car, a 2009 Kio Rio vehicle with a California plate, and call the police if the suspect or the car was spotted.
The police began an extensive manhunt with a felony warrant for the arrest of David Machado and almost four hours after it began, the police had the suspect of the manhunt in custody. Machado was captured after he had attempted to steal a woman’s purse near a convenience store in Lindsay, which is approximately 150 miles south of Hughson. The woman fought back, and after the attempted purse-snatching, Lindsay police caught Machado at 12:33 p.m. while he was in an alley, on foot.
He was not arrested as the suspected cop killer, but he was taken to Tulare County jail, and soon after, the police identified the man by photographs, as well as his tattoos. The police reportedly have both vehicles in custody, the van Machado had allegedly used to escape from the crime scene in Fox Grove, and the other car he had stolen from Keyes, for evidence purposes. The investigation is ongoing but Christianson vowed that justice will be served.
“We still have a long way to go and more work needs to be done. He [Machado] will stand trial and we will seek justice… He is facing murder charges for killing a peace officer. This is a capital offense, I will do anything in my power to make sure he ends up on death row.”
The department is also asking that the Wallace family be kept “in our thoughts” during this difficult time.
[Featured Image by Stanislaus Sheriff/Vacaville Police]