A 20-year veteran of law enforcement in the Central Valley was shot and killed Sunday at point-blank range in what authorities are calling an execution. Stanislaus County Sheriff's Deputy Dennis Wallace was responding to a report of a suspicious van near a popular fishing spot outside of the city of Hughson, 10 miles south of Modesto, as the Associated Press reports. Upon running the plates on the van he discovered the van was stolen and called for backup, but by the time backup arrived on the scene, Wallace was dead.
In a press conference, Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson said, "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."
Wallace was 53 and a resident of Hughson.
Christianson says that they have a suspect in custody, 36-year-old David Machado, who was apprehended after an attempted purse-snatching 150 miles south of Modesto in the town of Lindsay, according to CBS 5.
Per the AP, Machado is also suspected in a carjacking in the town of Keyes, near Modesto, after ditching the van there. Officers in Tulare County did not initially know that the man they apprehended in the purse incident was wanted elsewhere, but luckily they quickly discovered he was suspected in Wallace's murder, and contacted the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department.
News of Machado's killing comes just after a report of two San Jose officers being fired upon by an unknown assailant on Sunday night, for which the police union there is now offering a reward for information leading to an arrest.
Also, as the AP reports:
Wallace is the fifth law enforcement officer in California to die in the line of duty in the last five weeks.
The slaying comes after a deputy in Modoc County was killed while responding to a call about a disturbance, two Palm Springs police officers were shot to death during a domestic disturbance call and a Los Angeles County sheriff's sergeant was shot and killed in the high-desert town of Lancaster while answering a burglary call.