At about 8:30 a.m. that day, Deputy Sheriff Dennis Wallace, of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, called dispatch to report a suspicious van parked near a fishing access point, outside Hughson, Calif. When Wallace learned the vehicle was stolen, he asked for an extra deputy to assist.
“Within seconds, he was murdered,” Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson said in a televised news conference. “He was executed.”
A man had placed a gun directly to Wallace’s head, firing two gunshots, Christianson said. When the backup deputy arrived, five minutes later, he found Wallace on the ground outside his marked patrol car. The deputy was transported to the hospital, where he died from his injuries.
The suspect had fled in the van and carjacked a white Kia sedan in the nearby city of Keyes. He was later identified as David Machado, 36, who was wanted on a felony warrant at the time.
Just after noon on Sunday, Machado was arrested after police said he tried to steal a purse from a woman at a convenience store in Lindsay, a town about 150 miles south of the fishing access point where Wallace was shot. The woman resisted and called the police. After being chased by police on foot, Machado surrendered.
Wallace, 53, was a 20-year veteran of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, Christianson said, and he was “well-known in the organization” for his work with the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, as well as early prevention and intervention programs. He had a “special relationship with young people,” Christianson said.
“Just like families who lose loved ones, we’ve lost someone special to us,” Christianson said.
“Deputy Dennis Wallace was my DARE officer growing up in Modesto. He is easily one of the influential reasons I became a Peace Officer. Thank you for everything you have done for the community and may you rest easy,” wrote one post.
Other letters noted Wallace’s smart, witty nature, and commitment as both a teacher and law enforcement officer.
“Deputy Wallace, thank you for all your help getting me through the academy and for being a friend and brother. R.I.P. my brother. You helped make my law enforcement dream come true. Love you my friend.”
In a news conference, Christianson urged the community to “stand together with public safety and with law enforcement to stop what’s happening in our nation.”
Wallace was the 56th law enforcement officer to be killed by gunfire this year in the United States, a 70 percent increase over last year, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
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