The suspect in the death of a Stanislaus County Sheriff’s deputy was apprehended Sunday afternoon in Tulare County — nearly four hours after the deputy was killed in what was described by Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson as an execution.
“I’m pleased to tell you the suspect is in custody,” Christianson said.
Sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Wallace, 53, was killed by an armed suspect Sunday morning at the Fox Grove Fishing Access after going to check on a suspicious vehicle, Christianson said.
The suspect has been identified as David Machado, 36. Machado was arrested in the city of Lindsay in Tulare County after trying to commit an armed robbery at a convenience store.
“Unfortunately we do this far too often her in California and nationwide,” Christianson said. “You have to ask yourself where does it stop and where does it end. These are men and women who put their lives on the line every day to stand between good and evil to protect our community. Once again we’ve lost a member of our family.
“The killing of Deputy Dennis Wallace has had a tremendous negative effect on our organization,” Christianson said at a second press conference Sunday. “We are family, law enforcement is a family. Like families that lose loved ones, we’ve lost someone special to us.”
At 8:25 a.m. Sunday, Wallace arrived at the Fox Grove Fishing Access at 1000 Geer Road in Hughson in a marked patrol car and in his uniform. Wallace called into dispatch about a suspicious van at the scene and was quickly informed that the vehicle had been reported stolen and that the suspect in the theft was believed to be Machado, who also was believed to be armed, according to the sheriff’s department. Wallace made a request for a second unit to come to the scene.
“Within seconds he was murdered — executed,” Christianson said.
Dispatch tried to make contact with Wallace multiple times, but got no response. Sheriff’s Deputy Christian Torres out of Waterford arrived at the scene and found Wallace on the ground shot. Lifesaving efforts were initiated and Wallace was rushed to a nearby hospital, but medical personnel were unable to save him and he was pronounced dead.
Christianson said Wallace was shot twice in the head.
“The gun was in direct contact with his head when it was pulled twice,” Christianson said.
The suspect and the stolen van were both gone from Fox Grove. A message was broadcast to all area law enforcement agencies alerting them to the incident, information was provided identifying the suspect and the vehicle related to the initial investigation.
Law enforcement learned a person in Keyes had been carjacked at 8:40 a.m. Sunday and the individual positively identified Machado as the carjacker. It’s unknown if the individual suffered any injuries during the carjacking.
The vehicle Machado carjacked was a 2009 white Kia Rio with the license plate number 6JIS245.
The manhunt for Machado had spread through the county and information, including his picture, distinctive tattoos, and the stolen vehicle were shared with law enforcement around the state.
Around noon in the city of Lindsay a woman in a convenience store was approached by a man, later identified as Machado, who attempted to forcibly take her purse from her. The woman fought back and was able to call 911, prompting Machado to flee the scene on foot, according to the sheriff’s department.
Lindsay Police officers located Machado around 12:33 p.m. Sunday. Machado had fled to a residential alleyway, where he was contacted by Lindsay Police officers and surrendered without incident. At the time of the arrest the Lindsay Police officers were unaware he was wanted for the murder of a sheriff’s deputy. Once in custody the police department recognized Machado from the all points bulletin. His identity was confirmed through a photograph and from his tattoos. Sheriff’s investigators and a custodial team flew to Tulare County on the sheriff’s department helicopter to question Machado and bring him back to Stanislaus County.
“He will stand trial and we will seek justice,” Christianson said.
Even with the suspect apprehended the investigation is ongoing. The sheriff’s department said there are multiple crime scenes, in multiple cities, involving multiple agencies, with all of them attempting to piece together the details regarding Wallace’s death.
Both the stolen van and the Kia are in law enforcement's possession.
Earlier in the investigation the sheriff’s department said they were actively working two locations in the search for Machado, but declined to give any details about where the locations might be. Several law enforcement vehicles swarmed an area off Barnhardt Road, north of Turlock, earlier in the morning. The sheriff’s department said it was related to the search for Machado, but could not provide further details at this time.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Deputy Wallace’s family, friends, and the men and women of our sheriff’s department,” Christianson said. “The response by our allied agencies in and near Stanislaus County has been outstanding. The people in our community have shown their support and we’re grateful in ways we could never expect.”
This is the second fatal shooting the sheriff’s department has suffered in recent years. In 2012, Deputy Robert Paris was shot to death while serving an eviction notice in Modesto.
Wallace was a 20-year-veteran of the sheriff’s department and leaves behind a wife and family. He lived in Hughson and helped with community soccer games and youth football for the area.
“Dennis is well-known in the organization for things like the D.A.R.E. program, working in our early intervention and education programs,” Christianson said. “Dennis had a very special relationship with young people and a special place in our hearts.
“Even though this tragedy occurred we won’t stop,” Christianson said. “We won’t slow down. We won’t change what we are doing to ensure that our community is safe.
“This tragedy it’s happened again,” Christianson continued. “We did this in 2012. I never thought I’d be standing here before you doing this again. I want you all to pray for the Wallace family, to pray for public safety and I call for unity of support — a unity of support nationwide. No peace officer should be killed in the line of duty. Not one.”