Sonny Almanza arrested in killing of Arvada police Officer Dillon Vakoff

Arvada police on Monday announced the arrest of a 31-year-old man they allege opened fire during a family disturbance over the weekend, killing a responding officer and injuring another woman.

Sonny Thomas Almanza was arrested on investigation of eight charges, including first-degree murder of a peace officer, the department said in a news release.

Almanza, who was shot during the altercation early Sunday, remains in custody at a hospital and will be transported to the Jefferson County Jail upon release.

Officer Dillon Vakoff, 27, a three-year veteran of the Arvada Police Department and former U.S. Air Force staff sergeant, was killed after responding with another officer to what police called a “large family disturbance.”

Officers responded around 1:40 a.m. Sunday to check on two minor children and witnessed a chaotic scene of people in the street, police said. They attempted to separate the belligerent crowd when the suspect began shooting, the police chief said.

Police allege Almanza shot a woman, at which point two officers returned fire. The suspect then allegedly shot Vakoff, who died after being taken to a hospital.

Almanza and the unnamed female victim were both shot and hospitalized, and are expected to survive.

In 2008, Almanza was sentenced to six years in prison for first-degree assault with a deadly weapon, according to Colorado Bureau of Investigation records. Eight years later, he was arrested for making a false report.

The fatal shooting comes just 15 months after another Arvada officer, 51-year-old Gordon Beesley, was shot and killed during an ambush in Olde Town.

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