A California sheriff’s deputy was fatally shot while on duty Sunday in what authorities described as an “execution” from point-blank range, PEOPLE confirms.
Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Wallace was on patrol when he responded to reports of a stolen van, according to a sheriff’s department news release.
Upon arrival, Wallace immediately asked for assistance, the news release states, after which dispatch lost contact with Wallace.
When the officers reached the scene five minutes later, they discovered Wallace lying on the ground with gunshot wounds. He had been shot twice in the head, Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson said at a Sunday press conference, adding, “This was an execution.”
The alleged shooter was identified as David Machado, but by the time deputies arrived, the 37-year old had allegedly fled the scene.
Wallace was rushed to a local hospital where he died from his injuries, the news release states. Meanwhile, the sheriff’s department received a call of a carjacking. According to the news release, the victim identified Machado as the alleged suspect.
Authorities also received information that Machado had attempted to steal a woman’s purse.
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Authorities issued a “Blue Alert,” including a warning that Machado was allegedly armed and dangerous.
Four hours later, Machado was captured 150 miles south of the where Wallace was shot, according to Christianson.
On Monday, community members took to social media to share their condolences while others laid flowers out in Christianson’s honor.
Christianson said that during Wallace’s two-decade career, he played a key role in drug-prevention programs at local schools.
“You were there for us in [elementary] school and throughout middle school as our DARE Officer,” former student Emory Dy wrote on Facebook in response to a post by the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department announcing Wallace’s death, “You were so cool and funny. You had open up your hearts to all of us.”
Christianson said Wallace left behind a wife and family: “He had a special place in our hearts at the sheriff’s office.”
Machado has not yet entered a plea or retained an attorney, according to a sheriff’s department spokesperson.