Suspect publicly identified after Colorado officer killed while responding to check the welfare of 2 kids

Officer Dillon Vakoff pictured in the middle. Suspect  Sonny Thomas Almanza picture in the...
Officer Dillon Vakoff pictured in the middle. Suspect Sonny Thomas Almanza picture in the upper right.(Arvada PD)
Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 3:01 PM MDT|Updated: Sep. 12, 2022 at 3:04 PM MDT
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ARVADA, Colo. (KKTV) - Authorities are sharing more details with the public on what led up to the death of a police officer in Colorado.

Sunday morning just before 2, Arvada police officers were called to check the well-being of two kids in the 6700 block of W. 51st Avenue. The neighborhood is between Wadsworth and Sheridan. When officers arrived at the scene, police are reporting they encountered a “large family disturbance.”

“The officers arrived to a chaotic scene with multiple people in the street. When the officers tried to separate several belligerent and uncooperative individuals the suspect began to fire and shot a female victim. An exchange of gunfire then occurred between officers and the suspect. The suspect fired, striking an Arvada Police Officer, killing him,” part of a news release from Arvada Police reads.

The officer killed was identified as as 27-year-old Dillon Vakoff. Click here for more on Vakoff’s service for the Arvada Police Department and his time serving in the Air Force. The female victim is expected to survive.

The suspect, Sonny Thomas Almanza, was taken into custody Sunday evening after he was treated for minor injuries and charged with first-degree murder of a peace officer, attempted first-degree murder, possession of a weapon by a previous offender, child abuse and a crime of violence.

“This is a tragic loss to this community, to this department, but most significantly to his family and loved ones. His service and sacrifice will never be forgotten,” police wrote of Officer Vakoff.

Donations honoring Officer Vakoff can be made through the Colorado Fallen Hero Foundation by clicking here.