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Arvada police officer killed in the line of duty early Sunday; police ID fallen officer

The department identified the officer as 27-year-old Dillon Michael Vakoff
Posted: 7:18 AM, Sep 11, 2022
Updated: 2022-09-12 19:39:07-04

ARVADA, Colo. — An Arvada police officer was killed in the line of duty early Sunday while responding to a call.

The department announced on Twitter the officer was killed during a large family disturbance in the 6700 block of W 51st Ave. A male suspect, who was also shot, was in custody at a nearby hospital where he is expected to survive.

Police said the suspect, who has yet to be identified, also shot a woman during the disturbance. The woman was transported to the hospital where she is recovering. Her role in the incident is under investigation, police said.

During a Sunday morning press conference, Arvada Police Chief Link Strate identified the officer as 27-year-old Dillon Michael Vakoff. He started with the department in 2019.

"Dillon is an example of everything that is good about a police officer," Strate said.

Officer Vakoff was an Arvada native and a 2012 Ralston Valley High School graduate. He was a staff sergeant with the U.S. Air Force before his tenure with APD.

officer vakoff2.png
Arvada Officer Dillon Vakoff.

In the tweet, the department wrote: 'It is with a heavy heart & deep sorrow that we inform you an Arvada Police Officer has been killed serving his community. The officer was responding to a call for service when he was killed. #ArvadaPDLODD'

Strate said two officers, including Officer Vakoff, responded to the large family disturbance and arrived to a chaotic scene in the street. As the officers attempted to separate the two groups, the male suspect opened fire, hitting the female victim.

"The initial two officers tried to separate several belligerent and uncooperative individuals when the suspect began to fire and shot a female victim," Strate said.

During an exchange of gunfire, Officer Vakoff and the suspect were struck. Vakoff was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced deceased.

Arvada police officer killed in the line of duty early Sunday; police ID fallen officer

"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," Strate said of Officer Vakoff.

Neighbors in the area were shaken up following the shooting. One woman, who did not want to be identified, recalled the moments she heard the chaos break out. She said neighbors scrambled to get to safety when they heard the shots.

"You could hear a woman screaming and you couldn’t tell where the gunshots were coming from, over and over and over," she said. "Everyone ran inside. You couldn’t tell north, east, south or west where those shots were coming from."

A procession transported Vakoff from Lutheran Hospital to the Jefferson County Coroner's office Sunday morning.

Gov. Jared Polis offered the following statement following the incident:

“My thoughts are with the family and friends of Arvada officer Dillon Michael Vakoff who was tragically killed in the line of duty while responding to a call. We will continue to monitor this situation,” Polis said in the statement.

Arvada Mayor Marc Williams released the following statement:

"This has been a tragic day for the City of Arvada. Dillon Vakoff gave his life in the line of duty and his loss is deeply felt by our Police Department, our City Council, the City Team and our Citizens. By all reports, Dillon was a rising star in our excellent Police Department. Arvada is a safe city, but has experienced the horrible deaths of two of our finest in the last 15 months. I ask that everyone keep Dillon, his loved ones and fellow officers in your thoughts and prayers," Williams said in the statement.

The loss is the second in just over a year in the Arvada police department. In June of 2021, Officer Gordon Beesley, a 19-year veteran with Arvada PD was killed along with two others during a shooting in Olde Town Arvada.

The Olde Town Arvada water tower will be lit blue Sunday evening to honor Vakoff.

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Note: The incident location has been updated from a previously reported block.