N E W S Release
Office of Richmond Mayor Tom Butt
For Immediate Release
February 11, 2016
Lieutenant Felix Tan – Richmond Police Dept.
Phone: (510) 621-1204
Mobile: (510) 672-1147
Alex Knox – Dir. of Policy and Strategy
STATEMENT FROM MAYOR TOM BUTT REGARDING THE LOSS OF OFFICER VEGAS IN VALLEJO
In response to the killing of Richmond Police Officer Augustine “Gus” Vegas in Vallejo early this morning, the mayor made the following statement:
“The senseless killing of this respected officer early this morning has left us deeply saddened and our heartfelt condolences go out to the family. I want to especially extend sympathies to the members of the Richmond Police Department who are grieving the loss of a kind, valued and respected officer. The nationally recognized success of our police force has been attributed in-part to the outstanding performance of our officers and every loss is felt throughout the department and our community.
In a time when we are experiencing a recent and unsettling increase in crime, the police, and the entire community are committed to reversing those trends to maintain a high level of safety for everyone. In the face of this killing, we will have to continue that important work and come together in support of our police department in their mourning.
I thank the Vallejo Police Department for their swift response to the shooting and I am hopeful that their investigation will provide a full understanding of the incident. May the officer rest in peace and we are committed to seeking justice for this tragic loss of life.”
Off-duty Richmond police officer shot dead in his Vallejo home
By Evan Sernoffsky, Hamed Aleaziz and Steve Rubenstein
Updated 7:43 pm, Thursday, February 11, 2016
Veteran Richmond police officer Augustine Vegas, 58, was shot and killed in his Vallejo home early Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, according to police.
An off-duty Richmond police officer was shot and killed in his Vallejo home early Thursday by the father of his 6-year-old grandson, who then fled with the boy and was arrested a short time later in Fairfield, authorities said.
The slain officer was identified as Augustine “Gus” Vegas, 58, a 15-year veteran of the department and an investigator in homicide and property crime cases. He was shot multiple times around 4:30 a.m. inside his home on Narragansett Court near Cliff Walk Drive and died at the scene.
The alleged gunman, identified as Robert Vega, 30, of Fairfield, was arrested without incident outside an undisclosed residence in Fairfield, about 15 miles from the site of the shooting. The boy was unharmed and taken into protective custody, authorities said.
The child’s mother, one of Vegas’ biological daughters, was not identified. It was unclear if she was in the house during the shooting.
Vallejo and Richmond police said the motive and the circumstances for the shooting were under investigation, but one official called it the result of a domestic dispute. It was not immediately known who else was inside the home when the shooting happened, but no one else was injured, police said.
Somber leaders of the Vallejo and Richmond police departments held a news conference in Vallejo, where officers stood quietly with ashen faces and black tape on their badges.
Officer well liked
“We are stunned and saddened,” said Richmond interim Police Chief Allwyn Brown. “Gus was very likable, always pleasant and good-natured. I never saw him have a bad day or a bad mood. It’s a tough loss.
“He was engaging and interactive with the community and with young people. He was a likable and lovable guy,” Brown said.
Richmond police Capt. Mark Gagan, who worked daily with Vegas, said the shooting was the result of a domestic dispute.
“When someone like Gus gets killed, something is wrong,” Gagan said. “He was always about giving back. As a homicide investigator, he brought a lot of healing and closure to families he dealt with. The dynamics of domestic violence need to be addressed.”
Police academy grads
Both the victim and the suspect shared a common law enforcement experience — they were both graduates of the police academy at Napa Valley College. Vegas graduated from the college’s Criminal Justice Training Center in 1990, and Vega graduated in 2011, officials at the school said.
The suspect’s law enforcement career after his graduation was not immediately known. Interim Chief Brown said Vega had not been a Richmond officer and that he was not aware of any other police department that Vega might have worked for.
Napa Valley College President Ron Kraft said the college was “saddened by the loss of one of our former students,” and that the college’s “thoughts are with the family and friends of the Vegas family.”
At Richmond police headquarters, officers lowered the flag to half staff and gathered quietly in groups to mourn their colleague and friend.
Richmond Mayor Tom Butt praised Vallejo police for their “swift response to the shooting” and called Vegas a “kind, valued and respected officer.” He said the city was “committed to seeking justice for this tragic loss of life.”
During the shooting, an unknown number of Vegas’ family members were inside the home, officers said. Vegas was a foster parent and involved with the Foster Greatness organization — which was founded five years ago by his wife, Sandra.
Crime-scene tape blocked off Narragansett Court in a quiet residential community as several detectives and police officers were going in and out of Vegas’ home.
Around 2 p.m., Vegas’ flag-draped body was removed from the home while three dozen Vallejo and Richmond officers stood and saluted. A procession of police cars and motorcycles accompanied the coroner’s van to the Solano County morgue in Fairfield.
Irene Estepa, 18, who lives nearby, said she knew Vegas and his family well. Estepa said the officer lived at the home with his wife and a teenage daughter, with whom she goes to high school.
Highly regarded family
“It’s shocking. They’re a good family. They do wonderful things for our community, they’re a wonderful family to be around,” Estepa said, noting how the family has provided a home to multiple foster children.
A woman named Valerie, who declined to provide her last name, said the neighborhood was generally quiet.
“Things like this just don’t happen here,” she said.
Stefan Kusmierski, a 44-year-old neighbor, said he happened to be smoking a cigarette on his front porch around 4:30 a.m., but didn’t see or hear anything at the house. Kusmierski, who lives around 50 yards from Vegas’ home, said “it was really quiet” when he was outside. Later, when he went to bed, he heard a stream of sirens in the area.
Kusmierski would often see the family members who live in the home and had once loaned them his ladder so they could hang Christmas decorations.
Evan Sernoffsky, Hamed Aleaziz and Steve Rubenstein are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers. E-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Twitter: @EvanSernoffsky, @haleaziz