ARVADA – A Denver suburb is mourning the death of a second police officer in as many years after a 27-year-old patrolman was fatally shot while trying to break up a large family disturbance over the weekend.
Arvada Officer Dillon Vakoff died at a hospital Sunday after being shot while he and another officer responded to the disturbance that spilled into a street outside a housing complex.
A suspect opened fire, wounding a woman, at which point the officers returned fire, Police Chief Link Strate said at a news conference Sunday. The suspect then fired at Vakoff, Strate said.
The suspect was wounded by the officers and taken to a hospital. He was expected to survive, police said Sunday. The suspect’s identity wasn’t immediately released.
The woman allegedly wounded by the suspect also was hospitalized and was expected to recover, police said. Further details on the shooting were expected later Monday.
Vakoff was the second officer to be slain in the line of duty in as many years in Arvada, a city located 7 miles northwest of downtown Denver. In 2021, Officer Gordon Beasley, 40, was shot and killed in an ambush by a gunman wielding an AR-style rifle in downtown Arvada.
Residents stunned by Vakoff’s slaying adorned a police car parked outside Arvada City Hall with flowers, and the city lit a historic downtown water tower in blue overnight. Condolence messages came in from state police agencies and public officials, including Gov. Jared Polis.
Vakoff was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, where he served for six years, before joining the Arvada Police Department in 2019. He was training to be a SWAT officer, police said in a statement. Vakoff graduated from high school in Arvada in 2012.
“This is a tragic loss to this community, to this department, but most significantly to his family and loved ones,” Police Chief Link Strate said on Sunday. “His service and sacrifice will never be forgotten.”