Unsealed affidavit provides account of Arvada Police Officer Dillon Vakoff’s murder

Suspect Sonny Almanza provides account of domestic dispute that led to Vakoff’s murder

Rylee Dunn
rdunn@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 10/3/22

An affidavit filed by Arvada Police Detective Julie Glynn regarding the events of Sept. 11 that led to Officer Dillon Vakoff’s murder was unsealed on Sept. 26, shedding light on the events led …

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Unsealed affidavit provides account of Arvada Police Officer Dillon Vakoff’s murder

Suspect Sonny Almanza provides account of domestic dispute that led to Vakoff’s murder

Posted

An affidavit filed by Arvada Police Detective Julie Glynn regarding the events of Sept. 11 that led to Officer Dillon Vakoff’s murder was unsealed on Sept. 26, shedding light on the events led to Vakoff’s death and the gunshot injuries of Mercedes Lopez and suspect Sonny Almanza, who is in custody.

The affidavit describes a contentious custody dispute that led to a fight which escalated into exchanges of gunfire.

According to the affidavit, at about 1:45 a.m., Officers D. Garibay and Dillon Vakoff were dispatched to 6753 West 51st Avenue in Arvada on a report of a disturbance over the custody of two children.

Destiny Medlock — Sonny Almanza’s sister — contacted APD for assistance because the mother of the children, Lexis “Lexie” Lopez was on her way to the location to take the children back and Medlock suspected that Lopez was intoxicated. 

Officers Vakoff and Garibay arrived on scene and contacted Lopez, who was explaining what was going on to the officers when another vehicle arrived. 

After that vehicle arrived, a fight broke out in the apartment’s parking lot. During the fight, Sonny Almanza retrieved a rifle and came out to the parking lot. Almanza fired a round from the rifle which struck Mercedes Lopez — Lexie Lopez’s sister — in the leg. During the gunfire, Vakoff was fatally shot, according to the arrest affiddavit. 

Almanza was also injured and transported to Denver Health Medical Center, while Mercedes Lopez was transported to St. Anthony Hospital. 

According to Glynn, Officer Garibay’s body camera footage shows that prior to the physical fight, Lexie Lopez asked officers to ask Medlock about guns in her possession and said “they” pulled an AR-15 on her mother. 

After the shooting, Garibay located Almanza on the ground with gunshot wounds. 

Later on, at Denver Health Medical Center, Almanza was interviewed by two Arvada police detectives after being advised of his Miranda Rights. 

Almanza said he lives at 6753 West 51st Ave. and recently separated from Lexie Lopez, with whom he has two children. Lopez and Almanza do not have a court issued custody agreement, but exchange custody mutually. On the evening of Sept. 10, Lopez had the children with her. 

Earlier in the morning hours of Sept. 11, Almanza stated that he was in downtown Denver with Medlock and her husband Jacob Marrujo, where Almanza consumed two shots of alcohol. While out, he learned that Lexie Lopez was not with their children and reportedly left them in the care of another family member. 

Almanza, Medlock and Marrujo then drove to Lopez’s mother’s house in Thornton, where Almanza reportedly found his children in the care of juveniles related to Lopez. Almanza retrieved the children and brought them to 6753 W. 51st Ave. with Medlock driving. 

Almanza reported that he received “threatening messages” from Lopez indicating that she and her family members were on the way to Arvada with the intent of retrieving the children and beginning an altercation with Almanza. 

Before they arrived, Medlock called Jeffcom Dispatch to request officers to assist. Before Medlock was contacted by responding officers, Marrujo received a security notification indicating the door to his residence — also located at 6753 W. 51st Ave., in the unit next to Almanza’s — had been opened. 

As Medlock approached the apartment, Almanza said he observed several vehicles belonging to Lopez’s family and associates parked on the street near 6753 W. 51st Ave., as well as Lopez’s brother Jerry and sister Mercedes. The Lopez’s approached Medlock’s vehicle as it came to a stop in the street. 

Almanza stated that Marrujo was attacked by the Lopez family after he exited the vehicle, at which point Almanza allegedly tried to intervene. Almanza told detectives he had reason to believe Lopez’s family were armed. 

After being involved in the fight for a few seconds, Almanza allegedly went into his apartment and retrieved an AR-15 assault rifle, which he reportedly kept in his kitchen closet. 

Almanza reportedly fired a shot into the air, at which time Mercedes Lopez ran towards him. When she was about 10 feet from Almanza, he fired a single shot at her, at which point she began screaming and fell to the ground. 

Almanza continued walking towards the fight, unaware that officers were on the scene. As he approached, Almanza was shot in the hip, pointed the rifle in the direction of the shot, and fired one round. 

Officer Dillon Vakoff had been shot and fell to the ground. Realizing he shot an officer; Almanza allegedly ran to his backyard and threw the rifle away. 

When he returned to the front of the apartment, Almanza was taken into custody by another officer. Officer Vakoff was fatally shot in the head and leg. 

The investigation into the events of Sept. 11 is ongoing. Almanza has been charged with multiple felonies, including three counts of Murder in the First Degree for Vakoff’s death. Almanza is scheduled to appear in court for the second time on Oct. 7.

arvada shooting, julie glynn, sonny almanza, dillon vakoff, arvada police

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