A memorial fund has been established for Officer Gus Vegas’s family through the Richmond Police Officers Association: Mechanics Bank, Account #041305213, Routing #121102036.
Police and neighbors were in shock after an off-duty Richmond police officer was fatally shot during a domestic dispute at his Vallejo home early Thursday.
Speaking at a news conference, Vallejo Police Lt. Jeff Bassett said Richmond Police Officer Augustine "Gus" Vegas, 58, was shot "multiple times" around 4:39 a.m. at his home in the Glen Cove subdivision. The suspect fled, taking along his 6-year-old son. Bassett said officers soon caught up with him and arrested him. The child was not hurt and taken into protective custody, Bassett said.
The suspect was identified as Robert Vega, 30, of Fairfield, who is also Vegas' daughter's boyfriend. Vega - who has a similar spelling to the officer - was arrested in connection with the death and is being held at the Solano County Jail.
Vega also has ties to law enforcement and graduated from the Napa Valley College Police Academy in 2011. The academy is the same one Vegas graduated from in 1990.
Sources tell NBC Bay Area that Vegas heard a commotion in his daughter's upstairs bedroom. When he opened the door he was shot several times and died instantly, sources said.
A neighbor who did not want to provide her name said she heard yelling around 4:30 a.m., then banging and a gunshot.
Sources also said Vegas was not armed and that his service revolver was secure in another part of the home. His wife escaped through an upstairs window and ran to a neighbor's home for help.
Richmond Mayor Tom Butt called it a "senseless killing of a respected officer." Vegas was a 15-year member of the police department. The department Thursday flew a flag at half staff in memory of Vegas.
Allwyn Brown, the new Richmond police chief, said the death has left officers "stunned and saddened."
"Gus was very likeable, pleasant," Brown said. "I never saw him have a bad day. He was a beloved member of our team. This is a huge blow for us."
Ironically, Vegas was a consummate professional in dealing with victims of homicides, said longtime colleague Capt. Mark Gagan, who broke down into tears while describing his friend.
"He had this absolute effervescent and bubbly personality, especially when talking about his family, the work he did in his community, but also Richmond," Gagan said.
Gagan said Vegas also dearly loved his family; his desk is cluttered with an array of family photos. "I know he died trying to protect his daughter, " Gagan said, addding that that his slain friend probably tried to help the suspect during the violent encouter as well.
Neighbors said the officer had lived in the neighborhood with his wife, children and extended family for about eight years.
"He is as a genuine a good human being as you are ever going to find," neighbor Rob Chaloult said. "He loved his family and he enjoyed what he did for a living."
Longtime family friend Renee McCrary showed up at the Vegas home on Thursday in shock. She has known Vegas and his wife for 20 years after meeting them at church. She called them "wonderful" pillars of the community. She said they have several biological children of their own, and have raised foster children over the years as well, too.
Vegas' wife, Sandra, founded Foster Greatness, a nonprofit in Vallejo.
Vallejo police during the response and investigation cordoned off Narragansett Court in the Glen Cove neighborhood, preventing anyone from entering the area. NBC Bay Area's chopper flew over the neighborhood about 9:30 a.m., showing several police cars surrounding a residential block of homes.
"There's a lot of harm that's been done by this act," Gagan said. "I think we need to understand why it happened, and what needs to happen to prevent these things from happening again."
Vegas leaves behind his wife, 10 children and 20 grandchildren.