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Colorado police officer shot and killed on duty; suspect in custody

The 27-year-old officer was responding to a large family disturbance outside Denver early Sunday, Arvada police said.
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A 27-year-old police officer was killed Sunday morning outside Denver, the police department said.

Arvada Police Officer Dillon Michael Vakoff was responding to a large family disturbance with another officer early Sunday, police said.

The officers arrived at a chaotic scene with several people in the street, Police Chief Link Strate said at a news conference Sunday. Police were called about the disturbance at about 1:45 a.m., NBC affiliate KUSA of Denver reported.

Officers tried to separate several people who were "belligerent" when someone shot a female, Strate said.

Arvada Police officer Dillon Michael Vakoff.
Arvada Police officer Dillon Michael Vakoff.Arvada Police Dept.

The officers and the shooter then exchanged gunfire, and the shooter struck Vakoff, killing him. The second officer tried to aid Vakoff, but he was pronounced dead at the hospital.

“Dillon is an example of everything that is good about a police officer," Strate said, adding that he had been with the police department since 2019 and was training to become a SWAT officer. Before he joined the department, Vakoff was a staff sergeant in the Air Force for six years, the police department said on Facebook.

A suspect, who was also shot in the gunfire exchange, is expected to survive and is in police custody. There is no threat to the community, police tweeted.

The female victim, who was taken to a hospital, is also expected to survive. It's unclear what her involvement in the incident was, Strate said.

A criminal investigation into Vakoff’s death continues, Strate added.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement that his office "will continue to monitor this situation."

“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," he said.