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Murder charges filed against accused Colorado police killer

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Carol Mckinley

The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

A slew of charges were filed Monday against the 31-year-old man accused of killing Arvada Police officer Dillon Michael Vakoff. First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King charged Sonny Almanza with 11 counts in connection with the Sept. 11 death of Vakoff and the shooting of Mercedes Lopez, who was injured in the chaos that erupted that night.

Among the charges formally filed against Almanza were first-degree murder (after deliberation/with intent) of a peace officer and first-degree murder with extreme indifference in the death of Vakoff; attempted murder with extreme indifference and second-degree assault against Lopez; and possession of a weapon by a previous offender.

Lopez, who survived the shooting, was treated at the hospital and released last week.

Almanza will answer to the charges in Jefferson County Court Tuesday when the arrest affidavit is expected to be unsealed.

Vakoff, 27, who aspired to be a SWAT officer and was a seven-year Air Force veteran, was killed responding to a family disturbance at around 1:40 am two Sundays ago in the 6700th block of 51st Ave. in Arvada.

Services for Vakoff, 27, were held at the Flatirons Community Church in Lafayette Friday. During the service, Arvada Police Chief Link Strate said the three-year veteran died when he placed himself between the shooter and men, women and children.

One neighbor told The Gazette that he saw a second officer apply CPR after Vakoff was shot, but that he wasn’t responding.

“People were fighting in the screaming and there was fighting in the street,” neighbor Angelique Hernandez told The Gazette.

Officer Dillon Michael Vakoff and Sonny Thomas Almanza

Almanza had a history of criminal activity. In 2008, just days after his 17th birthday, Westminster police arrested Almanza on felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon, attempted assault with a deadly weapon, illegal discharge of a firearm, possession of a handgun by a juvenile and other counts, court records show.

He is being held without bond and a protection order has also been filed for two children.

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