Even before they got into their squad cars to respond to a call about a man trying desperately to break into a car, a Lindsay police sergeant and a CHP officer knew he fit the description of the suspect in the slaying of a Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputy.
The sergeant and the California Highway Patrol officer – a former Lindsay officer who had stopped by the police office Sunday – had both reviewed the “be on the lookout” notice from Stanislaus County when they heard the local dispatcher’s description of the car break-in suspect.
“A little bell went off” because the descriptions matched, Chris Hughes, Lindsay director of public safety, said Monday.
Shortly after noon, Sgt. Ryan Heinks and CHP Officer Tom Cribbs rushed to the area of Hermosa Street and Harvard Avenue near Ronald Reagan Elementary School and spotted a man who ran from them and was throwing items to the ground.
They followed him in their squad cars.
Cribbs tracked him down in an alley across the street from a convenience store and held the suspect on the ground at gunpoint until he could be handcuffed with help from Lindsay police, CHP Sgt. Daniel Giefer said.
Authorities immediately called the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department to get a more detailed description of alleged cop killer David Machado, 37. It was him, Hughes said.
Deputy Dennis Wallace, 53, was killed earlier Sunday in what Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson described as “an execution.” He had stopped to check on a suspicious van that turned out to be stolen. When a fellow deputy arrived, he found Wallace had been shot in the head and the shooter had fled.
After Machado was arrested, two Stanislaus sheriff’s officials soon arrived in Lindsay by helicopter while others from the department drove to the city famous for olives and oranges just north of Porterville.
The Tulare County Sheriff’s Department sent a crime lab truck to help process the crime scene in Lindsay, which extended several blocks between Town Market convenience store and R-N Market.
Machado was taken to Stanislaus County to face justice. Stanislaus officials said he is a resident of Keyes, an unincorporated area north of Turlock.
Hughes said Machado was not someone Lindsay police recognized as being from the area. He does not have a criminal record in Tulare County, according to a check of Superior Court records. It’s a mystery why he came to Lindsay or what route he took to get there, Hughes said.
It seemed clear, though, that he was desperate. “He was trying to get inside a vehicle,” Hughes said. “He tried twice. There were two victims.”
Earlier news report that he had nabbed someone’s purse involved Machado trying to get his hands on car keys, Hughes said.