ARVADA, Colo. (KDVR) — A fight involving the custody of a couple’s children is what led up to the shooting and killing of an Arvada police officer, an arrest affidavit said.

Sonny Almanza told police he learned his two children were not in their mother’s care and went to get them from where they were in Thornton in the early morning hours of Sept. 11, the affidavit said.

Almanza said he received threatening messages and calls from the children’s mother and her family after he took the children into his custody, the affidavit said.

Almanza’s sister called Jeffcom dispatch to report the threat as she was on her way home to 6753 W. 51st Ave. with her husband, Almanza and his two children. Almanza lives in a different apartment at the same address as his sister. When they arrived, the children’s mother was there with her brother and sister, the document said.

Almanza’s brother-in-law was attacked when he got out of the car, according to the affidavit, and Almanza went to his apartment and got an AR-15 he owns. Almanza allegedly told police he fired a shot in the air and when his ex’s sister heard it, she walked toward him and he shot her in the leg.

The document said Almanza was moving toward the sound of the fight in the parking lot when he heard a gunshot and realized he had been hit in the right hip. Almanza said he turned and fired at someone he saw between two parked cars nearby.

It wasn’t until after Officer Dillon Vakoff fell to the ground that Almanza realized he had shot a police officer, the affidavit said. Almanza ran and “threw the rifle away” then went back to the front of the apartment where he was taken into custody by an Arvada police officer.

Almanza said his ex’s family members continued to assault him and drag him around after he had been handcuffed.

Almanza was then taken to the hospital and appeared before a judge on Sept. 20 with these charges:

  • Murder in the first degree after deliberation/with the intent of a peace officer against Vakoff
  • Murder in the first degree after deliberation/with intent against Vakoff
  • Murder in the first degree, extreme indifference against Vakoff
  • Criminal attempt to commit murder in the first degree, after deliberation/with intent against Lopez
  • Criminal attempt to commit murder in the first degree, extreme indifference against Lopez
  • Assault in the second degree against Lopez
  • Possession of a weapon by a previous offender
  • Large-capacity magazine prohibited during crime
  • First-degree criminal trespass
  • Two counts of crime of violence

Almanza is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 7.