Augustine “Gus” Vegas, a 15- year veteran of the Richmond Police Department, was killed early Thursday morning in a violent crime, something he had dedicated his career to preventing. According to the Contra Costa Times, Vallejo police say the alleged suspect in his killing is the father of one of his 20 grandchildren, a member of his family, the thing he cared about the most.
Vegas was shot and killed in his Vallejo home while off duty early Thursday morning. Fairfield police have arrested Robert Vega, 30, the father of Vegas’ 6-year-old grandson, in connection with the crime. According to news reports, Fairfield police arrested Vega later on Thursday. He surrendered peacefully from his parked car, and was with his son at the time of his arrest. Vega is awaiting charges, and Richmond police say that no details have emerged on a motive for the shooting.
Vegas’ colleagues are grieving a man who they say was utterly devoted to his family. He and his wife, Sandra, raised 10 children, some of whom were adopted. Vegas and his wife also ran a local non-profit organization called Fostering Greatness, which provides mentoring and clothing to foster youth.
Richmond Police Captain Mark Gagan said that Vegas’ work with foster children is “a testament to his generous and loving heart.”
Gagan said the qualities that made Vegas a respected colleague also made him an effective police officer and detective. “Gus had a true talent for connecting with people which was evident by his success as a patrol officer and detective. He was more than capable at solving crimes, but his true strength was offering empathy and closure for the victim’s family,” Gagan wrote in an emailed statement.
Vegas, a Bay Area native, joined the Richmond Police Department in 2001. He had already had another career involving safety as an operator at a refinery in Martinez, where he was a rescue team member and auxiliary firefighter.
In 1990, Vegas graduated from a police academy class at Napa Valley College’s Criminal Justice Training Center. Robert Vega also graduated from the same program in 2011.
Within the Richmond Police Department, Vegas worked as a patrol officer, property detective and eventually secured the elite position of homicide detective. At the time of his death, he was working in the regulatory unit, enforcing city codes and working closely with the City Attorney’s Office.
Captain Bisa French said that Vegas’ experience and genuine, positive nature allowed him to serve as a mentor and sometimes father figure for younger police officers. “He was just a genuinely nice person and a big-time family man. We’re all shocked,” French said.
Members of the police force gathered in the hospital on Thursday with Vegas’ family and comforted one another. Police officers provided an escort for Vegas’ body to the Solano County coroner’s office.
“These times make us very sad, but also very proud the way we come together to support one another within our own department,” French said. She added that the department had received several calls offering condolences from Bay Area police chiefs and that the California State Assembly will close business today to honor Vegas.
“When someone dies, it’s always tragic, but it’s especially hard because we spend our careers fighting against this, trying to protect people,” French said. “He spent his career doing that, so to die in this manner is very difficult for us to swallow.”
French remembered Vegas as slightly quirky and a lover of new technology, which she said was uncommon amongst older members of the force. She recalls that when Bluetooth telephone earpieces came out, Vegas got one immediately and could be seen—and heard—constantly walking around the office with one in his ear, talking to his family.
Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified Solano County as San Pablo County. We apologize for the error.