Vallejo cop shot, killed during suspect pursuit

November 18, 2011 7:43:34 AM PST
Thursday a 19-year veteran of the Vallejo Police Department was gunned down in the line of duty. James Capoot was a father, husband and coach. He was shot and killed while chasing down a bank robbery suspect.

One man is in custody, but the search continues for a possible second suspect. Neighbors are being warned to keep their doors locked. It all began with a bank robbery at a Bank of America and ended four miles away on Janice Street, where one of robbers started shooting.

A steady stream of mourners has made its way to the Vallejo Police Department. At the main entrance people have dropped off flowers, cards and candles in honor of Officer Capoot.

A swarm of officers converged on a Vallejo neighborhood and went door-to-door after reports that one of their own was gunned down.

"Well I just heard all the sirens and then I heard a couple of shots," said neighbor Betty Clarke.

Vallejo police say it all began at the Bank Of America on Springs Road, where a robbery took place Thursday afternoon. Capoot spotted the suspect's getaway car on his way to the bank and began following it.

"The person that was driving the vehicle hit a car in front of me, it was my sister's car and they were going down Redwood Street, towards I-80," said witness Chris Adams.

The car chase ended four miles away on the 100 block of Janice Street when Capoot forced the suspect's SUV to spin out. The suspect then got out of the vehicle and ran. Capoot chased after him.

"I heard a couple of shots and I heard a crash, and went outside and I saw this guy running, but one of the guys running I found out was a policeman," said Clarke.

"Officers who were arriving moments later heard several shots fired. They discovered our officer down in the backyard and he was mortally wounded," said Vallejo Police Sgt. Jeff Bassett.

Police soon arrested the suspect, but officers from neighboring law enforcement agencies helped to look for a possible second. They busted down doors, fences and sheds during their search. The search was called off overnight. Many who live in the Vallejo neighborhood took the news of the officer's death hard. They say Capoot was a good guy.

"He was fair you know and I believe you know God is going to give him a pass 'cause you shouldn't go out that way after serving your community this long in your career," said Vallejo resident Mario Gray.

"We're a small police department now and we're a tight family. And so there's nobody at the police department that isn't deeply affected by this," said Bassett.

Police have not yet released the identity of the suspect they have in custody. As for Capoot, he was wearing body armor at the time of the shooting.

A gun was recovered on the 100 block of Janice Street. Several cars in the vicinity of the crash and shooting were damaged. The last time a Vallejo police officer was killed in the line of duty was in 2000 when Officer Jeffrey Azuar was killed while serving a warrant.

Community devastated by loss of Vallejo officer

Capoot was much loved by his fellow officers, on the Vallejo High School campus, and in the community. He was a Vallejo High girls basketball coach, but many students remember him from the 5th grade when he taught students how to be crossing guards.

When word spread that Capoot had been killed, fellow officers and friends came to Kaiser Vallejo to be by his side. They comforted one another and watched silently as his body, draped in an American flag, was taken away. There was a full procession to honor the former marine who also worked for the CHP for a few years.

Over his 19 years with Vallejo police he earned two medals of courage, two life saving medals and several other commendations. It was recognition those who knew him say he deserved.

"I'm just going to miss him protecting me from everybody, just always being there for me whenever I needed him," said Brittany Fitz, a high school junior and cheerleader. She knew him personally. "He was there when I was born and I grew up with him. When I was little, I remember going to the races in Antioch because he used to race cars. I remember going in my stroller and going to see him and everything."

Fitz's mother called her before practice and told her what happened.

"It was just shocking like I didn't believe it at first," said Fitz.

Fellow high school coach Nicholas Duenas found out at the barbershop.

"I was getting my hair cut and my barber was like, 'Oh, did you hear about the officer that died?' and I was like, 'Yeah, Officer Capoot, he was my safety patrol teacher when I was in 5th grade," said Duenas. "From what I remember he was a really good teacher."

He was a teacher, a coach, an officer, and a husband and father with three kids and apparently room for more.

"He had daughters and then recently two of his friends had passed away and he adopted their kids," said Fitz.

He opened his heart and his home to those who he loved.


Load Comments