SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The intense manhunt for a Northern California sheriff’s deputy — the suspect in a bizarre double-slaying in which a husband and wife were shot early Wednesday morning in their home — ended abruptly nearly 12 hours later with a phone call.
Devin Williams Jr., a deputy with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, called police shortly before noon and said he wanted to turn himself in. He’d fled 160 miles (258 kilometers) south of the crime scene in the San Francisco Bay Area to a rural, desolate spot in the Central Valley.
Officers stayed on the phone with the 24-year-old rookie — whom they had initially described as armed and dangerous — seeking a peaceful end to the manhunt that began in Dublin, California, just after the slayings were reported at 12:45 a.m.
The Dublin police chief spent 45 minutes talking the deputy through what police described as a mental health crisis and negotiating his eventual surrender to the California Highway Patrol.
“It’s a great loss for our community and it’s even more disheartening to find out that it was one of our own that was the trigger-person behind this tragic incident,” said Dublin Police Chief Garrett Holmes, who is also a commander in the sheriff’s office.
Police were called to a home in Dublin — a city in the East Bay about 35 miles (56 kilometers) from downtown San Francisco — around 12:45 a.m. The 911 caller said an intruder had come into the home brandishing a gun and shot two people before fleeing in a vehicle, Holmes said at a news conference.
Witnesses identified the gunman as Williams.
Police said Williams used his service weapon in the shooting and threw it out his car window as he fled. Detectives were still searching for the gun.
Both victims, a 42-year-old woman and a 58-year-old man whose names were not immediately released, were pronounced dead at the scene.
Williams knew the couple but investigators were still trying “to fine-tune their connection” and determine the motive, said Lt. Ray Kelly, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office.
The couple have an adolescent child who was in the home at the time of the slayings, Kelly said. Also in the home was a male relative of the couple who was visiting.
He was unhurt and was talking to detectives about what occurred, Kelly said.
“This was not a random crime,” Kelly said. This is a very bizarre chain of events that unfolded,” he added.
Kelly said Williams went through “some significant events” in his life in the last few months that led to the killings but did not specify what had happened.
“A lot of those events went undiscovered and undisclosed and we’re going to be looking into that. There’s a lot of questions that need to be answered,” he said.
The violence left the law enforcement agencies stunned. Williams had been with the sheriff’s office since September 2021 and was still on probation. He had been assigned to the Oakland courthouse and there were no concerns about his job performance. Wednesday was his one-year anniversary with the department.
“This is a tragedy. We’re all in shock here,” Kelly said.
Williams, who is from Stockton, briefly worked with the Stockton Police Department, where he completed their police academy but was ultimately let go after he failed their field training program, Kelly said.
Stockton Police spokesperson Officer Joseph Silva said he could not discuss why Williams left the department because it is a “personnel matter.” He confirmed Williams worked for the Stockton Police Department from January 2020 to January 2021.
The Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of Alameda County, the union that represents rank-and-file deputies, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.