Reporting Nick Janes
GALT (CBS13) – A 35-year-old Galt police officer was fatally shot Tuesday morning during a confrontation with a man he was questioning in connection to a nearby burglary. That man shot the officer then shot and killed himself.
The Sacramento County Coroner’s Office identified the man Wednesday as Humphrey Kenneth Gascon, 30, of Galt.
The incident happened at around 11:30 a.m. in the 200 block of F Street of Galt. Officer Kevin Tonn was called out to an apartment where a man had burglarized an apartment. When Officer Tonn questioned a man walking on the railroad tracks nearby, they struggled and Tonn was shot, said a witness who watched the incident from his home about 100 feet way.
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Sacramento County Sheriff’ Department spokesman Sgt. Jason Ramos says investigators have identified the suspect in the burglary and it is not the man who shot Tonn. He says Gascon just happened to be in the area at the time of the investigation.
“As it turns out, it appears that unfortunately, this guy just happened to be a bad guy with a gun who was in the area, and his path crossed with that of Officer Tonn during the course of Galt PD’s investigation,” Ramos said in a press release Wednesday morning.
The witness said he heard shots and saw the officer fall.
“I witnessed the officer struggling with the suspect … and I heard two, three shots fired,” Don Schmidt said.
Tonn was transported to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
After firing at the second officer, Gascon turned the gun on himself. He died from a single self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, Galt police Lt. Jim Uptegrove said in a Tuesday afternoon press conference.
It appeared to witnesses like Schmidt that the second officer, responding as backup, shot the suspect as he tried to escape.
“Second (officer) came up, I believe with a rifle, as the subject’s running away and shot him,” he said.
But deputies say evidence indicates neither Galt officer fired a single shot.
“It’s easy to Monday morning quarterback and think the initial reaction would be to draw your weapon and fire, but the initial reaction might be to place yourself in a position of cover,” Ramos said.
The sheriff’s department is handling the investigation the shooting.
Tonn had been with the department three and a half years. He joined the force in September 2009 after graduating from the Sacramento County Sheriff’s academy. He previously worked in New York state as a firefighter and paramedic. Prior to that, he served in the military as a police officer.
With the Galt department, he was a canine officer working with a German shepherd named Yaro.
Yaro was not injured in Tuesday’s incident, Uptegrove said.
Tonn graduated from Roseville High School in 1995. He was not married and didn’t have children. His parents were at his side at the hospital, Uptegrove said.
Tonn was “a very well-respected, very proactive member of our department,” Uptegrove said. “Everybody in town knew him and he knew everybody in town.”
It’s a big loss for a small department that will now get help from law enforcement agencies all over.
“Anything they need from covering calls for service or assisting them in any way we can in this terrible tragedy, we’re going to be here for them, anything we can do,” said sheriff’s Sgt. Jason Ramos.
Tonn is the first officer in the history of the department to be shot to death in the line of duty.
“We all know each other,” Mayor Marylou Powers said. “We know all our policemen and they’re a great group of guys. It’s very hard for us right now.”
Galt’s City Council meeting Tuesday night was cancelled.
The shooting comes less than two months after an animal control officer was shot and killed after being called to retrieve pets believed to have been left behind at a Galt home.
In that incident, authorities say 45-year-old Roy Marcum was killed when a man inside the home who had been served an eviction notice opened fire with a shotgun.
Officer Tonn is survived by his parents, Will Tonn and Mary Ann Tonn of Lincoln, and his sister, Julie Carnesi of Roseville.
In honor of Tonn, Capitol flags were being flown at half-staff.
A trust fund has been set up in Tonn’s name at Premier West Bank, 9340 East Stockton Blvd., Elk Grove, CA 95624. The account number is 82804382.