Dillon Vakoff, slain Arvada police officer, “died a warrior’s death”


Arvada police Officer Dillon Vakoff. (Provided by Arvada Police Department)
Arvada police Officer Dillon Vakoff. (Provided by Arvada Police Department)

When a man’s tent with all his belonging caught on fire in Arvada on a cold night last year, Officer Dillon Vakoff arrived first on scene, grabbed two fire extinguishers and sprinted across the park toward the flames.

It was typical of his exuberance for his work, Officer Joe Galvez said Friday at Vakoff’s funeral. His fellow patrol officers didn’t even know where he found the second fire extinguisher — their patrol cars only have one. Vakoff was often the first officer on scene and never hesitated to take a call, even at the end of his night shift.

“If someone you loved was in trouble, it was Dillon you would want to respond,” Arvada police Chief Link Strate said.

Hundreds attended Vakoff’s funeral Friday at Flatirons Community Church in Lafayette, where friends and family described Vakoff as focused, ambitious and fiercely optimistic.

Vakoff was killed while trying to break up a family disturbance around 1:41 a.m. Sunday. A man shot a woman at the disturbance and Vakoff and another officer returned fire, police previously said. The suspect then shot Vakoff, who died surrounded by the officers on his team. He was 27.

“He went down fighting to protect those he loved and those he didn’t know,” Galvez said. “He died a warrior’s death.”

Vakoff is the second Colorado peace officer killed this year and the second Arvada police officer to be killed in the line of duty in the last two years. Arvada police Officer Gordon Beesley, 51, was ambushed and killed on June 21, 2021.

Vakoff was an avid gym goer with a goofy penchant for wearing too-short shorts, his friend and co-workers said. He was also a natural leader with a lifelong desire to help people. His favorite Bible verse was tattooed on his arm: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

“He was a man serious about his purpose in life,” Arvada police Lt. Paul Carroll said.

Vakoff served six years in the U.S. Air Force, rising to the rank of staff sergeant, before returning to his hometown and joining the Arvada Police Department in 2019. He was in training to be a SWAT officer.

“He had so much more to do and so much more to accomplish,” Strate said.


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