Deputy Sheriff Jose Antonio “Tony” Diaz
On Sunday, June15th 2008, at approximately seven in the evening the Davis Police Department put out a ‘be on the lookout’ for Marco Topete who was reported to be driving under the influence with a child in the vehicle. At approximately nine-thirty that night Deputy Jose Antonio Diaz located the vehicle and attempted to stop it, but it failed to yield. Deputy Diaz pursued the vehicle into the town of Dunnigan, where it stopped on County Road 5 near County Road 99W in Dunnigan. After the stop was made Deputy Diaz called for emergency backup reporting he had been shot. Marco Antonio Topete, age 35 of Arbuckle, fled on foot. A short time later backup deputies, fire units, and AMR arrived on scene.
Deputy Diaz was transported to Woodland Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead at ten fifty-five Sunday, June 15th 2008. Cause of death was a single gunshot wound of the left chest as determined by a forensic autopsy.
A massive search was conducted by the Sheriff’s Office with the assistance of numerous law enforcement agencies. At approximately eight a.m. on June 18th Topete was found by the Yolo County SWAT team near County Road 88 and County Road 4. He was arrested without incident and charged with first degree murder. Topete was convicted and sentenced to death for Tony Diaz’s murder.
Deputy Jose Antonio “Tony” Diaz, age 37, was sworn in as a Yolo County Deputy Sheriff on August 23, 2004. He had worked for the Yolo County Information Technology Department for several years prior to his appointment as Deputy Sheriff. Deputy Diaz was a Woodland resident and the father of three girls, ages two, four, and sixteen.
5 years after Deputy Diaz’s death the Dunnigan rest area on Interstate 5 was dedicated to the slain Yolo County Sheriff’s Deputy. Two signs were put up renaming the rest area “Deputy Tony Diaz, Yolo County Sheriff’s Office, Memorial Rest Area.” The public and citizens of the Dunnigan area now have a memorial to remind them of the sacrifice that Deputy Diaz gave while doing something he loved – protecting the community.
Deputy Sheriff Walter J. Leinberger
On November 18, 1943, Deputy Sheriff Walter J. Leinberger, a popular deputy in the Broderick area (now known as West Sacramento) was shot to death outside a Bryte cabin where he had gone to arrest a man for burglary.
Deputy Leinberger, accompanied by his wife Zetta, was attempting to arrest 38 year old Luis “Ironmouth” Balle, when Balle burst out of the cabin firing his pistol, slaying Deputy Leinberger as his wife watched. Mrs. Leinberger, who had never fired a gun before, took her husband’s weapon and fired six times at the gunman. She thought she missed him, as he was able to escape, but it was later discovered that she wounded him twice in the arm.
In less than twenty-four hours, authorities caught up with Balle in a Sacramento alley. During a shoot out with the lawmen, Balle sustained bullet wounds that later proved fatal.
Ralph W. Bonnetti, then a Folsom Prison guard and a close friend of the slain deputy, was among the officers who finally caught up with Balle. Bonnetti was later hired as a deputy by Yolo County Sheriff Forrest Monroe, and in 1952 was elected judge of the Washington Judicial District Court in Eastern Yolo County
Deputy Leinberger’s son William, who was eleven years old at the time of his father’s death, joined the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office in September 1956 and retired as a sergeant in 1984.
In November 1991, county law enforcement officials gathered to dedicate the Sheriff’s new $3.5 million minimum-security center to the memory of Walter J. Leinberger.