VALLEJO (CBS SF) – Vallejo police said Friday morning only one suspect robbed a Bank of America and fatally shot Officer Jim Capoot after a vehicle and foot pursuit Thursday.
At a news conference at police headquarters Friday, police spokesman Sgt. Jeff Bassett identified the suspect as 37-year-old Henry Albert Smith Jr., of Fairfield.
Smith was being held at the Solano County Jail in Fairfield. He will face charges of bank robbery and murder, police said at a news conference Friday.
Capoot, 45, a 19-year veteran of the Police Department, had responded to reports of a robbery at the Bank of America on Springs Road around 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
Smith allegedly fled in a silver GMC Denali and was pursued by Capoot. The pursuit ended a few miles away in the 100 block of Janice Street when Capoot used his patrol car to force the SUV to spin out, then chased Smith on foot when he ran into a residential neighborhood, Bassett said.
Capoot and Smith were about 10 to 12 feet apart when Smith allegedly fired two or three shots, according to Bassett.
Capoot, who was wearing body armor, suffered one mortal wound in the back, Bassett said.
Smith was in possession of a handgun when he was arrested moments after the shooting, Bassett said. He did not disclose the caliber of the gun.
Bassett said Capoot did not fire his weapon during the pursuit, but he believes another officer used his Taser to arrest Smith, who was trying to break into a nearby home.
Some Vallejo police officers are equipped with a palm-sized Vievu camera. Capoot’s camera captured the vehicle pursuit and the maneuver that he used to disable Smith’s SUV.
Officers also wear the camera on the front of their uniform, but Capoot left it in the patrol car so the foot pursuit and shooting were not recorded, Bassett said.
A surveillance camera in the bank also recorded the robbery, he said.
Police initially believed two men were in the SUV that fled the bank but investigators confirmed later Thursday that Smith was by himself, Bassett said.
“These situations are fast-moving, and sometimes information gets relayed or perceived wrong,” he said. “We wanted to make sure there wasn’t a second suspect before assuming there wasn’t one, and we did that last night.”
Bassett did not say whether Smith has a criminal record, but said bank robberies are typically not a criminal’s first offense.
A citizen had pointed out the getaway car to Capoot after Smith fled the bank, Bassett said. “That’s how he keyed in on the vehicle,” he said.
Smith was wearing a Halloween mask during the robbery and shed some of his clothing before the arrest, Bassett said.
There are no plans yet for a funeral service for Capoot, Bassett said. Information about a fund for his family may be released later Friday.
Capoot leaves behind a wife and three daughters.
“Nobody’s hurting more than them right now,” Bassett said.
He said Capoot had also built an addition to his Vacaville home to accommodate two teens whose parents died in a motorcycle crash.
Capoot, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps and the California Highway Patrol before becoming a Vallejo police officer in 1992, also coached girls basketball at Vallejo High School.
A memorial was growing Friday at the entrance to the Police Department’s headquarters at 111 Amador St., where community members had placed candles, balloons and more than three dozen bouquets.
A signed Vallejo High basketball jersey and a card were left by Allessandra Jefferson, a former player Capoot had coached.
“Words can’t express how much you mean to me and this community,” Jefferson wrote. “You will always be remembered in my family.”
Police Sgt. Sid DeJesus said Capoot, who chose to patrol the Country Club Crest area of Vallejo, came to work everyday and always had a smile on his face.
“He was highly regarded in the department and the community,” DeJesus said. “He will be remembered as a true American hero.”
He said Capoot “was very happy and full of life. He set the standard for everyone in the department to follow. He liked what he did and he enjoyed his life and his family.”
Police hung a black banner on the side of the police station. It reads, “You will be greatly missed Officer Jim Capoot.”
The Vallejo Police Officer’s Association has established a memorial fund for the family of Capoot.
The trust fund for Capoot’s wife and three daughters has been established at the Bank of the West in Vallejo. Donations can be sent to: Officer James Capoot Family Trust, C/O Vallejo Police Officer’s Association (Sgt. Mark Nicol), P.O. Box 4218, Vallejo, CA. 94590. For more information call (707) 644-3913.
Bassett said expressions of concern, positive comments and generous offers of help have been “overwhelming and very deeply appreciated.”
The investigation is continuing, and anyone who witnessed the bank robbery, subsequent vehicle and foot pursuit of the suspect or the fatal shooting is asked to contact Vallejo police.
Information can be provided 24 hours a day at (800) 488-9383 or to Solano Crime Stoppers at (707) 644-STOP, an anonymous tip line that offers rewards for phone tips that solve violent or serious crimes in the Vallejo area.
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