March 26, 2013

Modesto police identify officers involved in fatal shooting

Modesto Police today released the identities of the officers involved in the shooting on Evona Court that left an 87-year-old man dead after he took his wife hostage and held her for hours. Sgt. Rigo DeAlba, a 13 year veteran and Detective Gary Guffey, a 17 year veteran were involved in the shooting.

Modesto police on Tuesday identified the officers involved in the fatal shooting of an 87-year-old man who held his wife hostage and pointed a gun at officers last week.

Sgt. Rigo DeAlba, a 13-year veteran, and Detective Gary Guffey, a 17-year veteran, fired at Howard Tungseth when they entered his home after an 11-hour standoff that ended before sunrise Thursday on Evona Court.

The Modesto police SWAT team responded to the home near Carver Road and Mount Vernon Drive on Wednesday evening after officers responded to a domestic violence call. Howard Tungseth had a handgun and would not let his wife leave, according to police.

DeAlba and Guffey were part of the SWAT team that entered the home just after 4 a.m. and shot Tungseth when he pointed a gun at them, according to Sgt. Rick Applegate. He would not say whether Tungseth fired at officers.

Police were dispatched after a 911 caller said a man had assaulted his wife. Applegate would not say who called police or what injuries Tungseth's wife, also 87, sustained. She has since been released from the hospital.

One of the couple's sons said Tuesday that the family did not want to comment about the incident because his father was a very private person.

DeAlba and Guffey have previously been involved in on-duty shootings.

DeAlba, then an officer, shot and wounded a man in 2004 who pointed a .45-caliber handgun at him after a foot chase at the Quality Inn on West Orangeburg Avenue. DeAlba had responded to the motel after reports that the suspect was storing stolen property in one of the rooms.

In 1999, Guffey and another officer exchanged gunfire with an auto theft suspect near Doctors Medical Center. Guffey and his partner cornered the man near a locked entrance of the hospital and he responded by turning the gun on himself. The suspect shot himself in the temple, was blinded but survived, and was sentenced to 33 years in prison.

Three separate and independent investigations have been launched into Thursday's incident, which is standard protocol for any officer-involved shooting investigation in Stanislaus County.

The Modesto Police Department will conduct a criminal investigation into the incident, the Stanislaus County district attorney's office will conduct an independent criminal review of the shooting and the officers' actions, and the Police Department's Internal Affairs Unit will conduct an administrative investigation into the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at etracy@modbee.com or (209) 578-2366. Follow her on Twitter, @ModestoBeeCrime

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