The image of Stanislaus County sheriff's Deputy Dennis Wallace on a sign at the Hughson soccer fields was quickly removed after being vandalized Thursday.
It was hard for his family members to see, and they didn't want others to see it, said Amanda Young, who helped spearhead the effort to rename the soccer complex in his honor.
"They burned parts of his face, his badge and patch," Young posted on Facebook on Thursday night. She added in a phone call Friday morning, "It seems not only very personal, but also directed at police officers."
The sign bearing Wallace's name and photograph was revealed in an opening-day ceremony for the soccer season on Sept. 9.
"We will work hard to find the individual responsible for this horrible act and will have a reward soon for information leading to the arrest," Young wrote on Facebook. "The sign will be repaired ASAP."
She said Friday that when she called the company that created the sign to request a new photograph, she was told it would be replaced free of charge because of the nature of what happened.
The Hughson United Soccer League posted on Facebook that the vandalism occurred sometime between 2:30 and 5 p.m. Thursday. "The sheriff’s office (Hughson Police Services) is working on identifying those responsible. Anyone with any information is encouraged to contact the sheriff’s office (at) 883-4052 immediately. If you were out practicing and noticed any unusual activity by the sign, please make that call."
The time frame was established because a crew was working until about 2:30 p.m. on the memorial wall being built at the Hughson Sports & Fitness Complex at Andrew Fontana Memorial Park, of which the soccer fields are part. Then soccer players and coaches began arriving for practice at about 5.
The burned photograph of Wallace was printed on vinyl, Young said. "It took some time for them to stand there and hold the lighter to burn it," she said of the vandal or vandals, "so hopefully someone saw something."
She said she hopes the vandal turns out to be someone from out of the area who doesn't realize how much Wallace meant to the community. "There are other teams that use the fields, from other communities," she said. "It would be really heartbreaking if it turns out to be somebody from Hughson, because this community has rallied around the Wallace family so much.
"This doesn't represent Hughson as a community, which has worked hard to keep his legacy alive."
A longtime Hughson resident, Wallace helped found and run the soccer league there and was involved in many other youth sports, including refereeing high school football.
"To see this is pretty shocking and disturbing," Young said of the vandalism.
Information on the incident also may be called into Crime Stoppers at 209-521-4636. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward. Tipsters may also text information to Crime Stoppers at 274637 - just type "TIP704" along with the message.
Wallace was killed in the line of duty in November 2016. He was shot as he investigated after spotting a stolen van at the Fox Grove Fishing Access near Hughson.