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BART sergeant fatally wounded by colleague was 23-year department vet

Investigation into accidental shooting in Dublin could last weeks, authorities say

BART's police chief Wednesday remembered a sergeant who died after being shot by a colleague on Tuesday as a "great detective, husband, father and friend who touched many lives."

Sgt. Tom "Tommy" Smith was a 23-year veteran of the department. His wife, Kellie, heads the BART Police Department's K-9 unit, and the two have a 6-year-old daughter.

"Professionally and personally, he will be greatly missed," Chief Kenton Rainey said at a news conference at BART headquarters in Oakland Wednesday morning.

Kellie Gaffey Manzone, a San Ramon resident and longtime friend of Smith's, described him Wednesday afternoon as "wonderful, loving, full of life and a great friend."

She said Smith had a tight-knit group of friends at Hayward, and that he and his family were very involved at the school.

In a statement Wednesday, school officials said Smith graduated in 1989, and called his death "tragic."

Dani Lorta, director of alumni relations at the school was Smith's classmate.

"Tommy was a leader in our community," Lorta said. "He was someone who was as committed to his career as he was to his friends and family. We are reeling from the loss and are staying in close contact to support the many people whose lives he touched so deeply."

The shooting happened just before 2 p.m. at the Park Sierra Apartments at 6450 Dougherty Road in Dublin. Smith was taken to Eden Medical Center, where he died a short time later.

Smith and other officers were conducting a probation search at the one-bedroom apartment of 20-year-old John Henry Lee, who was arrested last Thursday after an early-morning car chase that began in San Leandro and ended in Oakland.

Police said Lee was driving a Honda Accord that had been stolen from the Hayward BART station the previous day.

Lee was still in custody when officers arrived at his apartment on Tuesday for the probation search, and the officers knew he wasn't there, Rainey said. There were two BART officers in uniform, five plainclothes BART officers -- including Smith -- and an Alameda County sheriff's deputy, Rainey said.

The door to the apartment was unlocked, which may have led the officers to believe there was someone else inside, Alameda County sheriff's Sgt. J.D. Nelson said at Wednesday's news conference.

Rainey declined to go into specifics about how the shooting happened, including whether the officers had their guns drawn, but did say that in general, officer do sometimes have their guns drawn when doing probation searches because "you never know what's on the other side of the door."

He said the officers were looking for a stolen laptop, a laptop bag and other related items that they believe Lee may have stolen.

Police said in a court document that the items were taken from a victim in an armed robbery that occurred in the parking lot of the Fruitvale station the morning of Jan. 15. The alleged robber, Lee, used the stolen Honda Accord in the robbery, police said.

Rainey said officers who conduct probation searches like Tuesday's typically wear bulletproof vests, but he did not confirm that Smith was wearing one when he was shot.

He also declined to say whether the officers involved were wearing lapel cameras. He said that under the BART Police Department's policy, lapel cameras are mandatory for uniformed officers and optional for plainclothes officers.

The Alameda County Sheriff's Office is leading the investigation into the shooting, and the Alameda County District Attorney's Office and the BART police internal affairs unit are participating.

Nelson said the investigation is expected to take at least several weeks. "The nuts and bolts of the investigation won't come out today," he said.

Nelson said investigators are still looking into the details of what happened, including how many shots were fired. "We have a lot of work to do to put it together," he said.

Rainey said he won't release the name of the officer who shot Smith until next week. "We want to give him a chance to grieve," the chief said.

"I visited with him last night and he's extremely upset, and we want to give him time to come to grips with what happened ... I said we would get through this together," Rainey said.

Rainey confirmed that Smith has two brothers who work in law enforcement in the Bay Area, and Nelson confirmed that one of those brothers is an Alameda County sheriff's deputy.

Rainey said BART police officers receive 40 hours of safety training each year -- even more than the 24 hours of training every two years that is required by state law.

The shooting marks the first on-duty death of a BART police officer in the agency's history.

— Bay City News Service

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