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Thursday, July 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Northern California cop charged in slaying of married couple

The suspect's father told police his son had been in a romantic relationship with one of the victims.

OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) — A midnight shooting at a home in a suburb east of San Francisco left a married couple dead. Now an Alameda County sheriff’s deputy has been charged in their murders.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley charged Devin Williams Jr., 24, with two counts of murder Friday morning. The investigation comes after Dublin Police Services got a 911 call Wednesday about a home intruder, and that gunshots were fired.

Police arrived at the home just after midnight and discovered a man and a woman with multiple gunshot wounds to the head and neck. They were pronounced dead at the scene. 

The sheriff's office said witnesses identified Williams as the shooter after he left the scene, and deputies caught Williams on camera running from the house and identified his license plate. Williams allegedly called Dublin Police to surrender later Wednesday, and was taken into custody by California Highway Patrol around noon in Coalinga, 147 miles from Dublin. 

Sheriff's Department spokesperson Lt. Ray Kelly said the two people killed have been identified as Maria Tran, 42, and Benison Tran, 57, both of Dublin. 

“We know there were additional people in the house,” he added. He said deputies identified Maria Tran’s brother and mother, the couple's teenage son and another relative in the house at the time of the shooting. 

“There appears there was a romantic relationship,” Kelly said, referring to documents showing detectives spoke to Williams’ father, who said his son may have been in a romantic relationship with Maria Tran.

Officials think six shots were fired during the 911 call, according to filed documents. Kelly said Williams may have used the gun issued to him by the sheriff's office, and the weapon is missing.

“There are shell casings at the scene, as well as ammunition in the car consistent with the ammunition issued by the department,” Kelly said. 

He called it an emotional situation, knowing an officer has been accused of “a cruel and vicious crime” likely arising from “a series of events that nobody would have predicted.”

“We now have a young teenage boy that is without parents, and a crime scene this young boy and his family had to contend with. The trauma is big, it's real, it's very deep,” he said. “We’re in shock and we’re trying to make sense of it all.”

The district attorney’s office said there will not be further comments on the case while the investigation is underway.

“Our hearts and condolences go out to the family, friends and community of the two victims killed in this incident,” O’Malley said in a statement. 

In a statement put on Facebook on Wednesday, Dublin Mayor Melissa Hernandez said, “I am heartbroken over the tragedy that occurred in Dublin early this morning. There is now a child without a mother and father.”

Williams was booked into Santa Rita Jail just a day after working an overnight shift, according to local paper Pleasanton Weekly. The paper noted this marks the first homicide in Dublin in nearly two years, and appears to be the second time in the last two decades that a county sheriff's deputy has been arrested on suspicion of murder after an infamous 2002 case for a crime dating back to 1980.

He is being held without bail. He is charged with two counts of murder as well as special circumstances of intentional discharge of a firearm causing death, multiple murder and murder to avoid arrest.

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Categories / Criminal

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