STANISLAUS COUNTY — It was a night of hugs for those who loved Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Wallace — a night of hugs and heartfelt moments to sit in silence and reflect on his loss in a more informal way before a funeral of full law enforcement honors for a hero killed in the line of duty.
“I’m blessed. We’re blessed, the outpouring from the community has really touched our hearts,” said Wallace’s brother and Modesto Police Detective Dave Wallace.
Those now touched hearts were broken Nov. 13 when investigators say Deputy Dennis Wallace was shot in the head twice, execution style, as he checked on a suspicious van at Fox Grove Park in Hughson.
Accused gunman, 36-year-old David Machado, was arrested after a carjacking and manhunt in a neighboring town.
He’s pleaded not guilty to the crime that’s set one half of a tight twosome adrift.
“Without thinking, you’re wanting to grab your phone, call him and you know reality sets in that he’s not ever gonna answer,” said Wallace.
Not answering the call — for anyone — was not something Dennis Wallace ever did.
It’s how he endured as a beloved family member, but also as a hero around Hughson.
“He was very nice, and he made me happy,” 8-year-old Lisa Cook.
“I want to say that, um, that I hope his family gets better… that they get better,” said Lisa’s 11-year-old brother Josh, sharing his sadness for them.
“He took me to the hospital whenever I needed help,” said 9-year-old John.
From Red Ribbon Week to an emergency, Wallace was never too busy to be there for a child and when duty officially called he didn’t hesitate to act.
“We had a shooting at our church and no one was hurt, but he came out and was very supportive of our church and took the reports and was very cautious in keeping the area safe for us. It’s very special he went out of his way for that,” said Hughson mom Melissa Cook.
With Deputy Wallace made a target for being behind the badge, his family can’t help but think of the rash of weekend killings of officers around the country.
“I wish I had answer for it. I wish i had an understanding of the stupidity in it and the senseless evil involved in it,” said Dave Wallace.
As for the unanswered questions his and other law enforcement families have to grapple with, he does have some hope.
“We’re gonna make it,” he said.
Deputy Wallace’s funeral is set for 11 a.m. Tuesday at Cross Point Church in Modesto. Below is funeral procession and road closure information. Bus routes in Modesto will also be impacted.