June 29, 2003
Deputy Saul Gallegos Murdered in Line of Duty
Officer Down: Deputy Saul Gallegos - [Chelan County, Washington]
By Richard Uhlhorn
“What he did in this community and as a family man is his true measure,” said Mayor Mitch Atkinson about Chelan County Sheriff’s Deputy Saul Gallegos who was killed Thursday evening, June 26, after stopping Jose Sanchez-Guillen for investigation of driving with a suspended license. In the ensuing struggle, Gallegos was shot in the head, dying instantly. Guillen escaped the scene, launching a massive manhunt from the Canadian border to Mexico.
Guillen was finally arrested at approximately 2:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, June 29, in an abandoned trailer home near Connell, Washington.
It is thought that Guillen used Gallegos’ 40-caliber Glock in the shooting, but the weapon was not found when Guillen was arrested. There was another gun found in the trailer.
Guillen was apparently attempting to make his way to Mexico. He is being held in a solitary cell at Chelan County Regional Jail for investigation of aggravated first-degree murder, which could carry the death penalty if he is found guilty. Asked whether Guillen has said anything, Chief Criminal Deputy Mark Mann said, “Let’s just say that he is acting cooperative.”
This community was stunned and saddened at Gallegos’ death. Gallegos had only worked for the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office since January. Prior to the Sheriff’s Office, Gallegos had been employed at the Chelan Police Department since 1995. He obtained a degree in criminal justice from Washburn University in 1989.
In 1997, Gallegos was honored as Officer of the Year at the Chelan Police Department. He was originally hired under the COPS FAST program and began work as a patrolman on October 2, 1995.
Gallegos was exceptional in his assistance between the police force and the Hispanic community. In an interview in 1997, Gallegos said he had always thought about helping people and being a role model.
As a role model, Gallegos was deeply involved with Hispanos Unidos, a local non-profit Hispanic group that offers scholarships to students. He worked closely with Chelan High School students and was a referee for the local soccer league.
Two days before being shot and killed, he told this reporter in a chance meeting that he was really enjoying his new job and the opportunities it was giving him. I also mentioned that I had driven past his home on the way to visit someone in the neighborhood and that I had seen his twin boys playing in the yard and notice how big they were getting. “Yeah,” he smiled. “They are becoming a handful.”
By the time this issue is on the news stands, a public memorial service will have taken place at Chelan High School with a live feed to the Community Gymnasium. Gallegos will be buried beside his mother at the El Colecio Cemetery in El Colecio, Michoacan, Mexico, as per his wishes.
Memorials can be made to the Fund for the Family of Saul Gallegos at North Cascades National Bank in Chelan and at any Cashmere Valley Bank
Sanchez-Guillen appears in Superior Court
Jose Sanchez-Guillen made his preliminary appearance in Superior Court in Wenatchee on Monday, June 30. He was informed of the charges against him of aggravated murder in the first degree for the shooting on June 26 of Deputy Saul Gallegos of the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office with felonious and premeditated intent.
Sanchez-Guillen asked for a public defender, and was told by Judge John Bridges that two attorneys shall be appointed, one of whom is to be “death penalty qualified.” The court ordered the defendant to be held without bail. His arraignment will be within 14 days.