A sheriff's deputy in northern California is under arrest after he allegedly broke into a couple's home and shot them to death.
Devin Williams Jr., 24, was arrested just before noon on Wednesday on suspicion of murder after an hours-long manhunt, according to a press release from the Dublin, California police department. He is currently being held in the Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County on charges of first-degree murder and second-degree burglary, according to jail records reviewed by Oxygen.com.
Though police have not officially identified the victims in the case, family members told the San Francisco Chronicle that they were Maria Tran, 42, and Benison Tran, 58.
A male relative of the Trans who had been staying in their Dublin, California home — an East Bay suburb of San Francisco — called 911 around 12:45 a.m. on Wednesday, according to the KRON, the Pleasanton Weekly and a press conference held by law enforcement. The called said an armed intruder had broken into the home, brandished a weapon and ultimately shot the Trans before fleeing the home in a "dark-colored vehicle."
By the time first responders arrived, the Trans had succumbed to their gunshot wounds. The couple's teenage son and Maria Tran's mother were also there when police arrived, according to the Weekly.
Witnesses at the home were allegedly able to identify Williams — an Alameda County Sheriff's deputy — as the shooter, and police determined that he'd fled the scene in his gray 2007 Volkswagen Jetta and headed south, according to the local paper and a police press release.
Police have not yet stated the nature of the relationship between the 24-year-old (now-former) sheriff's deputy from Stockton — which is 50 miles west of Dublin — and the middle-aged married couple.
"There was some relationship that was formed rather recently within the past year and we're looking into what that is," Alameda County Sheriff's Lt. Ray Kelly told BuzzFeed News. "What was it, I don't know and I think we will get an answer to that."
He told the Associated Press that police are looking into the possibility that Williams was part of a romantic relationship with or having an affair with a member of the Tran family.
In the lead-up to the scheduled 11:30 a.m. PT press conference on the case on Wednesday, Williams reportedly called the Dublin Police business line to "speak to somebody," the AP reported. With much of the rest of the department engaged in the manhunt for Williams, Dublin Police Chief Garrett Holmes took the call.
Cell phone records were able to locate Williams in a remote area 160 miles south of Dublin, near the city of Coalinga, and Holmes spoke to him for 45 minutes to try and arrange his peaceful surrender to the California Highway Patrol, the AP reported.
Ultimately, Williams had thrown his gun out of the vehicle and surrendered to the arresting officers.
“I think his call to us was an indicator that he wanted help, that he had gotten himself way beyond his thinking, his emotions, and that he needed help,” Kelly told the AP. “I think that phone call was a call for help.”
Investigators believe that Williams used his service weapon to kill the Trans and he allegedly told them that he discarded the weapon in the Altamont Pass area — about 20 miles east of Dublin — the Chronicle reported. Police are still searching for the gun.
Williams had only been working for the Alameda County Sheriff since 2021, and had been assigned courthouse and jail duties. On Tuesday, Williams reportedly worked his normal shift at the courthouse and picked up overtime at the Santa Rita Jail, leaving work at 11:00 p.m., according to BuzzFeed.
Police are still trying to determine what happened between the end of his shift and the time the Trans were killed, he told the outlet.
Williams had previously joined the Stockton Police Department, attending their training academy and completing a six-month probationary period between January 2020 and January 2021. He was let go from the department after his probationary period. Alameda County, which hired him that September, said there were no red flags in his background check.
"He was a very good candidate for law enforcement," Kelly said at the press conference on Wednesday. "Somewhere in the last several months of his life some significant events happened that led up to this moment. A lot of those events went undiscovered and undisclosed and we're going to be looking into that."
"How did he get there and where were the red flags and how did we not see them?" Kelly added. "How did he get to this point of violence?”