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Hero Down: Alameda County Sheriff’s Recruit David Nguyen Murdered While Driving Home From Academy Training

Oakland, CA – Alameda County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) Recruit David Nguyen was fatally shot Jan. 4 while driving home from the police academy.

The 28-year-old recruit was driving his personal vehicle on I-580 West near the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza at approximately 4:30 p.m., when “an unknown assailant” fired into his vehicle, “killing him and causing his vehicle to crash,” the ACSO said in a press release later that night.

“We located a Toyota Prius against the left wall,” California Highway Patrol (CHP) spokesperson Raul Gonzalez told KGO. “Once our officers got to the vehicle, we saw the victim suffered a gunshot wound.”

Recruit Nguyen was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

CHP Oakland is leading the ongoing investigation into the fatal attack, the ACSO said.

The Deputy Sheriff’s Association of Alameda County (ASAAC) is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Recruit Nguyen’s killer, ACSO Lieutenant Ray Kelly said in a Facebook post Thursday night.

“He was young, smart, strong, brave and everything we seek in a good law enforcement officer,” the sheriff’s office said in another post. “Our condolences to the Nguyen Family and our 172nd Academy.”

The ACSO canceled academy classes Wednesday in the wake of Recruit Nguyen’s murder and offered grief counseling support to the recruits instead, KGO reported.

“It is definitely not business as usual today,” sheriff’s office spokesperson J.D. Nelson told the news outlet. “It is difficult for some to work after one of their academy mates is no longer here.”

Recruit Nguyen began the academy in July of 2021 and was slated to graduate next month, The Mercury News reported.

“He was able to get into the academy just through resilience and through hard work, and I’m so proud of him for that,” his sister, Barbara Nguyen, told KNTV. “We got through the struggles of being low income, being a first-generation family…I got through it ‘cause of him.”

Barbara Nguyen said she initially didn’t believe the news when she was told her brother had been killed, KGO reported.

“If you know my brother, he is a survivor. He would find a way to make it,” she said.

It wasn’t until she went to Highland Hospital that the harsh reality set in.

“I saw his body in the bag. They put a flag on him,” she recalled. “I saw a couple trickles of blood on the floor and that’s when I knew they really did try and do everything they could to try and bring him back.”

Barbara Nguyen said she and her brother were best friends, KGO reported.

“I just smile, something thinking of him, because he’s just so funny,” she said. “Everybody loved my brother. You just talk to him and you can’t hate him.”

Recruit Nguyen was also a member of the California National Guard 870th Military Police Company based in Concord, according to KNTV.

Barbara Nguyen said her brother served eight years in the military.

“Our hearts and prayers are with the family of Sgt. David Nguyen, as they mourn the tragic loss of this committed soldier,” National Guard Adjunct General Major Gen. Matthew Beevers said in a statement to The Mercury News. “Specialist Nguyen was devoted to serving his community and was well-liked by his colleagues. He will be missed deeply.”

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Alvidres, who served alongside Recruit Nguyen in the California National Guard, said he believes the young recruit “was definitely going to be a great deputy,” KGO reported.

“He was so driven to not just become a deputy, and be in law enforcement, but was driven to be great in those positions and really make a difference,” Deputy Alvidres said.

Retired San Francisco Police Officer Matt Castagnola said he was Recruit Nguyen’s criminal justice instructor at City College of San Francisco, KGO reported.

Castagnola said he wrote a recommendation for Recruit Nguyen to help him secure a seat in the police academy.

“He had a passion for it,” the retired officer said. “Sometimes those guys that have that passion, they don’t just stay at the bottom level, They move up and they make a difference somewhere, and unfortunately, we know that’s never going to happen.”

“I could tell he would have been a great police officer,” Castagnola told KGO. “I’m just shocked. I’m sad.”

Nelson said the ACSO was looking forward to having Recruit Nguyen as a part of the team, The Mercury News reported.

“He represents a community that is underserved as far as demographics go within our agency,” he added. “He’s Vietnamese, the son of immigrants. Anytime you can get good people who can help not just us or any law enforcement agency, you can continue to break down the cultural barriers that may exist.”

Recruit Nguyen is survived by his parents, siblings, and his girlfriend, KPIX reported.

“My heart and prayers go out to the family,” Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson told the news outlet.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Recruit David Nguyen, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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