What began as a routine traffic stop on the afternoon of June 13, in the City of Oceanside, ended in the shooting death of one of the city’s fine young police officers.
Twenty-seven year old Tony Zeppetella, who had been with the Department just thirteen months was shot and mortally wounded by his assailant, Adrian George Camacho, a 30 year old known gang member, following a routine traffic stop.
After wounding the officer several times, Camacho left the scene in the officers’ police vehicle, abandoning it near a relative’s residence, where he forced entry and took refuge.
More than 50 law enforcement units from surrounding jurisdictions, including helicopters and the California Highway Patrol, converged on the scene. His place of refuge surrounded, Camacho surrendered after a four-hour standoff. He had suffered a gunshot wound to the right leg, apparently the result of gunfire returned at the scene by Zeppetella.
Camacho was booked into the Vista Detention Facility and charged with the murder of a peace officer.
Oceanside Police Chief Mike Poehlman offered high praise of the Oceanside citizens and members of the U.S. Marine Corps who had witnessed the shooting, administering CPR to the fallen officer prior to the arrival of the paramedics, and gave special recognition to the young lady who picked up the microphone of the radio in the abandoned police vehicle and gave the Communications Center a description of the fleeing suspect and his route of escape.
At the scene of the shooting Officer Zeppetella was given emergency fist aid and air lifted to the Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, where he succumbed to multiple gun shot wounds.
Departmental records indicate that Tony Zeppetella was the first Oceanside P.D. officer to die in the line of duty in nearly 87 years. On
September 24, 1916, City Marshall John E. Mugan was fatally shot while on duty.
Following the death of Officer Zeppetella, Chief Poehlman assembled the men and women of his department to congratulate them on the speedy apprehension of Camacho, and recalled a conversation with Zeppetella the day that he was sworn in as a new police officer. He had told the Chief that “it has been my life long dream to become a police officer”.
On Friday morning, June 20, funeral services for Tony Zeppetella were held at the New Venture Christian Fellowship in Oceanside. Typical of police funerals, and appropriately, there were several hundred peace officers in attendance, representing a multitude of agencies statewide. In addition to fellow law enforcement officers, a number of local dignitaries were in attendance. Attorney General Bill Lockyer, the States’ Chief Law Enforcement Officer, was once again in attendance offering condolences on behalf of the people of California. Officer Zeppetella was to be laid to rest at a later date in Paso Robles, California.
Officer Tony Zeppetella is survived by his wife Jamie and his infant son Jacob, parents Tony and Renate Zeppetella, brother George and sister Renate
The Oceanside Police Officers’ Association has established a memorial fund for the Zeppetella family at the Oceanside Branch of the Washington Mutual Bank. Donations may be made to the “OPOA Tony Zeppetella Memorial Fund” at any Washington Mutual Branch.