OAKLAND -- Law enforcement officers and supporters from across the Bay Area mourned a BART police sergeant accidentally shot and killed by a fellow officer Tuesday afternoon, even as questions poured in about how a seemingly routine search could end with one police officer killing another.

Tuesday afternoon, Sgt. Tom Smith Jr. became the first police officer in BART's 42-year history to die in the line of duty. Smith, a husband, father and head of the BART's detective division, was killed by a fellow officer who has worked in law enforcement for more than a decade, sources confirmed.

Smith's wife, Kellie, is also a BART officer.

"The department is grieving, in shock," said BART police Chief Kenton Rainey, describing the 42-year-old Smith as a can-do, happy family man. "You just couldn't meet a nicer guy.

"(Smith) was a good guy," said a tearful Rainey. "A can-do attitude. Very, very supportive of his personnel."

BART officers were stationed outside Smith's San Ramon home early Wednesday and also at the East Bay home of Officer Michael Maes, believed to be the colleague who shot Smith. An officer outside Maes' home said the family would not comment and asked that the family's privacy be respected.

Rainey refused Wednesday to name the officer who fired the fatal shot, in order to give him time to grieve. "He's extremely upset."


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The Alameda County Sheriff's Office, which is investigating the shooting, also refused to release the other officer's name but noted he had more than 10 years experience.

Rainey said a total of eight police officers were at the scene when Smith was shot. Smith was one of five plain-clothed detectives who were there. They were joined by two uniformed BART officers, and a uniformed officer from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office who was working for the Dublin Police Department.

Dublin contracts with the Sheriff's Office for city police services.

On Wednesday, BART officers were stationed outside Smith's family home in San Ramon.

Officers also stood guard at the Walnut Creek home of Maes, who sources said accidentally shot his supervisor. One of the officers said the Maes family would not be commenting on the case and asked that the family's privacy be respected.

Just before 2 p.m. Tuesday, Smith and the other law enforcement officers went to the Park Sierra Apartments at 6450 Dougherty Road looking for laptops, a laptop bag and other personal items stolen during several robberies at BART stations.

Auto theft suspect John Henry Lee
Auto theft suspect John Henry Lee (San Leandro Police Dept. )

The suspect in those robberies, 20-year-old John Henry Lee, was already in custody at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. He was arrested Thursday after leading police on a car chase from San Leandro to Oakland.

Because Lee is on probation, his home can be searched without a warrant.

The investigators knocked on the door twice, determined it was unlocked, and entered the apartment, according to Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. J.D. Nelson.

Not knowing whether anyone was inside the apartment, the officers followed protocol and entered with their guns drawn, Nelson said. All of them were wearing bulletproof vests.

Once inside, one of the officers fired a single shot from his weapon, wounding Smith in the upper body. He was rushed to Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, where he later died.

Law enforcement officers salute as the body of a BART police officer draped with the American flag is loaded into an Alameda County Sheriff’s Corner
Law enforcement officers salute as the body of a BART police officer draped with the American flag is loaded into an Alameda County Sheriff's Corner vehicle at Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley on Jan. 21, 2014. (Anda Chu/Staff)

The death marked the 36th on-duty officer killed by accidental gunfire in California since 1895, and the first since two Oakland police officers shot and killed an undercover detective in January 2001.

Rainey said BART officers are trained to search residences and are called to do so in cases involving crimes committed on BART property. He also said that all uniformed BART officers from the rank of sergeant and below are required to wear a tracking camera. Wearing such a camera lapel is optional for plainclothes detectives.

Neither Rainey nor Nelson said whether those required to wear cameras had them on. Camera lapels were made mandatory by police reform measures following the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant at a BART station platform on New Year's Day in 2009.

"Our officers are trained to conduct this type" of operation, Rainey said. Asked how many times this type of search happens, he didn't give any statistics but said "this was not uncommon."

"Police work is dangerous," Rainey said, adding that entering a home is the "most dangerous" type of work police do. "There is nothing routine about it."

Officials did not say what kind of firearm was used in the shooting, though Rainey said BART officers typically carry 10 mm Glock or .40-caliber Sig Sauer semi-automatic handguns. Some BART officers are permitted to carry different weapons, he said.

On Wednesday morning, a trail of blood droplets led up to the front door of the apartment unit where Tuesday's shooting occurred. A man who answered the door at the unit refused any comment.

A neighbor, Jimmy Yao, 19, said he moved into the apartment complex about six years ago and described Lee as "anti-social" and "a little strange." He also said that he had not seen any police activity in the months leading up to Tuesday.

Another neighbor said Lee was seen around the complex only in the past couple of months and wondered whether he had just moved in.

"We were really surprised when we heard," Elavenil Anbalagan said. "It's very costly (to live) here. We were thinking it was one of the safer communities. Wherever you are, it can happen anytime."

Staff writers Natalie Neysa Alund, David DeBolt, Katie Nelson, Jeremy Thomas, Matt O'Brien and Malaika Fraley contributed to this report.