BART Officer Fatally Shot by His Partner During Apartment Search

SAN FRANCISCO -- The first Bay Area Rapid Transit officer in department history to be killed on duty was described by neighbors and colleagues as kind and always willing to go out of his way to help others.

The Alameda County Sheriff's Department, which is investigating the accidental shooting of 42-year-old Detective Sgt. Tom Smith by a fellow officer during a probation search in Dublin on Tuesday, confirmed his identity late Tuesday.

Smith was a 20-year veteran of the department and worked as a detective. He lived with his wife -- also a BART officer -- in San Ramon with their 6-year-old daughter.

Photos: BART officer fatally shot by partner

On a website dedicated to fallen officers, the wife of one fellow officer described her gratitude to Smith when her husband, Officer Shane Coduti, was badly hurt on the job.

"Thank you for your service, and thank you for caring for me when my husband was injured in the line of duty," wrote Marianne Coduti. "I will never forget your kindness on one of the worst nights of my life. My love and prayers to the Smith family and to my own BART family."

The website referred to Smith as "Tommy" and was bursting with condolences from law enforcement officers around the country.

In the couple's San Ramon neighborhood, there was a stunned sense of grief and disbelief.

"He was an amazing dad, an amazing neighbor, an amazing man," Neha Shah, who has lived across the street from Smith's family for four years, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I can't say enough about him. This is heartbreaking."

California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris and Gov. Jerry Brown also weighed in with condolences for Smith's family and friends.

"His sacrifice and service to the people of California will never be forgotten," Harris wrote on behalf of the state Department of Justice, saying the "tragic loss of Detective Sgt. Smith reminds us of the danger our officers face everyday to keep our communities safe."

Capitol flags are being flown at half mast in Smith's honor, wrote Brown, saying in a statement: "Anne and I were saddened to learn of the death of veteran BART Sergeant Tom Smith, who bravely served his community for two decades."

Smith was among a group of officers conducting a probation search at the Dublin residence of a suspect who was already in custody in connection with robberies on BART property, Alameda County sheriff's Sgt. J.D. Nelson said.

The officers entered an apartment in a complex in Dublin and another officer's weapon discharged, striking Smith. The officer whose weapon discharged is a 10-year veteran of the force. All were wearing bullet-proof vests.

Smith died at Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, where other officers congregated to salute his flag-draped gurney as it was removed by coroner's officials Tuesday afternoon.

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lee.romney@latimes.com