On July 13, 1978, Deputy James Machado was shot and killed with his own service weapon during a struggle with an escaped mental patient in Auburn. With the help of citizens who witnessed the shooting, officers from California Highway Patrol and an Auburn Police sergeant quickly located the suspect near Interstate 80 and Highway 49.
When the suspect confronted the officers with Deputy Machado's service weapon, the officers fired several shotgun rounds at the suspect. The suspect was killed. Law enforcement officers from throughout the state attended the funeral of Deputy Machado.In 2008 Deputy Machado was posthumously awarded the Placer County Sheriff’s Purple Heart.
James had served the Sheriff’s Office for 4 years. He was survived by his wife, Nancy, and three young children; Jim, 7; Joy, 3; and Jeanne, 1.