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Man charged with murder after shooting on-duty California firefighter, police say

man charged with murder after shooting california firefighter
Source: San Joaquin County District Attorney, Mega

Feb. 4 2022, Published 12:28 p.m. ET

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A California firefighter was shot in the line of duty and now the 67-year-old man accused of pulling the trigger has been charged with murder, police said.

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Around 4:45 a.m. on Jan. 31, the Stockton Fire Department Dispatch was informed of a 911 call regarding a fire in Stockton, California, the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office said.

Engine 2 from the Stockton Fire Department was dispatched to the scene, officials said.

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Firefighters noticed the fire was advancing toward a building in the area, so they attempted to enter the building in order to put the fire out, authorities said.

When entering the business, Captain Vidal “Max” Fortuna was shot in the line of duty. He was taken to a local hospital, where he later died from his injuries.

After an investigation, San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar said 67-year-old Robert Alston Somerville was the suspect in this case.

In a press release, Salazar said, “This is an unfathomable tragedy for our community and one that should never have occurred. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Stockton Fire Department and Captain Fortuna’s family and friends during this very difficult time.”

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Relatives of Somerville claim he thought he was being burglarized when he opened fire, officials said.

Somerville’s brother, Greg, talked with Action News and said, "He thought he was protecting himself and he had to fear for his life and he gave from what we're saying, can't be too sure about the facts because we weren't there, that he was operating in self-defense."

Somerville was arraigned on murder and weapons charges. He is set to return to court on Feb. 23, police said.

man charged with murder after shooting california firefighter
Source: San Joaquin County District Attorney, Mega
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