STOCKTON (CBS13) — A firefighter was shot and killed while responding to a call in Stockton early Monday morning.
The Stockton Fire Department firefighter who was killed has been identified as 47-year-old Captain Vidal “Max” Fortuna.
Around 4:55 a.m. firefighters, including Fortuna’s Engine #2, responded to the report of a fire in a dumpster impinging on a structure in the area of Aurora and Market streets. As firefighters were battling the fire, gunshots were heard and Fortuna was hit.
Firefighters transported Fortuna to a local hospital where he was pronounced deceased.
Fortuna was a 21-year veteran of the Department. He leaves behind a wife and two grown children.
At a press conference Monday, Stockton Firefighters 456 Union President Mario Gardea said, in part:
“Today is a tragic day and tragic day…for Max Fortuna’s family. A tragic day to the family, his family at the fire station. Max was a was a firefighter who showed up every day and never complained about being on the job…Max will be was always considered a legacy firefighter and he’s gonna be missed.”
Stockton police were notified of the shooting just after 5 a.m. They responded to the scene and arrested 67-year-old Robert Somerville, who was booked into the San Joaquin County Jail and faces a homicide charge and weapons charges. They also recovered a gun believed to be involved in the shooting. A police spokesperson says the investigation into the incident is ongoing.
On Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the following statement about Fortuna’s passing:
“Jennifer and I extend our heartfelt condolences to Captain Fortuna’s family, friends and colleagues as we mourn this tragic loss. His decades of service to the Stockton community will not be forgotten and serve as an enduring reminder of the gratitude we owe the brave men and women of our state’s fire services who always respond to the call, selflessly serving their communities in a moment of need.”
In the United States in 2020, which are the most recent statistics, two firefighters were killed: One was shot while investigating reports of fire and the other was shot while conducting surveillance in a fire investigation, according to the National Fire Protection Association.