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CA firefighter shot and killed while responding to fire

Police Line Crime Scene. (Tony Webster/WikiCommons)
January 31, 2022

A firefighter in was shot and killed while responding to a call on Monday morning in Stockton, California.

During a press conference Monday morning, fire officials identified the slain firefighter as 47-year-old Cpt. Videl “Max” Fortuna.

At around 4:55 a.m., Fortuna and other members of Stockton Fire Department’s Engine #2 responded to a fire in a dumpster threatening a building near Aurora and Market streets. As the firefighters began subduing the blaze, shots rang out and Fortuna was hit.

Fortuna was taken to an area hospital where he was pronounced deceased.

Fortuna was a 21-year veteran of the Department and he leaves behind a wife and two adult children.

“Today is a tragic day,” Stockton Firefighters 456 Union President Mario Gardea said at the press conference. “A tragic day for Max Fortuna’s family. A tragic day for the family, his family, at the fire station.”

“Today is a good representation of the type of person that Max was,” Gardea added. “Max was a firefighter who showed up every day and never complained about being on the job. I don’t know too many firefighters who enjoy the job as much as him.”

Gardea noted current and retired firefighters from around the community had come out for the press conference.

“Max was always considered a legacy firefighter and he’s going to — he’s going to be missed,” Gardea said.

Stockton Fire Chief Richard Edwards said, “My message to our firefighters is to be strong. My heart breaks with you, but we will get through this.”

During the press conference, Stockton Police Department Assistant Chief Jim Chraska said police responded within minutes of the shooting and were able to detain a 67-year-old suspect. Chraska said police also recovered a firearm from the scene.

Fortuna’s death comes about two weeks after an off-duty firefighter was hit and killed by a passing car while attempting to help another car crash victim on the side of the road in Clinton County, Michigan.

The city of Portland, Oregon has considered issuing bullet-proof vests to its firefighters. Portland Fire & Rescue spokesperson Terry Foster said the decision was made in a “changing landscape” where firefighters are increasingly being called to respond to fires where aggressive patients and bystanders are present.

In 2018, firefighters responding to a call in Springfield, Oregon were shot at. Police later said they believed the 65-year-old gunman had started the blaze at 4 a.m. in an attempt to ambush emergency responders.