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Suspect Robert Somerville found guilty in shooting death of Stockton firefighter Max Fortuna

Suspect found guilty in shooting death of Stockton firefighter Max Fortuna
Suspect found guilty in shooting death of Stockton firefighter Max Fortuna 00:48

STOCKTON - The suspect in the shooting death of Stockton firefighter Max Fortuna last year has been found guilty. 

Sixty-eight-year-old Robert Somerville is accused of killing 47-year-old Stockton Fire Capt. Vidal "Max" Fortuna in 2022.

Closing arguments from the defense and prosecution were heard last week in a packed Stockton courtroom filled with family members who listened for hours to closing statements from the defense and prosecution in the case.

Robert Somerville, 67 (credit: Stockton Police Department)

During a police interrogation, Somerville had said he shot his gun to scare possible intruders away, not to kill anyone. He continued to say that it was no longer warning shots when Somerville allegedly aimed at the noise source.

Fortuna died from a gunshot wound to the chest, the prosecution said.

Police reported on Jan. 31 that Fortuna and firefighters responded at 4:45 a.m. to reports of a dumpster fire at the warehouse. 

City Manager Harry Black said when crews saw the blaze beginning to impinge on a nearby business, they attempted to enter the building to extinguish the fire but soon after heard gunshots.

Fortuna later was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Somerville said during his interrogation that he had yelled "move away from the building, I have a firearm," before firing shots.

On Tuesday, Somerville was found guilty of second-degree murder.

"Stockton Fire Department Captain Fortuna's death was an unfathomable tragedy. He was murdered because the defendant made the choice to shoot without cause, legal justification, or concern for human life," said San Joaquin County District Attorney Ron Freitas in a statement. "I would like to thank the jury for their dutiful deliberation and Deputy District Attorney Elton Grau for seeking justice for Captain Fortuna and our community." 

Somerville's family has claimed that he mistook Fortuna for an intruder. 

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