Victim's sister confronts police over deaths

September 8, 2008 11:46:36 PM PDT
An emotional press conference was held Monday in Martinez where three people, including a police officer, were killed over the weekend. A frustrated family member of a victim launched her anger at an already distraught police chief.

Martinez police say the suspect pointed his gun out the door and blindly fired his revolver, killing Sgt. Paul Starzyk. New details reveal that this was a domestic violence case that had been going on for some time.

"Sgt. Starzyk returned fire and so did the K-9 officer," said Chief Tom Simonetti with the Martinez Police Department.

Two 38-caliber bullets hit Sgt. Starzyk just above his bulletproof vest. He later died at the hospital.

A third officer killed 49-year-old Felix Sandoval who earlier came looking for his estranged wife at the Elegant Hair Design Salon. However, she was hiding inside, so he went to her cousin's apartment behind the salon, and shot the cousin in the face in front of three children and two women.

Ironically, 47-year-old Catalina Torres was an advocate for a service called Stand Against Domestic Violence.

"I'm Catalina Torres's sister and my question is, how did he get a gun?" asked Silvia Torres-Limon.

The victim's sister says Sandoval had two restraining orders against him.

Police confirmed Sandoval was arrested three times on domestic disturbance and drug charges which violated the restraining orders.

"When suspects are arrested for being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, blood is drawn, or urine, and it takes a while to get that done," said Chief Tom Simonetti.

Meanwhile, Sandoval was free from his last arrest about 30 days ago.

"And I think he targeted my sister because she was helping her. She was helping her and guiding her and telling her what to do. And I think he blamed her of their broken marriage, but their marriage was broken a long time ago," said Torres-Limon.

"Restraining orders are violated very frequently," explained Gloria Sandoval (no relation to Feliz), director of Stand Against Domestic Violence. She says abusers usually have issues with power and control. "And one of the ways that they exert that is by saying no piece of paper is going to stop me from doing what I want to do."

"But even the legal system now failed her, failed her, failed her," said Torres-Limon.

It is extremely frustrating for family members who say they saw this coming a mile away and equally frustrating for police who say they can do little to enforce restraining orders.


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