Martinez mourns two shooting victims

September 11, 2008 12:08:46 AM PDT
An East Bay city comes together for the police officer gunned down trying to protect the public. Martinez is mourning two lives cut short; both Sergeant Paul Starzyk and Catalina Torres were killed Saturday by a gunman who was looking for his estranged wife.

Prior to this tragedy, Mayor Rob Schroeder told me their biggest problem was graffiti. About 500 people came out to show their respects at Wednesday night's vigil to pay their respects and woven within that crowd were personal stories about the victims.

If you live in this town of 39,000, there's a good chance you knew Sergeant Paul Starzyk.

"Even people that he was arresting from time to time said, 'You know, he was the nicest cop whoever arrested me,'" said Martinez Mayor Rob Schroeder.

So when Sergeant Starzyk arrived onto a chaotic scene, last Saturday, witness Stephen Boutte immediately recognized him.

"I thought, 'There's that cool man. There's the cool cop,'" said Boutte.

Last month Boutte had a dispute with a neighbor and sprayed her with his water hose.

"I didn't know that it was against the law to hose anybody in my own driveway. But he told me that it was actually an assault, that I could get arrested and that I should apologize to her," said Boutte, a witness.

In small town fashion, Starzyk lightheartedly defused the situation without making an arrest.

"We are here to recognize the ultimate sacrifice of Sergeant Paul Starzyk as he responded to the call of duty," said Martinez Police Chief Tom Simonetti.

On Saturday, an armed man looking for his estranged wife shot and killed Catalina Torres. She was a volunteer who helped domestic abuse victims including her cousin, the gunman's wife.

"She had a spirit for truth, she had a spirit for justice and she stood up for the defenseless," said Noe Patricio Torres, the victim's brother.

Sergeant Starzyk was one of the first officers on scene.

"He definitely made everyone feel like he was in control, to just bare with him," said Boutte.

Boutte directed Starzyk up the stairs of an apartment building where shots were being fired, and that was the last time he saw Sergeant Starzyk.

"Sincerely, it was a blessing that I met him. I'm glad I met the man I felt comfortable with," said Boutte.

A funeral service for Sergeant Paul Starzyk will be held on Thursday, September 11th at 11 a.m. at the Sleep Train Pavilion in Concord.

A mass for Catalina Torres will be held on Friday, September 12th at 2 p.m. at Saint Catherine's Cathedral in Martinez.


Load Comments