Son of California business owner accused of killing firefighter calls it a 'freak circumstance'

Accused shooter was dealing with repeated break-ins and was beefing up his security system, according to his family

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The son of a California business owner accused of killing a firefighter said the shooting must have been a misunderstanding. 

"I would like to say that you know my family would like to send our condolences to the Fortuna family," Tre Somerville said Monday, CBS13 reported. "It’s very unfortunate what happened today, and it’s just a freak circumstance."

Firefighter Max Fortuna and accused shooter Robert Somerville

Firefighter Max Fortuna and accused shooter Robert Somerville (Stockton Police Department )

Tre Somerville is the son of Robert Somerville, 67, who is accused of shooting and killing Stockton Fire Capt. Vidal "Max" Fortuna on Monday during a dumpster fire. 

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Robert Somerville is a food truck owner and was booked in San Joaquin County jail with a murder charge.

His son held up photos of his family and father and said the shooting must have been a misunderstanding.

"My dad does not have any prior violent history or anything like that," Tre Somerville said. "He’s really a community man, as well."

Stockton firefighter Max Fortuna 

Stockton firefighter Max Fortuna  (Stockton Fire Department)

The Somerville family also released a statement on Monday arguing "that this was not an intentional callous act" and that Robert Somerville had been the victim of attempted break-ins and was beefing up security around his home. 

"Having been a victim of constant attempted break-ins, due to his business/home being located in an area plagued with the highest concentration of homeless individuals, Mr. Somerville as recently as 1 week ago reinforced parts of his property to add an additional layer of security. It is our understanding that Mr. Somerville believed his property was being burglarized, which led to this horrific chain of tragic events," the statement said, CBS13 reported. 

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"Robert ‘Bob’ Somerville 67 is not a violent person and is a long-standing business owner (and former engineer) in the Stockton community… for over 30 years. He operates his business, and resides in the warehouse that was adjacent to where the fire occurred at 5:00am this morning."

Max Fortuna procession in Stockton, California 

Max Fortuna procession in Stockton, California  (Stockton Police Department)

The Stockton Fire Department responded to a dumpster fire at about 4:45 a.m. Monday, and gunfire rang out as they worked to extinguish the blaze. 

Fortuna was shot and transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. He was a 21-year veteran of the Stockton Fire Department and leaves behind a wife and two adult children. 

Stockton Fire Chief Rick Edwards called the shooting his "worst nightmare." 

"This is a very, very sad day for this fire department," Edwards said. 

"Max was a firefighter who showed up every day and never complained about being on the job. I don't really know too many other firefighters who enjoy the job as much as him," Stockton Professional Firefighters Union President Mario Gardea added Monday. 

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The investigation into the shooting is ongoing and police have not released a motive.

Fox News reporter Paul Best contributed to this report.