Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Eustacio Torres "It's impossible," sobbed their mother, Rafaela Torres of Martinez.

By PETE BENNETT - Contra Costa Watch EMAIL
Phone: 510-460-5641
Posted: 12/26/2012


Second tragedy hits family in Martinez

Published 4:00 am, Wednesday, August 5, 2009
  • Catalina Torres, a 44-year-old mother of two grown sons,  was killed on Saturday by Felix Sandoval. Torres was the cousin of Sandoval's estranged wife, Margarita Sandoval. Photo: Courtesy Of Torres Family
    Catalina Torres, a 44-year-old mother of two grown sons, was killed on Saturday by Felix Sandoval. Torres was the cousin of Sandoval's estranged wife, Margarita Sandoval. Photo: Courtesy Of Torres Family

It's been nearly a year since Catalina Torres, a volunteer for a battered women's group, was killed during a terrifying domestic violence attack at a Martinez beauty salon. At the time, her brother Eustacio Torres told relatives he couldn't believe such violence existed.
Now Eustacio Torres, a former star wrestler at San Francisco State who paid for much of his sister's burial and welcomed one of her adult sons into his home, is dead under similar circumstances. And a Martinez family that already had too much experience with domestic violence is reeling from it once again.
"It's impossible," sobbed their mother, Rafaela Torres of Martinez.
Catalina Torres, who did outreach to women at Concord's Stand Against Domestic Violence, was slain by her cousin's estranged husband, who may have resented her efforts to help his wife get away from him.
Eustacio Torres, a 41-year-old contractor from San Diego, was fatally shot July 19 by his ex-girlfriend, who then turned her gun on herself, according to police. It was Catalina Torres' son who discovered the bodies.
Eustacio Torres was mourned a week later at the same Catholic church in Martinez that held his sister's service. And their bodies now rest side by side in a Lafayette cemetery.
"I can't believe this is happening again," said Silvia Torres-Limón, speaking from her mother's Martinez home, which her brother rebuilt at age 17 after consulting books from the library. "You wish it was a nightmare, but it's not."
"Unbelievable," said Martinez Police Chief Tom Simonetti. "Catalina was an advocate for changes in the system to protect innocent victims. It's ironic as can be that her brother would fall."
Strong and capable, Eustacio Torres was like a surrogate father to his family as a boy, relatives said. At San Francisco State, he was a Division II All-American and still ranks fifth in career wins for the university.
"My brother was big and stocky and wouldn't smile much, so some were afraid of him," said sister Patricia Bustamante of Santa Ana. "But he was very humble and generous, and you knew that when you got to know him."
She recalled that after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, her brother stayed out all night looking for survivors. He moved to San Diego in the late 1990s and launched a construction firm.

First tragedy

The family was shattered last Sept. 6, when Felix Sandoval, 49, stormed into the Martinez beauty salon owned by his estranged wife. She had obtained a restraining order against him and was receiving support from Catalina Torres, who worked in her cousin's shop.
Unable to find his wife, Sandoval followed Torres to an apartment behind the salon. As Torres shielded one of her customers in the kitchen, Sandoval shot her in the head.
He then took a blind shot out of the apartment's front door and twice struck Sgt. Paul Starzyk, 47, who was about to bust in. Though mortally wounded, Starzyk returned fire and killed Sandoval.
Eustacio Torres took his sister's death hard, relatives said, and considered not traveling north for her burial.
But he ended up standing on the steps of Martinez's police station with two of his sisters and asking why authorities had not arrested Sandoval after he made earlier threats against his wife.
Contra Costa County prosecutors said that Sandoval had been the subject of three police reports but that in each case there was not enough evidence to file charges.

Second attack

While Eustacio Torres was mourning his sister in Martinez, his ex-girlfriend - 52-year-oldBernadette Agustin - attempted suicide. His sisters now see that as a warning sign that something was awry in San Diego.
He had met Agustin five years ago while renovating her house. They became partners, buying and flipping houses that he fixed up, said San Diego police Lt. Terry McManus. But when the market crumbled, they lost money and lost properties to foreclosure, prompting tension.
At one time the couple lived together, but their romance fizzled, Torres' sisters said. They said he realized she was unstable and perhaps dangerous, but never got a restraining order.
Sometime after 5 p.m. on July 19, Agustin went to see Torres in the converted garage of a home he was renovating, police said. She shot him with a pistol she had bought.
"He was trying to handle it on his own," Bustamante said. "You have to understand, his favorite line was, 'Everything's going to be all right.' "

How to help

Family members have set up the Eustacio Torres Memorial Fund at Wells
Fargo Bank (account No. 2629533015) to pay for funeral expenses and to provide scholarships to Diablo Valley College students.



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