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Family says man killed by Windsor police grew despondent over breakup

Paramedics and fire personnel load a stabbing victim into a Bell's Ambulance for transport to Memorial Hospital, Saturday June 8, 2013. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat)

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Published: Friday, June 14, 2013 at 5:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 14, 2013 at 5:52 p.m.

A Windsor man who was shot and killed by police last week after he stabbed his estranged partner was remembered Friday as a kind, generous soul whose violent end revealed the despair of losing what he held dear.

Forced out of the home he had shared with his family for two decades, Urbano “Fortino” Moreno Morales was increasingly consumed by grief and loss, according to his victim’s sister and her husband. He turned to alcohol in recent weeks, finally unraveling during a closely timed series of encounters with his family and police, they said.

“He was a very kind, sweet man,” said Kathy Garcia, who was effectively Moreno’s sister-in-law, though she said she regarded him as a brother. “It’s very sad. It’s profoundly sad that he went out this way.”

Her husband, Armando Garcia, recalled Moreno helping to care for his elderly mother-in-law before her death, even painting her nails in a gesture he said revealed “the Fortino I knew.”

He was, Armando Garcia said, “a very soft-spoken, kind, gentle individual. It’s hard saying that because of what happened, but the Fortino that Kathy and I knew — my wife and I knew — was a wonderful, wonderful person.”

Moreno, 48, had come from poverty and desolation in Oaxaca, Mexico, and built himself a life through hard work as a roofer, the Garcias said.

He and his partner of 23 years, Patricia Bryant, 60, shared a nice home on Espana Way and he was eventually made supervisor at his job, they said. He earned his citizenship last year.

Moreno and Bryant’s 19-year-old son “was Fortino’s life,” Armando Garcia said.

But Moreno became increasingly distraught and despondent when Bryant ended their relationship some weeks ago, Garcia said. Moreno moved into a trailer with his brother and his brother’s family.

“At the end he just wanted to die,” Garcia said.

Authorities say Moreno turned up at the Espana Way home during the weeks after the break-up and again late on the night of June 7. Police arrested him for suspicion of being drunk in public and took him to jail, where he stayed until about 4 a.m., according to Santa Rosa police, who are investigating the shooting by Windsor police.

An hour after his release, Moreno was back at the house — this time, he told police, looking for property he’d left there on the previous visit. There was nothing to arrest him for, so Windsor police officers drove him away and dropped him elsewhere, Santa Rosa Police Capt. Craig Schwartz has said.

But shortly before 7:30 a.m. on June 8, Moreno confronted Bryant outside the Windsor Town Green Starbucks where their son worked.

He slashed her in the face and neck several times before fleeing around the corner, authorities said.

Police Officers Donald Fletcher and Andrew Cash responded, arriving within two minutes of the first of multiple 911 calls, police said. He ran from one officer and began to stab himself before the two together stopped him, police said.

One or both of the officers, who are Sonoma County sheriff’s deputies working under contract to the town of Windsor, attempted to subdue him with a Taser stun gun, but it had no apparent effect, police said.

Moreno reportedly charged at the officers with his knife. The officers opened fire, shooting him multiple times, authorities said.

Moreno’s injuries included serious wounds to his heart, left lung, liver and intestines. He was declared dead in minutes.

Additional gunshot injuries in his extremities and multiple superficial, self-inflicted stab wounds complicated his autopsy, which lasted a day and a half, sheriff’s Lt. Dennis O’Leary said.

O’Leary said Santa Rosa police and sheriff’s officials would not disclose additional details about the number of rounds fired and the number of times Moreno was shot until investigators had completed all witness interviews and obtained a report from the pathologist who conducted the autopsy.

Less than a week into the investigation into the death of Moreno, police detectives need to make sure no information is released that might taint witnesses’ independent recollections of the June 8 shooting, O’Leary said.

(You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 521-5249 or mary.callahan@pressdemocrat.com.)

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