Former Women's Studies Student Killed in Martinez Shooting

Catalina TorresCatalina Torres '03, who was known for her work on domestic violence issues, was killed in a shooting in Martinez on Sept. 6. She was 44.

Torres was an innocent bystander who was fatally shot by her cousin's estranged husband, Felix Sandoval, during a confrontation in an apartment building on Saturday morning. According to police, Sandoval also killed Martinez Police Sgt. Paul Starzyk during a gun battle that ended with Sandoval's death.

Before becoming a college student in her late 20s, Torres had escaped from a violent marriage. She often referred to her own experience as an example of overcoming a problem that affects millions of women and families each year.

While at Saint Mary's, Torres majored in women's studies and was actively involved with the Latina student organization Hermanas Unidas and the Women's Resource Center. At the time of her death, she was involved with STAND against Domestic Violence, a nonprofit advocacy group in Contra Costa County.

"Catalina shared her own story and encouraged other women to reach out for help," says Sharon Sobotta, director of the Women' Resource Center. "It's a huge loss for us - she was one of the people at the forefront of our efforts."

After finishing in 2003, Torres frequently returned to campus to serve as a speaker on domestic violence issues and counseled younger students seeking to overcome violence in their own lives.

"She really took a leadership role and was a tremendous mentor for younger women," says Denise Witzig, coordinator of the Women's Studies Program. "She had endured a very painful time in her life and really tried to see the good that could come out of that by educating others."

Services for Torres will be at St. Catherine of Siena at 604 Mellus Street in Martinez. The viewing is Thursday, Sept. 11 from 4 to 10 p.m., with a Rosary beginning at 7 p.m. The funeral mass at St. Catherine's is Friday, Sept. 12 at 2 p.m. Call (925) 228-2230 for more information.

The College will hold a memorial service for Torres on Monday, Sept. 15 at 11:30 a.m. in the Chapel, with a reception to follow at 12:30 p.m. in the Soda Center. The Women's Studies Program will also hold events in Torres' honor in October during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

--John Grennan

College Communications

Contra Costa Times

San Francisco Chronicle Article

STAND Page on Catalina Torres