Photo Blog - Ireland-Photo

Sept. 11th

At least three people including a Martinez police sergeant were shot and killed today at a hair salon in Martinez in an apparent domestic dispute.

Sgt. Paul Starzyck was evacuated from the scene by helicopter and taken to a local hospital where he was declared dead, Martinez Police Chief Tom Simonetti said this afternoon. Simonetti also confirmed that a man and a woman, whom he did not identify, were also killed.

Martinez Mayor Rob Schroder said the police chief had told him that the gunman had also been killed.

Starzyck was first officer killed in the line of duty since 1973, Simonetti said, adding that he's "still in a daze" over the loss of the officer.

The shooting happened when the husband of the owner of Elegant Hair Designs at 3596 Pacheco Boulevard, identified by witnesses as Felix Sandoval, entered the business around 11:30 a.m. Brandishing a handgun, the man searched the salon for the owner and started shooting.

About 15 stylists and customers, including a bridal party, were in the salon, witnesses said.

At least one customer hid in a closet as others fled the building. The gunman opened the closet, looked at the woman, and closed it again.

"He wanted to get (his wife)," said one stylist who asked not to be named. "He didn't want to shoot anyone else."

The owner of the salon was not injured, according to witnesses, and no one was shot inside the salon.

"I blacked out, to be honest with you,"

said stylist Jacklyn Ocanas. "I really thought I was going to die."

The daughter of the salon owner and another man tried to hold her father back, witnesses said. He told his daughter that if she tried to stop him, he would shoot her, witnesses said.

More shots were then fired outside in the parking lot, when the suspect was confronted by one or more police officers.

"I heard two gunshots," said Kevin Almazan, a nearby resident. "People from the salon were outside screaming and crying. Police came in at 100 mph and popped their trunks with their rifles. Once the cops came, I heard more gunshots. They came out and grabbed an orange bag. One of the people from the salon said he (the gunman) was looking for his girlfriend."

He said police arrived less than five minutes after the initial gunshots.

Mayor Schroder said Starzyck's death was a "huge loss" to the Martinez Police Department.

"Sgt. Starzyck was a wonderful police officer," Schroder said. "He had the qualities for leadership."

The city is providing assistance to Starzyck's wife and children, Schroder said, and grief counselors will be available at City Hall.

Police cordoned off Pacheco Boulevard for a block in each direction from Morello Avenue.