STOCKTON, Calif. — Vidal "Max" Fortuna was a husband, a father and a "brother" to his fellow firefighters at the Stockton Fire Department. On Monday, his loved ones were forced to say goodbye.
Fortuna was shot and killed while responding to a dumpster fire, according to Stockton Fire Chief Rick Edwards.
He was a Fire Captain and a 21-year veteran of the department.
"Max was the type of firefighter that showed up every day and never complained about his job," Stockton Firefighters 456 Union President Mario Gardea said. "I don't know many other firefighters who enjoy their job as much as he did."
After his death, at least nine other fire departments responded to help Stockton Fire Department with their calls for service, so the local crews could mourn the loss of their firefighting brother. Firefighters from Modesto to Sacramento have volunteered to help answer the call.
"Captain Max Fortuna was one of our heroes and this is a sobering reminder of the sacrifices our public safety personnel make daily to protect and serve our community," Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln said.
Along with having the courage to face fires head-on, Fortuna was also a man of faith, participating as a volunteer for Big Valley Grace Community Church. The church posted a photo of him playing bass in the ministry band on Facebook.
"Max was a gentle and humble man who loved God and exhibited many characteristics of Christ. He served faithfully for many years and always brought his joyful attitude and strong work ethic to our ministry. He will be dearly missed," the church said on Facebook.
The Stockton firefighters union has started a fundraiser where all funds will go to the Fortuna family. To contribute, click HERE.
The fundraiser beat its $40,000 goal within 24 hours. The goal has been bumped up to $150,000 and as of Wednesday morning, nearly $98,000 has been raised.