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'Big hearted, helpful guy. Definitely not a killer' | Family defends man accused of killing Stockton Fire Captain

67-year old Robert Somerville made his first court appearance Wednesday in the shooting death of Stockton Fire Captain Max Fortuna.

STOCKTON, California — The man accused of shooting and killing Stockton Fire Captain Vidal "Max" Fortuna made his first court appearance Wednesday.

67-year-old Robert Alston Somerville wore a red jailhouse uniform as he appeared in San Joaquin County Superior Court in Downtown Stockton.

He faces one count of murder with aggravating circumstances and one count of intentional discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury.

When asked by the judge if he understood the charges he replied, "Yes sir."

He was then appointed a public defender.

In attendance were several of Somerville's family members.

Following the court hearing, they defended Somerville saying it was a case of "mistaken identity."

"He's always been a kind, big hearted, helpful guy. Definitely not a killer," said Somerville's brother, Greg Somerville.

The charges all stem from the shooting death of Stockton Fire Captain Vidal "Max" Fortuna early Monday around 4:45 A.M.

Firefighters were called to the scene of a dumpster fire next to a building at Washington Street and Aurora Street.

The 21-year veteran firefighter was entering the building when he was suddenly shot and killed.

"I just want them to know my father is a great man. He is a community man," said the defendant's son, Tre Somerville.

Somerville's son says his father has designed and built food trucks for more than ten years. But, he says the business has been the victim of attempted break-in's in an area plagued by the homeless.

He says his dad believed his property was being burglarized.

"He thought he was protecting himself and he had to fear for his life … can't be too sure about the facts because we weren't there, that he was operating in self defense," said Greg Somerville.

At a news conference following the arraignment, San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar expressed her condolences to the Fortuna family.

As to the family's narrative that it was a case of mistaken identity, Verber Salazar stuck to the charges filed.

"In this case, based on what I've seen so far and we've been working on this non-stop, I'm comfortable with the charges we have," said Verber Salazar.

Somerville remains in jail on no bail.

He did not make a plea and his arraignment was continued.

His next court date is Feb. 23.

The judge also addressed separate charges from a 2009 case in Manteca that includes a DUI, driving with a revoked or suspended license and no proof of insurance.

He has another driving with a suspended license charge from 2015. 

Funeral services for Captain Fortuna are still pending.

Watch: Who was fallen Stockton firefighter Max Fortuna?

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