Members of the nondenominational Lord's Vineyard Fellowship Church in Pueblo, Colorado are mourning the loss of their pastor who was allegedly shot and killed by his own son during a drunken argument.
Fifty-two-year-old Pastor Cecilio "Roman" Ortiz, who also ran a local barbershop, died on Sunday night from a gunshot wound said to have been inflicted by his own son, Malachi, who is now facing second-degree murder charges.
The shooting occurred at the family’s home sometime before 4 a.m. The mother of the perpetrator and widow of the deceased, Roseen Ortiz, told KKTV that her son was very drunk at the time of the altercation and didn’t realize what he had done until he was sober.
"My son was very intoxicated, and where the firearm came into play, I cannot tell you,” Ortiz told the news station. “I was in the kitchen and I just heard a pop and when I ran into the living room they were tussling over the firearm ... between the two of them, I was able to grab the firearm and take it off of him. And then my husband just collapsed after that.”
Roseen Ortiz said she called 911 as soon as she could.
“I dialed 911, I got a voice mail five times," she told KOAA. "I just started panicking, I didn't know who to call. I believe I called my daughter, but then 911 called back. And when paramedics got there he was still breathing, he was fighting for his life."
The mother explained that her son is having a hard time coming to grips with what transpired when he became sober.
“He's having a very hard time. It was his pops. He adored him and he's struggling,” Roseen Ortiz said. “He asked me to ask his sisters and his nieces and nephews for forgiveness, and he said to tell the family and the church family that he was sorry. It's just, he's struggling right now. It's been very, very hard."
According to the widow, her husband was loved by many.
“It's going to be very hard without him. He was a man that spoiled all of us,” she said. “I mean, if you woke up at 2 o'clock in the morning and you wanted an ice cream, he would jump up and run to Loaf 'N Jug and grab you an ice cream. That's who he was."
Members of the congregation and supporters were given the opportunity Monday to go to the nondenominational church to offer their condolences and participate in a balloon release and pot luck. Supporters also gathered out front of Ortiz’s barbershop on Sunday.
“With great sorrow and sadness that we announce there was a tragic accident involving our beloved pastor,” a statement on the church’s Facebook page reads. “Anyone who would like to be with the family and offer prayer can meet at the church. The doors are open.”
According to KOAA, Ortiz began his ministry over 20 years ago with a desire to be an evangelist. Roseen Ortiz said that when the pastor of Lord's Vineyard Fellowship Church stepped down, he felt the call to take over.
"If Roman could speak down from Heaven, he [would say] to forgive Malachi," Ortiz assured.
KOAA reports that Malachi Ortiz is slated to make an appearance in court on Thursday.
The family’s neighbor, Danella Wilder, told KKTV that the tragedy is “heartbreaking.”
"Malachi is gonna lose his life and his father lost his and the mother has to deal with it," she said.
Congregant Randy Montoya told The Pueblo Chieftan that the congregation came together for prayer to help speak life into the situation.
“When you mourn, you’re accepting the death of someone or something,” Montoya said. “We just stress as a congregation to expect, have that attitude of expectation that he’s going to rise again.”
“We know he’s going to be with Christ,” Montoya added. “He’s going to rise with Christ. We know that, but here in this world we keep speaking for him to walk.”