Police: Shooting deaths in Santa Rosa murder‑suicide involved longtime married couple

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GOFUNDME

Paula Zamora's family has set up a GoFundMe. If you'd like to make a donation, click here.

_______

NEED HELP?

Victims of domestic violence can call the local YWCA’s 24/7 crisis hotline at 707-546-1234 for help. The YWCA also offers domestic violence therapy and operates a safe house for victims and a therapeutic preschool program.

“We answer thousands of calls every year for people seeking our services,” said Madeleine Keegan O’Connell, CEO of YWCA Sonoma County. “But we also want to talk to you if you suspect someone in your life could use our advocacy.

Upset about the end of his 27-year marriage, a Santa Rosa man ambushed and killed his wife Monday morning as she sat in her SUV in a Coddingtown Mall parking lot, then drove away and killed himself outside his apartment, police said.

The couple, who had four children, had recently split and were living separately in Santa Rosa, police said. The man, Tomas Zamora-Martinez, 52, wanted to reunite and his wife, Paula Zamora, 43, wanted to divorce, investigators said.

“It was a targeted act of tragic domestic violence in the shopping center,” Santa Rosa police Lt. John Cregan said.

The shocking attack stunned onlookers who witnessed the 8:30 a.m. killing outside the Crunch Fitness gym, located in the southwest parking lot of the Santa Rosa shopping center. Police said Zamora-Martinez was waiting for his estranged wife outside the gym, where she frequently worked out, and confronted her as she attempted to park her SUV.

The man walked up to his wife’s car, raised a handgun and began shooting through the window of her white Chevrolet Tahoe.

“I’m driving along near the post office and hear this ‘pop pop.’ I looked over to my right and there is a guy shooting into this SUV,” said Steve Bruno, a Sonoma man who had just arrived to conduct business in the area.

“He’s shooting and the car starts to roll and he walks alongside it, points his gun right into the driver’s side window and shoots again,” Bruno said, realizing “He was killing her.”

The woman was hit at least twice, police said. The shots blew out the front passenger window of her SUV. One stray bullet hit a side mirror of another car parked nearby.

The wounded woman’s SUV was still in gear and rolled forward, striking an unoccupied green sedan parked near Crunch Fitness. Police officers found Zamora belted into her seat. She was taken by ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where she was declared dead.

No bystanders were wounded.

The man drove a couple blocks to Herbert Street, where he had been living in an apartment complex, Cregan said. He parked his Jeep and shot himself in the head, police said. Callers reported the second shooting at 9:06 a.m. and officers found him dead inside the car, with a semi‑automatic handgun in his lap.

The gun, which had been reported stolen in Las Vegas, was not registered to Zamora-Martinez, police said.

Detectives were looking into whether there had been any previous reports of domestic violence involving the couple. They had been married nearly three decades and had four children. Two of the couple’s four children are in college, one is in high school and one in elementary school, Cregan said. The two younger students attended Santa Rosa schools, where counselors were dispatched to help, said Beth Berk, a spokeswoman for Santa Rosa City Schools.

“We are saddened by the shooting in the Coddingtown area today. We can confirm police let us know this morning that this involved the family of two students in our district,” Berk said. “Our hearts go out to those students and this family.”

Monday’s shooting was a reminder of the “gruesome reality” that domestic violence affects about one out of four families, said Madeleine Keegan O’Connell, CEO of YWCA Sonoma County.

GOFUNDME

Paula Zamora's family has set up a GoFundMe. If you'd like to make a donation, click here.

_______

NEED HELP?

Victims of domestic violence can call the local YWCA’s 24/7 crisis hotline at 707-546-1234 for help. The YWCA also offers domestic violence therapy and operates a safe house for victims and a therapeutic preschool program.

“We answer thousands of calls every year for people seeking our services,” said Madeleine Keegan O’Connell, CEO of YWCA Sonoma County. “But we also want to talk to you if you suspect someone in your life could use our advocacy.

Keegan O’Connell noted that extreme incidents often scale up from domestic violence of lesser magnitude, which “can be very subtle” in early manifestations.

Withdrawing from social activities or exhibiting symptoms of being controlled are common signs of abuse among domestic violence victims, she said.

“Everyone has relationship issues, but people should have the freedom to live a life free of violence and a life free of oppression,” she said.

Help for sufferers of domestic violence includes expedited restraining orders, a victims’ shelter, the YWCA and the Family Justice Center Sonoma County, which offers a variety of services.

“For us, it’s a wake-up call for any victims experiencing threats of domestic violence,” Cregan said.

People working out at the Crunch Fitness center didn’t appear to have heard the gunfire, said Ethan Frey, who works the front desk. But Frey heard yelling and looked outside.

“I was doing my job. I looked up, heard people yelling. A car crashed and a window was shot out,” Frey said. “I think it’s pretty scary. This is not the town I grew up in.”

Police taped off the parking lot scene to keep people away and by early afternoon had towed away the SUV to process evidence. Multiple shell casings were found in the Coddingtown parking lot, including at least one bullet in the vehicle, Cregan said.

At Herbert Street, a group of some eight adults and children stood together near the entrance of the Coddingtown Mall Apartments, where Zamora-Martinez’s Jeep was parked. One man in the group declined to be interviewed but said they were family members of the deceased man.

A construction company cap was on the dashboard of the Jeep and bright yellow vest, such as is worn by construction workers, was on the front seat. The driver’s window was shattered.

Bruno, who witnessed the parking lot shooting, followed the Jeep as the man drove away, calling 911 to report the license plate number. While describing himself as typically calm, Bruno acknowledged the shocking event had shaken him.

“There’s something deeply disturbing about having seen a man shoot an unarmed woman, shoot her dead,” Bruno said. He took some solace in the knowledge that he had tried to help by getting the license number and phoning police.

“The wrong thing to do is nothing. If you just call 911, give some information,” he said. “It’s important to get involved.”

Staff Writers Nashelly Chavez and Will Schmitt contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 707‑521-5412 or randi.rossmann@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter@rossmannreport.

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