DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Family members of a woman who was killed in a shooting at a Detroit retirement home have filed a lawsuit as their loved one’s killer prepares to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Mike Reda, 61, appeared in Wayne County Circuit Court Thursday morning where a judge handed down two mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole in the deaths of 59-year-old Deborah Socia and 61-year-old Maria Gonzalez. He was convicted earlier this month on first degree murder, felony murder and other charges.
Reda told police he was filled with anger and alcohol when he shot Socia and Gonzalez, enraged at what he believed were their persistent intrusions into his relationship with another woman. The shooting took place last October at the two-story, 80-unit Pablo Davis Elder Living Center on the city’s southwest side.
Issuing the mandatory sentence, Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway called the killings a “horrible incident.” Reda said only: “I’m sorry for what happened.”
WWJ Newsradio 950 has learned that Gonzalez’s family has filed a lawsuit against the Pablo Davis Elder Living Center, as well as KMG Prestige Management for the cause of the shooting. According to the lawsuit, the center was aware that Reda kept a rifle on the premises after being warned by other tenants that he had previously fired the weapon into a cemetery behind the complex.
Some members of the victims’ families were in the courtroom Thursday, but declined to speak to reporters.
During an interrogation the day after the shootings, Reda said he was retired, lived alone at the center and had seven children as well as more than two dozen grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He told investigators that he dated the same woman for several years, but said the two women had befriended her and frequently kept the girlfriend away from him.
Reda said he’d been drinking brandy and couldn’t remember most details of the day, but later in the interview told the two detectives that he approached Socia and another man, Paul Fratangelo, on the center’s grounds with his MP5 rifle.
Reda said his rifle discharged one time “by accident.” Reda said he then went inside to Gonzalez’s apartment, kicked in her door and shot her twice in the head.
He asked detectives twice if the women were alive or dead, and at the end of the interview one investigator told him they were dead. Reda paused, sighed heavily and said, “That’s really bad.”
At a preliminary hearing in November, Fratangelo testified that he was sitting on a bench with Socia, smoking a cigarette and talking before dinner, when Reda walked toward them. Fratangelo, 61, said Reda swung his weapon back and forth between the two while ordering Fratangelo to “basically get on my knees and pray.”
“I said, ‘Mike, not this. Not like this. We’re both vets.’ I’m basically pleading with my life,” Fratangelo said, adding that Reda seemed “on edge” but “very composed.”
Fratangelo said Socia asked Reda what he was doing, and he fired his gun one time. Afterward, Fratangelo said he entered the building and tried to trap Reda between two sets of doors. Fratangelo then “bolted down the hall,” told Socia’s son that “Mike is on a rampage” and to “call 911.”