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Man gets life in prison in retirement home deaths
Friday - 4/25/2014, 4:10am EDT
DETROIT (AP) -- A 67-year-old grandfather was sentenced Thursday to life in prison with no chance of parole in the killing of two women at a Detroit retirement home.
Meanwhile, the family of one victim filed a wrongful death and negligence lawsuit this week against the man, the senior apartment building and its management company. The lawsuit includes allegations that property officials didn't appropriately seek help from police on the day of the shooting and that they knew of threats Reda allegedly made with the rifle in the past but did nothing to evict him or contact police.
Mike Reda told police he was filled with rage and alcohol on Oct. 20 when he shot Deborah Socia, 59, and Maria Gonzalez, 61, with an assault rifle at Pablo Davis Elder Living Center on the city's southwest side. A jury found him guilty earlier this month of two counts of first-degree, premeditated murder, a count of felony murder and other crimes.
Issuing the mandatory sentence, Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway called the killings a "horrible incident."
Reda, who lived alone at the two-story, 80-unit center, said only: "I'm sorry for what happened."
Some members of the victims' families were in the courtroom but declined to speak. Defense attorney Bryan Sherer also declined comment after the hearing.
Reda, who has more than two dozen grandchildren and great-grandchildren, told police during a videotaped interrogation that he had dated the same woman for several years and that the victims had befriended her and that they frequently kept his girlfriend away from him.
He said he'd been drinking brandy and couldn't remember most details of the day, but later in the interview he said 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" and hit Socia. He told investigators he then went inside Gonzalez's apartment, kicked in her door and shot her twice in the head.
Gonzalez's family members filed the suit Tuesday against Reda, Pablo Davis Elder Living Center, property management company KMG Prestige Inc. and one KMG employee.
The lawsuit alleges officials "breached their duty" to seek police help on the day of the shooting.
The lawsuit says that on the day of the shooting, "Reda's presence with a rifle in a common area of the premises constituted a specific situation ... that would cause a reasonable person to recognize a risk of imminent harm."
The lawsuit also says that other tenants had reported to management threats Reda had made to them with the rifle before the day of the shooting and says that he had fired the gun into a cemetery behind the residence but officials did not inspect his apartment or require him to surrender his rifle.
The lease agreement, according to the suit, prohibits tenants from engaging in criminal activity, acts of violence or threats of violence.
"It's a very sad situation," said attorney Stuart Eisenberg, who filed the suit on behalf of the Gonzalez family. "If they knew guy was doing criminal activity, they should have done something to evict the guy or call the police. But they never did."
A woman who identified herself to The Associated Press on Thursday as the manager of Pablo Davis Elder Living Center declined to give her name. She said she didn't know about the lawsuit but took the reporter's name and number for someone to call back.
A KMG Prestige employee told The Associated Press that it stopped managing the senior apartment complex at the end of January and referred other calls to company lawyers. A message left for them Thursday was not immediately returned.
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