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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

[NY] Never forgetting Norma Santiago (Roman)

Norma Santiago Roman
(I was able to update this post by adding this beautiful picture)

[1998] ...As pupils and teachers cowered nearby, an Erie County deputy sheriff [Juan Roman Sr.] pursued his estranged wife into their children's elementary school in Buffalo yesterday and shot her dead in an office where she sought refuge... He also shot an aide... [Deputy] Roman has a history of marital disputes with his wife... Lt. Duane T. Rizzo, police spokesman, said officers went to the Roman residence on Sherwood on March 21 and 26.... On Sherwood Street, a former neighbor of the Romans said she had seen the husband beating his wife outside their house about a month ago... Mrs. Roman had told a number of people she expected Roman to kill her... "Why were criminal charges never filed by the police when they responded to calls at the home?... Perhaps we need to amend some laws and improve some policies and protocols. I also wonder if things would have been handled differently if Roman were not a sheriff's deputy... I also hope and pray that changes occur in the system so that Norma Roman's death is not in vain..."


Buffalo News
Lou Michel, Gene Warner and Michael Beebe
May 1, 1998
A former Erie County Sheriff's Deputy of the Year today shot his wife to death and wounded a teacher's aide in School 18 on the city's West Side, police said. Juan A. Roman, 37, a guard at the Erie County Holding Center for the last 10 years and currently on medical leave without pay, was identified as the gunman. Roman and his estranged wife, Norma, 45, argued outside the school as she was dropping off their 8-year-old daughter, one of their three children who attend the Hampshire Street school... Roman was under a Family Court order to stay away from his wife after she obtained an order of protection last month. After arguing outside the school, Mrs. Roman ran into the school office. He followed and shot her several times in the head and body... Margaret Beals, a teacher's aide in the office at the time, also was shot... Although pupils were lined up at school windows watching the commotion afterward, police said no pupil witnessed the shooting... After the shooting, Roman immediately walked out of the three-story yellow brick school, which covers the small block between West and Fargo avenues, and walked toward Plymouth Avenue... As the alleged gunman headed toward Plymouth, the neighbor pointed him out to officers in a patrol car. Officers quickly put the man on the ground, spread-eagle, and arrested him. Police said a gun was found in front of the school. Roman has a history of marital disputes with his wife, police said, and until recently, the couple had lived together. His wife obtained an order of protection from Family Court on April 21, directing Roman to stay away from her... Roman was also required to relinquish three personal weapons registered under his pistol permit...

New York Times
May 2, 1998
As pupils and teachers cowered nearby, an Erie County deputy sheriff pursued his estranged wife into their children's elementary school in Buffalo yesterday and shot her dead in an office where she sought refuge, officials said. He also shot an aide, but no children were hurt and the suspect was caught blocks away... Mr. Roman, off duty and in street clothes, provoked a dispute and followed his wife into the school... As her daughters went on to their classes, Mrs. Roman, trying to get away from her husband, sought refuge in a school office where several secretaries were working. Commissioner Battle said a school guard spotted the weapon and tried to stop Mr. Roman, but was brushed aside. Eight-year-old [JT] was just going into the office to drop off attendance sheets and sharpen a pencil when Mr. Roman entered in a rage and drew his gun. There were screams, the sobbing girl recalled, and the firing began... Mrs. Roman tried to take cover behind the office counter, witnesses said. But the assailant fired once through the waist-high counter, then jumped on top of it and fired down at her, inflicting the fatal wounds... Besides two daughters enrolled at P.S. 18, the slain woman and the deputy were the parents of a 5-year-old son. All three were placed with child-welfare authorities last night. Mr. Roman, who was honored in 1993 for saving a man from a burning building, had a clean record as a deputy, the sheriff said, and is the brother of a Buffalo police officer and a housing police officer...


Buffalo News
Lou Michel and Kevin Collison
May 2, 1998. pg. A.1
A janitor struggled to grab a handgun from a man Friday morning moments before he shot his estranged wife dead in the School 18 office where she had fled during a domestic quarre... "Roman was confronted by a school staff member who unsuccessfully attempted to take the weapon from him," Deputy Police Commissioner John R. Battle said... Roman, an Erie County sheriff's deputy who works in the Holding Center, was arrested several blocks away on Plymouth Avenue on murder, assault and weapon charges. Officers Jodie Bobeck-Nadrowski and Sharon Anderson apprehended him nine minutes after the shooting... Roman is scheduled to be arraigned today on charges of second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault and two counts of weapon possession. He is being represented by defense attorney Thomas J. Eoannou. On Sherwood Street, a former neighbor of the Romans said she had seen the husband beating his wife outside their house about a month ago. "I was at the bus stop and I looked down the block and saw him beating her," Dawn Smith said. "He ripped her shirt. Norma ran inside the house, and he busted down the door. When he got inside, all I could hear was her screaming. I went back to my house and called 911." Lt. Duane T. Rizzo, police spokesman, said officers went to the Roman residence on Sherwood on March 21 and 26. "The first time was non-criminal, and the second time resulted in an order of protection," he said. Jane Ketcham, who grew up with Roman and lives on Sherwood, defended Roman, who had been honored in 1994 for rescuing an elderly man from a burning building. She called him a devoted family man. "He was a very good-hearted person," she said... Shelly Kowalski, a friend and neighbor of Mrs. Roman, said she was "a beautiful person, a good person." Miss Ketcham said the couple's 13-year marriage started falling apart last June. A native of Puerto Rico, Mrs. Roman moved out of their Sherwood home April 1 to an apartment in North Buffalo... Described as a small, quiet woman with brown hair and brown eyes, Mrs. Roman surprised her new neighbors on Villa Avenue by installing a sophisticated alarm system in her apartment, which is in a relatively crime-free area... The family's pastor, who had visited Roman's mother Friday afternoon at her West Avenue residence, said Roman had called him to seek his help about a week ago. "He told me they were having marriage problems," said the Rev. Thomas Class, pastor of Church of God. "He asked me to pray for him, and I told him I would. He had come to church Tuesday. So I was surprised to hear this happened"...

Buffalo News. Buffalo, N.Y. pg. A.1
Lou Michel and Michael Beebe
May 2, 1998.
The pencil sharpener was broken Friday morning in her second-grade classroom, so [JT] went across the hallway into the School 18 office to complete her task of keeping the class pencils sharp. [JT], 8, dressed in a black dress with white tights and wearing colorful beads in her cornrows, said she watched a woman come into the office to sign in a girl -- Adriana Roman, also 8 -- who was late this day. A heavy-set man, who had been arguing with the woman outside the school, followed the woman into the office, [JT] said, and tried to give her a set of car keys as Adriana headed off to class. The woman refused to take the keys, they got into an argument, and the man walked out of the office. Then the woman screamed. What's wrong? Principal Paul Williams asked. "He told me he has a gun," [JT] overheard the woman say... What [JT] Tarver saw - Juan A. Roman fatally shooting his 30-year-old wife, Norma, according to police -- will forever stay with her... Another woman in the office covered the little girl at the pencil sharpener to protect her. "The lady in the office held me against the wall so I wouldn't get shot," she said. "I was scared. I could feel the lady's tears start to fall on me." When the man left the office, she said, she ran back to her classroom, and she and other classmates watched him walk away from the school. By that time, other pupils had heard about the shooting, and Mrs. Roman's older daughter, [IP], 12, rushed to the principal's office. "[IP] heard the gunshots," said Dominique Tarver, 11, a sixth-grader. "She was standing outside the office, banging her head against the wall and stomping her feet. She was crying"...

Buffalo News. Buffalo, N.Y.
Gene Warner
May 3, 1998. pg. B.1
...[James] Guercio walked out of the office and saw Roman back in the school, heading toward the office. "He came into the building and had his hands in his pockets," Guercio said. "He pulled a gun out (in the vestibule) and pointed it at me, right at my head. "He didn't say a word." Roman held the gun in both hands. Guercio grabbed both the man's hands, trying to take the gun away. "That's when I started screaming, 'Man with a gun, man with a gun.' He took one hand away from the gun and pushed me away. After he pushed me, I knew it was going to turn bad. You looked into his face, and you saw a blank expression, like he didn't care about anything." The gunman looked into the office and spotted his wife. "Then I ran into the (nearby) phone booth, dialed 911, and he started shooting," Guercio said. By late Saturday, Guercio, who also is a volunteer auxiliary firefighter in Buffalo, had replayed the incident over and over again in his mind. "Today's a tough day, because I was in the school by myself," he said. "You tell people you're OK, but really you're not. I keep saying to myself, 'What else could I have done?'"...

Buffalo News. Buffalo, N.Y. pg. B.1
Peter Simon
May 4, 1998
Buffalo School Superintendent James Harris today urged teachers and staff at School 18 to help pupils work through Friday's fatal shooting and to "show them that it's still a compassionate place and a safe place"... The comfort level and trust pupils feel toward police officers were particular concerns, since Roman is a sheriff's deputy. Teachers were urged to characterize law enforcement officials as "good people, friendly people who have families," and to describe the shooting as "an isolated thing that can happen," Maddigan said.

Buffalo News. Buffalo, N.Y.
Lou Michel
May 5, 1998. pg. B.1
Before Sheriff's Deputy Juan A. Roman surrendered his three handguns and his key to a gun locker in the Erie County Holding Center, the jailhouse deputy improperly obtained a duplicate of the key, authorities said Monday. Roman, who is under a suicide watch in the Niagara County Jail, used the extra key to open the locker and take another deputy's .357-caliber Magnum handgun, authorities believe. The handgun was used in the killing of Roman's estranged wife... Roman's actions to obtain the weapon show premeditation to commit the crime, Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark said. "He apparently made plans in advance. This wasn't a chance meeting or spur of the moment thing," Clark said of the shooting that took the life of Norma I. Roman, 30, and wounded teacher's aide Margaret Beals, 45... The gun Roman allegedly fired five times in the office at School 18 on Hampshire Street belongs to Deputy Peter Steinhilber, who also works in the jail, police said... Although premeditation seems apparent, Clark said that he will not seek the death penalty against Roman because the allegations do not meet requirements of the statute. "The death penalty covers the killing of a police officer, a correctional officer by someone serving time, a torture homicide, and the most common we come across, the intentional killing of another person in the commission of a robbery," Clark said... Suspended without pay following Friday's shooting, Roman has pleaded innocent to charges of killing his wife and wounding Ms. Beals. He is being held without bail in the Niagara County Jail in the Town of Lockport. "He's very depressed, and we don't want to take any chances. He's on a suicide watch," said Niagara County Jail Superintendent Peter Clark... Earlier Monday, Buffalo Police Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske met with the staff and children in School 18 for more than two hours. "Our concern was that someone in law enforcement (was involved in the shooting), and we wanted to make sure that the trust hasn't been broken with children and that they still feel safe coming to a police officer," Kerlikowske said. News Staff Reporter Matt Gryta contributed to this article.

Buffalo News. Buffalo, N.Y.
Matt Gryta
May 9, 1998
...[Erie County Sheriff's Deputy Juan] Roman, 37, currently on a suicide watch at the Niagara County Jail in Lockport instead of the Erie County Holding Center in Buffalo where he had worked, was charged by police with second-degree murder, assault and weapons possession following his arrest May 1 shortly after the shootings. The indictment came to light Friday after prosecutors advised City Court Judge Margaret R. Anderson that a grand jury had returned a multiple-count indictment against Roman on Thursday. As a result, Judge Anderson put off a felony hearing in the case. Joseph J. Marusak, chief of the district attorney's homicide bureau, told Judge Anderson that the teacher's aide, Margaret Beals, remains hospitalized with a gunshot wound in the arm. Marusak said that will delay procedural matters in the case. Anthony J. Lana and Thomas J. Eoannou, Roman's attorneys, said prosecutors have refused to tell them what charges the grand jury filed. "At this time, we are speaking to several psychiatrists to determine if there is some information about his background and his mental makeup that would make a psychiatric defense viable," Lana said... Lana confirmed reports that Roman had been scheduled to come to his office about 1 p.m. May 1 to discuss the couple's marital problems. He said Roman still appears to be in a state of shock over the shooting and is "taking matters as best as can be expected under the circumstances." In another development, Erie County Family Court Judge Michael A. Battle has scheduled a custody hearing for the three Roman children Wednesday.

Buffalo News. Buffalo, N.Y. pg. B.3
May 13, 1998
The fatal shooting of Norma Roman at School 18 is a tragedy on so many levels, but particularly because Ms. Roman did everything right and the system still failed her. She had called the police and had asked for assistance, she had sought and obtained an Order of Protection, she had moved to a new home and had an ADT alarm installed, and on the morning of her death, she even knew to run into a public place to reduce her chances of being physically injured. I struggle to make sense of it all, and try to understand where and how the system went wrong. Why were criminal charges never filed by the police when they responded to calls at the home? How did Juan Roman have access to the weapon? Perhaps we need to amend some laws and improve some policies and protocols. I also wonder if things would have been handled differently if Roman were not a sheriff's deputy. I shed tears for the three children who so tragically and senselessly lost their mother, and for the students at School 18, whose lives have been traumatized by this killing. I also hope and pray that changes occur in the system so that Norma Roman's death is not in vain...

Buffalo News. Buffalo, N.Y.
Matt Gryta
May 23, 1998. pg. B.10
The attorneys for Erie County Sheriff's Deputy Juan Roman confirmed Friday that they are trying to prove he was emotionally out of control when he killed his estranged wife and shot a teacher's aide May 1 at a Buffalo public school. Attorneys Anthony J. Lana and Thomas J. Eoannou said they had their client examined by a psychiatrist days after the shooting at School 18 on Hampshire Street. Lana said they are trying to hire a second psychiatrist to examine Roman, a former Erie County Holding Center guard now being held under a suicide watch at the Niagara County Jail in Lockport. Lana and Eoannou said they are not planning an insanity defense but are considering a defense of extreme emotional disturbance in an attempt to get a first-degree manslaughter conviction rather than a murder conviction. Both attorneys refused to disclose the initial psychiatric findings. Lana said Roman "is in a very distraught state of mind right now," misses his three children and "doesn't seem to have a real understanding" of his legal problems... Roman faces a prison term of at least 15 years to life if convicted of murder. An emotional disturbance defense would give a judge or jury the option of finding him guilty of first-degree manslaughter which carries a maximum 25-year prison term... Roman, 37, pleaded innocent Friday to a seven-count murder indictment in the slaying of his estranged wife, Norma, 30, and the shooting of teacher's aide Margaret Beals, 45, with a .357-caliber Magnum handgun he allegedly took from the locker he shared with another guard at the Erie County Holding Center.

New York Times
Published: December 9, 1998
A former jail guard pleaded guilty today to the fatal shooting of his estranged wife and the wounding a teacher's aide inside an elementary school. The guard, Juan Roman, 37, wanted "to spare his family the agony of reliving the shooting again," said Mr. Roman's lawyer, Anthony Lana. Mr. Roman pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and assault charges and could receive 15 years to life in prison when he is sentenced Feb. 3... Mr. Lana said the decision to plead guilty was made after Mr. Roman's lawyers were unsuccessful in attempts to prove that their client was psychologically unstable. He added that Mr. Roman was also upset about a recent failure to work out a custody arrangement for two children he fathered with his wife, and another child from his wife's previous marriage. The three children remain in foster homes

Buffalo News. Buffalo, N.Y. pg. B.1
Matt Gryta
Feb 17, 1999
A tearful Juan Roman apologizing for the first time to his three children and everyone at Buffalo's School 18, including his surviving victim -- today was ordered to serve a 20-year-to-life term for fatally shooting his estranged wife and wounding teacher's aide Margaret Beals last spring. Roman, 38, a former Erie County Sheriff's Deputy of the Year, turned in the courtroom and weepingly told Mrs. Beals, 46, "I'm sorry." He asked her to apologize for him to everyone at the Hampshire Street school. Roman told State Supreme Court Justice Mario J. Rossetti: "I do feel remorse"... Deputy District Attorney Joseph J. Marusak said Mrs. Roman was shot three times in the face at point-blank range in front of Mrs. Beals and an 8-year-old girl who was sharpening pencils in the school office. Marusak called the school shooting "the textbook example of a battered wife and domestic violence" and said Mrs. Roman had told a number of people she expected Roman to kill her. Wayne Dirig, 27, Mrs. Beals' son ... told Roman he will "never forgive" him for what he did to his mother and said one day God will be his true judge. He asked Rossetti to hold Roman "accountable" for his misdeeds. Before Rosetti said he imposed the prison term after "a lot of soul searching," Roman's attorney, Anthony J. Lana, said he had ordered Roman not to apologize to anyone before his sentencing... The night before the fatal incident, Roman dined peacefully with his wife and their two children -- their five-year-old son and eight- year-old daughter and his 12-year-old stepdaughter -- Lana told the judge...

Buffalo News. Buffalo, N.Y. pg. A.1
Gene Warner
Apr 14, 2000
Norma Roman had an order of protection against her husband, Juan. Jetaun Devers had an order of protection against her husband, Dwight. So did Margaret Valdez against her former boyfriend Allen Taylor. All three Buffalo women are dead, the ultimate victims of domestic violence. The court orders designed to protect them -- limiting their abusers' contact with them -- did the three women no good when the bullets started flying or when the knives were raised in anger... The Norma Roman case terrifies advocates in the domestic violence field. Hers was the textbook case of a woman using all the community's resources to protect herself against a violent spouse. She obtained an order of protection against her husband in Family Court, had the support of the Buffalo police and the Erie County Sheriff's Department and moved into a new home with a burglar alarm. And yet she died in May 1998, in a hail of gunfire, when she was chased into School 18 by her husband, a sheriff's deputy at the time. Experts shake their heads at this case, admitting that even a textbook case can end tragically. "The operation was a success, but the patient died," one local official lamented...

Buffalo News. Buffalo, N.Y. pg. B.1
Agnes Palazzetti
May 21, 2000
Three children, left penniless two years ago when their father murdered their mother, have been hit with another financial blow. Just weeks ago, it was discovered their father had taken out life insurance on their mother - worth about $50,000 today - and had named himself as beneficiary. Because he is a convicted felon and not eligible for the insurance money, it seemed logical to assume the money would go to the children. Instead, the insurance company has denied the claim filed for the children. Robert Dalke, senior vice president of Security Mutual Life Insurance of New York, in Binghamton, had no comment on the decision. "This matter is in legal proceedings," he said. Security Mutual has been ordered to appear in Erie County Surrogate Joseph S. Mattina's court June 5 and explain why it has denied the proceeds of the policy to [AR], 9, and [JR], 7, and their half sister, [IP], 13. Their father, Erie County Sheriff's Deputy Juan Roman Sr., killed his estranged wife, Norma, 30, and shot a teacher's aide on May 1, 1998, in School 18 on Hampshire Street... Immediately after their mother's death, the three children were placed in foster care while a bitter custody battle was fought by their parents' families. It was not resolved until November 1999, when their mother's sister was awarded custody. Though she had five children of her own, the aunt had taken full financial responsibility for the children because no one thought of applying for possible Social Security assistance. When Mattina learned Thursday the children were penniless, he could not believe it. "It was troubling to learn they had been denied their mother's insurance money," Mattina said, "but now, no Social Security assistance?" [David] Cotter, who is acting as attorney for the estate of Norma Roman, didn't have an answer but promised Mattina it would be looked into immediately... Cotter said, "Wrongful-death actions have been filed against both the Buffalo schools and the Erie County Sheriff's Department." According to Cotter, evidence has been uncovered "showing that on the morning of Norma's death, Juan's mother drove him to the sheriff's office to pick up his paycheck"... then picked up Norma and they drove the children to school and went into the principal's office, where they talked. "While there, Juan said he was going back to the car to get his gun, left the school, came back, and despite the comment about the gun, was buzzed in and shot Norma."

Buffalo News. Buffalo, N.Y. pg. B.1
Jun 6, 2000
A Binghamton insurance company, stung by criticism when it refused to pay three children their murdered mother's $46,000 insurance policy, had a change of heart Monday. "They threw in the towel," Erie County Surrogate Joseph S. Mattina said as he walked into his courtroom. The children will receive the proceeds of the insurance policy that their father, Erie County Sheriff's Deputy Juan Roman Sr., had taken out on his wife, Norma, long before the couple began having marital troubles... Mattina also ordered the insurance company to pay out another $5,000 in attorney costs. "If the company did what it should have done in the first place," Mattina said, "there would have been no need for these proceedings." The Security Mutual Life Insurance of New York policy is the only financial resource available to the children... The insurance money will be distributed to the children, now in the custody of an aunt, in monthly installments that Mattina ordered to be monitored by the Erie County Social Services Department... Wrongful-death actions have been filed against both the Buffalo School District and the Erie County Sheriff's Department. Allan Shaefer, attorney for the action, told Mattina he did not expect the case to reach the courtroom for at least the next 21/2 years...

Buffalo News. Buffalo, N.Y.
Matt Gryta
Mar 26, 2005. pg. D.1
A state appellate court has quashed a wrongful death suit against Erie County Sheriff Patrick M. Gallivan, the county, the City of Buffalo and its school system over a sheriff deputy's murder of his estranged wife in a city school seven years ago. Efforts to pursue claims for the three children of Norma Roman were rejected by the five-judge Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, court officials said Friday. The Rochester tribunal, which heard arguments two months ago, agreed with government attorneys and cited "the general rule that a municipality may not be held liable" for a failure to provide police protection, absent a "special relationship" with an individual that would justify such action... The appellate court agreed with lower courts and government attorneys that Norma Roman had "voluntarily placed herself" in a spot where she was endangered, rather than keeping her "distance from" her estranged spouse. On the morning of the shooting, the deputy had picked her up and drove her and their two younger children to school...

Police & Courts - Final
Buffalo News. Buffalo, N.Y. pg. D.3
Oct 21, 2005
The state's highest court Thursday refused to revive the wrongful- death suit that had been filed against former Erie County Sheriff Patrick M. Gallivan, the county, the City of Buffalo and its school system over a sheriff's deputy's murder of his estranged wife in a city grade school...

Santiago Velasquez
Posted: 26 Jan 1999 12:00PM GMT
Surnames: Montalvo, Perez, Roman, Santiago, Velasquez
Of Buffalo, NY; entered into rest suddenly May 1, 1998; devoted mother of [IP], [AR] and [JR]; loving daughter of the late Eusebio and Nancy (nee Velasquez-Montalvo) Santiago; dear sister of two sisters and four brothers all of Puerto Rico; cherished aunt of several nieces and nephews; fond niece of several aunts and uncles; also survived by many cousins and friends...
[police officer involved domestic violence oidv intimate partner abuse law enforcement public safety fatality fatalities murder new york state workplace violence history repeat hx]


  1. this ia my mother i am juan a. roman jr. who made this blog?

    1. A Juan I feel so sorry for your loss. May God keep you in His loving arms and give you all that you desire. I live in Buffalo, NY. Please keep the blog going.

  2. Thanks for this I'm actually looking for blogs/articles on this.

  3. Email me if you need the above full articles

  4. Good work, yes i also ask god to give them peace those who lost their lives.

  5. I had the pleasure of knowing your mom between 1990- 1993. You were a small baby then. She was a lovely lady.

  6. Me n your mom were good friends. I too faced the wrath of those Roman men. Thanks to God I was able to escape the misery. Knowing u n ur mom I’m sure u grew up to be a fine young man. Hope u n ur sisters r doing well. Isa n Adrianna

  7. Hope u n your sisters r doing well

  8. Hi great job remembering your mom

  9. Beautiful picture. She was an amazing woman


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