Family of 19-year-old killed during online meet-up robbery speaks out

Local News

FAIRFIELD, Calif. (KTXL) — A family is mourning the loss of their son after police said he was killed during a car deal in Fairfield.

At just 19-years-old, Michael Lopretta was becoming a major car enthusiast, something he and his dad — also named Michael — had in common.

“Michael liked everybody and cared about everybody,” Lopretta told FOX40

On Thursday afternoon, the 19-year-old left his home in Benicia to meet someone in Fairfield to buy a car he found online.

His dad was in contact with him all morning leading up to the meeting.

“He was very excited about it and he made a decision that he was going to buy that car,” Lopretta recalled. “We knew who he was going to meet. We knew the name of the person and everything.”

But just before 12:30 p.m. that day, Fairfield police got a call about a man with a gunshot wound in a neighborhood near Tyler Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

“I was hoping that it wasn’t true and that it was a mistake,” said Michael’s mother, Jessica Treat.

Treat told FOX40 that she saw her son leave the house that day to go get the car and never imagined it would be the last time she’d see him.

“Just completely numb all over and in shock and I couldn’t believe that I’m talking with, you know, a detective and a sergeant at my dinner table,” Treat said.

Fairfield police arrested 24-year-old Kamaria Strange and charged her with homicide.

The details of the meeting are still unclear, but police said it was a car deal gone wrong.

Michael’s family said they’re just proud of the man he became.

“I was lucky to be his dad for 19 years,” Lopretta said.

Police are advising the community to go to a safe, public place when buying items from another person.

The City of Fairfield Police Department offers a Safe Exchange Zone for residents to make online purchases and exchange transactions in a monitored area.

The Safe Exchange Zone is in the parking next to the police station on Kentucky and Jackson streets with two designated parking spaces under 24-hour surveillance.

Police are offering the following information about using the Safe Exchange Zone and safety tips on private sales:

  • Police or city personnel will not be present
  • The exchange of drugs, weapons, alcohol and other illegal items is not permitted
  • The Safe Exchange Zone is meant for person-to-person transactions. Property may not be dropped off and left unattended.
  • Sellers are required to take their property with them if the buyer does not show up.
  • Police encourages the use of Safe Exchange Zones for buyers and sellers of OfferUp, Craigslist, LetGo and other e-commerce apps. This location is monitored by the Police Department 24/7, if you have an emergency dial 911 or for non-emergency 707-428-7300.
  • Only conduct transactions with local buyers/sellers.
  • Insist on meeting in a public place.
  • Do not invite strangers into your home, and do not go to theirs.
  • Take your cell phone with you.
  • Tell a friend or family member about your intentions. Tell them when and where and with whom you are meeting – if possible, bring them with you.
  • Complete transactions during daylight hours.
  • Be extra cautious in buying/selling valuable items.
  • Trust your instincts and be cautious of scams.

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