A Concord, Calif., woman, shot to death Nov. 21 in the home of an 81-year-old Fish Springs man, is being remembered as a loving and supportive coach and physical education teacher.
A funeral is Saturday in Pleasant Hill, Calif., for Catherine Mary Costanza.
She died of a shotgun wound to the chest after an alleged struggle over the weapon with Melvin Norlund.
Norlund, in Douglas County Jail on $1 million bail, is charged with open murder with use of a deadly weapon. He reportedly told investigators the shooting was accidental.
When word of Costanza’s death reached the West Sacramento area, friends and former students filled the guestbook in her name on Legacy.com.
In an email, Danielle Meaux of Sacramento, said she met Costanza, whom she addressed as “Coach,” when she was in seventh grade.
“I started high school at River City in the fall of 1995, where she became my basketball coach and one of my favorite people ever,” Meaux wrote. “She was fun, approachable, outspoken, motivational, and downright goofy at times. Her laugh and smile were infectious.”
Costanza said she reconnected with Costanza in 2011 through Facebook.
“An old teammate formed a recreational league with some other old teammates, and, of course, Costanza. But, Coach wanted to coach. We wanted her to play with us, so we got her back on the court.”
Meaux said “it was just like old times.”
She said she is in shock over Costanza’s death.
“God always takes the good ones,” she said. “What hurts the most is that my coach, friend, teacher and mentor was taken from me by an act of senseless violence, and not an act of God. Words will never express how I truly feel about this woman. Even as I tear up now, I still smile through the tears at all the priceless memories I have with her. May you rest in peace, my friend, in the place where angels live.”
Diane Coleman of Sacramento wrote of missed opportunities.
“If I had known in October that it would be the last time I’d see you, I would have hugged you one more time and for a little longer. You will be missed my friend,” she said.
Norlund appeared Wednesday in East Fork Justice Court with his court-appointed attorney, Kris Brown.
She said her client believed he had assets of $4,000 a month from Social Security and disability, but his son manages his finances.
He told Judge Tom Perkins that his son owns the house in the 1300 block of Homestead Road in Fish Springs where the shooting took place.
Perkins set a preliminary hearing for Dec. 20. Brown said she and prosecutor Maria Pence were continuing to negotiate toward a resolution of the case.
Norlund reportedly told investigators he “grew tired of arguing” with Costanza, his caretaker, and threatened to shoot her dog.
He said they struggled over the weapon, and it accidentally discharged.
Norlund directed authorities to the shotgun, which was behind a recliner in the living room.
He went next door to report the shooting, and told his neighbor to call the sheriff’s office.