Police in Georgia have identified the woman murdered in a Monday crime spree that put another woman in a hospital and terrorized a third.
According to police, Catherine Han Montoya was killed inside her East Atlanta home. Montoya lived in the Shadowridge Drive residence with her wife, Meredith.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said Montoya “leaves a legacy of building bridges of unity and opportunity across multi-ethnic communities.” Montoya was the director of field immigration and capacity-building initiatives at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Leadership Conference Education Fund, and was also cochair of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, reports Dyana Bagby of LGBT outlet The Georgia Voice.
Montoya was said to have described herself as a “Queer Chicana Korean Feminist (and Broncos fan).”
A suspect in her murder is under arrest and reportedly awaiting a hearing: Donte Lamar Wyatt is charged with stabbing his estranged wife, Heather Wyatt, in the back at a Waffle House in Stockbridge, Ga., 20 miles from Montoya's home, earlier the same day. Police say he then drove a rental truck to Atlanta, and authorities have tracked him to Montoya’s home. Following the murder, police say, Wyatt stole Montoya’s car, crashed it, and broke into the house of another woman a mile away.
That’s where Wyatt was stopped by a bulldog named Wilson, TV station WXIA reports. His owner, Adra Wilson, called 911 when she heard the break-in, and the dog kept Wyatt pinned in the basement. A four-hour standoff with police ended when cops tear-gassed the basement and took Wyatt into custody.
DeKalb County police told the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Wyatt is charged with murder, burglary, and theft by taking a vehicle. Henry County police charged him with aggravated assault and false imprisonment. Wyatt was being held without bond Tuesday night.
Wyatt's rap sheet shows he has been arrested almost a dozen times for crimes that include trespassing, failure to pay child support, robbery, battery, and domestic violence.
Wyatt's estranged wife had surgery for the stabbing and is recovering in a hospital.
Friends of Montoya memorialized her on the Seeds of Love page on Facebook and launched a website organized to raise money for her family and offset funeral expenses, writing, “She was a shining star in our movement, a tireless champion for immigrant rights, for AAPI women’s rights, for racial and LGBTQ justice. She spoke truth to power with a smile and laughter, and lovingly challenged us all to be our better selves.”
At press time, they’ve raised more than $30,000 toward a goal of $50,000 at crowdfunding site YouCaring.com.
Meanwhile, friends have been tweeting tributes:
Cathy Montoya was a really great person, friend, and boss. I had the honor of getting to know her and work under... http://t.co/pt5fduZaAm
— ingrid cruz (@IngridQCJ) April 14, 2015
— Luna Yasui (@lyasui) April 15, 2015
— CultureStrike (@CultureStrike) April 14, 2015