SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) — An off-duty Los Angeles County firefighter
killed one fellow firefighter and injured another at their small community fire station Tuesday before going to his nearby home, setting it on fire, and apparently killing himself, authorities said.
When the gunman opened fire shortly before 11 a.m. at Fire Station 81, which is about 45 miles (72 kilometers) north of Los Angeles, a 44-year-old fire specialist was killed and a 54-year-old firefighter was shot, according to Fire Chief Daryl Osby, who said the injured man was in critical but stable condition at a hospital.
According to authorities, the shooter was a firefighter specialist and engineer, and the fire chief said he couldn't comment on the motive for the attack
or any disciplinary actions.
“He wasn’t scheduled to work today, so he came back and confronted the on-duty personnel,” a visibly shaken Osby said. “I can’t speak to the shooter’s mindset, but it’s very tragic and sad that that would be a decision point for one of the Los Angeles County Fire Department members.”
The unidentified gunman then went to his house
, which was found engulfed in flames by authorities, and was later discovered dead in an empty pool.
According to L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, the shooter appeared to have a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
All of the firefighters worked at the small station in Agua Dulce, a rural community of around 3,000 people
in northern Los Angeles County's desert known for its rock formations and panoramic views.
“As fire chief, I never imagined that when our firefighters face danger, it would be at one of our community fire stations.”My @AP story from Santa Clarita, Agua Dulce, and Acton today, with major help from @webercm and Bob Jablon:https://t.co/29ExgELWsB
pic.twitter.com/PxMIxOfavk — Stefanie Dazio (@steffdaz) June 2, 20
comes less than a week after a gunman killed nine of his coworkers at a rail yard in San Jose
after rigging his home to burn down and then committing suicide
on Wednesday after expressing hatred for his workplace
According to authorities, the man who died in Tuesday's shooting at the fire station was a more than 20-year veteran who had been promoted to firefighter specialist, the person who drives the firetruck, and was shot multiple times in the upper torso.
According to the fire chief, the victim, who has not been identified, was "truly dedicated, one of our better firefighters, and a true loss to our department," according to family and coworkers.
“As fire chief, I never imagined that when our firefighters are in danger, it will be at one of our community fire stations,” Osby said.
Neighbors in the nearby community of Acton, a dry, hilly area dotted with ranches with horses
and other livestock, watched as black smoke poured from the burned house. The fire burned for hours, gutting the home, and helicopters dropped multiple water drops to douse it.
Michael May, 70, who lives down the street, said he was sitting in his living room when he heard the buzz of low-flying helicopters.
“It usually means a fire around here,” he explained.
He noticed a swarm of police
vehicles racing up the street, and deputies emerged wearing bulletproof vests.
May has lived in the neighborhood for 23 years but had no idea who lived in the demolished house; he said many people in law enforcement and the film industry live nearby.
“It’s a place where people go to find peace and quiet,” he explained.
Brian Dalrymple, 79, who lives across the street from May, believes the burned-out house was recently sold.
He and his wife went outside to see the thick smoke, initially concerned that the fire would spread to their home. Dalrymple said he never heard gunshots but saw deputies rush up to the property, long guns drawn.
He stated that a friend called to inform them of the situation.
“We had no idea what she was talking about,” Dalrymple admitted, “because it’s usually pretty peaceful out here.”