SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) — In California
's second deadly workplace
shooting in days, a firefighter
killed a coworker and injured another at their small fire station before setting fire to his own home and apparently killing himself.
The gunman, a firefighter specialist and engineer, was apparently off-duty when he drove 10 miles (16 kilometers) from his home in Acton, north of Los Angeles, and opened fire at Los Angeles County
Fire Station 81
on Tuesday morning, according to authorities.
“He was not scheduled to work today, and he returned and confronted the on-duty personnel,” a visibly shaken Fire Chief Daryl Osby told reporters. “I cannot speak to the shooter’s mindset.”
The chief also stated that he was unaware of any disciplinary actions taken against the gunman, who was not identified immediately.
Osby said a 44-year-old fire specialist who drove a fire truck was shot several times in the upper torso and died; the father of three daughters had worked for the department for more than 20 years.
A 54-year-old fire captain who was shot in the upper body
underwent surgery and was listed in critical but stable condition at a hospital.
The gunman then returned to his house
, which was engulfed in flames when authorities arrived, and he was later found dead in an empty pool of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot, sheriff's officials said, because no one else was at the house and deputies did not open fire.
Because it was deemed unsafe to send firefighters into the burning home, a SWAT team and a bomb squad were dispatched before firefighters were allowed to use hoses on the gutted ruins.
The fire station is located in Agua Dulce, a rural community of approximately 3,000 people
in northern Los Angeles County known for its rock formations and panoramic views.
According to Osby, the station has only four firefighters per shift and is regarded as a home by employees who typically work there 24 hours a day.
“As a fire chief, I never imagined that our firefighters would be in danger in one of our community fire stations,” Osby said.
Firefighters, according to County Supervisor Janice Hahn, face danger on a daily basis.
“Between emergency calls, the fire station must have felt like a safe haven,” she said, “but that sense of safety has now been shattered.”
The shooting happened less than a week after a longtime employee opened fire with three handguns at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority
bus and rail yard in San Jose
, killing nine people and then himself as law enforcement officers surrounded him; he had set his home on fire before heading to work.
According to acquaintances, 57-year-old Samuel Cassidy had a short fuse at times and a long-standing grudge against his job, but the exact motive for the shooting was still unknown. Body camera footage from a Santa Clara County sheriff's deputy who went into a building as shots were fired was released Tuesday.
According to a new FBI
report, California has had the most mass shooting
incidents in the last 20 years, a figure that corresponds to the state's status as the most populous in the country, with nearly 40 million residents.
Christopher Weber and Robert Jablon of the Associated Press
contributed reporting from Los Angeles.