An off-duty firefighter fatally shot a colleague at a Los Angeles County fire station in Agua Dulce, officials said Tuesday. The suspected gunman also wounded a fire captain before traveling to his nearby home where he barricaded himself and the residence was set on fire and burned for hours. He was later found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.
In a news conference, Fire Chief Daryl Osby said a 44-year-old fire specialist, who was a 20-year veteran of the department, died in the shooting. A 54-year-old fire captain suffered several gunshot wounds and was hospitalized in critical, but stable condition.
The county fire department said the shooting occurred just before 11 a.m. local time at Fire Station 81, which is located about 50 miles north of Los Angeles. The home that was set ablaze is about 10 miles from the station.
“This morning when I received the news … it was some of the worst news I’ve heard in my career,” Osby said. “As a fire chief, I’ve dealt with a lot death and fallen members in my department. And I’ve always prayed we would never have a line of duty death. I never thought it would occur in this fashion.”
Fire crews have since put out the fire at the firefighter’s residence and officials discovered a body in the yard of the home, CBS Los Angeles reported. Fire crews made a water drop on the home in hopes of preventing flames from spreading to nearby brush or other structures, the station said.
LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the suspected gunman appeared to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Osby said the suspect was an off-duty firefighter who was not scheduled to work Tuesday. It was not immediately clear if there was a motive and an investigation is ongoing. Officials have yet to identify the gunman or victims.
The fire chief described the slain victim as “truly dedicated, one of our better firefighters and a true loss to our department.”
“As fire chief, I never thought when our firefighters face danger, they would face that danger at one of our community fire stations,” Osby said.
“My most sincerest condolences to the family of the firefighter who was tragically killed in today’s shooting at Fire Station 81 in Agua Dulce,” County Supervisor Hilda Solis tweeted. “At my direction, flags will be flown half-staff at all County buildings.”
The incident comes nearly a week after a mass shooting in San Jose, where a gunman killed nine employees of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. Police said the suspected shooter died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.