Motive unclear after firefighter kills colleague at station
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) — Authorities were investigating why a firefighter killed a co-worker and wounded another at their small Los Angeles County fire station before setting his house on fire and apparently killing himself in what was California's second deadly workplace shooting in less than a week.
The gunman was off-duty when he drove the 10 miles (16 kilometers) from his home in the rural community of Acton north of Los Angeles and opened fire Tuesday at Fire Station 81, authorities said.
He “was not scheduled to work today. He came back and confronted the on-duty personnel,” a visibly shaken Log Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby told reporters Tuesday. “I cannot speak to the mindset of the shooter.”
The chief also said he didn't know about any disciplinary actions involving the gunman, a firefighter specialist and engineer who wasn't immediately identified.
The coroner's office on Wednesday identified the firefighter who died as Tory Carlon. The 44-year-old fire specialist who drove the firetruck was shot several times in the upper torso, authorities said. He had three daughters and had been with the department for more than 20 years, Osby said.
A 54-year-old fire captain was shot in the upper body and underwent surgery. Sheriff's Lt. Brandon Dean said he was expected to survive.
The gunman then returned to his house, which became engulfed in flames. He was later found dead in an empty pool of a gunshot wound that appeared to be self-inflicted because nobody else was there and deputies didn't open fire, sheriff's officials said. Helicopters fought the blaze that burned for hours.
Hundreds of people honored Carlon at a vigil Tuesday night at a park near the fire station in Agua Dulce, a rural community of about 3,000 people in the desert of northern Los Angeles County. He was remembered as a devoted father and committed firefighter who mentored younger colleagues.
Osby said the station has only four firefighters per shift and was considered a home by workers who typically work 24 hours at a time.
“As a fire chief, I never thought that when our firefighters face danger, that they would face danger in one of our community fire stations,” Osby said.
County Supervisor Janice Hahn said firefighters risk their lives daily.
“Between emergency calls, the fire station must have felt like their safe haven,” she said. “Unfortunately, that sense of safety has now been shattered.”
Tuesday's shooting occurred less than a week after a man opened fire with three handguns at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority bus and rail yard in San Jose, killing nine of his co-workers and then himself as law enforcement closed in. He had rigged his home to burn down before heading to his longtime workplace last Wednesday.
Acquaintances said 57-year-old Samuel Cassidy had a short fuse at times and a longtime grudge against his workplace, but the exact motive for the shooting was under investigation. Body camera footage from a Santa Clara County sheriff's deputy who went into a building as shots were being fired was released Tuesday.
A new FBI report found that California had the most mass shooting incidents in the last 20 years, aligning with the fact that it's the nation's most populous state.
Associated Press writers Christopher Weber and Robert Jablon in Los Angeles contributed to this story.