One firefighter was fatally shot and another was injured on Tuesday during a shooting at a Los Angeles County Fire Department station. The suspect then fled to a nearby home, barricaded himself, set the home on fire, and took his own life.
UPDATE: 3:30 pm PDT – Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby confirmed that an off-duty firefighter entered Station 81 in Agua Dulce, Calif. and opened fire, killing a 44-year old firefighter specialist who had been with the department for 20 years. A 54-year-old fire captain was also shot and is in critical but stable condition.
The suspect returned to his home and barricaded himself, then set the home on fire, Osby said. He was later determined to be dead at the home.
Lt. Brandon Dean of the LA County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau confirmed the suspect was found with a gunshot wound to the head, which appeared to be self-inflicted. Dean caveated that authorities were “confident” from distant assessment that the body was that of the suspect, but added they could not be “100 percent certain” until it was safe to approach.
Dean added that emergency responders did not engage the suspect or more aggressively fight the fire because they believed the suspect to be the only one in the home, and the risk toward first responders was high.
The fire department had tweeted approximately an hour after the shooting took place, “It is with heavy hearts that the LACoFD confirms that a tragic shooting occurred at approximately 10:55 a.m. today at FS 81 in Agua Dulce. The Dept. is still in the process of gathering additional information & are cooperating with law enf. throughout this ongoing incident We will provide updated information when available.”
The suspect reportedly fled and barricaded himself inside a home in Acton, California. Fox News reported the home belongs to the suspect and it was purchased less than a year ago. Dispatchers said the fire was “intentionally set” shortly after the shooting incident, at the location about 10-12 miles southeast of the fire station.
The home later caught fire but KABC7 initially reported firefighters would not engage the fire, out of apparent concern of the threat posed by the suspect. The suspect reportedly threatened to shoot at anyone who approached the house.
Firefighters spent hours dropping water on the house by helicopter to battle the blaze.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies staged at the end of the driveway of the burning single-story structure.
KABC7 reported no nearby structures appeared to be threatened in the isolated area, and the possibility of a wildfire is likely low due to the visible brush clearance surrounding the burning house.
A man’s body was reportedly seen at the home, but it was not immediately clear if the body is that of the shooting suspect. Fox News reported the body was believed to be the shooter.
KABC7 reported the injured victim, a firefighter, was airlifted by helicopter to the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in Valencia.