The shooting at a Los Angeles County fire station in Agua Dulce in which one firefighter killed a colleague and critically wounded a captain was the violent culmination of a work dispute that escalated over time, detectives said Wednesday.
Lt. Brandon Dean of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau said authorities are trying to work through details of the dispute, seeking paperwork from the L.A. County Fire Department’s human resources office and conducting interviews.
Dean said firefighter Jonathan Tatone came to Fire Station 81 on Tuesday morning and fatally shot colleague Tory Carlon. The captain of the station heard the shot and came down to the scene, where he was wounded by Tatone, Dean said.
The captain was in critical but stable condition at a hospital and has not yet been interviewed by detectives. Tatone was found dead in an apparent suicide at his home in nearby Acton.
Law enforcement sources said Tatone and Carlon worked at the station but on different shifts and had been clashing for some time over operations and other issues.
“We do believe there was some disagreement over work performance and work-related issues,” Dean said Wednesday. “How long it has been going on we don’t know yet.”
Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Daryl L. Osby, who has worked at Station 81, called it a “small, hometown-type fire station — very quiet, very quaint.”
“Generally speaking, the people on that shift would have a good working relationship,” he said Tuesday. “Obviously something went wrong with that relationship today.”
In a Tuesday evening procession, Los Angeles County firefighters drove from Station 81 to the coroner’s office. A U.S. flag hung suspended between two fire truck ladders over the roadway as the procession of police cars and fire trucks rolled beneath. The street flickered with the red, yellow, blue and white lights of the responders’ vehicles.
Hundreds of firefighters and community members also attended a vigil Tuesday night.
“When it comes to being a father, when it comes to being a fireman, when it comes to being a mentor, there was nobody that could parallel that,” one participant said of Carlon, who was married and had three daughters.
Osby described Carlon as “truly dedicated, one of our better firefighters, amazing, and a true loss to our department.”
“My heart is with our firefighters and the families of those affected,” L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said on Twitter.
Calling it a “heinous act of violence,” Supervisor Janice Hahn said firefighters risk their lives at work every day.
“Between emergency calls, the fire station must have felt like their safe haven,” she said. “Unfortunately that sense of safety has now been shattered.”
Multiple sources identified the wounded fire captain as Arnoldo Sandoval, 54, who was taken to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital with multiple gunshot wounds, where he remained in critical condition Wednesday morning.
After the attack, the gunman fled to his home about 10 miles away, where he barricaded himself in and apparently set the house on fire.
L.A. County sheriff’s deputies were unable to enter because of the flames, and fire crews had no way of knowing whether the man inside was armed as they attempted to battle the blaze.
By 3 p.m., the 3,600-square-foot home had been reduced to near rubble. The suspected gunman was found dead in a small pool on the property, according to Sheriff’s Department officials.
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