LONG BEACH, Calif. – Authorities arrested a 77-year-old man hours after a shooting at a Southern California retirement home left a fire captain dead and two other people injured early Monday, officials said.
Capt. Dave Rosa, 45, a 17-year veteran with the Long Beach Fire Department, was shot while responding to a fire, according to the agency.
Police detained a person of interest and recovered a weapon, Long Beach police Chief Robert Luna said. During a news conference later, investigators identified that person as Thomas Kim, a 77-year-old man who lived at the retirement home, according to KTLA.
Kim was arrested and booked on suspicion of murder, two counts of attempted murder and arson, Luna stated. He was being held on $2 million bail.
A bomb squad responded after two devices deemed suspicious were found, Luna said. He did not specify where the devices were seen. Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were also on scene.
The Fire Department responded to a report of a fire alarm at 600 E. Fourth St. at around 3:49 a.m., Long Beach Fire Department spokesman Jake Heflin said. A retirement home called Covenant Manor was listed under that address.
Officials arrived at the multistory building and discovered windows blown out and an activated sprinkler, Heflin said.
The firefighters found the fire and extinguished it at 3:59 a.m., but they continued to assess the area due to reports of an explosion and the smell of gasoline.
At around 4:08 a.m., Rosa and another firefighter were shot, according to the Fire Department.
Heflin identified the second firefighter as Ernesto Torres. He was taken to St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach and was discharged on Monday morning, Heflin said.
Rosa, who served as fire captain for the past 6 1/2 years, left behind a wife and two children, the Fire Department said.
“You go to these scenes and you never know what’s on the other side of those doors,” Luna said at a Monday morning news conference. “These brave firefighters went through those doors and unfortunately they were met with gunfire.”
Police said an elderly man shot “during the chaos” had to undergo surgery and was last listed in stable but critical condition. The police chief said the man was a resident at the facility.
Earlier, the fire department said one of the firefighters was in critical condition and the other sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
At around 8 a.m., a “last call” was issued over officials’ communication system after Rosa did not respond to a roll call. The message signed off with a traditional Irish blessing: “May the sun shine upon his path, may wind always be at his back and may the Lord hold him in the palm of his hands until we meet again.”
Officials escorted Rosa’s body in a procession from St. Mary’s to the coroner’s office via the 710 Freeway. Along the route, first responders saluted the van carrying the slain fire captain’s body.
Rick Convay, a resident at the building, told KTLA he and about four other people saw the shooter before they left the premises.
“As soon as we got in the stairwell, we heard a gunshot,” Convay said. “The man who shot the gun was sitting right on the stairs with the gun in his hand. And I hollered to the rest of the people, ‘He’s got a gun!’ Someone else hollered ‘a gun.’ We went right back out the door.”
In a cellphone video provided by a bystander, a noise that sounds like a gunshot is heard while a fire alarm goes off.
Dan Rafferty, who recorded the footage, said he awoke to alarms going off and saw several firefighters and police officers in the area.
Rafferty said he heard a total of three shots fired and screaming. Rafferty said he saw a paramedic with a possible gunshot wound.
“[The paramedic was] not even on the stretcher. They just lifted him up and carried him,” Rafferty said.
Gina Kim told KTLA she heard fire trucks going by and proceeded to help people from the retirement home cross the street when she heard “two loud booms.”
Authorities closed down Atlantic Avenue between Fourth and Fifth streets as they responded to the retirement home. Outside St. Mary Medical Center, a flag flew at half staff.
Our thoughts and prayers are with our brothers and sisters at @lbfd and their families after this morning's terrifying incident injuring two #firefighters. Another reminder that the dangers first responders face are often not those normally expected. #FireFamily #LAFD https://t.co/ASDyCgeYHo
— LAFD Talk (@LAFDtalk) June 25, 2018