Richard Winton, Hayley Smith, Priscella Vega and Lila Seidman
Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — An off-duty firefighter killed a fellow firefighter and critically wounded a captain in a shooting at Agua Dulce fire station Tuesday morning, officials said.
The suspect then fled to his home on Bent Spur Drive, about 10 miles away. Within minutes, that home was on fire, and by 3 p.m., it had been reduced to near rubble by the flames.
A person believed to be the suspect was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in a small pool on the property, according to sheriff’s officials.
Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Daryl L. Osby said it was a “tragic day for the Los Angeles County Fire Department.”
“As a fire chief, I never thought that when our firefighters face danger, that they would face that danger in one of our community fire stations,” Osby said.
The deceased victim, who has not yet been identified, was a 44-year-old firefighter who had been with the department for more than 20 years.
The second victim, a 54-year-old fire captain, was transported to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital with multiple gunshot wounds, where he remains in critical but stable condition.
L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the motive is still under investigation. A county source with knowledge of the situation said there was an ongoing dispute between the deceased and the shooter, who worked different shifts but lived in the same area.
The argument escalated Tuesday morning and the gunman shot and killed the 44-year-old firefighter. The captain was wounded when he tried to intercede, the source said.
Lt. Brandon Dean of the sheriff’s homicide bureau said responders at the home found a person in a small pool outside of the residence who appeared to have suffered a gunshot wound to the head. He could not confirm whether the wound was self-inflicted, but said no deputies fired weapons and no one else was believed to have been at the location.
“We cannot with 100% certainty say that that is our suspect because we have not made an approach on the residence yet as the house is still burning,” he said during the news briefing.
After the house caught fire, aerial footage showed thick black smoke billowing into the air for hours as fire crews made water drops on the home, where officials said there were propane tanks.
Around 2 p.m., a bomb squad vehicle could be seen arriving at the home.
Officials with the L.A. County Fire Department said there was no immediate threat to surrounding structures.
“My heart is with our (L.A. County Fire Department) firefighters and the families of those affected,” L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said on Twitter.
Supervisor Hilda Solis said she was directing flags to be flown at half-staff at all county buildings.
“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,” she said.
The shooting happened only days after a mass shooting at Valley Transportation Authority in San Jose left nine people dead.
The firefighter who died is survived by a wife and three daughters, according to Osby.
“As firefighters, we are in a profession of providing assistance to others,” Osby said. “But I ask that in this particular situation, that we ask you for your support, that we ask you for your assistance, that we ask you for your prayers in our time of need.”
©2021 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.