A firefighter is dead and another is hospitalized after an off-duty colleague fired gunshots in a Los Angeles County fire station before apparently taking his own life, authorities said.
The firefighter who was killed was identified as Tory Carlon, according to Sarah Ardalani, a spokeswoman for the LA County Medical Examiner-Coroner office.
The shooter, a firefighter specialist and engineer, was found dead inside a burning home in Acton, California, nearly 10 miles from where he opened fire, according to officials.
LA County Fire Chief Daryl Osby on Tuesday described Carlon, 44, as a brave and loyal veteran of more than 20 years who drove the fire truck and began his career as an explorer in the forestry department.
Carlon was shot multiple times and died at the scene, fire officials said. He was a Santa Clarita resident.
It’s the second time in a week that someone in California went to their workplace and shot and killed co-workers before officials believe they turned the gun on themselves. Last Wednesday, nine people died after a gunman opened fire at a public transit rail yard in San Jose before he killed himself.
The two shootings are the latest to claim the lives of essential workers sustaining the US economy during the Covid-19 pandemic — including the April mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, and the March mass shooting at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado.
The fire station shooting happened just before 11 a.m. Tuesday at Fire Station 81 in Agua Dulce, about 30 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, according to Chief Osby.
The shooter, identified by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office as Jonathan Patrick Tatone, died after an apparent gunshot wound that seemed to be self-inflicted, Sheriff’s Lt. Brandon Dean said.
Tatone, 45, was from Acton, according to the coroner’s office. He was an off-duty firefighter and worked at the station where the shooting took place.
A preliminary investigation by authorities determined Tatone intentionally started the fire at the home after fleeing the shooting.
Further examination of the shooter’s body is being conducted, the coroner’s office said.
Gunman wasn’t scheduled to work that day
The other victim of the shooting, a 54-year-old LAFD captain, was brought to a hospital with gunshot wounds and was in critical but stable condition Tuesday, Osby said.
“As a fire chief, I’ve dealt with a lot of death and a lot of fallen members of our department and I always prayed we would never have a line-of-duty death,” Osby said through tears. “I never thought that if it occurred it would occur in this fashion.”
According to Osby, the suspected gunman was not scheduled to work Tuesday, and the shooter and two victims all worked different shifts.
Investigators received a name and vehicle description of the suspect from witness testimony, which led them to the house in Acton, according to Brandon Dean with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department homicide bureau. The home was on fire when authorities arrived, he said.
While fighting the house fire, deputies saw a man in a pool with a fatal gunshot wound to the head.
“This is very early on, the actual motive we’re unsure of,” Dean said.
Another shooting left nine dead in San Jose last week
Last week in San Jose, Samuel James Cassidy, 57, opened fire at the Valley Transportation Authority in what the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Office described as a targeted shooting.
Cassidy, a VTA employee, fatally shot his coworkers inside two buildings around the time of a morning shift change before killing himself in front of responding law enforcement officers, authorities said.
“He … was targeting certain people. He walked by other people,” VTA worker Kirk Bertolet had told KGO. “He let other people live as he gunned down other people.”
Authorities said the three guns recovered at the scene were legally obtained and registered.
Mayor Sam Liccardo told CNN that Cassidy knew the victims, who were all VTA employees. “It’s clear the victims and all the colleagues knew the shooter well,” he said.
They were identified by the medical examiner as Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63; Adrian Balleza, 29; Alex Ward Fritch, 49; Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, 35; Lars Kepler Lane, 63; Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40; Paul Delacruz Megia, 42; Taptejdeep Singh, 36; and Timothy Michael Romo, 49.
Liccardo described them as “essential workers” who risked their lives and showed up every day throughout the pandemic.
Newly released body camera footage from the moment five officers first encountered Cassidy shows the minutes before authorities found him inside a VTA building sitting in a chair, unresponsive with a gun in his hand.
“The shot that went through the window was the first of three shots, but that is preliminary right now,” Santa Clara Sheriff Laurie Smith said. “The next two shots — he shot himself once under the chin, it wasn’t fatal and then in the side of the head.”