Man arrested in shooting of firefighter at retirement home
LONG BEACH, CALIF.
A retirement home resident shot at firefighters who responded to a report of an explosion at the Southern California facility Monday, killing a veteran fire captain and leaving a second firefighter and another resident wounded, officials said.
Investigators believe based on a preliminary investigation that the man, Thomas Kim, had set a fire early Monday to draw first-responders to his second-floor apartment at the retirement home in Long Beach, south of Los Angeles, and then opened fire, Police Chief Robert Luna said.
Kim, 77, was arrested on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and arson. Investigators were still working to determine Kim’s motive, Luna said.
The shooting happened shortly after firefighters arrived at the 11-story retirement facility around 7 a.m. and found some windows blown out, activated sprinklers, the smell of gas and a fire that they extinguished, authorities said. Firefighters were searching the building when shots rang out and the two firefighters were hit, Long Beach Fire Chief Michael DuRee said.
Fire Capt. Dave Rosa, 45, who had worked for the department for 17 years, died at a hospital Monday morning, DuRee said. He is survived by a wife and two children – age 16 and 25, the chief said.
The other firefighter, Ernesto Torres, was released from the hospital Monday and is expected to make a full recovery, officials said.
An elderly resident at the retirement home was also shot and was in critical but stable condition, said Police Chief Robert Luna.
“Long Beach lost a hero today,” Mayor Robert Garcia said.
Eighty senior citizens remained evacuated from the retirement home Monday afternoon and were being offered health services and counseling at a local community center, the mayor said.
Dozens of firefighters stood at attention and saluted as the flag-draped coffin carrying Rosa’s body was brought out of a hospital Monday afternoon and loaded into a coroner’s van. Community members waved American flags along the street outside the hospital as the procession of police and fire vehicles escorted the van to the coroner’s office.
Luna said a revolver was recovered after Kim was taken into custody Monday morning. He had a prior arrest for car theft, the chief said.
“There’s still is a large puzzle we’re trying to put together. There’s still a lot of information we don’t know,” he said.
Investigators also found two “suspicious devices” when they arrested Kim and called the bomb squad to “render those safe,” Luna said.
Detectives still have “a lot of questions about the devices that were found and the suspect’s intent,” Luna said.
“That’s the environment we work in today, as law enforcement and firefighters. You go to these scenes and you never know what’s on the other side of those doors. And these brave firefighters went through those doors and unfortunately they were met with gunfire,” Luna said Monday.