Gunman takes hostages at party at largest US veterans home in Calif.


YOUNTVILLE, Calif. (AP) — A gunman slipped into an employee going-away party at the largest veterans home in the United States and took at least three people hostage today, leading to a lockdown of the sprawling grounds in California, authorities and family members said.

California Highway Patrol Sgt. Robert Nacke told reporters he knew of no injuries. Police evacuated the property of the Veterans Home of California after reports of a man with a gun at the facility in Yountville, one of Napa Valley's most upscale towns in the heart of Northern California wine country.

"We do have an active shooter situation with a hostage situation in Yountville," Highway Patrol Officer John Fransen told San Francisco Bay Area news station KTVU-TV.

Larry Kamer told The Associated Press that his wife, Devereaux Smith, was at the party and told him by phone that the gunman had entered the room quietly, letting some people leave while taking others hostage.

Smith, a fundraiser for the nonprofit Pathway Home, was still inside the facility's dining hall and was not allowed to leave, he said. The Pathway Home, a privately run program on the veteran home's grounds, treats veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Napa Valley Register reported that the man was wearing body armor and reportedly armed with an automatic weapon.

Fransen said authorities were working to establish a secure perimeter around the facility, which is home to about 1,000 residents. An armored police vehicle, ambulances and several fire trucks were at the scene.

Events manager Elizabeth Naylor, who was working about 10 miles north of the veterans' home, said she heard waves of emergency sirens. She said she's lived in Yountville since 1995 and is rattled about a shooting so close to home.

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