Gunman, hostages dead at veterans home


Associated Press

YOUNTVILLE, Calif.

Three workers for a program that treats veterans for post-traumatic stress disorder were found dead Friday along with the suspect who took them hostage in a daylong standoff at the largest veterans home in the U.S., officials said.

The bodies of the four were discovered nearly eight hours after the gunman slipped into an employee going-away party in a building where combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan receive treatment, said California Highway Patrol Assistant Chief Chris Childs.

The three female victims were employees of the nonprofit organization Pathway Home treatment program, which is housed on the campus of the Veterans Home of California-Yountville.

Napa County Sheriff John Robertson declined to identify the victims and the gunman Friday night, saying family members still needed to be notified.

Authorities said they know who the gunman is but did not reveal his identity or know the motive for the attack at the state-run Veterans Home of California-Yountville, in one of Napa Valley’s most upscale towns in the heart of wine country.

Childs said investigators have not determined a motive. Yountville is about 53 miles north of San Francisco.

A deputy sheriff responding to an emergency call shortly after 10 a.m. got into a shootout with the gunman, but the officer was not injured.

Highway Patrol Sgt. Robert Nacke said negotiators were unable to make contact with the gunman throughout the day.

Larry Kamer told The Associated Press that his wife, Devereaux Smith, was at a morning staff 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 grounds of the veterans home, treats veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Police evacuated the property and closed off nearby roads. An armored police vehicle, ambulances and several firetrucks were at the facility, which houses about 1,000 residents.

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