Police: Gunman lured firefighters to retirement home to ambush them; 77-year-old suspect arrested on murder charges

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia stands near a photo of deceased Long Beach Fire Capt. Dave Rosa as he speaks in Long Beach, Calif., Monday, June 25, 2018. A retirement home resident shot at firefighters who responded to a report of an explosion at the Southern California facility on Monday, killing Rosa and leaving a second firefighter and another resident wounded. (AP Photo Christopher Weber)

By CHRISTOPHER WEBER and MICHAEL BALSAMO,  Associated Press  LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) 06/26 — A 77-year-old man set a fire to lure firefighters to his Southern California retirement home so he could shoot them, authorities said. The attack killed one firefighter and wounded another.

Thomas Kim was arrested Monday on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and arson but investigators were still trying to determine a motive for the attack in the southern Los Angeles suburb, Police Chief Robert Luna 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,” Luna said.

Kim remained jailed on $2 million bail and it was unclear whether he had an attorney.

A broken window at a retirement home remains at the scene of a fatal shooting in Long Beach, Calif., on Monday, June 25, 2018. A resident of a retirement home in Southern California opened fire on firefighters responding to a report of an explosion in the building, killing at least one and wounding others, officials said. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)


Firefighters were called to the 11-story Covenant Manor at around 4 a.m. Monday by reports of an explosion. They found some second-floor 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, Fire Chief Michael DuRee said.

Fire Capt. Dave Rosa, a 17-year veteran, died at a hospital, the chief said. He is survived by a wife and two children ages 16 and 25.

This photo provided by the Long Beach Fire Department shows Captain David Rosa who was fatally shot while responding to an emergency at a senior home on Monday, June 25, 2018 in Long Beach, Calif. Rosa, a long-time veteran of the department and leaves behind a wife and two children. Another firefighter and another person were also wounded. (Long Beach Fire Department via AP)


“Long Beach lost a hero today,” Mayor Robert Garcia 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.

The other firefighter, Ernesto Torres, was released from the hospital and was expected to make a full recovery, officials said.

Firefighters salute as a van carrying the body of Long Beach Fire Capt. Dave Rosa passes them during a procession Monday, June 25, 2018, in Long Beach, Calif. Rosa was killed Monday morning after a resident of a retirement home opened fire on firefighters responding to a report of an explosion. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)


An elderly resident at the retirement home was also shot and was in critical but stable condition, Luna said. However, the circumstances of that shooting were not immediately known.

The police chief said a revolver was found after Kim was arrested. Investigators also called in a bomb squad to render two suspicious devices safe.

Long Beach police keep a street closed off near a retirement home, seen in background on Monday, June 25, 2018, in Long Beach, Calif. A resident of a retirement home in Southern California opened fire on firefighters responding to a report of an explosion in the building, killing at least one and wounding others, officials said. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)


Luna didn’t explain the nature of the devices but said detectives have “a lot of questions” about them and what Kim intended to do with them.

Eighty senior citizens were evacuated from the retirement home until it could be declared safe.

“This is a lot to deal with,” said Pamela Barr, 73, as she sat with her son in a car, waiting to be allowed back in the tower.

Barr, who lives on the ninth floor, said she hadn’t heard of any troubles involving residents of the facility, where she has lived for seven years. She described it as clean, well-run and secure.

The residential tower near downtown Long Beach has 100 apartments for low-income people age 62 and older as well as disabled adults, according to its website.

Long Beach is a major port city with a population of more than 400,000.


Balsamo reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writer John Antczak in Los Angeles contributed to this report.



Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in: Arrests, Assault, Emergency Services, Explosives, Firearms, Homicide, Investigations, Line-of-Duty Deaths, Murder/Attempted Murder, Shootings, Strange and Unusual, Victims of Crime

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