SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (NewsNation Now) — One Los Angeles County firefighter was killed and another is in critical condition after a shooting Tuesday at a Los Angeles County Fire Department station.
The gunman, a firefighter specialist and engineer, was off-duty when he apparently drove the 10 miles from his home in Acton, north of Los Angeles, and opened fire at Los Angeles County Fire Station 81, authorities said.
The killer “was not scheduled to work today. He came back and confronted the on-duty personnel,” a visibly shaken Fire Chief Daryl Osby told reporters. “I cannot speak to the mindset of the shooter.”
The gunman then returned to his house, which authorities found engulfed in flames. He was later found dead in an empty pool of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot, since nobody else was at the home and deputies didn’t open fire, sheriff’s officials said.
Helicopters fought the blaze because it was considered unsafe to send firefighters into the home, which burned for hours. A SWAT team and a bomb squad were sent in before firefighters were finally allowed to use hoses on the gutted ruins.
A 44-year-old fire specialist, who drove a fire truck, was shot several times in the upper torso and died. The father of three daughters had been with the department for more than 20 years, Osby said.
A 54-year-old fire captain who also was shot in the upper body underwent surgery and was in critical but stable condition at a hospital.
“[The firefighter who was killed] was a brave committed loyal member of our department for over 20 years,” Osby said.
Authorities didn’t immediately release the dead firefighter’s name, but friends and family members identified him as Tory Carlon. Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday night for a vigil at a park near Fire Station 81 to honor Carlon. He was remembered as a devoted father and committed firefighter who was a mentor to younger colleagues.
The chief said the motive was unclear and he didn’t know about any disciplinary actions involving the gunman, who wasn’t immediately identified.
“I never thought [my firefighters] would face danger in one of our community fire stations,” he said.
The fire station is in Agua Dulce, a rural community of about 3,000 people in the desert of northern Los Angeles County known for its rock formations and panoramic views. Osby said the station has only four firefighters per shift and was considered a home by workers who typically work there 24 hours at a time.
The Associated Press and KTLA’s Erika Martin, Lauren Lyster, and Nidia Becerra contributed to this report.