Suspected gunman, 3 women found dead after hostages taken at California veterans home

  10 March 2018    Read: 1135
Suspected gunman, 3 women found dead after hostages taken at California veterans home

A suspected gunman and three women believed to be hostages he took at a California veterans home on Friday are dead, police said.

The grim end to the situation at the Veterans Home of California in Yountville, a 600-acre facility north of Napa wine country, was announced at around 7:45 p.m. local time (10:45 p.m. ET) hours after the gunman took the three hostages.

"This is a tragic piece of news, one that we were really hoping we wouldn’t have to come before the public to give," Chris Childs, assistant chief of the California Highway Patrol Golden Gate Division, said at a news conference.

Childs said that law enforcement officers entered the room where the gunman was thought to be holding the hostages shortly before 6 p.m. and discovered one male and three females dead. Officials believe the male was the suspect, he said.

The identities of the suspect and victims were not released. The situation is over and there is no threat to the public but an active investigation is continuing, Childs said.

Authorities had said they believed the suspect was armed with a rifle and was holding the hostages inside a room on the grounds.

The Veterans Home of California is one of the largest veterans homes in the country.

Childs credited the initial responding Napa County sheriff's deputy who exchanged gunfire with the suspect with saving the lives of others.

"We believe and we credit him with saving the lives of others in the area, by eliminating the ability for the suspect to go out and find further victims," Childs said.

Childs said earlier that authorities had not spoken to the hostages or the gunman since approximately 10:30 a.m. local time.

Authorities received a call around 10:20 a.m. local time of shots fired inside the facility. Sheriff's deputies rushed to the scene and exchanged gunfire with the suspect, Childs said earlier.

The facility opened in 1884 and is home to about 1,000 residents, according toCalVet — including veterans of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, and the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

Childs said it was too early to say why the people taken hostage were chosen, or whether they were chosen at random. He said it was unclear when they died and the incident was still under investigation.

The suspect entered a part of the veterans home that houses The Pathway Home, which is a privately run program that treats veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars with post-traumatic stress disorder, The Associated Press reported. Authorities have said that the women were employees of The Pathway Home.

"Those killed were three wonderful and dedicated women who got up every morning to better the lives of veterans," U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, who represents the area, said in a statement. "Tonight all our hearts are heavy."

Police found the rental car the suspect is believed to have used parked near the building, and while initially a bomb-sniffing dog alerted on the vehicle no bombs or explosives were found, Childs said.

"The hearts of the California highway patrol family go out those families that are grieving tonight, and I think I can speak on behalf of all law enforcement tonight: We express our deepest and most sincere condolences to the families," Childs said.

California Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement that "Anne and I are deeply saddened by the horrible violence at the Yountville Veterans Home, which tragically took the lives of three people dedicated to serving our veterans. Our hearts go out to their families and loved ones and the entire community of Yountville."

Brown said flags at the capitol will be flown at half-staff in recognition of the victims and their families.


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