AGUA DULCE (CBSLA) – A firefighter was shot and killed and a second was critically injured at a Los Angeles County Fire Department station in Agua Dulce Tuesday morning. The shooting suspect is believed to be an off-duty firefighter who worked at the same station.
A body, believed to belong to the suspect, was later found at the suspect’s home in Acton, which had been set ablaze.
The shooting took place at about 10:50 a.m. at LACFD Station No. 81 in the 8700 block of Sierra Highway.
“It is with a heavy heart that I stand here and say that one of our firefighter specialists succumbed to his injuries,” LACFD Chief Daryl Osby said in a Tuesday afternoon news conference.
He added that learning of the shooting was “some of the worst news that I’ve heard in my career.”
The slain firefighter, a 44-year-old man, was a 20-year veteran of the department, Osby said. A 54-year-old fire captain sustained a gunshot wound and was in critical condition after being airlifted to Henry Mayo Hospital in Valencia.
Osby said the shooter was an off-duty firefighter who was not scheduled to work Tuesday. He said the shooter returned to his house, barricaded himself, set the home on fire and was later found deceased although the coroner had not yet confirmed the identity of the body found at the residence.
Authorities responded to the fire burning at a large home in the 2600 block of Bent Spur Drive in Acton, about 10 miles from the station.
Heavy flames and smoke were seen billowing from the home, and the body with a possible self-inflicted gunshot wound was found in the yard.
Fire crews made a water drop on the home in hopes of preventing flames from spreading to nearby brush or other structures.
The fire continued to burn early Tuesday afternoon, with the bulk of the structure burned to the ground.
L.A. County Sheriff’s homicide detectives are investigating. There was still no word on a possible motive. However, the Los Angeles Times reports that there may have been an ongoing dispute between the shooter and the slain firefighter, who worked different shifts but resided in the same area.
“They work 24 hours, so we have to interview all the people that are assigned to this fire house that worked on all three different shifts, to get into, was there any history between these individuals, when was the last time they saw each other,” L.A. County Sheriff’s Lt. Brandon Dean said.
Tuesday night, a vigil was held for the fallen firefighter in Acton, attended by his friends and family.
“When it comes to being a father when it comes to being a fireman, he taught me much about being a better father for my girls and being there,” a friend told the gathered crowd.
Neighbor Carol Dalrymple spoke with CBSLA’s Jeff Nguyen and said the home that was burning was once featured in a designer magazine.
The home was sold less than a year ago for $700,000, according to online real estate records, and Carol Dalrymple says she was unsure if anyone lives there now or if it is being rented.
L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis posted to Twitter saying, “My most sincerest condolences to the family of the firefighter who was tragically killed in today’s shooting at Fire Station 81 in Agua Dulce. My thoughts are with our @LACOFD family. At my direction, flags will be flown half-staff at all County buildings.”
Agua Dulce is located about 18 miles northeast of the city of Santa Clarita, and about 40 miles north of Los Angeles.