An off-duty firefighter opened fire Tuesday morning at a fire station north of Los Angeles, killing a 44-year-old member of the LA County Fire Department, fire officials said.
The shooting happened just before 11 a.m. at Los Angeles County Fire Station No. 81 in the 8700 block of Sierra Highway in Agua Dulce and touched off a rapidly unfolding series of events that ended with a standoff and fire that burned for hours at a property about 10 miles away in Acton.
Details about what led the gunfire were not immediately available, but authorities said it stemmed from some sort of dispute involving the shooter, also a member of Station 81, and victims.
Fire Chief Daryl Osby identified the slain firefighter as a 44-year-old specialist engineer who had been with the department for more than 20 years. The victim’s name was not released early Tuesday afternoon.
“This morning when I received the news, it was some of the worst news that I’ve heard in my career,” Osby said. “As a fire chief, I’ve dealt with a lot of death and a lot of fallen members of my department. I’ve always prayed that we would never have a line of duty death. I never thought that if it occurred, that it would occur in this fashion.
“I know that as firefighters, we are in a profession of providing assistance to others, but I ask that in this particular situation that we ask you for your support, that we ask you for your assistance, that we ask you for your prayers in our time of need.”
A 54-year-old fire captain was shot and injured. The victim remained hospitalized Tuesday afternoon in critical, but stable, condition.
During the initial call for help from the fire station to dispatch, the person who made that call was able to identify the attacker by name. Witnesses said the shooter left the scene in a pickup truck, law enforcement sources told NBCLA.
Deputies followed the truck to an Acton house about 10 miles from the shooting scene where a fire broke out. At some point, the individual indicated there were weapons on the property and anyone who approached would be shot, law enforcement sources said.
Several law enforcement department SUVs and armored SWAT vehicles were parked in the neighborhood in the 2700 block of Bent Spur Drive.
Water-dropping helicopters, usually deployed to fight wildfires, attacked the flames. The fire was out early Tuesday afternoon. No other structures were damaged.
A body, believed to be that of the shooter, was found at the property, investigators said. No shots were fired by deputies during the standoff, leading authorities to believe the man died from a self-inflicted gunshot, investigators said.
The body had not been positively identified.