77-Year Old Man in a Senior Care Retirement Home Fatally Shoots One Firefighter and Injures Another in Long Beach, California

RISKAlert Report # 1149         Updated:  June 27, 2017                                                    Long Beach, California

A 77-year-old retirement home resident identified as Thomas Kim, has been accused of intentionally setting a fire Monday morning to lure first responders to the facility.  After the firefighters entered the Home and
put out the fire, Kim fired on the men, killing one firefighter and wounding another.

It’s the first time we have seen anything like this said, Mike Duree, Long Beach Fire Chief..

Around 4 a.m. Monday morning, firefighters Capt. Dave Rosa and Ernesto Torres responded to reports of a fire, followed by an explosion and the smell of gasoline, at the Covenant Manor senior care facility, Duree said. As they approached the high-rise building, the firefighters noticed that the windows of one unit had been blown out and that the sprinklers were on.

After extinguishing the fire, Rosa and Torres remained inside the building to investigate the gas smell and explosion, the chief said. Ten minutes later, gunfire erupted and police received reports of an active shooter. Rosa, a 45-year-old veteran of the Long Beach Fire Department, was killed in the attack. Torres and another man, a civilian resident of Covenant Manor, were injured and taken to a local hospital.

Long Beach Police arrested 77-year-old Thomas Kim, who lived in the facility, in connection with the fire and the shooting.

They booked Kim  on suspicion of murder, as well as two counts of attempted murder and arson, and is being held on $2 million bail.  It is not known about where he got his weapon and how he started the high-rise fire.

Not much was immediately known about Kim, police said he was arrested years ago for auto theft and that detectives are looking into reports of erratic past behavior.  His family said that they were stunned to find out the suspect was alive, living in Long Beach, and was a suspect in the murder and arson investigation.


LESSONS LEARNED:

  1. Retirement facilities should institute a No-Weapons Policy for Residents. 
  2. Firefighters place themselves in danger every day, but didn’t expect to encounter
    a killer in the retirement home!
     


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