LONG BEACH, California. – A 77-year-old man who has a fire to lure firefighters are in the Southern California retirement home, so that he could shoot them, authorities said. The attack killed a firefighter and wounded another.
Thomas Kim was Monday arrested on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and arson, but investigators are still trying to determine a motive for the attack in the southern suburb of Los Angeles, police chief Robert Luna said.
“There is still a big puzzle trying to put together. There is still a lot of information that we don’t know,” Luna said.
Kim remained jailed on $2 million bail and it was unclear whether he had a lawyer.
The fire brigade were called to the 11-story Covenant Manor at around 4 a.m. Monday on reports of an explosion. They found a number of the second-floor windows blown out, activated the sprinklers, the smell of gas and a fire that they put out, authorities said.
Firefighters searched the building when shots went off and the two firefighters were affected, fire chief Michael DuRee said.
Fire Capt. Dave Rosa, a 17-year veteran, died in a hospital, the chief said. He is survived by his wife and two children in the ages of 16 and 25.
“Long Beach lost a hero today,” Mayor Robert Garcia said.
Dozens of firefighters stood at attention and saluted as the flag draped casket with Rosa’s body was brought to a hospital Monday afternoon, and loaded into a coroner’s van. Community members waved American flags along the street outside the hospital, such as the procession of police and fire department vehicles escorted the van from the coroner’s office.
The other firefighter, Ernesto Torres, who was released from the hospital and was expected to make a full recovery, officials said.
An elderly resident in the nursing home was also shot and was in critical but stable condition, Luna said. However, the circumstances of the shooting were not immediately known.
The police chief said a revolver was found after Kim was arrested. The researchers also called in a bomb squad to render two suspicious devices safe.
Luna does not explain the nature of the devices, but said detectives have “a lot of questions” about them and what Kim intended to do with them.
Eighty senior citizens were evacuated from the retirement home until this can be labelled as ‘safe’.
“This is a lot to do,” said Pamela Barr, 73, she sat with her son in a car waiting to be allowed back into the tower.
Barr, who lives on the ninth floor, said she had not heard of problems where residents of the facility, where they lived for seven years. They described it as clean, well managed and protected.
The residential tower in the neighborhood of downtown Long Beach, has over 100 apartments for low-income people age 62 and older as well as adults with disabilities, according to its website.
Long Beach is one of the most important port of the town with a population of more than 400,000.
Balsamo reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writer John Antczak in Los Angeles contributed to this report.