LONG BEACH (CNS) – A gunman opened fire today on firefighters responding to a report of an explosion at a high-rise Long Beach apartment building housing low-income seniors, killing a veteran fire captain and wounding a second firefighter and a civilian, authorities said.
The Long Beach Fire Department firefighters had been sent to Covenant Manor, an 11-story building in the 600 block of East Fourth Street, about 3:50 a.m. in response to a report of a possible explosion at the senior living home. A fire alarm had been set off, and the sprinkler system had been activated, the LBFD reported.
Capt. Dave Rosa, 45, a 17-year veteran with a wife and two children, was fatally wounded, the LBFD reported. The other firefighter — Ernesto Torres, 35, and a 10-year veteran — suffered a graze wound, and was treated at a hospital and released.
A third person, reportedly a Convenant Manor resident, was taken to a hospital in critical condition and underwent surgery, according to broadcast reports.
A man described as a “person of interest” was taken into custody, according to Nancy Pratt of the Long Beach Police Department. Police said they were interviewing him. Other details were not released, but witnesses told reporters that he was a man who lived in the building.
Residents were evacuated as a precaution and were stopped from returning as the investigation was being carried out, a process that was continuing hours afterward.
A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department bomb squad was sent to examine two “suspicious devices” found at the scene, Pratt said. A gun that may have been used in the crime was also recovered, according to reports from the scene.
Early this afternoon, Rosa’s body was taken from Saint Mary Medical Center in Long Beach to the coroner’s facility near downtown Los Angeles in a coroner’s van that was escorted by a procession of fire and law enforcement vehicles.
“The initial reports came in that there was some type of explosion at the location,” LBFD Chief Mike Duree said in a briefing at Saint Mary Medical Center about four hours after the first alarm came in.
“At 3:51 a.m., occupants reported the smell of … gasoline,” Duree said. “Occupants were instructed to shelter in place. As fire units made their way to the reported location, they noticed that windows had been blown out … in the general vicinity of an affected unit, and that sprinklers had been activated. At 3:59 a.m., the fire units stated they had knocked down the initial fire. At 4:08 a.m., reports of shots were fire at the location. We had
two firefighters that were shot.”
Duree said he was “saddened to report … fire Capt. Dave Rosa — a 45-year-old assigned to Fire Station 10, a captain for the Long Beach Fire Department for the last six and a half years and a member of the Long Beach Fire Department for the last 17 years — was killed in the line of duty this morning when he responded to that structure fire. He leaves behind a wife and two children.”
A candlelight vigil for Rosa was scheduled for 8 p.m. at Fire Station 10, where he was assigned.
“This tragic and senseless loss is a blow to our whole city,” said Long Beach City Councilman Dee Andrews, whose Sixth District includes Fire Station 10. “My thoughts and prayers are with Capt. Rosa’s family and will all the first responders who work hard to protect us every day.”