A day-long hostage situation that began around 10 a.m. local standard time at the California Veterans Home in Yountville, California, has ended in the deaths of three of the hostages and the gunman. According to Chris Childs, assistant chief of the California Highway Patrol, the four bodies were discovered approximately eight hours after the standoff began when officers entered the room where the gunman had been holding the hostages. The victims names are being withheld pending notification of the families, and, though the gunman has been identified by police, they have not yet made the information public.
The Los Angeles Times reports that California Senator Bill Dodd told a local news channel that the gunman was a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition, the shooter had also served in the Middle East, and he had been asked to leave the facility earlier in the week.
The gunman slipped into an employee going-away party on the campus of the veterans home, which is a facility that treats combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who suffer from PTSD or traumatic brain injury. Dispatchers notified responding deputies that the gunman was possibly dressed in all black, was a former resident of the facility, and had a stash of bullets around his neck.
The three female victims were employed by Pathway Home treatment program, a nonprofit organization, which is housed on the campus of the home. It is not clear if the hostages were random victims or if they had some connection with the gunman. Police said hostage negotiators were on-scene, but were unable to make contact with the gunman. A sheriff’s deputy did engage with the shooter, but it is not clear if the gunman was shot by police, although Chris Childs credits the deputy for “eliminating the ability of the suspect to go out and find other victims.”
Childs called the outcome “a tragic piece of news, one that we were really hoping we wouldn’t have to come before the public to give.” The veterans home in Yountville is the largest veterans home in the United States and is home to approximately 1,000 aging vets who served in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, and Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom.