Officials: 3 hostages, gunman dead after day-long standoff at Yountville veterans home

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Saturday, March 10, 2018
Officials: 3 hostages, gunman dead after day-long standoff at Yountville veterans home
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Four people are dead after a man wearing body armor and armed with a rifle stormed into a Napa County veterans home Friday morning, officials confirm.

YOUNTVILLE, Calif. (KGO) -- Four people are dead after a man armed with a rifle stormed into a Napa County veterans home Friday morning, officials confirm.

The day-long hostage situation, which started around 10:30 a.m. at the Veterans Home of California in Yountville ended Friday with the gunman killing three female hostages, confirmed Assistant Chief Chris Childs of the California Highway Patrol. The suspect, he said, is also dead.

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Pathway Home officials released the names of the three women who lost their lives in the standoff. They are described as brave, accomplished professionals who dedicated their careers to serving veterans. Executive Director Christine Loeber, therapist Dr. Jen Golick, and psychologist with the San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs Dr. Jennifer Gonzales.

The gunman has been identified as 36-year-old Albert Wong of Sacramento who was a former member of the Pathway Home Program at the veterans facility.

This is an undated image of Albert Wong, the suspected gunman accused of killing 3 hostages at a Yountville veterans home.

Law enforcement from the Napa County, the California Highway Patrol and FBI surrounded the Veterans Home of California in Yountville, which is the largest veterans' residence community in the United States, for more than eight hours.

Authorities held their first formal press conference shortly after 2 p.m. and confirmed that a male suspect entered the Pathway Home building.

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Deputies and the suspect exchanged gun fire earlier in the day, Napa County Sheriff John Robertson said. Robertson confirmed that "many bullets" were fired from both sides.

Authorities said they know who the gunman was but didn't reveal his identity or know the motive for the attack.

Childs said the hostages were employees of the Pathway Home, a privately-run and non-profit program at the veteran's home facility. Authorities have not yet identified the victims.

State Senator Bill Dodd said earlier Friday that the hostages were clinical psychiatrists and the executive director of the program, which treats veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

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The gunman, he said, was a veteran in the program. The suspect had been asked to leave the program earlier this week, Dodd said, noting the facility has rules and regulations to stay in the program.

Larry Kamer told ABC7 News that his wife, Devereaux Smith, and six other women were attending a going-away party for a colleague when the suspect broke in with a rifle. The gunman, Kamer said, let four of the women go, including his wife, and held three hostage.

The women, Kamer said, work with Pathway Home, a non-profit that provides services to veterans. Kamer is also a volunteer with Pathway and formerly sat on the organization's board of directors.

The situation started around 10:30 a.m. Friday, with the Napa County Sheriff's Department issued an alert to residents warning them to avoid the area. The home was lockdown all day, and those in the area were asked to shelter in place.

About 1,000 male and female disabled and elderly veterans from World War II and the wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq live at the home, which was founded in 1884, according to its website.

Army veteran and resident Bob Sloan, 73, was working at the home's TV station when a co-worker came in and said he had heard four gunshots coming from the Pathway Home. Sloan sent alerts for residents to stay put.

Except for helicopters buzzing overhead, the home was eerily quiet, Sloan said, adding that he could see police with "long-barrel assault-type weapons" crouching around the building, some taking cover behind trees.

RELATED: What to know about the Veterans Home of California Yountville

Jan Thornton of Vallejo, California, was among hundreds of relatives worried about how their loved ones were coping with the lockdown. Thornton said her 96-year-old father, a World War II fighter pilot, was inside a hospital wing and that she had reached one of his friends who said he was safe.

Still, she worried about the stress of the lockdown, considering her father's age and that he has PTSD and some dementia. Thornton said her "heart just bleeds for the people that are being held hostage."

A group of 80 students from Justin-Siena High School were at the Lincoln Theatre on the property when the situation began, Robertson said, but were not close to the building where the shooter has taken hostages. The students were never in any danger, he said, and were placed on lockdown before being moved off the property by bus.

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Yvette Bennett, a wound-care supply worker who supplies the veterans center, was turned back when she tried to deliver what she called urgently needed medical supplies for two patients inside.

Of all the medical institutions she has worked with, "this is the most placid, calm, serene place," she said. Earlier this week, when she last visited, she asked a doctor, "What's your magic here?"

"And then 48 hours later this happens," Bennett said.

Yountville is a small town that's home to wineries such as Domaine Chandon, which is less than a half-mile from the veterans facility, and Thomas Keller's famed restaurant The French Laundry, which is about a mile away.

Click here for full coverage on the deadly shooting at the Veterans Home of California in in Yountville.

Associated Press writers Ellen Knickmeyer, Janie, Har, Olga R. Rodriguez, Paul Elias and Jocelyn Gecker in San Francisco, Amanda Lee Myers in Los Angeles and Julie Watson in San Diego contributed to this report.