Gunman kills three hostages, self in Napa County veterans home

Mercury News

YOUNTVILLE — Three women and one man have been found dead after a veteran receiving PTSD treatment took three hostages at the Yountville Veterans Home in Napa County, law enforcement officials said.

It appears one of the dead individuals was the gunman, who killed himself, law enforcement officials said.

“This is a tragic piece of news, one that we were really hoping we would not have to come before the public to give,” said CHP Assistant Chief Chris Childs.  

The Pathway Home released a statement Friday night acknowledging the deaths of Christine Loeber, Executive Director, Dr. Jen Golick, their therapist and Dr. Jennifer Gonzales, a psychologist with the San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs.

“These brave women were accomplished professionals who dedicated their careers to serving our nation’s veterans, working closely with those in the greatest need of attention after deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the statement from Pathway Home read.

The Napa County Sheriff’s office identified the gunman as 36-year-old Albert Cheung Wong of Sacramento. Records show Wong was a 36-year-old resident of Yountville and an Army veteran who had previously been stationed at the Schofield Barracks in Hawai’i.

Wong holds licenses as a private investigator, firearms trainer and security guard. Wong previously held a license to openly carry a 9 mm handgun as a security guard, but this license was cancelled in October 2017.

Wong’s Facebook page, which was taken down shortly after 8:30 p.m. on Friday night showed he was a fan of competition shooters.

Childs said that officers had searched the gunman’s rented vehicle in the parking lot for bombs, but ultimately did not find any.

The first reports came in at 10:20 a.m. and at least one deputy of the Napa County Sheriff’s office exchanged gunfire with a 36-year-old gunman.

Childs could not confirm whether the hostages were chosen at random or were targeted.

No one was injured in the initial gunfire and the gunman, who was armed with an unspecified rifle, took three hostages into a room of the Pathway Home, a residential community that provides mental health and case management services for veterans transitioning back into civilian life.

The gunman had been recently left the Pathway Home program, according to Napa County Sheriff’s Office.

State Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, said the gunman took as hostages a clinical worker, a psychiatrist and an executive director.

“There were many bullets fired,” said Napa County Sheriff John Robertson but no one was hit.

A little after 3:30 p.m., law enforcement released a number of residents who were on lock down in a separate area of the building.

Jim Thomas, vice president of the Veterans’ Group at the Yountville Veterans Home, said that he had been in a meeting when the shooting first started at 10:30 a.m.

“There should be a gate guard,” Thomas said. “Anybody can walk into this property with an AR-15 or some other weapons and go to our dining hall, kill 300 people in one meal. We’ve complained for years here, and the people at CalVet in Sacramento don’t seem to be willing to do any of that.”

Larry Kamer said his wife, Devereaux Smith, was inside and came face-to-face with the shooter. Smith told Kamer that she was allowed to leave the room with three others but heard gunshots after she left.

“All I know is she said it was all very calm. He walked in with a rifle so people had a clear understanding what was going on. There’s obviously no firearms allowed in that building. She was face-to-face with him,” Kamer said.

The California Highway Patrol previously said on Twitter that it has dispatched officers, a SWAT team and air support to the site to bolster Napa County Sheriff’s deputies. The FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are also sent personnel to the scene.

A nurse at the facility who spoke to the Bay Area News Group said that residents live in dorm-style arrangements and that PTSD and other mental-health issues are common. She also said that the facility has dealt in the past with weapons being found with residents.

The nearby Heroes Tavern and Cafe, where veterans from the facility were eating breakfast when the shooting started, was put on lockdown. Brady Dugan was waiting anxiously for his wife Melody Baughman, the chef at the restaurant and herself a veteran, to be allowed to go home.

“She’s holding up. I get worried about her,” Dugan said. “She has a pacemaker, but she seems to be handling the stress well. She’s an ex-vet, and she’s dealing with a bunch of older veterans right now — keeping them fed and calm.”

“I was raised in this area, and this has always been a quiet area. It used to be all fruit orchards before it was grapes. This is totally unusual. As far as I know, nothing like this has ever happened here before.”

The California Statewide Law Enforcement Association released a statement saying that the public safety officers at the Yountville Veterans Home were not armed and blamed the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The CSLEA said the state has approximately 600 sworn peace officers who patrol large open campuses while unarmed.

“Rather than the state taking a proactive approach to adequately protect their residents, staff, and visitors, CSLEA’s fears have been, and continue to be, that it will take a tragic event to force administrators to finally act,” the press release read.

A CSLEA spokesperson could not confirm whether Wong, who held a security guard’s license, was a member of their organization.

Meta Maxwell of Eugene, Oregon, praised the VA’s response, saying that she was immediately called and told her brother, 81-year-old William Hughes, was safe.

“I’m looking at the situation there and what a great job they’re doing. We should be supporting them more,” Maxwell said.

One thought on “Gunman kills three hostages, self in Napa County veterans home

  1. Wonder what the real truth is. The VA, imo, is nothing but a bunch of animals who have no respect for life.

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