The hostage crisis in California has ended, after the suspect and three hostages were discovered dead inside the veterans’ home in Napa County, authorities have confirmed, following an hours-long standoff.
“Shortly before 6pm this evening, law enforcement personnel made entry into the room where we felt the hostages were being held by the suspect, and unfortunately made the discovery of three deceased females and one deceased male suspect,” assistant chief Chris Childs, of the California Highway Patrol, announced at a 7:45pm news conference.
Police also searched the suspect’s vehicle for possible explosives, but nothing dangerous was found inside the car. Their investigation remains an ongoing one, Childs added, noting that there is “no threat to public safety.”
The CHP is deeply saddened by the tragic events that occurred at the Yountville Veterans Home of California today. We are committed to conducting a complete and thorough investigation into this tragedy so we may provide answers to the victims' families.
— CHP Headquarters (@CHP_HQ) March 10, 2018
SWAT officers entered the room at Veterans Home of California in Yountville after several failed attempts to establish contact with the hostage taker. For about eight hours, officers kept the gunman isolated in one of the rooms of the facility, with hostage negotiators trying to reach him via his cellphone and facility landlines.
Authorities responded to an “active shooter” situation at 10:20am after it emerged that a gunman in body armor had taken over the veterans’ facility. The Napa County Sheriff’s deputy, who arrived at the scene within four minutes, engaged in a shootout with the suspect.
Speaking at an afternoon press conference, Childs noted that it was the County Sheriff Department officer who helped save peoples’ lives by taking on the armed intruder. We can “credit him for saving the lives of others in the area by eliminating the ability of the suspect to find further victims,” he noted.
Following the shootout, authorities called in reinforcements including an FBI team. Police evacuated the property and closed off nearby roads. An armored police vehicle, ambulances and several firetrucks were sent to the facility, home to around 1,000 veterans.
While police have yet to reveal details of what led to the death of three people, reports indicate that the incident happened during a fundraising event. The armed man reportedly interrupted a going-away party and staff meeting at the northern California veterans’ home. While the majority of people managed to flee, the gunman forced the rest of them to stay.
The names of the victims and the gunman have not been released to the public. When asked how the assailant chose his victims, Childs said it was “far too early to say if they were chosen at random.”
The suspect, reported to be a 36-year-old male, was allegedly discharged from the Pathway program, a privately run program for military veterans with emotional trauma, two weeks ago.
Authorities promised to keep the public informed about the ongoing investigation. Napa County Sheriff John Robertson said his department will “invest a lot more hours, if not days” into figuring out what led to the tragedy.
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