by Daveda Gruber:
On Friday during a tragic circumstance called an “active shooter situation” and “hostage situation” ended in a horrific manner. Three women who dedicated their lives to treating military veterans troubled by post-traumatic stress were fatally shot.
The gunman, identified as Albert Wong, 36, of Sacramento, was said to have been kicked out of the treatment program for which the women worked. He later killed himself.
Authorities discovered the four bodies in a Yountville, California, veterans home around 6 p.m. The gunman and responding officers had been locked in a nearly eight hour standoff. The tragic nightmare began around 10:30 a.m., when the gunman managed to discreetly slip into a going-away party for an employee of Pathway Home for Veterans, a privately run treatment program housed veterans in Yountville, California, where more than 1,000 former U.S. service members reside.
— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) March 10, 2018
It is the largest veterans home in the nation, according to the state Department of Veterans Affairs.
In the end, three Pathway Home employees were dead. The women were identified as Christine Loeber, 48, executive director of the program; Jennifer Golick, 42, a clinical director; and Jennifer Gonzales, 29, a clinical psychologist.
Golick’s father-in-law said she had recently ordered Wong removed from the program.
Bob Golick said, Golick called her husband, Mark, around 10:30 a.m. to say that she had been taken hostage by the former soldier, Mark didn’t hear from her again.
Pathway Home issued a statement and paid tribute to its slain employees.
The Pathway Home statement said, “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. All of us at the Pathway Home are devastated by today’s events. We stand with the families, friends, and colleagues who share in this terrible loss.”
Wong was a former participant in the Pathway Home program, but investigators had yet to clarify a motive for the killings.
During a news conference on Friday evening, California Highway Patrol Assistant Chief Chris Childs said of the slain hostages, “It’s far too early to say if they were chosen at random.”
Wong had been an Army infantryman. He had served a year in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012. He held a number of service awards, including one for expert marksmanship with a rifle.
The news of Friday’s catastrophe drew reactions of sadness and shock.
We are deeply saddened and affected by the tragic outcome of the hostage situation at the Veterans Home of California in Yountville and extend our deepest condolences to the loved ones involved. We ask for patience as we continue to monitor emerging details.
— Dr. David J. Shulkin (@SecShulkin) March 10, 2018
President Trump tweeted his condolences Saturday to the three women killed.
Trump wrote, “We are deeply saddened by the tragic situation in Yountville and mourn the loss of three incredible women who cared for our Veterans.”
We are deeply saddened by the tragic situation in Yountville and mourn the loss of three incredible women who cared for our Veterans.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 10, 2018
David Shulkin, U.S. secretary of Veterans Affairs, in a Twitter message said, “We are deeply saddened and affected by the tragic outcome of the hostage situation at the Veterans Home of California in Yountville and extend our deepest condolences to the loved ones involved. We ask for patience as we continue to monitor emerging details.”
California Gov. Jerry Brown also offered condolences.
“(T)he horrible violence at the Yountville Veterans Home … tragically took the lives of three people dedicated to serving our veterans. Our hearts go out to their families and loved ones and the entire community of Yountville,” Brown wrote.
A Napa County sheriff’s deputy responded to an emergency call around 10 a.m. and exchanged gunfire with the suspect.
Shortly after the gunshots, the women were taken hostage.
Childs said, “We believe and credit him with saving the lives of others in the area by eliminating the ability for the suspect to go out and find further victims.”
The officer was not injured.
Larry Kamer said his wife, Devereaux Smith, a fundraiser for Pathway Home, told him by phone that the gunman had slipped quietly into the building before taking some people hostage and he let others leave.
Childs said, authorities were unable to make contact with the gunman and hostages throughout the day. After nearly eight hours, law enforcement entered a room where they believed the hostages were being held. There they found three women and the suspected gunman all dead. It was not immediately certain what type of gun was used in the shootings.
Authorities had found a cellphone in a rental car belonging to the suspect that was parked near the facility.
Gov. Brown ordered flags at the state Capitol in Sacramento to be flown at half-staff following the shooting.