Santa Clarita community officials gathered around Fire Station 150 Tuesday afternoon to discuss a shooting at Fire Station 81 that occurred earlier in the day when a disgruntled employee opened fire and shot two firefighters, officials said.
During the press conference, the public hearing discussed firefighter mental health and the possible surge of additional mental health issues across fire stations in Santa Clarita because of the incident.
Around 10:55 Tuesday morning, emergency responders received reports of a shooting at Fire Station 81 on the 8700 block of Sierra Highway in Aqua Dulce, just north of Santa Clarita, according to Fire Chief Daryl L. Osby of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
As a result of the incident, a 44-year-old firefighter died on-scene and a second, 54-year-old firefighter captain was airlifted to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in critical condition, according to Osby.
The fallen firefighter captain “was a brave, committed and loyal member of the department,” Osby said during the press conference.
The suspect had been identified as an off-duty employee of the fire department, but the motive behind the shooting is unknown as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Osby.
“I cannot speak to the mindset of the shooter,” Osby said during the press conference. “All I can say is that it’s very tragic and sad that this would be a decision of one of the members of the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACFoD) and even more tragic that someone would come to the station where people were working to shoot two people.”
Around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, emergency responders received reports of a house fire on the 2600 block of Bent Drive in Acton at the location of the suspect’s home, according to Osby.
After a thorough investigation of the surrounding location by Sheriff’s deputies, firefighters were able to begin clearing the scene with overhead helicopter assistance, according to the LACoFD.
A body with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, suspected to be the body of the suspect, had been identified in the backyard of the residence, according to Detective Brandon Dean of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
As a result of the Fire Station 81 incident, the station is planned to temporarily be out of commission while mental health resources evaluate the witnesses and determine if their state of being is stable enough to return to work, according to Osby.
“We have our peer support personnel, doctors and other mental health professionals evaluating the situation and our crews will be temporarily relieved of their responsibilities to make that determination,” Osby said.
While the LACoFD has not seen any similar workplace incidents under Osby’s command, the Department has reported several murder suicides that have taken place by the hands of LA County Firemen during Osby’s time at the Department, according to Osby.
“Today is truly a sad day, a tragic day for the Los Angeles County Fire Department,” Osby said. “ I stand here from the perspective that you see other people do, I just never thought it would be me.”
Those seeking mental health resources can call:
- 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- 1-800-854-7771 for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health
- 1-800-784-2433 for the Treatment Advocacy Center
- 661-259-9439 for the SCV Child & Family Center
- 661-288-4800 for the Santa Clarita Valley Mental Health Center
- 661- 765-8445 for Insight Treatment Santa Clarita
- 800-852-8336 Teen Line Peer Suicide Prevention 6-10 p.m. or text TEEN to 83986