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77-year-old accused of setting blaze at retirement home to lure firefighters who he then shot

Pensioner Thomas Kim was arrested soon after shooting two firefighters, one of whom has died, at his California retirement home.

Senior Home Shooting A street remains closed off at the retirement home in Long Beach, California AP AP

A 77-YEAR-OLD man set a fire to lure firefighters to his Southern California retirement home so he could shoot them, local authorities have said.

The attack killed one firefighter and wounded another.

Thomas Kim was arrested yesterday on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and arson but investigators are still trying to determine a motive for the attack in the southern Los Angeles suburb, Police Chief Robert Luna said.

“There’s still a large puzzle we’re trying to put together. There’s still a lot of information we don’t know,” Luna said.

Kim remains jailed on $2 million bail. It’s unclear whether or not he has a lawyer.

Firefighters were called to the 11-storey Covenant Manor at around 4am yesterday morning by reports of an explosion. They found some second-floor windows blown out, activated sprinklers, the smell of gas and a fire that they extinguished, authorities said.

Firefighters were searching the building when shots rang out and two firefighters were hit, Fire Chief Michael DuRee said.

Fire Captain Dave Rosa, a 17-year veteran, died in hospital, the chief said. He is survived by a wife and two children aged 16 and 25.

“Long Beach lost a hero today,” Mayor Robert Garcia said.

Dozens of firefighters stood at attention and saluted as the flag-draped coffin carrying Rosa’s body was brought from hospital yesterday afternoon and loaded into a coroner’s van. Community members waved American flags along the street outside the hospital as the procession of police and fire vehicles escorted the van to the coroner’s office.


The other firefighter, Ernesto Torres, was released from the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery, officials said.

Senior Home Shooting Captain Dave Rosa, who was shot dead in the aftermath of the fire at the retirement home AP AP

An elderly resident at the retirement home was also shot and is in a critical but stable condition, Luna said. However, the circumstances of that shooting were not immediately known.

The police chief said a revolver was found after Kim was arrested. Investigators also called in a bomb squad to render two suspicious devices safe.

Luna didn’t explain the nature of the devices but said detectives have “a lot of questions” about them and what Kim intended to do with them.

Eighty senior citizens were evacuated from the retirement home until it could be declared safe.

“This is a lot to deal with,” said Pamela Barr (73) as she sat with her son in a car, waiting to be allowed back in the tower.

Barr, who lives on the ninth floor, said she hadn’t heard of any troubles involving residents of the facility, where she has lived for seven years. She described it as clean, well-run and secure.

The residential tower near downtown Long Beach has 100 apartments for low-income people aged 62 and older as well as disabled adults, according to its website.

Long Beach is a major port city with a population of more than 400,000.

Associated Foreign Press
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