After an apparent hourslong standoff between police and a gunman, three women were found dead Friday night at the Veterans Home of California in Yountville, authorities said.
The suspect was also found dead, Chris Childs, assistant chief of the California Highway Patrol’s Golden Gate Division, told reporters.
The three victims were earlier described as employees of The Pathway Home, a counseling service for veterans who suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is on the property.
The suspect had been a client at facility until he left two weeks ago, according to State Senator Bill Dodd.
It’s unclear if the women were chosen at random or had a connection with the gunman.
Hostage negotiators had spent hours trying to contact the gunman at the facility north of San Francisco but were not able to do so, according to California Highway Patrol spokesman Robert Nacke. After the victims were found, investigators were left to determine when during the standoff the deaths occurred.
California Gov. Jerry Brown said the shooting “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 said in a statement.
The governor has ordered flags in the state’s capitol to fly at half staff in tribute to the victims and their families.
Larry Kamer told CNN that his wife, Pathway employee Devereaux Smith, said the gunman barged into a going-away party for Pathway employees leaving the job.
“They were having cake and toasting, apparently he just walked in with this rifle,” Kamer said. He said his wife and some other employees managed to escape, though he didn’t say how.
The man was holding the three people hostage in a room inside the building, Napa County Sheriff John Robertson said during the afternoon.
“We’ve tried numerous times and been trying since 10:30 this morning to contact him by his own cell phone and also the phones in the dorm area,” the sheriff said.
He said authorities knew the gunman’s identity but did not release it. Robertson didn’t give a motive for the gunman’s actions.
Early in the standoff, the man and officers fired shots at each other.
“There was an exchange of gunfire, fired by the suspect and our deputy,” Robertson said. “There were many bullets fired.”