Long Beach, CA – A 17-year veteran of the Long Beach Fire Department was murdered in the line of duty early Monday morning, while responding to a fire at a high-rise retirement home.
Long Beach Fire Captain Dave Rosa was fatally shot minutes after dousing a blaze that was believed to have resulted from an explosion in the building.
"It hits home. We just show up to do our job," Long Beach Police Sergeant Brad Johnson told KNBC. "Firefighters, they deal with fire. They don't deal with bullets. It's a sad day in Long Beach's history."
The incident began when firefighters were called to The Covenant House, a senior and disabled-living facility located in the 600-block of East 4th Street, at about 3:50 a.m. on June 25 for a report of an explosion followed by a fire, KTLA reported.
Residents reported that they had heard an explosion and then afterward, smelled gas.
Firefighters arrived on the scene and found windows had been blown out of one unit in the building, and the sprinkler system had been activated, Long Beach Fire Chief Mike Duree said during a press conference after the incident.
Aerial footage of the scene showed a fire engine’s ladder extended to the balcony of one of the units in the high rise.
Chief Duree said firefighters reported having knocked down the initial fire, and then minutes later, they reported shots fired.
Two firefighters and a civilian were shot, KTLA reported.
Captain Rosa, 45, was transported to St. Mary’s Medical Center in critical condition, where he later died, Chief Duree said. He had been the captain at Fire Station 10 for six-and-a-half years.
The other firefighter, a 35-year-old, 10-year veteran of the fire department whose name has not yet been released, was also transported to the hospital where he remained in stable condition, according to KTLA. No information has been released about the condition of the civilian who had been wounded.
Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna said at the press conference that authorities do not yet know what led up to the explosion, fire, and eventual shooting.
"You go to these scenes and you never know what's on the other side of those doors," Chief Luna said. "These brave firefighters went through those doors and unfortunately they were met with gunfire."
Police have detained a person of interest in the shooting, and Chief Luna said that officers recovered a weapon at the scene, KTLA reported.
The bomb squad was still searching the apartment late on Monday morning, KNBC reported.
Chief Luna said investigators were working together to put together a “big puzzle” from “a very chaotic scene,” according to KTLA.
Captain Rosa is survived by his wife and two children, KTLA reported.