Three hostages killed in veterans home standoff worked to help former service members with PTSD
KGO-TV(YOUNTVILLE, Calif.) — The three women killed in a daylong standoff at a veterans home worked with a nonprofit program for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The women were found dead along with the suspect, 36-year-old Albert Wong, at the end of the siege at the Veterans Home of California-Yountville in Napa County, California, officials said.
Wong, who was armed with a rifle, had earlier released other hostages while keeping the three women, all of whom worked for The Pathway Home, a residential program for post-9/11 veterans who are affected by deployment-related stress, including PTSD, according to the program’s website.
The victims are Pathway Home Executive Director Christine Loeber, 48; Clinical Director Jennifer Golick, 42; and psychologist Jennifer Gonzales, 29. Their bodies were found with Wong’s at around 6 p.m. PT, when authorities entered a room at the Veterans Home where the hostages were being held, ending the siege that had begun that morning.
“Law enforcement personnel made entry into the room where we felt the hostages were being held, and unfortunately made the discovery of three deceased females and one deceased male suspect,” California Highway Patrol Assistant Chief Chris Childs said at a Friday-evening press briefing. “This is a tragic piece of news — one that we were really hoping we wouldn’t have to come before the public to give.”
The Pathway Home called the victims “brave” and “accomplished.”
“These brave women were accomplished professionals who dedicated their careers to serving our nation’s veterans and working closely with those in the greatest need of attention after deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said a statement obtained by ABC News affiliate KGO-TV in San Francisco. “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 member of the Pathway Home program at the Veterans Home, officials said. Initial reports said he was a former Army infantryman who, according to a relative of one victim, was recently kicked out of the Pathway Home program.
The Pathway Home and the Veterans Home of California-Yountville did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests on Saturday to confirm or comment on Wong’s connection to the program.
According to service records obtained by ABC News, Wong served as an infantryman during his three years of active duty in the U.S. Army, ending in August 2013. He was deployed to Afghanistan for one year.
After the bodies were discovered, officials said there was no threat to public safety. Bomb-sniffing dogs found no explosives in the suspect’s vehicle — only a cellphone.
The incident was first reported Friday morning in a 911 call about shots fired at the state-owned veterans home. Multiple SWAT teams; agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and local law enforcement officials all responded to the scene.
Officials said there was an exchange of gunfire between the suspect and a sheriff’s deputy. Napa County Sheriff John Robertson said at an earlier briefing that “many bullets” were fired.
Robertson said at the time that officials knew the identity of the suspect, but the motive remained unclear.
“I don’t have any idea what his motivation is,” the sheriff said.
Robertson said at that time the suspect “did release hostages and kept the three he has now.” He added that they had tried calling the suspect numerous times since 10:30 a.m. that morning.
Childs later praised the sheriff’s deputy who exchanged gunfire with the suspect.
“I’d like to take a quick moment to give credit to the initial responding Napa County sheriff’s deputy, who put himself in harm’s way knowing he had an active ongoing situation that involved shots fired, and exchanged initial gunfire with the suspect,” Childs said in the Friday-night press briefing, after the standoff had ended. “We believe and we credit him with saving the lives of others in the area by eliminating the ability of the suspect to go out and find further victims.”
President Donald Trump took to Twitter to offer his condolences to the victims’ families Saturday morning.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic situation in Yountville and mourn the loss of three incredible women who cared for our veterans,” he tweeted.
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