Firefighters responding to reports of an explosion early Monday morning at a Long Beach high-rise apartment were met by gunfire, killing a veteran fire captain and wounding a second firefighter and a civilian authorities said.
The Long Beach Fire Department identified the fatally wounded firefighter as Captain David Rosa, 45, a 17-year veteran with the department who leaves behind a wife and two kids. Ernesto Torres, 35, and a ten-year veteran with the department was treated for a superficial bullet wound and later released.
A third person, reportedly a resident of Covenant Manor, was taken to the hospital in critical condition and was undergoing surgery.
The incident began after firefighters responded to reports of a possible explosion at the 11-story Covenant Manor near Atlantic Ave and Fourth Street. One person, identified as a "person of interest" was taken into custody and police were interviewing. Other details were not released, but witnesses tell reporters that the person of interest was a man who lived in the building.
"The initial reports came in that there was some type of explosion at the location," LBFD Chief Mike Duree said in a briefing at Saint Mary Medical Center about four hours after the first alarm came in.
Residents were evacuated from the apartment complex as a precaution and were being prevented from returning while the investigation was being carried out. A bomb squad is on scene to check out some suspicious devices found at the scene.
Long Beach police Sgt. Brad Johnson said all he could confirm at this point was that there was a shooting, and the investigation was on-going at the multi-story retirement home.
"The scene is active," Johnson said. "That's why we still have the police line up - to make sure we're protecting people and minimizing the risk to public safety."
During a briefing held at Saint Mary Medical Center a few hours after the first alarm came in, Long Beach Chief Mike Duree said initial reports about the incident indicated there was some type of explosion at the location.
“At 3:51 a.m., occupants reported the smell of ... gasoline,” Duree said. "Occupants were instructed to shelter in place. As fire units made their way to the reported location, they noticed that windows had been blown out ... in the general vicinity of an affected unit, and that sprinklers had been activated. At 3:59 a.m., the fire units stated they had knocked down the initial fire. At 4:08 a.m., reports of shots were fire at the location. We had two firefighters that were shot.”
Photo: Corbin Carson