LONG BEACH (CNS) - A 77-year-old man accused of murdering a Long Beach fire captain and wounding two others at a senior housing complex made his initial court appearance today in a wheelchair, but his arraignment was postponed.
Thomas Man Kim, who was wearing a hospital gown, did not speak during the brief hearing. A judge agreed to postpone the arraignment until Aug. 15 at the request of Kim's public defender, who said she had not been able to communicate with her client due to an apparent medical issue.
People who know Kim told a CBS2/ KCAL9 reporter that he is suffering from cancer, has been undergoing chemotherapy and also has a kidney disorder, describing him as very frail.
Kim is charged with capital murder and is also facing one count of attempted murder of a firefighter, two counts of attempted murder and one count each of arson of an inhabited structure and explosion with intent to murder in the June 25 killing of Capt. Dave Rosa, who was responding to a report of an explosion at the Covenant Manor senior living facility.
Another firefighter, Ernesto Torres, and a civilian who lived in the building were wounded, but survived.
Prosecutors will determine later whether to seek the death penalty for Kim, who they allege set off an explosive device in his apartment in an effort to kill a female neighbor who lived above him and with whom he had been feuding. Police said a note that was drafted by Kim led investigators to believe the blast was a murder/suicide attempt.
Investigators believe the fire was set as a result of the dispute between Kim and his neighbor, not to draw first responders to the location to ambush them, according to a statement released by the Long Beach Police Department.
A search warrant affidavit obtained by the Daily Breeze stated ``there was an explosion in his (Kim's) room earlier” and he ``admitted to officers he has a revolver, and he got scared and started shooting.”
Kim had burnt hair and clothing when police discovered him while responding to the 11-story complex in the 600 block of East Fourth Street, according to the affidavit.
Thousands of mourners gathered at the Long Beach Convention Center last week at a memorial service for Rosa, a 17-year veteran of the Long Beach Fire Department and 45-year-old married father of two sons.
Dozens of fire trucks lined the streets outside the Convention Center, and a throng of uniformed firefighters saluted as Rosa's flag-draped coffin was slowly driven to the ceremony. The casket was then escorted by pallbearers into the building, led by a color guard carrying flags.
Rosa's oldest son, Alec, told the crowd gathered at the service that the news of his father's killing had left him ``in shock.”
"My dad's a fireman. Firemen aren't supposed to get shot,” he said.
The Long Beach Fire Department announced last week that a fund has been established for Rosa's family. Information about the fund is available at www.friendsoflbfire.org/police-fire-memorial.
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