UPDATE: Gunman takes hostages at California veterans home

Authorities say gunman slipped in during an employee going-away party.

Posted: Mar 9, 2018 3:39 PM
Updated: Mar 9, 2018 8:38 PM

YOUNTVILLE, Calif. (AP) — A gunman slipped into an employee going-away party at the largest veterans home in the United States and took three people hostage Friday in a shootout and standoff that has kept the sprawling California grounds locked down for hours, authorities and family members said.

Officials said the conditions of the hostages were not known and they had not been able to reach the gunman by phone after trying for several hours. Authorities said they know who the gunman is but didn’t reveal his identity or know the motive for the attack at the state-run Veterans Home of California-Yountville, in one of Napa Valley’s most upscale towns in the heart of wine country.

A sheriff’s deputy responding to an emergency call shortly after 10 a.m. got into a shootout with the gunman, but the officer was not injured.

“We are approaching this as an active-shooter situation,” Napa County Sheriff John Robertson told reporters. “There was an exchange of gunfire by both our deputy and the suspect. There were many bullets fired.”

Larry Kamer told The Associated Press that his wife, Devereaux Smith, was at a morning staff party and told him by phone that the gunman had entered the room quietly, letting some people leave while taking others hostage.

California authorities say officers exchanged gunfire with a gunman holding three veterans program employees hostage at the largest veterans home in the U.S. (March 9)

Smith, a fundraiser for the nonprofit Pathway Home, was still inside the facility’s dining hall and was not allowed to leave, he said. The Pathway Home, a privately run program on the grounds of the veterans home, treats veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The three hostages were Pathway House employees, California Highway Patrol Assistant Chief Chris Childs said. The gunman, who had a rifle, was confined to one room and authorities were trying to reach him on his cellphone and facility landlines as hostage negotiators stood by, he said.

Police evacuated the property and closed off nearby roads. An armored police vehicle, ambulances and several fire trucks were at the facility, which houses about 1,000 residents.

Army veteran and resident Bob Sloan, 73, was working at the home’s TV station when a co-worker came in and said he had heard four gunshots coming from the Pathway House. Sloan sent alerts for residents to stay put.

“People are starting to get concerned because it’s been going on for so long,” he told AP by phone from inside the lockdown.

Except for helicopters buzzing overhead, the home was eerily quiet, Sloan said, adding that he could see police with “long-barrel assault-type weapons” crouching around the building, some taking cover behind trees.

Jan Thornton of Vallejo, California, was among hundreds of relatives worried about how their loved ones were coping with the lockdown. Thornton said her 96-year-old father, a World War II fighter pilot, was inside a hospital wing and that she had reached one of his friends who said he was safe.

Still, she worried about the stress of the lockdown, considering her father’s age and that he has PTSD and some dementia. Thornton said her “heart just bleeds for the people that are being held hostage.”

A group of about 80 students who were on the home’s grounds were safely evacuated after being locked down, the sheriff said. The teens from Justin-Siena High School were at a theater rehearsing a play.

“They were a distance away from the shooting situation,” Robertson said.

Some of the children were driven away on school buses and others in cars. Sasha Craig spotted a car carrying her 15- and 17-year-old children and ran toward it blowing kisses.

“There are my kids,” she said. Like many parents, she was texting with her children inside and said the teenagers were telling their parents to “chill.”

The state Veterans Affairs department says the home that opened in 1984 is the nation’s largest veterans home, with about 1,000 elderly and disabled residents.

Yvette Bennett, a wound-care supply worker who supplies the veterans center, was turned back when she tried to deliver what she called urgently needed medical supplies for two patients inside.

Of all the medical institutions she has worked with, “this is the most placid, calm, serene place,” she said. Earlier this week, when she last visited, she asked a doctor, “What’s your magic here?”

“And then 48 hours later this happens,” Bennett said.

Yountville is a small town that’s home to wineries such as Domaine Chandon, which is less than a half-mile from the veterans facility, and Thomas Keller’s famed restaurant The French Laundry, which is about a mile away.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 480091

Reported Deaths: 6502
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin995591576
Ramsey42700795
Dakota35723383
Anoka32968383
Washington21824253
Stearns18677200
St. Louis14644262
Scott13104104
Wright12400114
Olmsted1167988
Sherburne864873
Carver755340
Clay682284
Rice664190
Blue Earth585535
Kandiyohi576374
Crow Wing514280
Chisago493344
Otter Tail478770
Benton441090
Winona413548
Mower399231
Douglas390168
Nobles385147
Goodhue382468
Polk340762
McLeod336149
Beltrami334449
Morrison321446
Lyon311343
Itasca308245
Becker306841
Isanti303052
Carlton298344
Steele297211
Pine280316
Freeborn275923
Nicollet251241
Todd243830
Brown240037
Le Sueur230120
Mille Lacs225447
Cass217224
Waseca206317
Meeker205534
Martin186628
Wabasha18503
Roseau177617
Hubbard159740
Houston156214
Dodge15114
Renville146840
Redwood146327
Fillmore13638
Chippewa135735
Cottonwood133420
Wadena128120
Pennington125716
Faribault121216
Aitkin117633
Sibley116110
Rock115313
Watonwan11478
Kanabec106619
Pipestone100724
Yellow Medicine97517
Murray9408
Jackson92310
Swift87118
Pope7875
Marshall76615
Stevens7378
Lake72517
Clearwater71414
Lac qui Parle67916
Wilkin66410
Koochiching61711
Big Stone5093
Lincoln5022
Grant4848
Norman4648
Mahnomen4367
Unassigned43568
Kittson40421
Red Lake3534
Traverse3015
Lake of the Woods2131
Cook1190

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 358981

Reported Deaths: 5342
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57492544
Linn20508311
Scott18171204
Black Hawk16156286
Woodbury14835211
Johnson1371072
Dubuque13438192
Dallas1120090
Pottawattamie10678140
Story1011545
Warren549170
Clinton538983
Cerro Gordo530580
Webster514686
Marshall493372
Sioux490468
Buena Vista469436
Des Moines454059
Muscatine445989
Wapello4247107
Jasper404865
Plymouth392277
Lee372051
Marion355967
Jones293254
Henry292635
Carroll284448
Bremer276154
Crawford271235
Boone257530
Washington253344
Benton249254
Mahaska222745
Jackson219638
Dickinson215938
Tama211464
Kossuth206754
Clay192725
Hamilton191041
Delaware188739
Winneshiek186626
Fayette183832
Buchanan183128
Page181319
Hardin179538
Wright179031
Harrison178369
Cedar174722
Clayton167853
Butler165431
Floyd161939
Mills161820
Poweshiek153229
Cherokee153135
Madison152817
Hancock146429
Lyon145341
Iowa143723
Allamakee143444
Appanoose138147
Grundy138030
Jefferson137232
Winnebago136830
Calhoun133010
Cass132248
Mitchell129840
Louisa127741
Union125831
Chickasaw124513
Sac123618
Emmet120840
Shelby119433
Franklin118119
Humboldt116724
Guthrie116128
Palo Alto104021
Montgomery103636
Howard102221
Clarke99020
Keokuk97329
Unassigned9270
Monroe92128
Adair91126
Ida90732
Pocahontas85119
Davis82123
Monona81325
Greene76610
Lucas72721
Osceola69714
Worth6876
Taylor66212
Fremont5819
Decatur5709
Van Buren55918
Ringgold51516
Wayne48521
Audubon4839
Adams3264
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Clear
35° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 27°
Mason City
Partly Cloudy
31° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 22°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 25°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 26°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 21°
More snow melting weather
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Enjoying February Weather

Image

State Patrol Awards

Image

State of North Iowa

Image

Price Gouging Investigation

Image

Vaccines for Kids

Image

Firefighters Get Vital Training

Image

Bill Introduced To Lower Cost Of Prescription Drugs

Image

Youth Vaping Remains A Problem In Minnesota

Image

02-24-2021 For Bri

Image

Social Media and The Police Department

Community Events