In the Long Night After Yountville Killings, Victims' Phones Kept Ringing

4 min
A California Highway Patrol officer stands guard at a building entrance after an active shooter turned hostage situation at the Veterans Home of California on March 9, 2018 in Yountville, California. A military veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder and three hostages were found dead at the largest veterans facility in the United States founded in 1884. (Stephen Lam/Getty Images)

Dozens of people tried to call the victims of the Yountville veterans home shooting in the hours after they were killed, according to one of the investigators who processed the scene into the next morning.

Just after sunset on March 9, after a SWAT team cleared the area, officials with the California Highway Patrol and Napa County Coroner's office entered the room where Dr. Jennifer Gray Golick, 42, Christine Loeber, 48, and Dr. Jennifer Gonzales Shushereba, 32, had been killed.

Authorities say Albert Wong, 36, an Afghanistan combat veteran who had sought treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder through the facility's Pathway Home program, shot the women with a rifle and then killed himself with a shotgun. Gonzales Shushereba was six months pregnant, and her unborn baby also died.

Once the room where the shooting was deemed safe, investigators spent nearly 12 hours processing the scene.

"I really don't know how to describe seeing something like that," said CHP Sgt. Ed Clarke, who works for the agency's Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team, one of two CHP units investigating the shooting

Sponsored

"It was an act of hatred," Clarke said in an interview. "There are certain things that we all took away from that night."

One of the things he took away, he says, is the sound of phones ringing as people tried to reach the victims.

LISTEN: CHP Sergeant Describes Hearing Victims' Phones Continuously Ring

LISTEN: CHP Sergeant Describes Hearing Victims' Phones Continuously Ring

Download

"People would call in, the messages would play out loud like an old type of message machine, and I remember one veteran calling in and he's just talking saying how tragic this is and how he wanted to thank everyone there for the work they had done," Clarke said.

"You'd just hear the various offices and the cellphones of the women who were killed, just ringing, and knowing that these were people who loved them who were calling in probably just holding out hope that the information being released was not accurate," he said. "That's certainly something I'll never forget."

Clarke is one of two dozen CHP investigators probing the killings at Pathway Home, which specialized in PTSD treatment. The CHP is also conducting a formal investigation of an exchange of gunfire between Wong and a Napa County sheriff's deputy.

On Friday, Napa County authorities announced that Senior Deputy Steve Lombardi was the first officer to respond to reports of a possible active shooter at the facility at about 10:20 a.m. on March 9. Lombardi arrived minutes later and exchanged fire with Wong.

"There were multiple rounds from the officer and the suspect," Clarke said. He declined to disclose specifics about how many shots many have been fired.

The shooting that killed Gonzales Shushereba, Golick and Loeber most likely took place several hours before authorities were able to enter the room late in the afternoon, Clarke said.

"It wasn't something where they had been in there for hours and hours and then the shooting happened. It all happened pretty early on," Clarke said.

Volume
KQED Live
Live Stream
LATEST NEWSCAST
KQED
NPR
Live Stream information currently unavailable.
Share
LATEST NEWSCAST
KQED
NPR
KQED Live

Live Stream

Live Stream information currently unavailable.