CHP Report Explains How Yountville Veterans Home Gunman Bypassed Security

Law enforcement personnel are seen at a building entrance after an active shooter turned hostage situation at the Veterans Home of California on March 9, 2018, in Yountville, California.  (Stephen Lam/Getty Images)

The U.S. Army veteran who shot and killed three women at a Yountville veterans home in March entered the facility through a metal door he had propped open the night before the shooting, according to newly released findings from the California Highway Patrol.

Albert Wong, 36, entered the basement of a building on the Veterans Home of California campus that housed The Pathway Home, a nonprofit program for veterans and families, carrying an automatic rifle and a double-barreled shotgun, extra magazines and ammunition just before 10:20 a.m. on March 9, the CHP report says.

Wong was a Sacramento resident and former Army rifleman who served in Afghanistan. He had been kicked out of the Pathway program weeks earlier. He was in the Yountville area the evening of March 8, however, until about 10:30 p.m., according to the CHP report, which cites call records and witness statements that tracked Wong's movements in the hours prior to the shooting.

He returned to Yountville on March 9, wearing black tactical-style pants, black earmuffs over a hat and safety glasses. Security-camera footage captured him carrying a tactical-style .308-caliber rifle and a double-barreled shotgun slung over his shoulder as he emerged from the building's basement. He walked to the second-floor room where a going-away party was being held and where he would eventually murder Jennifer Golick, 42, Christine Loeber, 48, and Jennifer Gonzales Shushereba, 32, and then shoot himself.

By entering the building through a propped-open door in the basement, he was able to skirt any security presence or device that could have prevented him from getting to the rest of the building, according to the CHP.

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"He bypassed the need to use a key, electronic keycard or accomplice to enter the building," the Highway Patrol's redacted findings say.

The state law enforcement agency conducted a security assessment of the home in 2010, according to the Sacramento Bee, and found several shortcomings.

CHP's recent report on the shooting says Wong legally purchased both weapons he used in the weeks before the incident.

He bought a Stoeger Industries double-barreled shotgun from Sweeney's Sports in Napa on Feb. 14. Just over a week later he bought a JP Enterprises .308 rifle from Coyote Point Armory in Burlingame.

The rifle had a modification in the magazine release that made it "an illegal assault weapon under California law," the CHP report says. It was also equipped with a 20-round high-capacity magazine.

The .308 caliber semi-automatic rifle used by Albert Wong in the Yountville Pathway Home shooting on March 9 was pictured in the Napa County District Attorney's Nov. 6 report.
The .308 semi-automatic rifle used by Albert Wong in the Yountville Pathway Home shooting on March 9 was pictured in the Napa County District Attorney's Office Nov. 6 report. (Via Napa County District Attorney)

On Feb. 27 Wong rented a car from Sacramento International Airport he would later drive to the veterans home.

After returning to Sacramento the night before the shooting, Wong entered "Apple not assisting law enforcement" into a web search and read an article about the technology company's refusal to help the FBI crack an iPhone linked to a deadly 2015 San Bernardino attack, according to the CHP.

He began searching the web for content about suicide and murder-suicide and viewed graphic, violent videos online about suicide.

Wong then drove his rental car to the Yountville veterans home.

CHP investigators obtained video footage from security cameras in Madison Hall, which housed the Pathway Home, that show people, including the three victims, entering the building and a group room in the moments before the tragedy began.

That footage also showed Wong coming from a hallway that leads from the basement floor. He was holding a large black tactical-style rifle in a "low ready" position. The barrel of the other weapon, a shotgun, was pointed down.

The CHP says camera footage shows the gunman walking up to the second floor and into the group room. Videos then provide glimpses into the moments before the shooting began.

At one point they show Wong standing in the room — in front of the doorway — pointing for someone to leave. The camera also caught a shot of Gonzales Shushereba, who was six months pregnant.

"Jennifer Gonzales Shushereba can still be seen as she stood within view of the camera holding onto her stomach with both hands," the report said.

Wong "dismissed" three veterans and four female staff members who were in the room. He kicked the door stop with his foot, closing the door to the room and began holding Golick, Loeber and Gonzales Shushereba hostage.

The CHP says the security footage shows people who were allowed out of the room walking and running out of the building.

Several people who were released called 911 and Napa County Sheriff's Deputy Steve Lombardi was first to respond to an "active shooter" incident at the home, arriving just after 10:20 a.m.

The report states that Lombardi felt he was going into the situation at a disadvantage and "did not think he was going to come out alive."

Lombardi, armed with a .223-caliber patrol rifle, worked his way to the building's second floor and pushed open a closed metal door to the group room. He glimpsed Wong, armed with a rifle.

"Within seconds he heard the sound of Wong charging his rifle, making it ready to fire," the report says "Almost immediately he stated he heard a loud scream coming from within the Group Room from what he perceived to be a female."

Lombardi fired through the door of the room and Wong fired back.

The door to the "Group Room" as pictured in a Nov. 6 report by the Napa County District Attorney.
The door to the group room as pictured in a Nov. 6 report by the Napa County District Attorney's Office. (Via Napa County District Attorney)

"Deputy Lombardi utilized his radio and took cover behind the west wall of the hallway as he exchanged gunfire with Wong," the report says. "White dust from the drywall started to fill the air in the hallway."

Holes began appearing on the outside of the group room's door and small pieces of metal and sparks flew toward the deputy.

Lombardi and Wong exchanged gunfire until more law enforcement officers arrived.

The CHP says, based on the security footage and audio captured on the deputy's body-worn camera, Wong turned his rifle on his three victims after firing toward Lombardi. He shot Gonzales Shushereba and Golick once each with the rifle, killing them. He shot Loeber multiple times. He then used the shotgun to kill himself.

Loeber was Pathway Home's executive director. Golick was a staff therapist, and Gonzales Shushereba was a psychologist with the San Francisco VA Health Care System.

Investigators would later find 31 spent .308-caliber shell casings and one spent shotgun shell inside the group room. They found 13 expended .223-caliber shell casings from Lombardi's patrol rifle in the hallway.

Read the redacted report below.

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