An army veteran held hostage and fatally shot three caregivers before allegedly killing himself at a Napa Valley rehabilitation center for soldiers.
Albert Cheung Wong was a state licensed security guard and was able to carry a gun for nearly a decade. However, it has been revealed his gun permit had not been renewed for over a year.
Wong returned to Pathway Home in Yountville, the largest facility of its kind in the country, where he received treatment for PTSD and was recently expelled due to concerns over threatening behavior.
According to Napa County sheriff’s deputy, the victims were found dead eight hours after Wong opened fire.
The victims were identified as the Pathway Home executive director, Christine Loeber, staff therapist Jen Golick and San Francisco State Department of Veteran Affairs psychologist Jennifer Gonzales Shushereba.
According to a family friend, Golick reportedly told Wong to leave the program over fears of being violent.
According to officials, Wong walked into the building carrying a high-powered rifle, ammunition and at least two more firearms. He interrupted an employee’s going away party. Many individuals present at the party escaped.
“It was clear that he was there to do some harm,” said an organization volunteer and spokesman Larry Kamer, whose wife, Devereaux Smith, was present at the party but managed to escape unharmed.
Someone called 911. The deputy on the scene exchanged gunfire with Wong with dispatch reports indicating up to 30 fires being shot, however, the army veteran’s cause of death has not yet been confirmed with some sources claiming Wong and the three victims were already dead when officers entered the room.
Golick’s family conveyed their grief through a brief address to reporters.
“She was a beloved mom, sister, daughter, colleague and friend. She is missed terribly,” said her husband.
Golick’s mother, Lani Gray stated, “I feel sadness throughout my entire body. I’m still crying inside, and I will be forever.”
Another victim, Gonzales was 7 months pregnant.
“These brave women were accomplished professionals who dedicated their careers to serving our nation’s veterans, working closely with those in the greatest need of attention after deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan,” The Pathway Home said in a statement.
Wong was deployed to Afghanistan from April 2011 to March 2012. According to people close to him, he suffered to find his way back to civilian life after he returned to the United States.
“He was starting to feel like he was in a hopeless circle after a while. You can only think about that for so long without snapping,” said Cissy Sherr, who was Wong’s legal guardian for several years after his father died.
President Donald Trump offered his commiserations for the slain at The Pathway Homes.
We are deeply saddened by the tragic situation in Yountville and mourn the loss of three incredible women who cared for our Veterans.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 10, 2018
However, investigation is underway as to how an army veteran, who was suffering from severe PTSD so much so he was asked to be released from the program specially designed to combat these problems, was able to carry a gun even after he failed to renew his permit.
Under California law, mental health professionals can keep people who pose a danger to themselves or others from possessing a gun but it is unclear whether The Pathway Homes officials were aware of Wong’s firearm possession.
Thumbnail/ Banner Credits: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst