Three women and the gunman who took them hostage were found dead Friday evening at a home for military veterans in Northern California, hours after the gunman fired at a deputy, the authorities said.
Childs did not provide details about the gunman, the victims or how the four people died.
“This is a tragic piece of news — one that we were really hoping we wouldn’t have to come before the public to give,” he said at a brief news conference.
Earlier in the day, Childs said the women were employees of the Pathway Home — employees, he said, whose job it was to “help our veterans.” The Pathway Home, according to its website, provides post-Sept. 11 veterans with academic and vocational support as they prepare to ease back into the civilian world.
According to some news reports, the gunman had been a member of the Pathway Home until recently, when he was asked to leave.
Some time after law enforcement responded to a call about shots having been fired, a deputy and the gunman exchanged gunfire, Napa County Sheriff John Robertson said.
“There were many bullets fired,” he said at an afternoon news conference, adding that, at some point, the gunman released hostages, although it was unclear how many.
By Friday evening, a Highway Patrol spokesman said there had not been any confirmed contact with the gunman or the hostages since 10:30 a.m.
State officials said the Yountville facility was the largest veterans home in the country. The sprawling campus in the heart of California’s wine country houses about 1,000 veterans, providing independent living, dementia care and skilled nursing care for its residents.
After the Civil War, many states established veterans homes to care for the thousands of injured soldiers returning from war. Yountville was California’s first, established in 1884 on a sprawling, idyllic site that now consists of stucco and red-tile-roof dormitories, a library, a swimming pool and a golf course.
State homes expanded after World War I, when the federal government began paying states a per diem to house and care for elderly and disabled veterans. They are operated by the states but largely funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs. There are now 153 such homes across the country, according to the National Association of State Veterans Homes, that provide nursing care and adult day care.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.