Feud between residents at Long Beach senior living facility led to fatal shooting of firefighter, authorities say

Long Beach firefighters gather at West Willow Street to salute as the coroner's van carrying Fire Capt. Dave Rosa passes on the 710 Freeway.
Long Beach firefighters gather at West Willow Street to salute as the coroner’s van carrying Fire Capt. Dave Rosa passes on the 710 Freeway.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A 77-year-old man suspected of shooting and killing a Long Beach Fire Department captain during an emergency call at a high-rise senior living facility had set off an explosive device in an apparent attempt to kill a neighbor, according to prosecutors.

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office charged Covenant Manor resident Thomas Kim with one count of murder, one count of attempted murder of a firefighter, two counts of attempted murder and one count each of arson of an inhabited structure and explosion with intent to murder.

“Kim also faces a special circumstance allegation that the murder was committed while a firefighter was on duty and the special allegation that he personally and intentionally discharged a handgun that caused great bodily injury and death,” said Greg Risling, spokesman for the district attorney’s office.


According to prosecutors, Kim had been feuding with a female neighbor who lived above him at the 11-story housing complex for seniors and disabled people. On Monday morning, Kim set off an explosive device in his apartment “with the intent to kill her,” prosecutors said.

After the explosion, Kim sat at the opposite end of the hallway from his apartment on the second floor, authorities said.

Firefighters descended on the complex to investigate reports of an explosion and the smell of gasoline. Among them was Capt. Dave Rosa, a 17-year veteran of the Fire Department, and firefighter Ernest Torres.

Around 4 a.m., prosecutors said, Kim opened fire on the pair, killing Rosa and wounding Torres. An elderly man who lives in the building was also injured by gunfire.

Long Beach police said that they are still trying to determine a motive in the slaying, but that a note written by Kim and left at the crime scene leads them to believe the incident was a murder-suicide attempt.


In a statement released Monday, Long Beach police said it did not appear Kim started a fire to lure first responders to the location to ambush them, as reported by media outlets earlier in the week.

If convicted on all charges, Kim faces the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

After the shooting, about 80 seniors were evacuated from the facility and taken to Silverado Park. A handful of them were taken to nearby Covenant Presbyterian Church before being transported via bus to the park. Many felt fatigued and needed a place to rest and use the restroom.

Rosa, 45, is survived by his wife and two sons, ages 25 and 16.

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