Calif. veterans home caught in deadly hostage crisis may never reopen amid security questions

The Northern California treatment facility where an Army veteran killed three woman and himself after a siege Friday remained shuttered over the weekend and may never reopen, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday.

A spokesman for the privately run Pathway Home in Yountville told the paper that the program's six patients have been moved to various hotels in Napa County while law enforcement officials continue their investigation.

"We don't know whether that building is going to be a place that people want to live in, want to work in, after what happened Friday," Larry Kamer told the Chronicle. "It's not like people can just forget what happened there, move on, and work and have their group sessions. It's got bullet holes in it."

Investigators said 36-year-old Albert Wong, a veteran of the Afghanistan war, slipped into a going-away party for some Pathway Home employees Friday morning. He let some people leave, but made his three victims stay behind. They were later identified as Pathway Home Executive Director Christine Loeber, 48; Clinical Director Jennifer Golick, 42; and Jennifer Gonzales Shushereba, 32, a clinical psychologist with the San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System.

Investigators were also looking at how Wong -- whom Golick had expelled from The Pathway Home weeks earlier -- managed to get inside the building without being noticed.

According to the Chronicle, the facility is patrolled 24 hours per day by roaming unarmed personnel and has surveillance cameras positioned at its front door and its hallways. The paper also reported that the home has a sign-in desk at the entrance to the premises.

The California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA), the union representing security personnel, issued a statement Friday calling for armed guards at veterans homes, hospitals and other facilities.

"To date, administrators have been willing to risk public safety rather than provide trained law enforcement officers with firearms," CSLEA's statement read. "Rather than the State taking a proactive approach to adequately protect their residents, staff, and visitors, CSLEA’s fears have been, and continue to be, that it will take a tragic event to force administrators to finally act."

In response, California Department of Veterans Affairs spokeswoman June Iljana told the Chronicle it would be "inappropriate to speculate until the investigation concludes and all the facts are known."

Fernando Juarez, 36, of Napa, center, embraces his 22-year-old sister Vanessa Flores, right, at the Veterans Home of California on Friday March 9, 2018. in Yountville, Calif. Flores, who is a caregiver at the facility, exchanged texts with family while sheltering in place. A gunman took at least three people hostage at the largest veterans home in the United States on Friday, leading to a lockdown of the sprawling grounds in California, authorities said. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Fernando Juarez, 36, of Napa, center, embracing his 22-year-old sister Vanessa Flores, right, at the Veterans Home of California on Friday. Flores, who is a caregiver at the facility, exchanged texts with family while sheltering in place.  (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Wong served in the Army Reserve from 1998 until 2002 and then enlisted for active duty in May 2010 and was deployed to Afghanistan in April 2011, according to military records.

Wong always wanted to join the Army and serve his country and was "soft-spoken and calm," Cissy Sherr, his legal guardian when he was a child, told the Associated Press.

Sherr and her husband became Wong's guardians after his father died and his mother developed health problems, she said. He moved back in with them for a little while in 2013 after he returned from his deployment in Afghanistan and kept in touch online.

Wong thought the Pathway program would help him readjust after the Army, she said. According to her recollection, he told her: "I think I'm going to get a lot of help from this program."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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