Investigators: Fatal fire station shooting likely due to ‘work dispute’

Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies and L.A. County Fire personnel stage in front of Fire Station 81 in Agua Dulce following a deadly shooting on Tuesday, 060121. Dan Watson/The Signal

The deadly Agua Dulce shooting Tuesday that resulted in the death of one firefighter and the hospitalization of another — as well as the death of the suspected shooter — is thought to have been the result of a “work-related dispute” between the involved parties, investigators said on Wednesday.  

The shooting took the life of Tory Carlon, 44, a firefighter specialist with the Los Angeles County Fire Department for the past 20 years and father of three, and resulted in an as-yet-unnamed fire captain being rushed to the hospital with multiple gunshot wounds. A day after the shooting, investigators began to release some of the initial findings on the case. 

On Wednesday, officials at the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s office released the names of the deceased firefighter who was the suspected shooter, Johnathan Patrick Tatone, 45, an off-duty firefighter specialist who investigators believe fled to his Bent Spur Drive home in Acton before setting it on fire and turning the firearm fatally on himself.  

A Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopter drops water on a burning house following a deadly shooting at Fire Station 81 in Agua Dulce Tuesday. June 01, 2021. Bobby Block / The Signal.

Homicide detectives were unavailable to comment on Wednesday, but officials at the Sheriff’s Information Bureau released new information, quelling some of the rumors surrounding the reason for the shooting.  

“We know that it was ultimately a work-related dispute between the victim and the suspect,” said Deputy Miguel Meza, a spokesman at SIB. “But we do not know the exact details of that, what level, or what type of dispute.” 

Meza said the investigation remains ongoing. Other details were not yet available, such as what type of gun was used and how many shots had been fired shortly before 11 a.m. at the fire station located on the 8700 block of Sierra Highway.  

The 54-year-old fire captain who was transported to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital remained in critical, but stable, condition as of Wednesday, hospital officials said, but the exact description and/or severity of his injuries were not available.  

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Air Rescue 5 responds to a deadly shooting at Fire Station 81 in Agua Dulce on Tuesday, June 01, 2021. Dan Watson/The Signal

Community leader response  

Multiple community and government leaders from around L.A. County and the state have expressed their condolences to the Carlon and Station 81 families.   

Gov. Gavin Newsom, in a statement issued on Wednesday, ordered that all flags at the state Capitol would be flown at half-staff. 

“Together with all Californians, we mourn the tragic and senseless loss of a brave and dedicated firefighter and community leader whose selfless service will not be forgotten. Jennifer and I send our deepest condolences to Firefighter Specialist Carlon’s loved ones and colleagues,” said Newsom. “Our thoughts are also with the fire captain who was seriously injured in the shooting.” 

Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, said he and his wife, Rebecca, were praying for the families, and state Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, said firefighters tirelessly put their lives on the line to protect their communities.  

“The tragic events that took place today at Fire Station 81 are heartbreaking for those who fight so hard to keep us safe, as well as the families of the victims,” Wilk said in a statement released Tuesday. “My heart goes out to those impacted.” 

Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares, R-Santa Clarita, called for “a reevaluation of how to stop this violence because current laws haven’t worked.”  

State Sen. Henry Stern, D-Calabasas, said his “heart breaks for the entire (Local 1014) family.”  

“My prayers are with the families impacted by this tragedy,” said Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale. 

L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley, said on Tuesday that “trauma weighs heavily on our firefighters” but that the community would “help (them) carry (their) burden and offer support.”  

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