By Trevor Morgan and Perry Smith
Detectives with the Homicide Bureau of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department are investigating a shooting inside Mabel’s Roadhouse where an off-duty sheriff’s deputy, Jonathan Buchan, took his own life, officials confirmed Friday.
A Sheriff’s Information Bureau official confirmed that Buchan took his own life in a shooting at the Saugus bar some time before 2 a.m.
Buchan’s father, Ken, said, “He was a real hero.”
Buchan was 33 years old, served two tours in Afghanistan during his four years in the Marines, and had three years with the department, according to his father. He was also named class Honor Recruit out of the 69 recruits in his academy class during a ceremony held at College of the Canyons in January 2020, an event attended by then-Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
To earn the prestigious award, he was said to have achieved “the highest numerical average based upon leadership qualities, academics, marksmanship and physical performance throughout the training period,” according to an LASD Facebook statement at the time of his graduation.
Buchan was not assigned to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station at the time of his death, according to a source familiar with the incident who was not authorized to release that information.
A handful of Sheriff’s Department officials could still be seen by the intersection of Bouquet Canyon and Soledad Canyon roads where the bar is located as of about 9 a.m.
“We have multiple investigators on scene at this time,” Deputy Veronica Fantom of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau said at the time, adding she could not confirm any details of the shooting. “That’s an ongoing investigation.”
L.A. County Fire Department officials confirmed they responded to a call regarding a shooting at 1:28 a.m. and they were on the scene at 1:32 a.m., noting one patient was transported from the scene in an unknown condition.
Sheriff Robert Luna was in Santa Clarita on Friday morning in response to the incident, according to Deputy Alejandra Parra of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau.
Parra confirmed he was there to provide support to the SCV Sheriff’s Station.
Mabel’s issued a statement Friday morning on Facebook at around 6 a.m.:
“There was an incident at Mabel’s last night/early morning. Our hearts are aching for this young man’s family and the grief he must have been enduring. Please seek guidance if you or anyone you know is in crisis.”
The post also shared the 988 number, which is a resource for those dealing with mental health crises.
At around 11:30 a.m. Friday, a post from the same page stated that anyone who had items left at the bar could come by and pick them up.
Becky Hansmann, owner of the bar, who made the post Friday morning, said Buchan was not a regular, but had been to the location in the past week. She was not at the bar during the shooting, but staff had notified her of what happened around 1:15 a.m., she said.
She added there was no indication or incident prior to the shooting, and no one else was injured in the incident.
Outside of the emergency room at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, a small group gathered Friday morning that included Buchan’s father, family members, deputies and Pastor David Hegg of Grace Baptist Church. Hegg said the deputy’s family members are congregants of the church and lived in the area.
“The family, in times of great adversity like this, they have a place to go and they have people to shepherd and guard and guide them and that’s who I am and that’s what our church family is. So, we’re going to take really good care of them,” said Hegg. “We’re going to remind them that death doesn’t overshadow all that the life meant and so a life that was well lived, continues to be something that we all should remember, and thank God for, no matter how short it may be.”
A Sheriff’s Department official referred additional questions to Lt. Daniel Vizcarra of the Homicide Bureau, who stated all further information would have to come from the Sheriff’s Information Bureau.
Larry Schallert, assistant director of College of the Canyons’ Student Health Center, said the mental health community scrambles in situations such as these to offer their support and “postvention” care. Schallert said in situations such as these, the most vulnerable can be those closest to a tragedy — family, friends, desk-friends and even the community as a whole and wanted to assure that anyone needing resources has a wide network of local mental health professionals for support.
Mabel’s announced on Facebook it would be reopening on Friday night from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. and would be resuming normal business hours on Saturday.
“After much deliberation and talking to the people that make this machine run, we have decided to open Mabel’s tonight. If you come in be respectful of one another and thoughtful to our staff,” read their Facebook page. “We are all figuring out how to suss this out in our brains and hearts.”
For anyone suffering from a mental health crisis or concern, a list of resources is available at bethedifferencescv.org. You can also call 9-8-8.