Gunman holds hostages at veterans home

Law enforcement personnel mount a standoff at the Veterans Home of California, where a lone gunman with a rifle was holding three people hostage on the grounds.

A gunman took at least three people hostage at the going-away party for an employee at the largest veterans home in the United States, leading to a lockdown on the site and an exchange of gunfire.

The lone gunman with a rifle, who is holding three people hostage on the grounds, is believed to have been a member of The Pathway Home, a privately run program for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars suffering from emotional traumas.

Reports said the man, 36 years old, had been discharged from the treatment program two weeks ago. The Napa Valley Register reported that the man was wearing body armor and was armed with an automatic weapon.

Dressed in black and wearing body armor, the “active shooter” was reported holed up in a building on the grounds. Scores of officers from many area law enforcement agencies had the building surrounded.

California Highway Patrol officers said the gunman had exchanged fire with Napa County Sheriff’s deputies who arrived within four minutes of the original 10:20 a.m. call.

Sgt. Robert Nacke, of the California Highway Patrol, said the Veterans Home of California was evacuated after reports of a man with a gun at the Napa Valley facility.

“We do have an active shooter situation with a hostage situation in Yountville,” said John Fransen, another California Highway Patrol officer.

Larry Kamer told reporters that his wife, Devereaux Smith, who was at the party, phoned him to say that the man quietly entered the facility’s dining hall, letting some people leave while taking others hostage.

Kamer said his wife, a fundraiser for a privately-run nonprofit program Home, was still inside and was among those not allowed to leave.

The Pathway Home, a on the veteran home’s grounds, treats veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars with post-traumatic stress disorder.

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