LONG BEACH (CNS) - A 77-year-old man accused of gunning down a Long Beach fire captain and injuring two other people at a senior housing complex has died while in custody from a pre-existing medical condition, the sheriff's department announced today.
Thomas Man Kim died about 3:20 a.m. Sunday at the jail ward at County-USC Medical Center, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Kim had been charged with capital murder and other counts stemming from the June 25 killing of fire Capt. Dave Rosa, who was responding to an explosion and fire at the Covenant Manor senior living facility. Rosa, 45, a 17-year veteran of the department and a married father of two sons, was shot at the 11-story building in the 600 block of East Fourth Street.
Authorities contend Kim set off an explosive device in the senior housing building in an effort to kill a neighbor with whom he had been feuding. He allegedly got scared when police and firefighters arrived and began shooting, striking Rosa and another firefighter who survived. Kim, who was due to be arraigned later this month, made his first court appearance in the case on July 9 in Long Beach. He was in a wheelchair, wearing a hospital gown and appeared frail in court. His arraignment was postponed at the request of his public defender, who said she had not been able to communicate with her client due to an apparent medical issue.
People who knew Kim told a CBS2/ KCAL9 reporter that he was suffering from cancer, had been undergoing chemotherapy and also had a kidney disorder.
Kim was charged with capital murder and was also facing 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. Another firefighter, Ernesto Torres, and a civilian who lived in the building were wounded, but survived.
Investigators believe the initial explosion at the building was set off as a result of the dispute between Kim and his neighbor, not to draw first responders to the location to ambush them, according to a statement released by the Long Beach Police Department. Police said a note that was drafted by Kim led investigators to believe the blast was a murder/suicide attempt.
A search warrant affidavit obtained by the Daily Breeze stated ``there was an explosion in his (Kim's) room earlier'' and he ``admitted to officers he has a revolver, and he got scared and started shooting.''Kim had burnt hair and clothing when police discovered him while responding to Covenant Manor, according to the affidavit. Thousands of mourners gathered at the Long Beach Convention Center last month at a memorial service for Rosa.
Information about a fund established for the captain's family is available at www.friendsoflbfire.org/police-fire-memorial.