A gunman and three female hostages have been found dead after a stand-off at a veterans home in California.
The gunman was a former United States serviceman who had undergone treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder at the facility, and was asked to leave the Pathway Home program two weeks ago.
On Friday morning (local time) Albert Wong, 36, calmly walked into the facility carrying a rifle during a going away party for one of the employees, according to Larry Kamer, the husband of one of the program’s administrators.
Mr Kamer said his wife told him by telephone during the siege that the gunman had allowed her and three other women to leave the room where the party was taking place.
Three female employees who remained behind as hostages were found dead with Mr Wong after an almost eight-hour standoff with police.
Authorities have not elaborated on how the victims or Mr Wong died.
The victims were Pathway Home Executive Director Christine Loeber, 48, the program’s clinical director, therapist Jen Golick, 42, and Jennifer Gonzales, 29, a psychologist with the San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System.
California Highway Patrol Assistant Chief Chris Child said investigators had not determined a motive for the attack.
“This is a tragic piece of news, one that we were really hoping we wouldn’t have to come before the public to give.”
Department of Defence officials said Mr Wong was a decorated US soldier who served on active duty from May 2010 to August 2013. He spent a year in Afghanistan.
He was a former patient at Pathway Home — a program housed at the veterans complex for former service members suffering PTSD after deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The San Francisco Chronicle, citing unidentified sources, said Mr Wong, was asked to leave the program two weeks ago.
Despite repeated efforts by police negotiators to communicate with him throughout the day, authorities said they had failed to make contact with the gunman after he exchanged gunfire with a sheriff’s deputy at the outset of the confrontation.
James Musson, a 75-year-old Army veteran and resident of the facility, said many who lived at the home there voiced concerns about lax security, saying visitors could walk in and out without restriction and that public safety officers were not armed.
“There might be something that might provide a greater degree of security, I don’t know if this event will trigger something like that,” he said.
The siege came less than a month after a former student with an assault-style rifle killed 17 people at a Florida high school.
That massacre touched off a student-led drive for new restrictions on gun sales to curb mass shootings that have occurred with frightening frequency in the US over the past few years.