The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to pay nearly $2.6 million to a former Fire Department captain who was shot by a fellow firefighter at the Agua Dulce station where they worked.
Capt. Arnoldo Sandoval sued the county last year alleging assault, battery and negligence in the June 1, 2021, shooting at L.A. County Fire Station 81. Jonathan Tatone, who shot Sandoval, also fatally shot another fire engineer, Tory Carlon, before later killing himself.
Sandoval suffered serious injury, including paralysis, according to his lawsuit.
In his lawsuit, Sandoval said that he’d recommended to county authorities that Tatone be transferred to another fire station but that the recommendation was dismissed “as unnecessary.”
Richard Kinnan, who represents Sandoval, said the shooting could have been avoided “if they had moved the shooter or fired him.”
“It was a tough case, it was a tragic case,” Kinnan said. “We are very grateful that the county stepped up and settled.”
In a statement, L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger called the shooting “tragic” and “still painful.”
“There continues to be a lot of community trauma related to this incident that took the life of a brave and selfless firefighter and harmed countless others,” Barger, whose district includes Station 81, said in a statement. “It is my hope that, with the new leadership change at our County’s Fire Department and a greater focus on employee wellness — an incident like this will be prevented and never occur again.”
When Sandoval stepped outside to investigate the noise, Tatone shot him, too. After Tatone fled the station, he set his Acton house on fire and fatally shot himself.
Sandoval was shot in the stomach and the bullet penetrated his spine, according to Kinnan. As a result, Kinnan said, Sandoval cannot walk without crutches or braces.
The Station 81 shooting stemmed from a workplace dispute between Tatone and Carlon, a career firefighter and father of three girls.
Carlon and Tatone worked different shifts. But when one relieved the other, they were expected to provide a shift “pass down,” detailing what their workday had entailed. Tatone complained that Carlon didn’t finish work that needed to get done on the engines, leaving him to complete the jobs.
In 2019, Carlon began documenting increasingly tense interactions with Tatone on his department calendar and in a notebook. At one point he wrote that Tatone told him he didn’t like or respect him and that “things aren’t going to work between us.” He said Tatone told him the next step would be “fists flying.”
Carlon voiced his concerns to L.A. County Fire Department captains and chiefs, his wife, Heidi, previously told The Times, “but nobody did anything.”
A station captain later told investigators that Carlon had voiced concerns about Tatone, including that his harasser would one day shoot and kill him.
In an interview with investigators soon after the shooting, Sandoval described Tatone as a loner and an aggressive, angry individual who didn’t fit in with the rest of the crew. He said that more than one battalion chief was aware of the issues between Tatone and Carlon.
“Everybody recommended that they be separated,” Kinnan said. “This was just festering, festering, festering. You could see it, you could feel it, and sure enough one day he just shot up the place.
“If there are signs, someone has to take some action,” Kinnan added. “This event could have been avoided, there’s no doubt.”
Heidi and her three children also filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against L.A. County and the estate of the gunman, alleging that Tatone’s “dangerous conduct” was known to fire officials for years.
That case is ongoing.
LOS ANGELES – Without comment, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved a nearly $2.6 million settlement with a fire department captain who was wounded when a fellow firefighter shot and killed another colleague at the agency’s Agua Dulce station.
Capt. Arnoldo V. Sandoval sued the county in January of last year, alleging assault, battery and negligence stemming from the June 1, 2021, shooting. According to his lawsuit, Sandoval suffered serious injuries in the shooting, including paralysis.
The lawsuit also named the estate of the gunman, Jonathan Patrick Tatone, who opened fire at Station 81, killing 44-year-old Firefighter Engineer Tory Carlon and wounding Sandoval. According to the suit, Tatone was off-duty when he arrived at the station and got into an argument before shooting Sandoval and Carlon. After the shooting, Tatone returned to his Acton home, which he set on fire before killing himself.
Sandoval alleged in the lawsuit that for years prior to the shooting, the 45-year-old Tatone exhibited “threatening, bullying, combative, angry and unstable behavior, all of which was known to his supervisors.”