L.A. County faces two lawsuits in last year's deadly Agua Dulce fire station shooting

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AGUA DULCE, CA - JUNE 04: A memorial features a cross made of wood along with flowers outside Los Angeles County Fire Dept. Station 81 at 8710 Sierra Hwy in Agua Dulce where LA County Firefighter specialist Tory Carlon, 44, was killed in a shooting last Tuesday. The twenty-year veteran of the department was killed by fellow off-duty firefighter Jonathan Tatone, who opened fire wounding a Captain as well, then fled to his home in nearby Acton, barricaded himself inside, and set the house on fire before he was found dead. LA County Fire Station 81 on Friday, June 4, 2021 in Agua Dulce, CA. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times).
A memorial shown in June outside L.A. County Fire Station 81 in Agua Dulce honors firefighter Tory Carlon, 44, who was killed by an off-duty colleague at the station. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Nearly eight months after a Los Angeles County firefighter fatally shot a colleague and wounded a captain at the Agua Dulce fire station, county officials are facing a pair of lawsuits connected to the shooting.

The widow of 44-year-old firefighter Tory Carlon and their three children filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against L.A. County and the estate of gunman Jonathan Tatone, alleging that Tatone's "dangerous conduct" was known to fire officials for years.

Capt. Arnoldo Sandoval, who was shot while trying to intervene, brought a separate suit alleging assault and battery against the county and Tatone's estate, and negligence against the county.

Both cases were filed in L.A. County Superior Court last week.

"Tatone worked as a firefighter engineer and for years had clearly demonstrated to fire department leadership that he was unstable mentally and was a dangerous condition to those around him," according to the complaint in the Carlon family's suit. "He was angry, unpredictable, violent, and eventually deadly."

The morning of June 1, Tatone went to L.A. County Fire Station 81 in Agua Dulce while off duty and fatally shot Carlon, according to L.A. County Sheriff's Department investigators. Sandoval heard the gunfire, went to see what happened and was also shot.

After the attack, the gunman fled to his home in Acton, where he barricaded himself, set the house on fire and was found dead in a small pool on the property after flames subsided, investigators said.

Law enforcement sources said Tatone and Carlon worked at the station but on different shifts and had been clashing for some time over operations and other issues.

Their dispute escalated into the shooting, investigators said.

Case documents in the Carlon family's lawsuit described Tatone as "an open wound" at the station and alleged that L.A. County Fire Department leadership chose to "ignore, normalize, and ratify" his dangerous conduct despite warnings by Carlon and others.

"Although Tatone pulled the trigger, it was Los Angeles County Fire Department leadership’s ratification of Tatone’s years of dangerous conduct that was the substantial factor in the death of Tory Carlon," the suit alleged.

Sandoval suffered serious injury and paralysis from the shooting, according to his civil complaint.

The county had no comment on pending litigation, said Michael Wilson, a spokesman for the L.A. County chief executive's office.

The Carlon family and Sandoval are seeking unspecified damages, according to their suits.

A representative of Tatone's estate could not be reached for comment Monday.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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