Yountville update – Hostages, Gunman Found Dead

 In opinion, Veterans

The Yountville hostage situation turned tragic as police found the three Pathway Home employees dead, along with the gunman after Friday’s hours long standoff. We previously reported the situation. Police had been unable to contact the suspect during the standoff, despite numerous attempts to do so.

The three employees killed were identified as Executive Director Christine Loeber, a therapist Dr. Jen Golick, and Dr. Jennifer Gonzales, a psychologist with the San Francisco VA.

Left to right, Director Christine Loeber, Dr. Jennifer Golick, Dr. Jennifer Gonzales

Pathway Home issued this statement:

These brave women were accomplished professionals who dedicated their careers to serving our nation’s veterans and working closely with those in the greatest need of attention after deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

All of us at The Pathway Home are devastated by today’s events. We stand with the families, friends, and colleagues who share in this terrible loss.”

The shooter was identified as Albert Wong, 36, a former client at the facility, according to ABC7. Wong served as an Army Infantryman in Afghanistan from 2011-2012, and was in the Army until 2013.  At one time he was stationed at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.  New York Daily News reported that he had a number of service awards.

Dr. Jennifer Golick had ordered Mr. Wong removed from the program one or two weeks prior to the standoff. It is unknown at this time why.

Facebook photo of Albert Wong

Pathway Home and PTSD

Pathway Home opened in 2008, and works with the most severe cases of PTSD. According to their former director, Fred Gusman, creator of the Pathway Home and Vietnam Veteran,

“You shut down emotionally except when you’re raging with anger. You are hyper-vigilant because you don’t know where the enemy is. You look for signs of trouble in the line at Wal-Mart, or when someone crowds you on the freeway, or when there’s a sudden noise. They are very, very watchful. This kept them alive in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it becomes a problem when they come home. It’s not like a light switch you can turn off or on. I tell the guys they have to play detective, to figure out why they’re angry or anxious and unravel it. We give them the tools to realize when they’re spinning and need to stop. They learn to modulate their emotions.”

In 2010, Pathway Home had a small staff that gave veterans hope and was highly successful. According to the Napa Valley Register, it closed down for about two months in 2015 due to financial difficulties, and Mr. Gusman left the facility to care for his mother.

What came out of that reorganization is unclear.  Fellow veterans who understand what they go through is an important element to their healing.

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