Combat veteran researched murder-suicide before California shooting
By MARY CALLAHAN | The (Santa Rosa, Calif.) Press Democrat | Published: December 2, 2018
(Tribune News Service) — The gunman who killed three clinicians at a Napa Valley veterans facility this year visited the site a day before the attack and propped open the ground-floor door that would give him access when he returned the next day, heavily armed and bent on violence, according to a newly released summary of a California Highway Patrol investigation.
Albert Cheung Wong, a troubled combat veteran, had been working up to the bloodshed for at least several weeks, investigators found, purchasing one firearm after another, readying ammunition and laying groundwork for a siege at the Veterans Home of California in Yountville, where he previously had been in treatment.
The investigation summary does not alter major components already assembled by authorities into the suspected motive and timeline of the March 9 siege. Much of that narrative was laid out formally last month in a report from the Napa County District Attorney’s Office, which reaffirmed that Wong acted alone.
But the CHP document includes chilling new details that further illustrate the premeditated nature of Wong’s attack and the grip that plans for deadly revenge had on his mind.
His act to prop open a basement door March 8 ensured he would be able to get into The Pathway Home treatment center — where he was once a patient — without an electronic keycard or contact with anyone in the building.
After he returned to his home in Sacramento, Wong stayed up all or most of the night surfing the most macabre corners of the web, according to search histories of digital equipment seized from his Sacramento home.
He clicked on pages with entries entitled “Overcoming the Fear of Lethal Injury” and “Murder-Suicide: When Killing Yourself is Not Enough.”
Finally, in the hour before he climbed into a rental car for his return to Yountville, he watched several videos — live footage of suicides marked “GRAPHIC” and “WARNING,” investigators say.
The heavily redacted report, 94 pages in all, relies as well on dispatch logs from March 9, and physical evidence and witness statements from the shooting scene that day.
Wong’s victims — executive director Christine Loeber, 48; Dr. Jennifer Golick, 42, a therapist; and Dr. Jennifer Gonzales Shushereba, 32, a psychologist with the San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System — formed the clinical core of the now shuttered Pathway Home program. Gonzales Shushereba was seven months pregnant, and her unborn child died, as well.
Wong, 36, a former Army infantryman whose service included a year in Afghanistan, had been a patient at the 10-year-old program for nearly a year.
But he had run into conflict with the staff, bristling under its restrictions and policies. His brother said Wong was told to leave after he had been found with knives.
Officials have confirmed that Wong was asked to leave but said he left the program before his Feb. 20 discharge date — before arrangements for a handoff could be made that would allow for a supportive transition to some other treatment.
Instead, on Feb. 14, Wong went to Sweeney’s Sports in Napa and bought a Stoeger Industries double-barrel shotgun, according to the CHP report. He took possession of that gun Feb. 25, after the state-mandated 10-day waiting period.