As our everyday heroes, firefighters usually run out towards emergencies and rarely have to handle challenges at home base.
On June 1, however, tragedy struck Fire Station 81 in Agua Dulce, California, when a disgruntled coworker shot 44-year-old Tory Carlon, a more than 20-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
The assailant was identified as firefighter engineer Jonathan Tatone. He went to the fire station and confronted on-duty personnel although he was not scheduled to be at work that day.
After the incident, he fled to his home 10 miles from the fire station. He was later discovered to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot.
L.A. County Fire Chief Daryl Osby mourned Carlon, describing him as “truly dedicated, one of our better firefighters, amazing, and a true loss to our department.” On the other hand, Lt. Brandon Dean provided context of the relationship between the two men.
He shared that the two firefighters worked on different shifts, but had conflicts over operations and other concerns. “We do believe there was some disagreement over work performance and work-related issues. How long it has been going on we don’t know yet,” Dean said.
Carlon left behind his wife Heide, and three daughters. Sadly, the family was preparing for a family milestone – oldest daughter Joslyn was set to graduate from Saugus High School two days after her father’s death.
Realizing the pain that his daughter must be in, an email chain immediately went out, calling for support among L.A. county firefighters for their fallen colleague.
At Joslyn’s graduation ceremony at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, her extended “fire family” did not disappoint.
Fire engines from all over the area filled the parking lot and over 300 firefighters lined up and stood at attention in an impressive display of love and support. Joslyn was visibly overcome with emotion when she entered the graduation venue.
Various officers lauded the firefighters’ salute to their lost friend and his family. During the event, Battalion Chief Nick Berkuta Berkuta said, “On Tuesday, we lost a beloved member of our family. His daughter is graduating today from Saugus High, and we as the Fire Department family are here in place of Tory, because he can’t be here. I can see that we have quite an outpouring of support that is truly appreciated.”
Fire Department Capt. Chris Reade added, “We’re here to make sure that she knows we’re all thinking about her. We found out last night, email goes fast, and we all dropped everything we were doing in our personal lives and came down here to show our support.”
When Joslyn walked up to the stage to receive her diploma, wearing her father’s fire jacket, the hundreds of firefighters in attendance stood up in thunderous applause. She was escorted by another firefighter, a close friend of the Carlon family.
The Carlons will be needing a lot of help, and supporters can send contributions to a GoFundMe campaign set up for the family.
After the ceremony Reade said of the gesture, “It means that we’re always going to be with them. The Fire Department family is huge and strong, and they can come to us anytime for anything they need.”
To learn more about this story, watch the video below by Fox 11 Los Angeles: