The man accused of fatally shooting a Long Beach fire captain six weeks ago after setting off a predawn explosion in a high-rise apartment building died in custody over the weekend, authorities said Monday.
Thomas Man Kim, 77, died at 3:21 a.m. Sunday in the hospital ward of County-USC Medical Center, where he had been held since he was arrested June 25, said Deputy Wally Bracks of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“He had a previous medical condition he succumbed to,” Bracks said.
She did not disclose the condition.
Kim, a resident of the Covenant Manor senior apartments, was arrested June 25 after setting off an explosion in his apartment unit in an attempted murder-suicide targeting a neighbor upstairs, prosecutors alleged.
According to a search warrant, Kim told police he began firing a revolver at firefighters making their way down a hallway on the second-floor because he “got scared.” In addition to killing David Rosa, a 17-year veteran of the Fire Department, Kim allegedly wounded Firefighter Ernesto Torres and another elderly resident of the building.
He was charged with murder, one count of attempted murder of a firefighter, two counts of attempted murder and one count each of arson of an inhabited structure and explosion with intent to murder, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Kim appeared in court last month to plead to the charges, but the proceeding was postponed because his public defender, Carol DiSabatino, said he was unable to communicate with her. Kim appeared to be in a daze during the hearing, sitting in a wheelchair and wearing a medical gown.
According to his estranged brother, George Kim of Reseda, Thomas Kim immigrated to the United States from Korea in the 1960s and worked as a civil engineer in the Los Angeles area and in the construction industry in Korea and in Saudi Arabia.
Kim had a gambling habit that cost him his marriage, according to his brother, and he had a daughter.
According to public records, Kim bounced around in Long beach, living in seven different apartments since 2015.
Police said Kim had a previous arrest for vehicle theft years ago.
In a statement Monday, the Long Beach Fire Department said “although we’re devastated that this man will never stand trial for the murder that he committed, our focus remains on protecting the Rosa family and the memory of the many honorable and loving contributions that Capt. Rosa made to his family and the community. We request that you please respect the privacy of the Rosa family at this difficult time.”
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