LOS ANGELES >> Police were trying to learn today what motivated a partner in a law firm to shoot two of his colleagues before turning the gun on himself.
Officers arrived at an office building in Long Beach on Friday to find the gunman and one victim dead and learned that the second victim had gone to a hospital, according to investigators.
The shooter was identified Saturday as John Mendoza, 58, of Redondo Beach. He shot the two men before killing himself, police said.
Major Langer, 75, of Rolling Hills, was shot in the upper body and died at the scene.
A friend told the Long Beach Press-Telegram that the wounded man was another partner in the firm, Ronald Beck, who was driven to the hospital by his son. The 68-year-old injured man was shot in the torso and lower body, police said. He remained hospitalized in stable condition and was expected to survive.
“Several employees were in the office at the time of the shooting, however, no other injuries were reported,” according to the police statement. “A motive for the shooting remains under investigation.”
A gun was recovered from the scene.
Basieleus Zeno, who videotaped employees running from the building, told KCBS-TV that he heard screams but thought they were from employees enjoying a holiday party at the office.
But it became clear that the half-dozen workers streaming from the law office, which is located in the well-to-do neighborhood of Bixby Knolls, were fleeing.
“The woman was saying ‘They’re shooting inside. They’re shooting inside,” Zeno said.
Beck ran day-to-day operations at the law firm of Perona, Langer, Beck, Serbin, Mendoza and Harrison. He also was managing partner of the Larry H. Parker law firm that worked with Perona and Langer. Beck and Parker have appeared in well-known Southern California television commercials for Parker’s firm that conclude with Parker promising: “We’ll fight for you!”
Langer was senior managing partner of both firms.
“This guy was the most caring, sincere man I probably ever met,” longtime friend Jim Hall told the Press-Telegram. “He just had a heart of gold and really cared for everybody who works at the firm and considers them members of his family. He certainly didn’t deserve this.”
According to the Perona, Langer firm’s website, Mendoza was a workers’ compensation attorney who had worked thousands of industrial injury cases over the past 20 years and had been a frequent guest on local television and radio stations.
The office is about 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles in Long Beach, a city of about 460,000 people.