Los Angeles Times
The sound of bagpipes echoed through the Forum on Thursday as firefighters, loved ones and family members of slain Los Angeles County firefighter Tory Carlon memorialized him as a beloved fire specialist whose modest demeanor belied his fierce dedication as a public servant for two decades.
“We had no idea he was held in such high esteem by his coworkers,” said Carlon’s brother, Brent, as he spoke in front of hundreds of blue-uniformed firefighters and mourners on a stage decorated with wreaths from his brother’s battalion. Just left of the stage, perched on an easel, was a photo of his brother in uniform.
“He was so humble about his career. The lives he had saved. The countless people he helped over the years, the people he mentored over the years,” Brent Carlon said.
Tory Carlon, 44, was fatally shot at Fire Station 81 in Agua Dulce by a colleague with whom he had been feuding with over workplace issues, authorities said. His death was the latest of several in the past decade, according to Chief Daryl Osby, who said at the memorial that he has hugged too many families of lost firefighters.
“This loss is extremely heartbreaking and tough, but also what remains in the hearts of many of us is Tory and how fondly we remember him for the man that he was,” Osby said.
Carlon began his career path as a young fire explorer, Osby said, then joined the Forest Service fire crew before eventually signing up for the department. “He was more than a firefighter; he was a loving husband, father, son and father, uncle. … His first love was his family,” Osby said of the father of three daughters. “Tory was affectionately known as a girl’s dad.”
At the memorial, the Carlon family was presented with a Medal of Valor for Carlon’s brave service along with the Star and Stripes flag that was flying over Fire Station 81 the day of Carlon’s death.
“It is crazy how much your life can change within a second,” said Joslyn, Carlon’s oldest daughter, who was accompanied by her mom and sisters as she addressed the gathering. “You don’t know what I would give to just hug my dad again, tell him I love him and see his beautiful smile just one last time. Life is too short to take anything for granted.”
Colleagues gave emotional speeches. “Tory had such a huge impact on his family and so many others,” said firefighter-paramedic Gary Reichman, who worked with Carlon at Fire Station 81 and attended his daughter’s high school graduation after the shooting. “Even though Tory isn’t with us anymore, his spirit and legacy live on forever. His heart was full of love for Heidi and his girls.”
Reichman added, “In my 32 years on the job, Tory was the best I ever worked with. He had the biggest heart, pride and passion for his job. Tory, I’ll miss you forever. Thank you for every great day.”
Brent, Carlon’s brother, told stories of Carlon growing up. “Tory was always a little shy but always had a smile on his face … and sunglasses everywhere he went.” His brother recalled his favorite meal was Del Taco.
Carlon was fatally shot by firefighter Jonathan Tatone on June 1. The station captain heard the shot and came down to the scene, where he was wounded by Tatone, who later killed himself.
Lt. Brandon Dean of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau said the shooting was a result of a workplace dispute. “We do believe there was some disagreement over work performance and work-related issues,” he said.
Law enforcement sources said Tatone and Carlon worked at the station but on different shifts and had been clashing for some time over operations and other issues.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.
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