Relatives, friends and firefighters from across the region flocked to the Long Beach Convention Center Tuesday to hail the life and service of Fire Department Capt. Dave Rosa, who was shot and killed while responding to a report of an explosion at a senior living facility.
Dozens of fire trucks lined the streets outside the Convention Center, and a gantlet of uniformed firefighters saluted as Rosa’s flag-draped coffin was slowly driven to the ceremony. The casket was then escorted by pallbearers into the building, led by a color guard carrying flags.
Rosa, 45, was shot when he and other firefighters went to the Covenant Manor, an 11-story building in the 600 block of East Fourth Street about 4 a.m. June 25. He died at a hospital. Firefighter Ernesto Torres, 35, and a civilian who lived in the building also were wounded, but survived.
The suspect — Thomas Man Kim, 77, a resident of the building — was arrested that morning, and has been charged with capital murder and other counts. Kim allegedly set off an explosive device in his apartment in an effort to kill a female neighbor who lived above him and with whom he had been feuding, according to prosecutors.
One of Rosa’s two sons, Alec, told the crowd gathered at the service that the news of his father’s killing had left him “in shock.”
“My dad’s a fireman. Firemen aren’t supposed to get shot,” Alec Rosa said. “And it wouldn’t be real until I called a friend, and when I repeated what my mom had told me, that’s when I started to cry. And I cried that day for about 10 hours. And when I did stop, it wouldn’t be because I wasn’t in pain, or I ran out of tears; it’s because my body was numb, and it physically hurt to continue to cry.
“And the rest of the week was weird, because it didn’t feel real,” Rosa’s son said. “But every day that passed made it more real. The fact that he wasn’t coming back; that I couldn’t call him anymore; that I couldn’t ask him for his advice; that I was never just going to be able to drop by the (fire) station and hang out, and talk about life. And it’s not just me — you know — my mom is never going hear him come in the door and say, `Honey, I’m home.’ My little brother is never going to be able to look out during a baseball game and see his dad watching in the stands. And my grandparents are never going to have their son just drop in for dinner to hang out with them.
“Everyone wishes they could say something, do something, to take away the pain. But the truth is, there’s really nothing that can take away the pain — only time can do that,” Alec Rosa said.
Rosa is survived by his wife Lynley, his two sons, Alec, 26, and Sam, 15, his parents, Paul and Jean Rosa, and his sister, Julia Hensley.
Rosa was a 17-year veteran of the Long Beach Fire Department. His last assignment was at Fire Station 10 in central Long Beach. Before that, he served as a training captain.
Rosa’s brother-in-law Chris Hensley, himself a member of the Carlsbad Fire Department, told the crowd he last saw Rosa on Father’s Day.
“We actually sat and reminisced over old family pictures, not realizing this was the last time we’d do that with Dave,” Hensley said. “After dinner, we all went into the Jacuzzi. We had a beer. We said our goodbyes. And in true Dave fashion, he forgot his swim trunks at the house that one last time. So, Dave, those trunks are still waiting for you. On behalf of the Rosa family, we would like to thank all of the public safety agencies — both police and fire — that have supported Long Beach today and our family.”
The Long Beach Fire Department announced that a fund that was set up for Rosa’s family. Information about the fund is available at www.friendsoflbfire.org/police-fire-memorial.
“Capt. David Rosa was a well-respected fire officer,” according to the Long Beach Fire Department. “He served as a mentor for many young adults, paramedics, and firefighters. He was dedicated to his faith, his family, and to his profession. Capt. Rosa’s tragic death has left us deeply grieved and saddened. This loss is profound and has been felt by all members of his fire family and the community he served with dedication and distinction. Our hearts, prayers, and condolences go out to his family and friends.”