Long Beach Firefighters comfort each other during a Vigil at LBFD Station 10, for Long Beach Fire Capt. David Rosa. Photo by Stephen Carr / For The Long Beach Post.

Hundreds of people came to a vigil Monday night to mourn the death of Fire Capt. David Rosa, 45, who was killed by a gunman early Monday while responding to an explosion at a Downtown Long Beach retirement home.

Rosa had been with the department for 17 years, serving six of those years at Station 10 in Central Long Beach, where the vigil was held.

“We love you immensely,” Mayor Robert Garcia said of the Long Beach Fire Department. “You have all of our support.”

Rosa “will always be in our memories and our hearts,” the mayor said.

A long line of firefighters, along with a crowd of community members and news cameras, gathered near several large wreaths of flowers at the front of the station at 1417 N. Peterson Ave.

Community members and fire officials lit candles encased in aluminum foil at the 8 p.m. vigil, which was intended only to mourn the captain—not to answer any questions, Jake Heflin, spokesman for the department, said at the start of the event.

Jeff Bravo, who lives across the street from the station said that Rosa was a very respectful man who “cared a lot.” He shared that his father had recently had his leg amputated and Rosa would walk across the street to check on his dad to see how he was doing.

“We called him our Captain,” said Bravo, who was standing next to his young son who was holding a candle for Rosa. “Any guy that works here is part of our family.”

Alfredo Sanchez has lived next to Station 10 for 25 years and said Rosa would always say good morning and was always nice to his three grandkids, who range in age from 5-9 years old. When work was slow, the fire captain would play with them, and on a few occasions let them explore the fire engines. Sanchez said he was at work and found out on television that Rosa had been killed while responding to the fire Monday morning.

“I was in shock and surprised,” said through a translator. “Who could do such thing?”

Josephine Villasenor, who volunteers with the American Red Cross Disaster Action Team, said she knew the captain for a few years. She responded to the team with the Red Cross around 7 a.m. and heard through radio chatter that Rosa had died from his wounds.

She said that he loved kids and would always have stickers for them. Villasenor said she will always remember the smile on his face, saying that it was contagious and now that he’s gone it’s “like a piece of the city’s heart is gone.”

“He was just a wonderful guy and he didn’t deserve this,” Villasenor said. “This is a heavy loss.”

Rosa is survived by his wife and two sons, ages 25 and 16. Family members did not speak at the vigil, but were consoled by members of the crowd.

Fire Chief Mike DuRee said earlier in the day that Rosa was a beloved member of the fire department, a “staunch family man, good husband, good father, a joy to be around, just a wonderful person as are most firefighters.”

Rosa spent time training new firefighters how to work professionally and be safe on the job, the chief said.

One new member of the department who wished not to be identified said he was part of the 2017 academy which Rosa helped run. He said Rosa was the perfect combination of what a fireman should be stating that Rosa was an excellent leader, always positive and had a willingness to teach.

“He absolutely loved this department,” he said. “And he wanted to make sure that everyone that worked here felt the same way.”

Police arrested a 77-year-old man, Thomas Kim, on suspicion of murder and attempted murder following the shooting. Kim was a resident of the Covenant Manor at 600 E. 4th St., where the shooting and explosion occurred.

Police suspect elderly man set blaze before shooting firefighters in Long Beach, LBPD says

Also injured in the shooting was a second firefighter, Ernesto Torres, 35, who had been with the department for 12 years. He sustained a graze wound and has been released from the hospital, officials said.

Another person was also taken to St. Mary Medical Center in critical but stable condition, but that person has not been identified.

As the crowd slowly dispersed around 9:30 p.m. some members of the department lingered and spoke in front of the open doors of Station 10 while one woman knelt and said a prayer for Rosa in front of the growing memorial of flowers and candles outside the station.

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.