An attorney reportedly fired from a prominent Long Beach law firm shot two of his senior partners Friday at their Bixby Knolls office, killing one and wounding the other, before killing himself, police and sources said.
Sources identified the dead victim as Major A. Langer, 75, of Rolling Hills, and the wounded partner as Ronald Beck, who ran the day-to-day operations at Perona, Langer, Beck, Serbin, Mendoza and Harrison. The firm acquired the Larry H. Parker law firm years ago and shares the building at 300 E. San Antonio Ave. where the shooting occurred. Langer was described as the managing partner of both firms.
The shooter’s name was not immediately known, but a source said he was among the male partners listed in the firm’s masthead.
A friend of Beck’s said his son drove him to he hospital after the shooting and he was expected to survive.
Police swarmed to the office building about 2:25 p.m. on a report of an active shooter. When they arrived, they found Langer and the gunmen dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The shooting was described as a case of workplace violence.
Video of police briefing on the shooting at a Long Beach law office. Shooter and one victim dead. Another victim in serious condition at the hospital. Shooter appears to have killer himself. pic.twitter.com/aGKovJhp3X
— Jeremiah Dobruck (@jeremiahdobruck) December 30, 2017
Police declined to confirm the information sources provided to the Southern California News Group.
But Langer’s friends already were in mourning.
“This guy was the most caring, sincere man I probably ever met,” said longtime friend, Jim Hall. “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.”
Long Beach police officers, at first believing an active shooter was at work, formed a small team and quickly went into the office looking for the gunman and any victims, according to a police source briefed on the incident.
“They did so with the understanding that the suspect was alive and lying in wait to shoot them inside,” the source said.
As they scoured the building, police came upon multiple groups of screaming and crying workers still hiding or or trying to flee, according to the source.
The shooting apparently occurred as workers were enjoying an annual holiday party that involved spinning a wheel and winning prizes, another source said.
Eventually, police confirmed the gunman was dead.
In a Tweet Friday evening, Mayor Robert Garcia described the shooting as workplace violence.
Have been briefed on shooting in law offices in North Long Beach. Appears to be a workplace homicide. Both the shooter and a victim are dead. One other person was shot but is in hospital in stable condition. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families LBPD will update.
— Robert Garcia (@RobertGarciaLB) December 30, 2017
Langer was well-known in legal circles, having practiced law for 51 years and tried 75 civil and criminal cases to verdict, the firm’s website said. He handled Weber vs. the city of Rolling Hills, a 14-month trial that is believed to be the longest trial in the history of California, represented actress Pamela Anderson in a breach of contract lawsuit and won numerous six- to seven-figure verdicts.
Langer earned his law degree at St. John’s University Law School and was admitted to the New York bar in 1966, and the California bar in 1967. He handled include personal injury, workers’ compensation and construction litigation and insurance.
In the landslide case, Langer won more than $17.6 million in damages for property owners who sued the city of Rolling Hills and the California Water Service Co. after water was allowed to seep into the ground, awakening an inactive landslide in 1980 that destroyed six homes and damaged many others. A jury in 1988 found that leaking water service pipes and an antiquated drainage system were the culprits, the jury found.
Hall said he and his wife enjoyed regular Sunday night dinners with Langer and his wife of 40 years. Langer operated a vineyard on his property and harvested grapes to make wine every year.
“We were the brothers we wish we had,” Hall said. “He was just a good guy.”
Beck has only practiced law with PLBSMH and was named partner at the firm in 1983. As the managing partner of the firm, he handles the day-to-day operations as well as trying cases, according to the firm’s website. On the Larry H. Parker website, Beck is listed as managing partner.
Staff Writer Valerie Osier contributed to this report.
Streets near the incident are being closed down. Long Beach Boulevard north of Roosevelt Road has been closed to vehicles traveling north. Carson Street is shut in both directions at Long Beach Boulevard.
More to come.