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Three deputies, another retired, are found dead by suicide


All within 24-hour period

One retired and three current members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department were all found dead within a 24-hour period beginning Monday, the department confirmed this week.

According to the sheriff’s department, the first agency-related death was discovered at about 10:30 a.m. Monday in Valencia. Detectives responded to a second death at 12:53 p.m. Monday in Lancaster, then to another at 5:40 p.m. Monday in Stevenson Ranch. A fourth death was discovered at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday at a Pomona hospital.

No details of the deaths were released. At press time the sheriff’s department had withheld the names of the dead.

The Santa Clarita Valley Signal newspaper, which was the first to report on the cluster of deaths, reported on its website that all four people tied to the department had died by suicide. But a source with knowledge of the investigation told the paper that despite the close timing and locations of the deaths, they appeared to be unrelated.

Two of the dead who were identified by the Signal are listed in county Medical Examiner records as dying on Monday, both by suicide–one a gunshot to the chest, and the other a gunshot to the head. One was 67, and the other 56.

According to the Signal, one of them was a retired sergeant, and the other was a current commander.

The Signal reported that one of the other deaths was a 60-year-old woman who worked as a custody assistant at the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic. The person who died Tuesday also worked at the Pitchess facility, a source told The Signal.

“Our LASD family has experienced a significant amount of loss and tragedies this year,’’ Sheriff Robert Luna said in a statement Tuesday. “We are stunned to learn of these deaths, and it has sent shockwaves of emotions throughout the department as we try and cope with the loss of not just one, but four beloved active and retired members of our department family.

“During trying times like these it’s important for personnel regardless of rank or position to check on the well-being of other colleagues and friends. I have the deepest concern for our employees’ well-being, and we are urgently exploring avenues to reduce work stress factors to support our employees work and personal lives.’’