Slain LACoFD FF remembered as dedicated engineer, supportive father, husband
More than 500 people gathered to celebrate the life of LACoFD Firefighter Tory Carlon, who was killed by a co-worker at the fire station earlier this month
Josh Cain and Nathaniel Percy
Daily News, Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles County Fire Department engineer, who was slain earlier this month by another firefighter at the station house where they worked, was remembered during a memorial service at the Forum in Inglewood on Thursday, June 17, as a family man and dedicated engineer who mentored others longing to join the ranks.
Tory Carlon, 44, was passionate about his job as a firefighter but lived for his wife and his three girls. That's how family, close friends and colleagues described him in an emotional ceremony before about 500 mourners.
Among the attendees were hundreds of firefighters from around the state, dressed in their blue uniforms and white caps. Inside, just before the ceremony began, the Forum was dark and silent except for twinkling lights on the ceiling. Only the muffled sounds of airliners flying overhead from nearby LAX could be heard.
At exactly 9:59 a.m., the firefighters in attendance were called to attention, prompting them to stand and salute. An honor guard of bagpipe players in traditional garb sounded their mournful wailing as they marched slowly across the Forum floor.
Amid the formal trappings of the ceremony, friends and coworkers described Carlon as a man of simple pleasures with a big heart. He loved family camping trips and taking his daughters out for rides on his boat. He was a subtle competitor, whether in fantasy football or challenging a colleague to see who was more dedicated to getting in shape.
"His only weakness was a box of doughnuts," said Gary Reichman, a fellow firefighter, paramedic and longtime friend. "It didn't matter if they were one, two or three days old — within minutes, the doughnuts were gone."
Reichman said Carlon was the best engineer he had worked with during his 32-year career with the department.
Carlon's oldest daughter, Joslyn, called him her hero.
"He was the jokester — he always messed with me and made me smile even when I didn't want to," the 17-year-old said. "He was the chill one who would provide comfort and the best advice.
"I looked up to him in so many ways; he was my best friend," she said. "I don't know where I'd be without him guiding and teaching me."
He coached his girls in softball, driving them to Hacienda Heights every weekend, Joslyn said. On a recent trip to Lake Buena Vista, he told her regardless of what she did in life he would always be proud of her.
"He set my standards pretty high," she said. "He was always an amazing man to my mom, and I always admired that about him."
On June 1, Carlon was working at Station No. 81 in Agua Dulce when an off-duty engineer, 45-year-old Jonathan Tatone, showed up. After an argument, Tatone shot Carlon and L.A. County Fire Capt. Arnie Sandoval, who was wounded. Tatone fled to his home in Acton, were he set the building on fire then fatally shot himself.
Carlon, his brother Brent said, was unassuming, and always wore a smile, sunglasses and a hat. Carlon's passion for firefighting was ignited when he was 15 or 16 during a conversation with his dad, who asked him what he planned to do with his life.
"A forest fire was on TV and (his brother) said, 'I could do that'," Brent recalled. "He was always so humble about his career, the lives he saved and the countless people he helped."
Brent was joined on stage by his wife and three sisters. As he finished, he sobbed, then turned around, flinging his arms out in a bear hug, embracing the women as they wept.
As she spoke, Joslyn was also flanked by her "fire family" — her father's old coworkers from stops along his career. Attendees wept as the recent high school graduate recounted growing up with her father by her side supporting her.
"My daddy raised his girls well," she said. "He taught us right from wrong and was such an amazing role model."
The ceremony ended with a montage of photos and videos of Carlon: pictures of him as a toddler, then as a young boy, and later as a fire recruit and a father.
Country music played over a video of him driving his Jeep with Joslyn in his lap, guiding her as he allowed her to take the wheel.
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