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Local fire chief commits suicide

County: Official behind the building of fire stations across the county was under investigation

Posted: November 8, 2010 9:50 p.m.
Updated: November 9, 2010 4:55 a.m.

A Valencia family is mourning the self-inflicted shooting death of the man who built Santa Clarita Valley’s fire stations.

Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Timothy J. Ottman, who was in the county’s Construction and Maintenance Division and working vigorously to get five new stations built locally, died suddenly Oct. 26, when he shot himself in a Ventura parking lot as “numerous” horrified people looked on.

“This is being treated as a self-inflicted gunshot,” said Cmdr. Al Davis of the Ventura Police Department. “This was in a public park area where he committed suicide, in the parking lot, outside of his vehicle with numerous witnesses to the incident.”

The apparent suicide occurred in a parking lot serving several small stores on East Santa Clara Street, between South Oak and South Palm streets.

Unconfirmed official reports — substantiated by at least two unofficial sources close to the case — indicate an investigation that directly involved Ottman was underway and that the investigation became a factor in his death.

“Personnel matters are confidential and our department does not comment on them,” said Chief Deputy Daryl Osby, of the county fire department.

For Ventura police investigating the matter, any investigation involving Ottman is not relevant.

“I have no knowledge of any investigation,” Davis said. “But, it wouldn’t play into our investigation anyway since we have witnesses.”

Meanwhile, the surviving members of Ottman’s family including his wife, Valerie, and four children — Megan, Samantha, Alison and his son Nick — have many unanswered questions and are struggling to cope with the disturbing news, his widow said Monday.

“We’re just going to try and get through this the best we can,” Valerie Ottman said, adding the news is particularly troubling for their youngest child.

“He’s not doing very well with this at all,” she added.

When asked if there was an investigation and if the probe contributed to her husband’s death, she said: “Yes, to all the above.”

“Tim built every fire station in Santa Clarita in the last 20 years,” she said.

Honored among his peers, Ottman will be remembered at a memorial service Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. at Fire Station 126, on Citrus Street near the Valencia Town Center mall.

Ottman’s brother, Fire Chief Thomas Ottman of the Los Angeles City Fire Department, is expected to speak at the memorial.

“There are still a lot of unanswered questions,” he said about his brother. “We just don’t know anything at the moment.

“It’s always difficult and it is definitely difficult now,” Thomas Ottman told The Signal in a phone interview Monday. “As a family, we do the best we can to work through it. It’s extremely difficult.

“It’s hard for me but it’s much harder for (his widow) and his family who saw him come through the door every day.”

In a formal notice submitted to The Signal, his widow wrote:
“We all remember him as a friend who was always ready to go above and beyond for the Department.

“Every current fire fighter can look around them, everyday, as they work in their new or recently remodeled Fire Stations & Camps throughout L.A. County — including the new Lifeguard Heads Quarters on Catalina Island — and in some small way remember Tim Ottman, and offer him their thanks for a job well done.”


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