LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Two weeks after a Long Beach firefighter was shot to death, his colleagues thought they were under fire again and fled — only to return and find their equipment stolen.

The scare came at around 10 p.m. Monday as a four-member engine crew answered a medical call downtown.

The firefighters were walking up to an apartment building when they heard a loud noise that sounded like gunfire, Capt. Matt Dobberpuhl said Tuesday.

"They dropped their equipment and made their way quickly to the engine" and drove off a safe distance until police gave the all-clear, Dobberpuhl said.

When they returned about 40 minutes later, firefighters found that someone had stolen thousands of dollars of equipment, including a defibrillator, an oxygen bottle bag, a first-aid kit and a flashlight, Dobberpuhl.

"That was all gone. Fortunately, the medical call was a minor issue," Dobberpuhl said. "Obviously, had this been a more critical emergency, someone could have lost their life, potentially. It's the sad reality of the world we live in now."

The gunfire-like noise may have been illegal fireworks, he said.

The firefighters, who weren't wearing helmets or body armor, acted properly, Dobberpuhl said. "They made an attempt to protect themselves, which was appropriate, given recent events," he said.

Some of the same firefighters were at the scene on June 25 when a gunman shot and killed fire Capt. Dave Rosa as fire crews answered a report of an explosion at a high-rise retirement tower, Dobberpuhl said.

Thomas Kim, 77, who lived in the tower, is charged with Rosa's murder. Prosecutors say Kim was feuding with a woman who lived above him, set off an explosion to kill her and then shot at firefighters who were searching the building.

Besides killing Rosa, he's accused of wounding another firefighter and a neighbor.