Senior home staff had complained about suspect

AP News
Posted: Nov 22, 2012 12:59 AM
Senior home staff had complained about suspect

TORRANCE, Calif. (AP) — Residents and staff members at a senior high-rise in California had complained in the past about erratic behavior by an elderly man now suspected of killing two women and himself at the facility, authorities and employees said.

Some people at the Golden West Tower apartments in Torrance even sought the eviction of the man in his 80s.

"People knew that he was a little bit off," employee Alex Galindo said told NBC4. "People were warned, but nobody did anything, so I know there's going to be blood on a lot of people's hands. That's all I can say at this point."

The shooting of the women occurred shortly after noon on Tuesday before the man apparently turned the gun on himself in the lobby of the high-rise, police Sgt. Robert Watt said.

The two women were identified as Charlie Vanhagar, 54, and Maria Leon, 53. The shooter's name was being withheld until relatives can be located.

Vanhagar worked as a manager at the senior citizens' home and tried to be nice to the elderly man who made abrasive remarks toward her and other staff members, family members said. But the man's comments turned threatening and Vanhagar reported them to upper management.

"He's threatened to hit her, to stab her and to shoot her," Nicole Daugherty, Vanhagar's daughter, told the Los Angeles Times. "They had so much time to protect her, and they did nothing."

Witness Arturo Ramirez, who works at Golden West Towers, told the newspaper he locked himself in an office to call 911 after seeing a man who lived in the facility holding a gun.

Ramirez recalled hearing one of the women say, "'Please, no! Please!'" and then two gunshots. The final gunshot came a few minutes later.

Police were still investigating a possible motive. A handgun was recovered.

Residents and staff members told NBC4 the man had been behaving erratically, and many wanted him kicked out of the complex.

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Watt said building management had received complaints but police were never alerted.

The building management's voicemail box was full and The Associated Press could not leave a message seeking comment.

Police were trying to obtain surveillance-camera recordings of the shooting, Watt said.

Golden West Towers is a 180-unit, privately owned and operated facility, the Torrance city website says. The low- and moderate-income housing is for seniors who can live independently.

It was the latest attack involving California senior centers.

In a shooting last month, investigators suspect Colin McGrattan, 45, shot and killed his ex-wife and her two nieces before killing himself at O'Connor Woods Senior Living center in Stockton .

In 2010, Arthur Baar, 77, shot and killed his wife, Caryl, 72, before turning the gun on himself in Laguna Woods, a south Orange County retirement community formerly known as Leisure World, authorities said.