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3 found dead in apparent murder-suicide at Torrance senior home

Gunman was a resident of the facility, employees say. The two others killed apparently worked at the home.

November 21, 2012|By Ruben Vives, Los Angeles Times
  • A Torrance police officer helps Golden West Tower residents back inside the facility after Tuesday's fatal shootings.
A Torrance police officer helps Golden West Tower residents back inside… (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles…)

Three people were found shot to death Tuesday in the lobby of a Torrance senior-living facility in an apparent murder-suicide, allegedly at the hand of a resident who had a history of violent outbursts, according to law enforcement and witnesses.

About noon, the man was seen holding a gun near the business offices of Golden West Tower, a high-rise facility in the 3500 block of Maricopa Street.

One witness, Arturo Ramirez, a maintenance worker at the complex, said he spotted the gunman and dashed to the maintenance office, where he locked himself inside and called 911.

He said he could hear one of the women killed — a caregiver who tended to about 20 residents — plead for mercy.

"I heard her say, 'Please, no! Please!' " he said. "Then, I heard two gunshots."

A few minutes later, Ramirez said he heard another gunshot. He remained locked in the office until police found him and escorted him out of the building.

Other employees told The Times that the alleged perpetrator was a male resident of the facility and that the other woman killed was a manager there. One employee said that the alleged shooter was prone to violent outbursts and had expressed anger toward the two who were killed.

Authorities confirmed that one of the victims was an employee of the complex, but said that none of the purported threats had been reported to Torrance police.

Sgt. Robert Watt of the Torrance Police Department said that a handgun had been used and that investigators were still probing possible motives for the killings.

He could not name the victims, pending identification from the Los Angeles County coroner's office.

As investigators examined the crime scene, authorities cleared the building in the neighborhood of modest apartment complexes off Torrance Boulevard. The more than 100 people evacuated were taken back in, floor by floor, after three hours, Watt said. The crime scene, he said, was not visible to residents.

One of the residents, Lucia Alarcon, has lived in Golden West Tower for 15 years. She said she was scared when police knocked on her fifth-floor apartment door, instructing her to leave.

"I was surprised to see so many cops on my floor," she said.

And she was stunned to hear that such violence had taken place in her apartment building, a place she thought to be safe.

"Nothing like this has ever happened," Alarcon said. "… Life is too short sometimes."

Times staff writers Rick Rojas and Rosanna Xia contributed to this report.

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