Senior Home Tragedy: "My Mom Was One in a Million"

A man shot two women, then killed himself at a senior home in Torrance on Tuesday.

By Jason Kandel
|  Wednesday, Nov 21, 2012  |  Updated 11:50 PM PDT
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Charlie Vanhager, 54, and Maria Leon, 53, were identified Tuesday afternoon in the double slaying and suicide initiated by an 81-year-old long-term resident of the apartment building. Despite numerous complaints to management about the man, no calls were made to the Torrance Police Department in seven years. Jane Yamamoto reports from Torrance for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Nov. 21, 2012.

Jane Yamamoto, Bobby Eng

Charlie Vanhager, 54, and Maria Leon, 53, were identified Tuesday afternoon in the double slaying and suicide initiated by an 81-year-old long-term resident of the apartment building. Despite numerous complaints to management about the man, no calls were made to the Torrance Police Department in seven years. Jane Yamamoto reports from Torrance for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Nov. 21, 2012.

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"People Knew" Alleged Shooter Posed a Threat, Worker Says

An 80-year-old man allegedly opened fire killing two people before taking his own life. About 100 residents of the Golden West Tower Senior Apartments were evacuated early Tuesday afternoon when the incident had occurred, and one man says the alleged gunman showed signs of being a threat. Vikki Vargas reports from Torrance for the NBC4 news at 5 p.m. on Nov. 20,2012.

Torrance Senior Living Facility Shooting

Torrance homicide detectives trying to determine what led to a shooting rampage at senior living facility. The gunman who took his own life and the lives of two women is described as a "ticking time bomb."
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The daughter of a woman who was shot and killed in a double slaying and suicide at a senior home in Torrance said on Wednesday that her mother was selfless, generous and “didn’t have a mean bone in her body.”

Charlie Vanhager, 54, went out of her way for years to cook Thanksgiving dinners, complete with green bean casseroles, on a mass scale for the tenants of the Golden West Towers, a 14-floor, 180-unit senior housing facility, said her daughter, Nicole Daugherty.

Vanhager and Maria Leon, 53, who was a longtime caretaker at the home, were killed just after noon Tuesday when an 80-year-old tenant went on a shooting rampage before turning the gun on himself, police said.

“She was the most amazing human being alive,” Daugherty said. “She was the best thing I’ve ever had in my life."

Daugherty described the gunman as Chuck, who was in his 80s. Daugherty said her mother had been threatened by Chuck who told her he had a gun. Daugherty said her mother had reported the threats to housing management and kept a detailed file on Chuck.

“He threatened her with a gun,” Daugherty said. “Everybody knew this guy was going to do this for a long time.”

Daugherty said that when her mother reported the threat to her employer, “they told her she needed to get a thicker skin,” Daugherty said, adding she was considering hiring a lawyer for a possible lawsuit against the apartment management company, U.S. Residential Group.

Representatives for U.S. Residential did not return a call on Wednesday.

Daugherty said she was planning to travel from her home in Sacramento to Los Angeles on Monday to claim her mother’s remains and plan her funeral.

She recalled the last conversation she had with her mother. On Monday, they talked by phone as they did often.

Her mom said she had just gotten back from Las Vegas with friends. They visited Hoover Dam and she had a good time. Work, she said, was exhausting. She was planning for a pending and wasn’t going to be able to visit for Thanksgiving. But she said she was looking forward to Christmas.

"She was like my best friend,” Daugherty said. “The last thing we said to each other was, ‘I love you.’

“She was an amazing person. My mom was one in a million.”

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