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A man in his 80s who lived at the Golden West Tower Apartments senior building in Torrance shot and killed two women in the lobby Tuesday before committing suicide, police said.

The women were identified Wednesday morning by the coroner's office as Charlie Vanhager, 54, and Maria Leon, 53. Their cities of residence were not immediately available.

The elderly gunman's name was not released pending notification of relatives.

Torrance police and fire respond to double murder and suicide at Golden West Tower on Maricopa St in Torrance Tuesday afternoon. Torrance police clear
Torrance police and fire respond to double murder and suicide at Golden West Tower on Maricopa St in Torrance Tuesday afternoon. Torrance police clear building of possible shooter. (Robert Casillas / Staff Photographer)

Police said the man shot the women in the lobby of the complex at 3510 Maricopa St. shortly after noon and shot himself. Both women worked in the building. Leon was a caregiver.

The motive was not immediately known.

"Why would anybody want to shoot (her,)" said Laura Bohm, who works in the building. "Why would anybody want to shoot anybody?"

Torrance police Sgt. Robert Watt said police received a 911 call that two victims were down. A second call said a third person was dead.

Bohm said she heard a loud noise, but thought it was garbage falling down a chute near her.

Suddenly, police were in front of her in the lobby.

"The cops were pointing guns at me, saying, `Did you see him?' I hunkered down behind the corner," she said.

Police evacuated workers and residents from the building, one of the tallest in Torrance. Police soon appeared to stand down because it was apparent the gunman was dead.

Mary Fair, another building worker, said one of the woman believed to be killed arrived at work with puffy eyes and appeared to have been crying.

"We don't know why anybody would consider targeting her," Fair said.

Bohm described the woman as "phenomenal."

"Everybody loves her," she said.

Torrance police and fire respond to double murder and suicide at Golden West Tower on Maricopa St in Torrance Tuesday afternoon.
Torrance police and fire respond to double murder and suicide at Golden West Tower on Maricopa St in Torrance Tuesday afternoon. (Robert Casillas / Staff Photographer)
"Oh my God. Oh my."

Watt said police went through the building to check on other residents to make sure no one else was hurt.

larry.altman@dailybreeze.com

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