Police investigate possible murder-suicide in Palo Alto

Two men dead of gun wounds; residents recall shooter as 'lonely,' 'disgruntled'

The story is being updated as more information becomes available.


Two men were found shot dead at a Palo Alto senior-housing development on Thursday afternoon in what police believe to be a murder-suicide. The victims were a tenant and a building manager of Alta Torre Apartments, a resident told the Weekly.

At approximately 3:19 p.m., dispatchers received a 911 call reporting a man had been discovered collapsed in an elevator with blood near his head at 3895 Fabian Way.

Fire department personnel found the man with a semi-automatic handgun in his lap and determined he died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot, the press release states.

Fire personnel called the police, who then found a second man dead in the manager's office of the building on the first floor. He had been shot multiple times.

The officers immediately set up a perimeter in case a gunman was at large. However, they subsequently concluded the firearm in the elevator was likely the only weapon involved.

As of 4:45 p.m. police indicated that there was no danger to the public and that they were not searching for any suspects, according to Detective Sgt. Brian Philip.

The man in the elevator was in his 60s and the man in the office in his 70s, police said.

A five-year resident who spoke with the Palo Alto Weekly but did not wish to be identified called the tenant "disgruntled."

The woman who dialed 911 on Thursday told the Weekly that she had been waiting for the elevator with her husband. The woman lives in the building and did not want to be identified by name.

"The elevator opened and I saw someone had collapsed inside," the woman told the Weekly. "He was lying on his left side. I saw there was blood near his head."

Fire engines and police cruisers arrived within minutes.

Shortly after the call was made, Elaine Winer was climbing the stairs of the four-story building to see her elderly mother, who lives on the top floor. She saw numerous police officers and was stopped by one of them before she could get to the apartment.

"I got to within two doors away from the apartment when an officers told me I can't go any further," Winer told the Weekly.

She said the officer checked her ID before she went back downstairs.

About 10 police cruisers and the Police Department's mobile command center remained parked outside Alta Torre throughout the afternoon. Detectives and crime scene personnel processed the scene for several hours.

While neither the police nor the Santa Clara County Coroner's Office have released the identify of the shooter, early reports indicate that he was a resident on the fourth floor of the building. The Weekly has learned his identity, but it has not been officially confirmed.

One Alta Torre resident told the Weekly that said she often saw the man and routinely exchanged pleasantries with him.

"He seemed lonely," the resident said. "I know he lived alone on the fourth floor."

She also said she saw the man Thursday afternoon, about an hour before the shootings were reported. She said she was coming home shortly after 2 p.m. when she saw him walking out of the elevator, which she was preparing to enter. She said she did not see anything out of the ordinary.

"We just said, 'Hi. How are you?' like neighbors typically do," the woman told the Weekly.

Because she lives on the other side of the building, she did not hear the shots fired later in the afternoon.

Tenants are shocked by the turn of events, according to a five-year resident who spoke with the Weekly. The apartment complex is normally quiet and lovely, she said. At first, residents thought the man in the elevator had experienced a heart attack, but they soon learned about the shooting.

Alta Torre consists of 56 one-bedroom apartments and was built in 2010 by the nonprofit BRIDGE Housing.

In a statement Friday morning, BRIDGE spokesperson Lyn Hikida said: "BRIDGE's top concern is for the well-being of our employees and residents. We are reaching out directly to staff and Alta Torre residents to provide them with support in the wake of this tragedy."

During the initial police response, the entrances to the building and the adjacent Oshman Family JCC were taped off. Parents, who were initially turned away from picking up their children from the T'enna Preschool at the JCC, were directed to the East Charleston Road side of the campus, police said.

A group of teachers and administrative staff from the JCC helped lead parents and children to their destinations by alternate routes while officers canvassed the adjacent apartment building, looking for witnesses.

The JCC remained open throughout Thursday, though access to the center's parking garage was blocked during the police investigation. In an email blast, JCC CEO Zack Bodner advised visitors to park at the Kehillah High School across the street or in the Loral parking lot. The main driveway to the JCC was reopened shortly before 7 p.m.

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3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 19, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Thank you for alerting us to this.

At this stage, the fact that there is traffic disruption and possibly a gunman (woman) on the loose makes this a necessary alert. Headline should make this a little more clear.

13 people like this
Posted by Shasta
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 19, 2015 at 4:40 pm

[Post removed.]

22 people like this
Posted by Byron
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 19, 2015 at 4:55 pm

Nice, Shasta. Let's make light of the loss of two people. I'm sure their family, friends, and neighbors will take comfort from your clever witticisms.

2 people like this
Posted by Not Searching?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 19, 2015 at 5:10 pm

Then I wonder what the helicopter is doing hovering over the neighborhood...

1 person likes this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 19, 2015 at 5:20 pm

@NotSearching The helicopter is the press.

11 people like this
Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 19, 2015 at 5:20 pm

"The incident worried visitors." wow really? I wonder if a tenant with dispute over rent or lease as one apparent suicide and other victim in the manager's office?

1 person likes this
Posted by resident
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 19, 2015 at 5:25 pm

The police press release says witnesses reported a possible suicide and the police are now investigating it as a murder-suicide. According to the police, a gun was recovered with one of the deceased men.

30 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 19, 2015 at 5:40 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Guns. Regardless of the specifics of this case, every malcontent, psychopath, racist and violence addict can purchase a firearm with ease.

23 people like this
Posted by Tall Tree
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 19, 2015 at 5:45 pm

This is terribly sad for all concerned. Regardless of why, start with compassion not assumptions.

18 people like this
Posted by Rose A
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 19, 2015 at 5:53 pm

Rose A is a registered user.

My condolences for the family and friends of the deceased. This sounds like a terribly sad situation. I hope the police find the shooter or figure out what happened soon.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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