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Victims identified in suspected murder-suicide in Palo Alto

Vincent DePaul Collins was shot four times by resident Marc Miller, who then shot himself

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

The man who police believe used a semi-automatic gun to kill the building manager at a Palo Alto senior-housing complex on Thursday before turning the gun on himself has been identified as Marc Alvin Miller, a resident whom one neighbor described as "disgruntled." The man he shot was identified by the Santa Clara County Coroner's Office as Vincent DePaul Collins, 70.

Collins had four gunshot wounds to the head and torso, according to the coroner's office. His cause of death was determined to be homicide.

Miller, 69, was found deceased with a single gunshot wound and the cause was determined to be suicide.

One resident said the shooting at the Alta Torre Apartments on Fabian Way may have been over a parking dispute.

In the days since the shooting, residents of the 56-unit apartment complex have been coming to terms with what happened.

"Everybody is very upset," Judy Jagerman, an Alta Torre resident, told the Weekly. "I can see it in their faces that people are sad."

She described Collins as a "wonderful person" who had at least one daughter and four grandchildren.

"It's such a tragedy," Jagerman said. "He had so much to live for."

Collins had been a resident manager at Alta Torre since it opened 2010, according to BRIDGE Housing. Some residents described him as "strict," and Jagerman acknowledged that he was "very strict and very precise." But he was a "happy and wonderful person who always smiled," she added.

"He was the best manager ever," she said. "He kept it so clean."

He had been her friend for five years. When Jagerman faced a crisis and lost her job, Collins told her to "trust in the process," she said. She posted those words in her apartment for encouragement, and she did find a job, she said.

Genrikh Geberger, another resident, said of Collins: "He was very careful -- very strong. I liked him. He kept the place clean. He was very thorough."

But resident Adassa Walker said she had a few run-ins with Collins. When her daughter gave her a plant for her birthday, Walker put it on the patio outside her apartment. It leaked a small amount of water and left a small stain, which made Collins very angry, she said.

Collins also made Walker move her car out of the garage and onto the street after it started leaking oil. Her daughter had the car fixed, but recently Collins said it was leaking again. Walker's daughter asked to leave the car in the garage with a pan underneath it until she could afford to get it fixed, but Collins had refused, she said.

Miller also had a dispute with Collins regarding his car, which Collins had banished from the apartment parking garage due to leaking oil, Walker said. She thinks that might have caused the shooting, she said.

Parking on the street is a hardship for older persons, Walker said. Often, it's difficult to find a parking space and then walk back to the complex. On-street cars also have to be moved every 72 hours.

Miller had spoken with Walker's daughter on a number of occasions. "He was really upset about his car, and it was going on for a while," Walker said of the disagreement with Collins.

Susan Johnson, executive vice president at BRIDGE Housing, said Collins was "well-loved by residents, and highly respected by colleagues -- a kind, lovely person who approached each day with a positive outlook."

"Vincent took pride in maintaining the building so it always looked brand new," Johnson said in a statement. "He will be greatly missed."

Last Thursday, Palo Alto firefighters responded to a 911 call from the complex shortly after 3 p.m. A resident reported that a man in the building's elevator needed medical assistance. They found found Miller with a handgun in his lap and an apparent gunshot wound to the head.

About 10 minutes later, police officers who were summoned to the scene found a second body in the manager's office on the first floor. The man, now identified as Collins, had been shot multiple times.

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."

On Friday, several residents of the 56-unit complex said they knew Miller. One resident, who has been living at Alta Torre for five years, called Miller "disgruntled."

Geberger said that his and Miller's apartments are on the same floor, but that he did not know him well. "We were not friends," he said, although they would exchange pleasantries.

Another resident, who lives a floor below Miller and who frequently saw him around the complex, described him as "lonely." But though she said Miller lived alone, she didn't think there was anything out of the ordinary about him.

She said she had seen Miller at about 2 p.m. Thursday, roughly an hour before police received the 911 call, and nothing seemed amiss. She said she had just walked into the building when she saw Miller walking out of the elevator, which she was preparing to enter.

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

The Thursday shootings brought a heavy police presence to a bustling south Palo Alto block that also includes Loral Space Systems and the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center. About a dozen police cruisers and the department's mobile command center swarmed the scene. For hours after the shootings, the main entrances to Alta Torre and the Jewish Community Center were cordoned off while officers collected evidence.

Yet despite the flurry of activity, police almost immediately determined that there was no danger to the public. At about 4:45, police said they had recovered the weapon and that they didn't believe any suspects remained at large.

Since the shooting, Palo Alto officers have been interviewing residents and people who know Miller and Collins in hopes of determining the motive, police said Saturday.

On Friday, BRIDGE officials sent a letter to residents expressing their condolences and concern. They planned to hold a meeting about the tragedy, Jagerman said.

Alta Torre, developed by the nonprofit BRIDGE housing and opened in 2010, consists of one-bedroom apartments for low-income seniors. BRIDGE spokesperson Lyn Hikida said the organization'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," Hikida said.

Related article: Police investigate possible murder-suicide (March 19, 2015)

Comments

2 people like this
Posted by Mark Banner
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 21, 2015 at 10:18 pm

Not the best P.R. for that complex there. I know some Jewish seniors who stayed there and have since moved out having felt there were better housing deals elsewhere.


15 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 21, 2015 at 10:39 pm

Does this apartment complex have a policy about guns ownership? Was this gun lawfully registered? Did the alleged killer have any criminal background?


8 people like this
Posted by Tia Stevens
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 21, 2015 at 11:38 pm

This is sad. My heart goes out to the families that lost loved ones.

Bridge Housing is all about cash!
Ask some of the residents at Peninsula Park Apartments.


My friend lives at Peninsula Park Apartments (Bridge Housing) here in East Palo Alto, and one of the residents was shot dead on the back porch a couple of years ago.
Other residents had their front doors kick in due to in home invasions.
Majority of the residents had their car stolen or broken into , and yet Bridge response is they have no money for security patrols.

Year after year the Below Market rental residents are bullied from the corporate office about paper work. Sometimes the bullying spans out over the coarse of the year. I'm sure many of Bridge Housing residents can agree to the bullying! Maybe, the guy got tired of it?

Taxes
Income Verfication
Bank Account
Child Support
Alimony
And the list goes on!




2 people like this
Posted by parking
a resident of Mayfield
on Mar 22, 2015 at 3:10 pm

Palo Alto Daily quoted a neighbor who thought this resulted from a dispute over parking. Crazy.


18 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 22, 2015 at 7:30 pm

Parking is just a smoke screen. The real issue is how does a metally unstable man acquire guns?


11 people like this
Posted by Phil Hanawalt
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 23, 2015 at 11:32 am

So sad, but just another gun related tragedy. There were essentially no gun related deaths in Palo Alto when I moved here in 1961. Now there are usually several a week. Why do we continue to let the NRA prevent the establishment of sensible laws about gun ownership?


14 people like this
Posted by Mikey
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 23, 2015 at 12:07 pm

Phil:
There are not several "Gun related deaths" per week in Palo Alto. Not even in East Palo Alto anymore. We have LOTS of rules and laws about gun ownership. Some of them are sensible. Its just a sad fact of life that someone may be mentally stable at one time, and they may become mentally unstable at another time. He could have run this victim over with a car or stabbed him as well. Either way, its a tragedy and I'm sorry for all of those whose lives were touched by this.

Also, the reason that the NRA is so strong is because of me...and a bunch of other regular every day individuals from every walk of life, every religion, every background imaginable. We are law abiding citizens who love shooting sports, hunting, collecting firearms and most of all supporting safe and competant gun ownership. There are a few bad apples out there like in any huge group, but most of us are moms and dads - regular people just like you. Go take a basic pistol class! You might make some friends and learn some new stuff.


6 people like this
Posted by Alvin York
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 23, 2015 at 12:22 pm

If the manager had been skilled and allowed to be armed he may be alive today. In 1961 guns were easy as shoes to obtain. You could buy them mail order. Today with 20,000 gun laws a law breaker such as a person who commits murder will kill you with a hammer, knife, car, or whatever. Don't forget the social revolution of the 60's and 70's. We live in a new world; we don't live with 50's values. Don't just stop with banning the 2nd Amendment; I say ban the 1st too. That way there will be no angry voices to inflame passions. And remember as they said in the 60's, "with dope there's hope."


9 people like this
Posted by Gun control is a good thing.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2015 at 1:21 pm

The number of guns owned per capita is WAY higher today than in 1961. Incidence of Gun related deaths is higher as well. Gun manufacturers are producing more guns and more lethal automatic weaponry and they are marketing those guns heavily to average citizens in a way they never did in 1961. These corporations build their profit margins at the expense of innocent citizens who live in fear of these guns and who have lost lives and loved ones to them. The NRA is a corporate machine, and their individual members are hapless cogs.


18 people like this
Posted by student
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 23, 2015 at 1:35 pm

These arguments that everyone should be armed to protect themselves from everyone else who is armed really make me ill. Most gun deaths are accidents or suicides or family members and arming everyone will just increase the carnage.


Like this comment
Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2015 at 1:50 pm

Sparty is a registered user.

> Was this gun lawfully registered?

Why would it need to be registered?


10 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2015 at 1:59 pm

Anything to do with guns I find sickening.

If this guy hadn't got a gun he probably would never have succeeded in doing anything other than arguing with the guy in the office. If the guy in the office had had a gun to protect himself, who knows where this might have ended. Do we really want wild west gunfights in a senior complex in Palo Alto?

If you own a gun it usually means that it is most likely to kill a family member or a friend rather than protect your own life. Oscar Pistorius probably really wishes he had not owned a gun.


15 people like this
Posted by bob@wenzlau.net
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 23, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Last night I had a brief visit with a Palo Alto Firefighter. Our firefighters and police who respond to these incidents are to be lauded and supported. As we merely read about this tragedy, they actually witnessed it's traumatic aftermath. For the first responders this incident's aftermath is not unlike our arm forces experience overseas with post traumatic stress. So this post is a THANK YOU to our police and firefighters that are there day-in-and-day-out when this type of horrible incident afflicts Palo Alto.


14 people like this
Posted by Sylvia
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 23, 2015 at 2:20 pm

Unbelievable! A terrible tragedy happened and two people lost their lives. And the result is some posts by NRA supporters?


Like this comment
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 23, 2015 at 2:35 pm

@Gun control is a good thing - Gun ownership is down since the 60's

Web Link

Web Link


6 people like this
Posted by Stick-to-the-Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2015 at 2:49 pm

> And the result is some posts by NRA supporters?

And it's equally disturbing to see posts disparaging the NRA--since the NRA has not been linked to this crime. One person posted that there were several shootings/killings in Palo Alto every week. This is either patently untrue, or a bald-faced lie! There are very few murders in Palo Alto--often as few as zero a year! Yet this Palo Altan can post this sort of drivel and get away with it.

It's not clear at this point what caused Miller to snap. Perhaps, in time, that information will come out. But until then, it doesn't pay to spend a lot of time trashing the NRA.

BTW--anyone know how many NRA members actually use their legally registered guns to commit crimes or murder? The newspapers never seem to print that information, do they?

At some point it would be helpful to know how Miller obtained the gun, and if it were legally registered.

Over the week end, a man in New Orleans attacked people in the New Orleans airport with a machette. In addition to this weapon, he carried a bag with atleast six containers of gasoline that the police described as Molotov Cocktails. He did not have a gun.

Until there is more information, it couldn't hurt to just stick to the facts.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 23, 2015 at 2:50 pm

Are NRA supporters different from those who support zero-period in high school?

I suspect there'd be a sizable overlap among advocates for personal responsibility.


3 people like this
Posted by Mothers Against Murder (MAM)
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 23, 2015 at 4:30 pm

Deepest sympathy to Mr. Collins' family, friends and extended family at his work place. There are no excuses for violently taking another person's life, leaving behind so many people in pain. This was a cowardly act by Mr. Miller. May this community find peace during this difficult time. Please call Mothers Against Murder at (650) 248-9529 for support. We are a non-profit community helping agency in Palo Alto and Los Altos.


4 people like this
Posted by student
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 23, 2015 at 4:33 pm

Just read about a family of 4 in Alaska who were found dead, apparently in a murder-suicide. So sad. This kind of gun death (as well as accidents and suicides) is far more common than the home invasions and street robberies that people buy guns to "protect" themselves from.


Like this comment
Posted by Organiclaws
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 25, 2015 at 4:54 pm

Organiclaws is a registered user.

Such a sad story!


Like this comment
Posted by Sue Dremann, Staff Writer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2015 at 7:22 pm

Does anyone know Marc Miller? I am looking for people who might have been his friends or family. I would like to learn more about him for a story. If anyone does remember him, please contact me at sdremann@paweekly.com.


Like this comment
Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 27, 2015 at 12:08 am

Shooting over a parking space and an oil spill. What a senseless tragedy. Reserved parking spaces should be assigned, especially for elderly folks. Sad loss to families on both sides. Note to City Council: retro-require reserved parking spaces; future "developments" require parking spaces equal to number of residences (at least one stall per couple).


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

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