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Northern California landlord charged with shooting tenant

Northern California landlord charged with shooting tenant
Herman Levi Little, 75, was arrested last week and charged with trying to kill a 39-year-old man who rented a lower unit in the Berkeley duplex Little owned. (Alameda County Sheriff's Office / Associated Press)

A Northern California landlord has been charged with trying to kill a tenant in the third such violent instance between renters and property owners in recent weeks in a region mired in an affordable-housing crisis.

The Alameda County district attorney's office charged Herman Levi Little, 75, with attempted murder last week. Authorities say he shot Timothy Loving, 39, in the Berkeley apartment building where the two lived.

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Neither police nor prosecutors would discuss a possible motive.

Little shot Loving three times on June 13, police said.

Loving's friend, Dottie Moore, said Loving had missed several rent payments because of health reasons. But she said Loving told her the landlord said he was satisfied with a payment plan the two had worked out.

He lived in the apartment for five years and appeared to be on good terms with Little, she said.

“We don't know why he shot Timothy,” said Moore, who said she visited Loving in the hospital Wednesday, where he is expected to recover from his injuries.

Police recovered multiple guns and a homemade silencer from Little's apartment, according to court records.

A judge ordered Little to hire a private attorney by Friday after ruling that he didn't qualify for a public defender. Little is not yet represented by an attorney, according to court records.

The shooting occurred in the college town of Berkeley, where affordable housing is especially scarce. The entire region is suffering from a housing crunch, prompting public protests, tenant lawsuits and landlord evictions.

On at least two occasions, an apparent rent dispute has led to deadly violence.

In San Francisco, a woman was charged this month with killing and dismembering a roommate who wouldn't move out of her home. Lisa Gonzales, 47, has pleaded not guilty to killing her 61-year-old tenant, who was paying $400 a month for a room in a neighborhood where rents for a two-bedroom apartment average $4,000 a month.

In Mill Valley, about 25 miles north of San Francisco, Victor Aurelino Lugo, 71, killed himself on May 3 after fatally shooting his landlord's daughter and wounding the landlord, investigators said. Lugo was being evicted from his apartment.

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