Nursing home shooting

Lt. Paul Vernon talks to the media in front of Country Villa Sheraton Nursing and Rehabilitation home, scene of a fatal shooting authorities say involved a brother and sister. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times / December 11, 2013)

A man who authorities said killed his ailing wife in their Canyon Country home and then fatally shot his near-comatose sister Wednesday at a North Hills nursing home had recently given away the family Christmas tree, saying he didn’t need it this year.

Lance Holger Anderson, 60, was arrested by the Los Angeles police on suspicion of killing his sister just hours after being taken into custody at the nursing home where he waited for detectives. 

Neighbors in the quiet apartment couple said Anderson and his wife moved in five or six months ago. The man cared for his ailing wife.

“He was very dainty with her. You see him caressing her hand,” said neighbor Grace Madrigal, who added that the man introduced himself to everyone in the complex. "He was caressing her like she was a jewel, you could tell that's how he treated her."

Madrigal said the man gave her the family Christmas tree two weeks ago, saying, “We’re not having Christmas this year.”

The Canyon Country neighborhood was quiet Wednesday afternoon, minus a caravan of TV vans and two sheriff's squad cars. Many residents were unaware of the shooting. Officials said the woman was found dead of what appeared to be a single gunshot.

Detectives say Anderson killed his wife and drove 15 miles to Country Villa Sheraton Nursing and Rehabilitation hospital in the 9600 block of Sepulveda Boulevard.

Anderson entered the North Hills center shortly after 9 a.m., pulled out a small-caliber handgun and shot his 59-year-old sister, Lisa Nave, in the head, said LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon.

Police described the fatal shooting of Lisa Nave as a "mercy killing."

“I use the term 'mercy killing' in terms of describing a killing here because I want people to understand that this man did not randomly walk into a hospital to commit this crime," said Vernon. "He knew his sister was there in a vegetative state.”

Relatives told police the wife had dementia. Two other patients lay unconscious in the same area as Nave. After allegedly shooting his sister, the man put down his gun inside the room, walked out onto a patio and waited for LAPD officers to arrive, Vernon said.

Vernon said Lisa Nave had been in a vegetative state for five years after suffering a heart attack. During a subsequent investigation, Vernon said detectives heard from relatives concerned about his wife’s health.

Authorities went to check on the wife and found her dead in the 26800 block of Claudette Road. Detectives learned the man shot and killed his wife in Canyon Country before going to the hospital.

"According to family, the wife was suffering from dementia," Vernon said. "The sister was pronounced dead in the hospital bed."

Sheriff's department officials confirmed homicide detectives were investigating the death of a woman in Canyon Country.

Vernon said the gunman made several statements about the events after being taken into custody but investigators aren’t about to make those public.

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