Orville Sassen lived a quiet life punctuated with occasional outbursts of anger and eccentric behavior, his landlord said.
The 78-year-old Spokane man lived in an apartment that was so cluttered firefighters worried he’d be trapped if the building caught fire.
Other tenants at the Cornell Apartments, 314 W. Fourth, complained about seeing Sassen wearing nothing but a tan trench coat - both inside the building and in the parking lot, said manager Dennis Dobson.
Sassen recently became so upset about a dripping faucet, he threatened Dobson, the manager said.
Other times, Sassen would shout obscenities.
“When he was in one of his moods, there was no reasoning with him,” Dobson said.
Tuesday morning, Sassen’s mood again turned ugly. He opened fire in the Ridpath Hotel’s lobby restaurant, killing a waitress and wounding the manager before shooting himself in the head.
Sassen’s complaints of ill health had grown more frequent in recent months, Dobson said. Sassen was diabetic and reportedly suffered from incontinence, but Dobson isn’t sure if that was what had been bothering him lately.
“I could see in the past six months where he was going downhill. He said he wasn’t feeling well. … He said, ‘I’m not going to be around much longer, you know.”’
Firefighters conducting a routine safety inspection in the three-story brick apartment building were alarmed last month when they saw Sassen’s apartment, Dobson said.
It was crowded with newspapers, dirty dishes, food and other clutter, separated by narrow trails.
Sassen moved into the apartment with his sister in 1991 and paid $260 monthly rent. Last March, his sister moved into the apartment next door, saying she no longer could stand her brother’s clutter.
She could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The pair remained close, Dobson said, often spending evenings together in her apartment. She sometimes joined him for his regular meals at the Ridpath’s Silver Grill.
Dobson said he was “very, very surprised” when police arrived Tuesday to search Sassen’s apartment.
“I pictured Orville - when he’d get in those moods - as just a cantankerous old man,” he said. “Normally, he was just very quiet, kept to himself.”
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MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: RIDPATH SHOOTER Orville Sassen, 78, a regular customer of the Ridpath’s Silver Grill, killed himself after shooting two others.