People who live on a quiet street in Desert Hot Springs are still reeling over the violent death of a man they’ve known for years: 63-year-old Walter Carter.
“I just can’t believe the whole thing, it’s, just in shock,” says Lorraine Spencer who lives across the street from Carter’s now empty home.
Even harder for them to accept is that according to Riverside County Sheriff’s Department on Valentine’s Day, Carter entered a medical building in Rancho Mirage shot and killed Dr. David Duffner then turned the gun on himself.
“It was devastating all the neighbors we’re all close here in the neighborhood and he was a good person, he never talked of violence, he never talked of guns, nothing like that, and it was a shock to all of us,” says Dolly Moen, Spencer’s daughter who also lives on the same street, just on the other side of Carter.
Spencer says she’s knew Carter and his wife for years and she and her daughter, Moen, looked after Carter after his wife died several years ago, “He was kind of a loner, he didn’t have friends,” she says adding they always took him to his doctors’ appointments.
Spencer says she never heard him mention Dr. Duffner but assumes that’s who did a back surgery on him over a year ago. She says he was in more pain after that procedure.
Several neighbors say he’d been in a downward spiral for months.
“We’ve been worried about him for a long time we have taken him to the doctors we have tried to get him treatment centers and we haven’t been able to find the right help,” says Moen.
“Very isolating very reclusive, I knew he was having trouble getting his pain meds since he was apparently blacklisted from all the doctors in the area,” says Patrick Thiels, who also lives across the street.
Spencer says when she took him to the E.R.s they all turned him away without medicine and handed him rehab information.
She recalls an incident where she took him to a doctor, ” The doctor ran out of the room said he threw a chair at him and so he said you can’t come back anymore,” says Spencer.
They say the evening before the murder suicide, his son who lives out of town called law enforcement for a welfare check, but don’t think they made contact. They said there were deputies in his front and backyard.
“Some police came and apparently were trying to talk to him and I went over there and they just told me to go home wish they would have let me have talked to him maybe I could have done something,” says Spencer.
They knew his life would end tragically if he didn’t get help, just never like this.
“He had just had it, he just couldn’t handle it anymore but why he had to take somebody else’s life that’s what I can’t understand,” says Spencer.
“It shocked all of us because we thought we’d maybe find him in overdose or something to end the pain but we never dreamed he would snap,” says Moen.
The office with Dr. Duffner’s practice, Orthopedic and Physical Medicine and Associates, had a sign posted to the door that says because of the tragic circumstances the office will be closed indefinitely.