LOS ANGELES — Plagued with financial troubles that nearly led to her eviction, the woman who threw her two young daughters off a downtown courthouse before jumping to her own death appeared to have grown increasingly despondent, family members said.
Still, they said they had no reason to believe 27-year-old LaShanda Crozier was capable of such a tragedy.
“I still don’t believe it,” her husband, Davon Lewis Richardson, said Thursday, tears spilling from his eyes. “She didn’t want her children to live in a world and go through what she went through. ... She didn’t have to leave and do me like this.”
Michelle Spencer said she didn’t know why her sister-in-law felt she had to take such drastic measures.
“If it was that bad, she could have killed herself. She didn’t have to take the kids out,” she said.
Crozier had been in court a day earlier and had reached a settlement with her landlord to gradually pay $925 in back rent owed on her apartment unit near the University of Southern California.
Crozier and her family left the courtroom in the afternoon, but Crozier returned about 5 p.m. with the girls, Breanna, 7, and Joan, 5.
Witnesses told authorities they saw the woman toss two objects, later identified as the girls, off the building. Both landed on a fourth-floor ledge.
Crozier jumped as a sheriff’s deputy was trying to talk her down, landing on the ground.
Word of the tragedy stunned Crozier’s neighbors.
“The first thing I thought when I heard about it was, why?” said Yanita Escobar, 18, who lives just a few doors from Crozier’s first-floor apartment.
The Santa Monica City College student said the girls always seemed happy.
“She was always with them,” Escobar, a nursing student, said of Crozier.
Noemi Reyes, who lived above Crozier in the 20-unit apartment, said the woman was frequently seen playing outside with her daughters.
“I don’t know what came over her,” she said.
Crozier’s landlord said the woman seemed embarrassed about her financial straights and wanted the opportunity to catch up on rent.
He said the couple told him that Crozier had spent several days in the hospital after a miscarriage, an episode that cost her a hotel cleaning job.
“I wish I could have talked to her a little bit more, told her, you know, things are going to be OK, that people have their ups and downs,” landlord Raul Almendariz told the Los Angeles Times. “Somebody should have known how depressed she was.”
Family members on Thursday described Crozier as a troubled woman who struggled economically and emotionally.
In recent years, she had occasionally given up custody of her daughters to an aunt, Marietta Snowden, who lives in the Kern County community of Rosamond.
“She was sometimes unstable,” Snowden said.
Snowden had been trying to gain custody of the girls because she was concerned about living conditions at the apartment and Crozier’s mental state.
Snowden said Breanna sensed there was something wrong with her mother and father: “She said, ’Auntie, I love my mama, but I don’t want to stay with her,”’