1. Archive

L.A. shooting suspect jailed, linked to racists

Published Sep. 29, 2005

TALES OF SIX VICTIMS: A postal worker is dead, a 5-year-old fighting for life and four others hurt.

Joseph Ileto had just started walking his mail route in suburban Chatsworth when he was gunned down in a driveway and left to die.

Although there were no witnesses to his slaying Tuesday, authorities said he was shot to death by Buford O. Furrow Jr. about an hour after the white supremacist opened fire in a nearby Jewish community center, wounding three boys, a receptionist and a camp counselor.

Asked what linked Ileto's killing to the community center shooting, police Chief Bernard Parks cited the timing and location. Ileto was of Filipino descent.

Furrow was charged Wednesday with murder and illegal possession of a firearm in Ileto's death.

Ileto, 39, had worked forthe Postal Service for two years. He was a substitute carrier who took the routes of sick or vacationing co-workers. His colleagues "really liked him," said agency spokesman David Mazer. "He seemed to be a happy-go-lucky kind of guy, always smiling."

Ileto was returning to his truck when he was shot several times in the upper body. There was no sign of theft, Mazer said.

"He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time," Mazer said.

The youngest victim of the shooting, a 5-year-old boy, lost 30 percent of his blood and underwent six hours of surgery after bullets blasted holes through his leg and abdomen. He faces countless more hours in the operating room.

But he is a fighter with a will to live that dwarfs his pain, acquaintances and doctors who treated him said Wednesday.

The San Fernando Valley boy, whose name has not been released, was the most seriously wounded of the five victims, suffering injuries to his abdomen and left thigh.

He was in critical but stable condition Wednesday at Children's Hospital Los Angeles after doctors inserted four stainless-steel pins into his leg during an hourlong operation to help his thighbone heal over the next three to four months, said Dr. Richard Reynolds, an orthopedic surgeon. Once the bone is healed, the pins will be removed.

Reynolds described the boy as conscious and able to carry on a conversation, albeit with some difficulty. The boy was sedated to help him breathe with the aid of a machine.

Although the boy's leg has a good prognosis, Reynolds would not speculate on how long it would take the boy to heal from his other wounds or how much longer he would have to be hospitalized.

"The ultimate outcome will depend on whether there are any complications that arise from those procedures (for the other injuries)," Reynolds said.

"Obviously, this child is a fighter," said Nina Lieberman Giladi, whose son was inside the center when gunfire erupted Tuesday. "(His classmates) take their cue from him."

One bullet had entered his left buttock and exited his abdomen, while another tore through his left thigh, said Dr. Clarence Sutton Jr., the chief surgeon who operated on the boy at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center.

When he came into the hospital, he was "trying to reach out and touch the people around him" as he gasped for air, the doctor said.

The boy was transferred late Tuesday to the intensive care unit at Childrens Hospital.

A 6-year-old boy taken to the same hospital was in fair condition after minor surgery for a bullet wound in the left buttock area, hospital spokesman Steve Rutledge said.

Rutledge read a statement from that boy's parents who thanked "everyone for their prayers and encouragement."

"Our son is recovering well. His leg is in a cast and he is comfortable. He is playing Nintendo with his brother."

Another 6-year-old boy was in good condition at Granada Hills Community Hospital, where he was treated for a wound to the foot, spokeswoman Lori Kapper said.

Teenage counselor Mindy Finkelstein's condition was upgraded to good at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Woodland Hills, spokeswoman Lisa Kort said.

Wounded receptionist Isabelle Shalometh was released from a hospital Tuesday night.

Up next:SPORTS