Advertisement
  1. Archive

Gunman had targeted 3 other Jewish sites

CENTER WAS LEAST SECURE: Buford O. Furrow Jr.'s original targets had too much security. The North Valley Jewish Community Center had none.

The white supremacist who allegedly opened fire at a Jewish center had a map marking three other targets to kill Jews but reportedly abandoned the attacks because of tight security, the founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said Friday.

Rabbi Marvin Hier said the Wiesenthal center, the University of Judaism and a third location were circled. He said law enforcement officials warned him but asked him to keep the information confidential.

"Early on, we were immediately informed and asked by the LAPD and the FBI not to reveal the fact that we had been a prime target for this attack," Hier said. He went public after a law enforcement official leaked the information to the media, he said.

U.S. Attorney Alejandro Mayorkas declined to comment.

Buford O. Furrow Jr., 37, the white supremacist suspected of killing a postal worker after wounding five people during Tuesday's attack at the North Valley Jewish Community Center, surrendered Wednesday in Las Vegas.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, named after the famed Nazi hunter, researches the Holocaust and hate groups and operates the Museum of Tolerance. The University of Judaism is in the city's Bel Air section.

The third institution allegedly targeted by Furrow was the Skirball Cultural Center, a museum on Jewish culture, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday, citing an unidentified law enforcement source.

Furrow gave up on the three targets, then stumbled upon the North Valley center when he got off a freeway to get gas, the newspaper said.

He told investigators he had no intention of shooting small children and that they "got in the way" as he shot at a teenage counselor and the center's receptionist, the newspaper said.

Meanwhile, only one shooting victim remained hospitalized Friday.

Five-year-old Benjamin Kadish was in critical condition at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles.

Joshua Stepakoff, 6, was released from the hospital Friday afternoon. The boy was wheeled out of the hospital wearing a black Los Angeles Police Department baseball cap and a cast on his left leg.

"Thanks to the wonderful staff at this hospital, Joshua is doing remarkably well," said his father, Alan Stepakoff. "My family and I want to express our sincere appreciation for the outpouring of support we have received from around the country."

Alan Stepakoff said his son is a "very strong little boy" but is not ready to talk about what happened.

"I cannot understand someone who has that kind of hate," the boy's father said.

Both Joshua and his 8-year-old brother planned to return to the community center.

Los Angeles County prosecutors have charged Furrow with murder in the death of 39-year-old postal worker Joseph Santos Ileto and five counts of attempted murder in the attack at the center.

Federal prosecutors had already charged Furrow in the Ileto shooting on Wednesday.

Chief Magistrate Judge Carolyn Turchin refused bail for Furrow, who has had mental problems and ties to hate groups in the Northwest.

The Seattle Times reported that Washington state's supervision of Furrow before his rampage this week failed to include surprise visits by the Department of Corrections, as allowed for under its policies.

Furrow met five times with a Corrections Department community-supervision officer after his release from jail on an assault conviction in May. But all the meetings were by appointment in the agency's Olympia office.

The officer found Furrow to be in compliance with court-ordered conditions of his release after serving five months in the King County Jail for assaulting workers at a Kirkland psychiatric hospital. He pulled a knife on staff members while trying to commit himself for treatment.

Corrections Department spokesman Veltry Johnson said that the department met its responsibilities in handling Furrow's case, though he also said then that the department had not developed a supervision plan for Furrow that addressed the need for surprise visits.

One of shooter's guns was once a police weapon

The Glock semiautomatic pistol that Buford O. Furrow Jr. used to kill a mail carrier in Los Angeles was sold last year by an unlicensed vendor at a gun show near the north Idaho compound of the Aryan Nations, the neo-Nazi group to which Furrow belonged, according to interviews.

The path of the Glock model 26, which was sold new by Glock in 1996 to a small police department in eastern Washington state, ran from the department to a gun dealership owned by an officer in that department to a paint dealer to a friend of that businessman.

That friend, according to law-enforcement authorities in Washington, is the person who sold the Glock in early 1998 at a gun show in Spokane, Wash. That city is near Hayden Lake, Idaho, the town that serves as the home enclave for the Aryan Nations and other white supremacist groups.

Under federal law, gun collectors and others who do not have federal firearms licenses can legally sell guns at gun shows _ and they are not required to do background checks on buyers, as gun stores must. The disclosure that the gun used by Furrow to kill Joseph Ileto was bought from such a vendor may restart a stalled debate in Congress over whether buyers at gun shows should first undergo background checks.

Earlier this year, the Senate passed a bill requiring that all dealers at gun shows, including the 40 percent who do not have federal licenses, conduct background checks on customers, allowing three days for completing those checks. The House defeated such legislation, which was also opposed by the National Rifle Association as too restrictive, and the issue has remained a political flash point between lawmakers.

It is not clear whether Furrow was the person who bought the Glock 9mm pistol early last year at the Spokane show.

Jesse Chester, a spokesman with the Seattle office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said the agency still had not determined how Furrow had acquired the Glock pistol or six other weapons, including an Uzi assault-style submachine gun, that were recovered from a car he had hijacked.

However, Chester said Furrow may have recently traded for some of those guns using others he had acquired while he was a federally licensed firearms dealer between 1992 and 1995. Chester said there were "indications" that some of those trades had occurred after Furrow was released from jail in May and was prohibited from owning firearms.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Advertisement
Advertisement