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Alleged L.A. Gunman Surrenders

August 11, 1999

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ The white supremacist accused of wounding five people at a Jewish community center in Los Angeles surrendered today, telling authorities he wanted his act to be ``a wake-up call to America to kill Jews.″

Authorities said Buford O’Neal Furrow, 37, also would be charged in the slaying of a postal worker who was shot Tuesday not far from the North Valley Jewish Community Center.

The man who identified himself as Furrow told authorities he took two cabs for the 275-mile trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, one to the California-Nevada line, the other the rest of the way.

He told investigators ``he wanted this to be a wake-up call to America to kill Jews,″ an FBI source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He walked into the office and said, ``You’re looking for me, I killed the kids in Los Angeles.″ The source said Furrow assumed he had killed some children there.

``At a time like this, I’m glad. Happy is not the right word,″ Jeff Rouss, the center’s executive director, said after the surrender was announced. ``I hope they can tell us that this is the bad guy. ... I know it will make all of our members, all of the children at our centers rest a little bit easier.″

Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles, said federal prosecutors would file charges against Furrow today in the slaying of Joseph Ileto, 39, a postal worker who was killed about an hour after the center shootings Tuesday.

``It now appears that is related,″ Mrozek said. Ileto was returning to his truck when he was shot several times. There was no indication of a theft, according to Postal Service officials.

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum said he had already filed a warrant charging Furrow with five state counts of attempted murder. State prosecutors were also weighing hate crime allegations, and Mrozek said federal civil rights charges also might be brought in the center shootings.

Early indications are the gunman acted alone, Los Angeles police Chief Bernard Parks said, adding that investigators are looking into possible links to any groups or other individuals.

Investigators from Los Angeles were traveling to Las Vegas to find out if the man would return to California voluntarily, Parks said. If not, extradition proceedings would begin.

The gunman gave the slip to police who arrived at the center within four minutes of the shootings Tuesday. He allegedly hijacked a Toyota at gunpoint about 20 minutes later _ leaving behind a van full of ammunition, survival paraphernalia, and a book linked to white supremacist thought _ then dumped the car at a motel and disappeared.

``There is no doubt about it that this is now a hate crime,″ said Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. He spoke before Furrow’s arrest was announced.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which maintains a database of white supremacists, has information that Furrow belonged to Aryan Nations in 1995, including a photo, said Mark Potok of the Montgomery, Ala.-based center.

``I have a picture of him, Furrow, in a Nazi outfit,″ Potok said today.

Furrow lived at times in Metaline Falls, Wash., once a haven for the supremacist group the Order, The Spokesman-Review reported in Spokane.

He served as a security guard at a white supremacist meeting in the 1990s and had a relationship with Debbie Mathews, widow of Order founder Robert J. Mathews, the paper said. Mathews was killed in 1984 when his hideout caught fire during a shootout with federal agents on Whidbey Island in Washington state.

At the center today, staff, parents and children slowly trickled back to summer programs under the gaze of armed security guards.

``Nobody’s going to scare us away,″ said J. Eliad, a parent who was bringing his 4-year-old daughter back.

The wounded include a 5-year-old boy who was hit in the abdomen and leg. He was in critical condition today after undergoing six hours of surgery. He was given a fair chance of recovery.

Also hurt were center receptionist, 68-year-old Isabelle Shalometh, two 6-year-old boys and a 16-year-old girl who was a counselor at the center’s summer camp that began Monday. The boys and the counselor were in stable condition today and Mrs. Shalometh, grazed on the arm and back as she dove for cover, was released from the hospital Tuesday night.

The violence was the latest shooting at workplaces and schools across the country, and brought immediate calls for stricter gun control and measures to protect children.

``Once again, our nation has been shaken and our hearts torn by gun violence,″ President Clinton said in Washington, adding that Americans should ``intensify our resolve to make America a safer place.″

The organization that runs the community center posted armed guards at its several other operations in the region, and security was stepped up at children’s programs in other states, said Nina Lieberman Giladi, an associate vice president.

In a red-and-white van found after the shootings, officers found large amounts of ammunition in metal boxes, magazines for an assault rifle, a booklet titled Ranger Handbook and freeze-dried food. Various news reports have said there was a copy of the book ``War Cycles, Peace Cycles″ by Richard Kelly Hoskins, which the Southern Poverty Law Center says is a staple of hate group literature.

A few hours later, a carjacked Toyota was found parked outside a motel in Chatsworth, another suburb in the San Fernando Valley, but hours of cautious searching by SWAT teams failed to turn up the gunman.

John Torres, special agent at the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said that among Furrow’s weapons was a Bushmaster, a semiautomatic rifle modeled after the Army’s M-16.

The Seattle Times reported that late last year Furrow tried to commit himself at the Fairfax Psychiatric Hospital in Kirkland, a Seattle suburb, but got in trouble when he pulled a knife on staffers and eventually pleaded guilty to second-degree assault.

Furrow satisfied his sentence for the assault, said Arthur Wallenstein, director of the King County Adult Detention in Seattle. He was released in May.


EDITOR’S NOTE _ Associated Press reporters Jeff Wong, Paul Chavez and Louinn Lota in Los Angeles, Michael J. Sniffen in Washington and Allen G. Breed in Raleigh, N.C., contributed to this report.

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