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Report: Officer Lax With LA Suspect

August 14, 1999

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Months before a white supremacist was accused of firing on a Jewish center and killing a postal worker here, he was ordered by a judge in Washington to give up his guns.

But according to a report in today’s Los Angeles Times, Buford O. Furrow Jr.’s probation officer never checked to see if he complied with the judge’s order, and did not make recommended visits to his home.

Washington state corrections officials say they’ll review the handling of the probation of Furrow, who this week was charged with murder and attempted murder for the attacks that apparently were fueled by hate.

Furrow met five times with the probation officer, Patrick Gosney, but there were no visits to his home even though a Washington state Department of Corrections memo suggests such visits, said corrections spokesman Veltry Johnson.

``It was an option of the department, not a mandate,″ said Johnson, who conceded ``one could certainly draw the inference″ that more could have been done to monitor Furrow.

Furrow, 37, is accused of opening fire at the North Valley Jewish Community Center, wounding five people, on Tuesday. Later, police say, he fatally shot mail carrier Joseph Ileto before hailing a cab to Las Vegas, where he surrendered the following day.

Ileto was targeted because he was a federal employee and of Filipino descent, authorities said. Funeral services were scheduled today.

Only one of the five community center shooting victims remains hospitalized. Five-year-old Benjamin Kadish was in critical condition at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. Doctors planned to wean him off a respirator, said hospital spokesman Steve Rutledge.

Joshua Stepakoff, 6, was released from the hospital Friday afternoon, sporting floral print shorts, a black Los Angeles Police Department baseball cap and a knee-high cast on his left leg.

``My family and I want to express our sincere appreciation for the outpouring of support we have received from around the country,″ said his father, Alan Stepakoff.

Joshua is not ready to talk about what happened and the family also is having difficulty dealing with it, the father said.

``I cannot understand someone who has that kind of hate,″ Stepakoff said. ``There’s no way we can lock ourselves up and live in fear of these kinds of instances. We can’t allow those kind of people to ruin our lives.″

Both Josh and his brother are expected to return to the center.

Furrow has been charged with murder by both Los Angeles County and federal prosecutors for the death of Ileto. The county also charged him with five counts of attempted murder in the attack at the center. Either murder charge could lead to a death sentence.

Furrow was barred from owning guns in Washington because of his criminal record, which included a second-degree assault charge for attacking a nurse at a psychiatric hospital after changing his mind about admitting himself.

But even though he was prohibited from having the guns, he was known for having them readily available.

For years, Furrow sold guns to The Loaner Too pawn shop in Everett, Wash., but usually bought them back, store manager David McGee told the Times.

``We know Buford,″ McGee said. ``Quiet guy, beady eyes. ... The guy has a cache like you wouldn’t believe.″

Furrow is accused of using an Uzi assault-style submachine gun to fire at the Jewish center and a 9 mm Glock to kill Ileto. The Glock and other weapons were recovered from a vehicle Furrow allegedly carjacked after the shootings. Officers found ammunition, bulletproof vests and devices that may have been smoke grenades in a van believed to have been abandoned by Furrow, who has ties to neo-Nazi groups in the Northwest.

Tight security apparently dissuaded Furrow from firing on three well-known Jewish sites. The three locations were circled on a map that authorities found after the shooting, Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said Friday.

Besides the Wiesenthal center, a second target was the University of Judaism, Hier said. Law enforcement officials warned Hier of the danger but asked him to keep the information confidential, Hier said.

U.S. Attorney Alejandro Mayorkas declined to comment about any such warning.

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

Furrow stumbled upon the North Valley center where the shooting occurred when he stopped to get gas, the newspaper said.

Update hourly