L.A. shooting suspect faces federal murder charge
Accused of killing letter carrier
August 11, 1999
LAS VEGAS (CNN) -- The U.S. Attorney's Office has filed a criminal complaint charging Buford O. Furrow Jr. with the murder of a federal employee -- a Postal Service letter carrier shot and killed an hour after a gunman wounded five people at a Los Angeles Jewish community center. The complaint also charged Furrow with violating the federal firearms act.
Furrow was taken to the federal court building in Las Vegas by a convoy of FBI and ATF vehicles. He was wearing a bullet-proof vest as he was hustled into the building by federal agents.
Furrow, who turned himself into the FBI in Las Vegas after fleeing a California manhunt following the shooting, faced arraignment Wednesday evening in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, FBI Special Agent Grant Ashley said.
Additional charges could be filed in either state or federal court at a later date, Ashley said.
The U.S. Postal Service letter carrier, Joseph Ileto, 39, was killed eight miles from the North Valley Jewish Community Center, about an hour after the attack there injured three children, a teen-ager and an adult.
Investigators from the Los Angeles Police Department, FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and U.S. Postal Service flew by helicopter from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on Wednesday to interview Furrow and decide on jurisdiction.
The 37-year-old suspect with a criminal record for assault, who was once married to the widow of a neo-Nazi leader, turned himself in to the FBI field office in Las Vegas at 9 a.m. PT. He was alone and unarmed when he surrendered.
A law enforcement source described the suspect as talkative and cooperative.
"He hasn't stopped talking since he walked into the field office," the source said.
Los Angeles County prosecutors plan to file five state charges of attempted murder against Furrow stemming from the shooting at the community center.
With reports linking Furrow to right wing extremist groups like the Aryan Nations and The Order, former neo-Nazi skinhead Tom Leyden, now a consultant for the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, said he met Furrow in April 1996 at a Hitler Youth Camp in Heyden Lake, Idaho.
Leyden said Furrow was giving hand-to-hand combat training and his specialty was knife warfare. He said Furrow's philosophy was "hardcore Christian Identity" -- that is, that "the Jews are evil, that the whites are good and the good have to go kill the evil."
The Simon Wiesenthal Center says Furrow may have visited the Museum of Tolerance several months ago.
At a news conference Wednesday, the center said that an employee recognized pictures of Furrow as a man who visited the center, but who was not interested in taking the museum's tours or looking at the exhibits, and was subsequently escorted out of the museum.
Despite reports of possible links to hate groups, Parks said the suspect appeared to be working alone in the Jewish center incident.
Los Angeles Police Chief Bernard Parks said investigators have yet to determine a motive for the community center attack, which left a 5-year-old boy in critical condition.
Also wounded in the attack were a 6-year-old boy shot in the buttocks and left leg, an 8-year-old boy shot in the foot, and a 16-year-old teacher's aide who was hit in the thigh and shin. A 68-year-old receptionist who was grazed by bullets was treated and released.
The children were attending a summer camp at the center.
The gunman fired at least 70 rounds with a high-powered assault weapon in the lobby of the North Valley Jewish Community Center on Tuesday, then hijacked a waitress' car, which later turned up at a hotel in the Chatsworth section of the San Fernando Valley, 30 miles west of the downtown area.
Police said several weapons were found in the stolen car, left at the hotel.
SWAT team members, wearing bullet-proof vests and armed with machine guns, searched the hotel with canine units.
But the balding, heavyset suspect -- on probation stemming from an assault conviction in Seattle-- eluded capture Tuesday.
Police say Furrow took one taxi from Los Angeles to the Nevada border and took another taxi to Las Vegas. He reportedly spent the night at a hotel before turning himself in to the FBI at 9 a.m.
Earlier, the carjacker had abandoned a red van loaded with high-powered ammunition, an ammo belt, food and survivalist gear, police said.
And investigators have possession of an Uzi that Furrow allegedly used in the Jewish center shootings, but it's unclear where they found the gun.
Police said they also found in the van two books, "Ranger Handbook" for Army Ranger training and "War Cycles -- Peace Cycles" by Richard K. Hoskins. The 1985 book predicts a crackdown on dissidents and an invasion of the United States.
Hoskins is "one of the principal ideologues of Christian Identity," said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, which tracks hate groups.
Furrow served five months in jail after pleading guilty in April to second-degree assault in Seattle. He was accused of threatening two nurses at the Fairfax Psychiatric Hospital with a knife.
He allegedly told staffers there that he was thinking about suicide and shooting people at a shopping mall.
Furrow was twice referred to the Harborview Medical Center psychiatric unit, where one mental health professional told a CNN reporter, "He was guarded and cordial and in fact was joking and laughing with one other patient in the unit. He took his being in the hospital as one big joke."
Following his arrest in the hospital incident, sheriff's deputies found a 9 mm handgun, ammunition and four knives in his vehicle.
Authorities in Spokane, Washington, said Furrow had been married to the widow of a slain neo-Nazi leader.
She is Debbie Mathews, widow of Robert J. Mathews, the founder of a right-wing white supremacist group known as The Order. He died in a 1984 shootout with the FBI on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound.
After the marriage fell apart, Furrows apparently moved back home to live with his parents near Olympia.
Corry Brown, who has lived across the street from the Furrows for nine years, told CNN that the family's home was "right behind a gunshop and a shooting range."
Suspect identified in California shootings, hunt intensifies
The Los Angeles Police Department
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