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Classification: Spree killer
Characteristics: Racially motivated crime spree
Number of victims: 5
Date of murders: April 29, 2000
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: May 17, 1965
Victims profile: Anita "Nicki" Gordon, 63 / Theo Pham, 27 / Ji-ye Sun, 34 / Anil Thakur, 31 / Garry Lee, 22
Method of murder: Shooting (.357 Magnum revolver)
Location: Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, USA
Status: Sentenced to 5 death sentences, plus 112 years, on May 11, 2001
photo gallery

Richard Scott Baumhammers (born May 17, 1965) is an American immigration attorney and spree killer who began a racially motivated crime spree on April 28, 2000 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania which left five individuals dead and one paralyzed.

Early life

Richard Baumhammers was born in Pittsburgh to Andrejs and Inese Baumhammers, both Lutheran Latvian immigrants who fled the Soviet annexation of their homeland. Both parents would become faculty members of the University of Pittsburgh's School of Dental Medicine and would open a successful practice on Fifth Avenue, near the university. Baumhammers was the second child to Andrejs and Inese, his older sister Daina was born in 1963.

The family settled in the Pittsburgh suburb of Mt. Lebanon. Both Richard and Daina attended Mt. Lebanon High School and appeared to have succeeded academically. Richard was a second-string kicker on the Mt. Lebanon High School football team. Daina Baumhammers Pack would eventually become a member of the medical faculty at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

After completing high school in 1983, Baumhammers graduated from Kent State University in Ohio in 1989 and began to pursue a law degree at Cumberland Law School in Birmingham, Alabama.

A Cumberland classmate described Baumhammers as "gregarious, a good student, in the top third of his class." After graduating from Cumberland, Baumhammers enrolled in a specialized one-year international program at the University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, California where he received a master's degree in transnational business practice and specialized in both immigration law and international law.

For several years in the mid-1990s, Baumhammers lived in Atlanta, Georgia where he was listed with the International Law Section members of the Georgia Bar Association. He was an active member as of March 2000.

Emotional instability

Richard Baumhammers returned to Pittsburgh in the late 1990s and lived with his parents following a series of emotional problems. Baumhammers had been treated for mental illness since 1993, and had voluntarily admitted himself to a psychiatric ward at least twice.

His father, Andrejs would later to proclaim to have seen signs of mental illness since Richard was four years old and later he would obsess about his physical appearance, believing that his face had been scarred by sunlight. However, dermatologists told Baumhammers that his skin was "perfectly normal".

Travel abroad

In 1993 Baumhammers travelled to Europe for a vacation and upon returning home his father was shocked by his son's emotional state. Andrejs Baumhammers would later testify that Richard told him that during a visit to Ukraine, he became "euphoric"; but that by the time he travelled to Finland, he believed people were following and harassing him.

His father would also claim later, that Richard told his parents that he was no longer able to openly speak to them because the he believed the FBI was monitoring the house. Baumhammers insisted that his parents had to go into the basement to have a conversation with him, using a pen and notepad. Andrejs Baumhammers claimed that Richard even asked at one point to be taken to Dr. Kevorkian to help him commit suicide.

Richard Baumhammers admitted himself to Pittsburgh's Western Psychiatric Hospital, and was diagnosed with delusional disorder of the persecutional type by Dr. Matcheri Keshavan. Over the next several years, Baumhammers would see eight psychiatrists, four clinical psychologists and try 16 different medications.

After his release, Baumhammers stayed with his parents in their Mt. Lebanon home. He was a member of the Allegheny County Bar Association until he let his membership lapse in 1999.

In 1997, the now-unemployed Baumhammers travelled to Riga, Latvia where he lived in an apartment on Kr. Barona Avenue, less than a block away from where his grandparents had lived in the mid-1930s. He acquired Latvian citizenship, and went about seeking to regain some of the family's properties lost during the Soviet occupation of Latvia. He made a claim under Latvia's de-nationalization process, but he was too late, as any claims needed to be filed by 1996.

According to several people who associated with him in Latvia, Baumhammers kept mostly to himself and when he did socialize, he seemed to have felt most comfortable spending time with native Latvians, and a few passing Latvian-Americans.

Those who met him in Latvia don't recall Baumhammers prone to violence or ever espousing any racist remarks and the Latvian government has no record of Baumhammers ever getting in trouble with authorities. Several Latvian acquaintances however, described Baumhammers intent on meeting women, but "awkward".

However, in the fall of 1999, Baumhammers was arrested in Paris, France for striking a 50 year-old female bartender named Vivianne Le Garrac because he "believed she was Jewish". Baumhammers then told both Le Garrac and the arresting officers that he was "mentally ill." The police took Baumhammers for evaluation to the psychiatric ward of the Hotel Dieu, a Parish hospital, then detained him at a police station. By week's end, he left on a flight for Spain.

On April 27, 1999, Baumhammers would purchase a .357 Magnum revolver in South Strabane Township, Pennsylvania.

Friday, April 28, 2000

At 1:30 p.m. EST, Richard Baumhammers walked to the home of his next-door neighbor, a 63 year old Jewish woman named Nicki Gordon and fatally shot her, then set her house on fire. Gordon had been friends with Baumhammers' parents for 31 years.

Afterwards, Baumhammers jumped into his black Jeep Cherokee and drove to the Beth El Congregation in Scott Township, where Gordon was a member of the synagogue. There, he fired into the windows of the synagogue, then exited his vehicle and spray-painted two red swastikas on the building.

A short distance from the synagogue at the India Grocer in Scott Town Center, 31 year old Anil Thakur, formerly of Bihar, India was shot to death while picking up groceries on his lunch hour. A 25 year old store manager named Sandeep Patel, was shot in the neck and paralyzed. Patel would be wheelchair-bound for the next seven years before dying at the age of 32 in February, 2007 from complications due to pneumonia at UPMC, in McCandless, Pennsylvania.

Baumhammers next drove to the Ahavath Achim Congregation in Carnegie where he shattered the synagogue's glass windows with gunfire. At Robinson Towne Center, about ten miles from his home, he walked into Ya Fei Chinese Cuisine where two Asian-Americans, Chinese restaurant manager Ji-ye Sun, aged 34 and Theo "Tony" Pham, a 27 year-old Vietnamese-American cook were fatally shot in front of customers.

From Robinson Town Center, Baumhammers drove to the C.S. Kim School of Karate in Center Township, Beaver County where Garry Lee, a 22 year old African-American was exercising with a European-American friend, George Thomas II. Baumhammers initially pointed the gun at Thomas, then turned and fired at Lee, killing him instantly.

Arrest and trial

Richard Baumhammers was pulled over in his Jeep and arrested at 3:30 p.m. EST in the town of Ambridge, Pennsylvania. Baumhammers' spree lasted two hours and ran a 15-mile trail that crossed three townships.

Richard Baumhammers was charged with 19 crimes which included eight counts of ethnic intimidation, two counts of arson, two counts of criminal mischief, one count of arson, one count of reckless endangerment of another person, one count of violation of uniform firearms act, two counts of institution vandalism, one count of aggravated assault and one criminal attempt and five criminal homicides.

When Pittsburgh police officers searched Baumhammers' Mt. Lebanon home they found a document for the "Free Market Party," written by Baumhammers, which read like a manifesto and listed him as the "chairman." The document purportedly champions the rights of European Americans and complains that they are being outnumbered by minorities and immigrants.

Baumhammers had also created an internet website on which he called for "an end to non-white immigration" and stated that "almost all" present day immigration "is non-European."

On May 19, 2000, Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Lawrence J. O'Toole ruled that Baumhammers was unfit to stand trial and ordered Baumhammers undergo at least 90 days of psychiatric treatment.

O'Toole made his decision after three psychiatrists examined Baumhammers; each coming to the conclusion that Baumhammers was psychologically unstable; and each proffering a different diagnosis. One testifying that Baumhamers was a paranoid schizopreniac, another testifying that Baumhammers suffered from psychotic thought disorder, and the last testifying that he suffered from a delusional disorder.

On May 01, 2000, Richard Baumhammers was arraigned on charges of homicide, arson and hate crimes. His bond was set at $1 million dollars. On May 09, 2001 a jury found Richard Baumhammers guilty on all nineteen charges. Two days later, on May 11, 2001, after deliberating for 20 minutes, the same jury requested that Baumhammers be executed for his crimes.

Baumhammers is scheduled to die by lethal injection and is currently incarcerated on death row at Greene State Correctional Institute in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, awaiting judicial appeal dates.


Richard Scott Baumhammers

A racist immigration lawyer in Pittsburg went on a one-hour ethnically-motivated shooting rampage leaving five dead in four different locations. The victims were a Jewish woman, an Indian grocer, two Asian employees in a Chinese restaurant and an African-American man in a karate school. A second Indian man was critically wounded.

Richard Scott Baumhammers, the 34-year-old rampager, reportedly was trying to form a political party to act against immigrants. Not surprisingly he had unspecified mental problems that led to a recent voluntary hospitalization. The killings took place within a 20-mile range through suburbs surrounding Pittsburgh. Baumhammers used a .357- caliber handgun for the rampage.

Police first responded to a small fire at the home of Anita Gordon in Mount Lebanon, next door to the home of Bauhammers' parents. Gordon, 63, was found dead inside the home. She had been shot several times. Baumhammers allegedly set a small fire at the house after killingGordon whom he had known since childhood. Next Baumhammers shot at the Beth El Congregation synagogue and painted the word "Jew" on the front and swastikas on the outside walls.

Then he stoppoed at an Indian grocery store in Carnegie where he killed Anil Thakur, 31, and critically wounded Sandip Patel, 25. The Pittsburg Post-Gazette said he was shot in the neck and was facing the possibility of permanent paralysis. Kent Kretzler, a witnes who owns a travel agency next to the Indian grocery, said Baumhammers appeared calm as he walked out of the store, tucked away a gun and got into his car. "He sat for maybe five or 10 seconds without doing anything, and just very calm and collectedly pulled out as if pulling out after buying a bag of groceries," Kretzler said.

Then he did another drive-by on a synagogue in Carnegie before stopping at the Ya Fei Chinese Cuisine restaurant and killing Thao Pham, 30, a deliveryman of Vietnamese descent, and Ji-Ye Sun, 34, the Chinese manager of the restaurant. About 15 minutes he stopped at a karate school in a shopping plaza where he shot to death 22-year-old Gary Lee.

On May 18 Baumhammers was deemed incompetent to stand trial and ordered transferred to Mayview State Hospital for treatment. Judge Lawrence O'Toole said Baumhammers was incompetent to aid in his own defense on homicide charges and could be tried later if his mental state improves. Baumhammers, a 34 former immigrant lawyer, is accused of fatally shooting five people and wounding a sixth in Allegheny and Beaver counties April 28. His victims were Jewish, Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese and black.

The son of Latvian refugees Baumhammers ran a Web site that touted the rights of immigrants from Europe over those from the third world. One of the psychiatrists who interviewed him testified that Baumhammers had an "eerie" emotional detachment and was paranoid, believing he had been poisoned during trips to Europe. He and two other psychiatrists testified that Baumhammers was unfit for a trial.


Richard Scott Baumhammers (5)

On April 29, 2000, racist immigration lawyer, Richard Scott Baumhammers, went on a one-hour ethnically-motivated shooting rampage leaving five dead in four different locations around the city of Pittsburg. The victims were a Jewish woman, an Indian grocer, two Asian employees in a Chinese restaurant and an African-American man in a karate school. A second Indian man was critically wounded. The 34-year-old rampager, reportedly was trying to form a political party to act against immigrants. Not surprisingly he had unspecified mental problems that led to a recent voluntary hospitalization. The killings took place within a 20-mile range through suburbs surrounding Pittsburgh. Baumhammers used a .357- caliber handgun for the rampage...


Richard Baumhammers

May 11, 2001

Unemployed rascist immigration lawyer Richard Baumhammers was sentenced to death for killing five people in a shooting spree through suburban Pittsburgh.

Baumhammers, 35, was sentenced by the same jury that found him guilty of the April 28, 2000, racially motivated attacks. Baumhammers showed no expression as the sentence was read and nodded slightly to his parents as he left the courtroom.

During the trial, psychiatrists testified that Baumhammers was tormented by delusions that the FBI and CIA were on his tail, that the family maid was a spy and that his skin was peeling off.

Defense lawyers asked jurors to spare his life, saying his mental state made it impossible for him to control his actions. Prosecutor Ed Borkowski acknowledged that Baumhammers was mentally ill but said he was "controlled, deliberate, calculating and selective" in picking victims, avoiding attention and eluding police.

He added that Baumhammers read racist and anti-immigration literature, saw Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and Nazi leader Adolf Hitler as heroes, and wanted recruit others to help him fight against non-white immigration.


Lawyer lived unnotable life ... until now

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

29 April 2000

The one-man rampage police identified as Richard Scott Baumhammers was, by all accounts, a young man remarkable only for his intelligence -- a man who lived so quietly that most neighbors didn't know he was there.

The 34-year-old Baumhammers, accused of a horrific series of events yesterday that appeared to target racial and ethnic minorities and left five dead and one critically injured, described himself as an international lawyer, and was remembered as a promising student


5 killed in Pa. shooting rampage

Philadelphia Inquirer

29 April 2000

A white man opened fire in several suburban Pittsburgh communities yesterday, killing five people and critically wounding a sixth in what police called a racially motivated shooting rampage. The man was taken into custody.

The shootings took place within a 20-mile range through suburbs surrounding Pittsburgh during about an hour's span yesterday afternoon. The gunman fatally shot a person of Indian descent at an Indian grocery store, two employees at a Chinese restaurant, and a black man at a martial arts school.


Five shot dead in Pennsylvania rampage

Police say the killings were racially motivated

The Boston Globe

29 April 2000

BEAVER FALLS, Pa. - A gunman allegedly set fire to a neighbor's house and embarked on a shooting spree that killed five people in the Pittsburgh suburbs yesterday, in what police are calling a racially motivated rampage.

Authorities identified the suspect as Richard Baumhammers, a white 34-year-old lawyer who lives in the quiet, upscale town of Mount Lebanon. He was arrested shortly after the fifth slaying and is being held without bail in Beaver Falls.


Cold killer's 20-mile trail leaves 5 dead

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

29 April 2000

What was so chilling was the unhurried, methodical demeanor of a goateed gunman, firing a handgun and wreaking ethnic and racial terror from an old-money section of Mt. Lebanon to an Indian grocery, a Chinese restaurant and a karate school.

Along the 20-mile trail of blood across two counties, five people were slain yesterday, another was gravely wounded and two synagogues were damaged by gunshots. One, the temple of the woman who is believed to be the first victim, was defaced with a spray-painted swastika.


'They poisoned me'

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

30 April 2000

Richard Scott Baumhammers had a history of mental illness, believed he had been poisoned on one of his frequent trips to Europe, and spent days before his two-county shooting rampage trying to recruit members for a right-wing, anti-immigrant political party.

Baumhammers, 34, an attorney who once studied immigration and international law, is accused of targeting racial and ethnic minorities in a two-hour rampage that killed five and left one man critically wounded.


Portrait of a loner emerges

Philadelphia Inquirer

30 April 2000

As police continued their investigation yesterday of an immigration lawyer they say fatally shot five people - including three immigrants - a picture of a wealthy young man who became an alienated recluse began to emerge.

Authorities said there may be further clues to the apparent hate-crime in a two-page note found in the Mount Lebanon home where Richard S. Baumhammers, 34, lived with his prosperous and successful parents.


Computer, writings on race are seized

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

30 April 2000

Investigators seized computer equipment and writings about race from Richard Baumhammers' Mt. Lebanon home to determine if a suburban shooting rampage that killed five people and critically wounded a sixth Friday were hate crimes.

The evidence will help prosecutors decide whether to seek the death penalty for Baumhammers, 34, an out-of-work immigration lawyer suspected in all six shootings.


Returning to the scenes of the crimes

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

30 April 2000

Along the route of a killer, a merciful but eerie quiet yesterday enveloped the suburban stations of Friday's blood and horror and madness.

Just as it had 24 hours before, Virginia Manor lay in the dappled April sunshine of Mt. Lebanon. The house where 63-year-old Nicki Gordon took six or seven bullets was as serene as ever, its driveway hoop and backboard waiting in the breezy silence for its own unscheduled shoot-around.


Suspect in bias shootings has history of mental illness

Lexington Herald-Leader

1 May 2000

PITTSBURGH -- The man arrested in a killing spree that left three immigrants, a Jewish woman and a black man dead had a history of mental illness and irrational fears that he was being watched, a former friend and his attorney said yesterday.

Police searching the home where Richard Scott Baumhammers, 34, lived prior to Friday's attacks also found a three-page manifesto indicating he was trying to form a political party opposed to immigration, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.


Baumhammers arraigned

Charges include homicide, hate crimes and arson

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

2 May 2000

Flanked by two Allegheny County homicide detectives, a polite but seemingly dazed Richard S. Baumhammers was arraigned last night in the shooting deaths of four of the five people who were killed during a Friday rampage through two counties.

Baumhammers, 34, of Mt. Lebanon, the accused shooter, made no spontaneous statements during the proceedings at the Allegheny County coroner's office. He stood erect and gave firm, clear answers to each question asked of him by Deputy Coroner Timothy G. Uhrich.


He thought she was jewish and punched her

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

5 May 2000

Richard Baumhammers, who is accused of killing five people and wounding another in a string of racially motivated attacks, was arrested six months ago in Paris after punching a woman because he thought she was Jewish.

Last night, police in Paris said Baumhammers, 34, a lawyer and self-styled leader of a far-right, anti-immigration party, was arrested Oct. 21 after punching a woman in a bar on that city's Left Bank. He spent the night in a Paris jail and was later released.


Baumhammers ruled not fit to go on trial

Shooting rampage suspect will get 90 days of psychiatric treatment

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

19 May 2000

Richard Baumhammers has been ordered to undergo at least 90 days of psychiatric treatment before he stands trial in the April 28 slayings of five people in two counties and wounding another.

After the 90 days of treatment, Baumhammers will be re-evaluated to see if he is then fit to take part in his own defense and to understand the charges against him.


Baumhammers bragged in jail, fellow inmate says

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

22 May 2000

Accused killer Richard Baumhammers bragged about killing five people, predicted his family's money and his own legal background would help him out of his legal troubles, and even fished for information about whether a federal or state prison was a more desirable place to serve time, according to an inmate housed next to him in the days following his arrest.

Still another inmate, who shared a holding cell with Baumhammers during a mental competency hearing three weeks later, said the Mt. Lebanon lawer.


Shooting victim's widow files wrongful death suit against Baumhammers

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

22 June 2000

A wrongful death lawsuit against Richard Baumhammers has been filed on behalf of the manager of a Chinese restaurant who was killed during an April 28 shooting rampage.

May Ling Kung, the widow of Ji-Ye "Jerry" Sun, filed the civil suit this week in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court seeking compensatory and punitive damages of at least $75,000 for wrongful death, the loss of earning capacity and the loss of future earnings. She is seeking a jury trial.


Shooting victim leaves hospital today

Gunman's April rampage has left man paralyzed

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

29 August 2000

Four months and a day after a gunman shot him in the neck during a shooting rampage that targeted ethnic minorities, 26-year-old Sandip Patel is finally getting out of the hospital.

He is paralyzed from the neck down and faces the very real possibility he will never again use his arms or legs.


Baumhammers ruled competent to stand trial

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

16 September 2000

Richard Baumhammers has been declared competent to stand trial on charges that he killed five people and caused crippling injuries to a sixth person during a shooting rampage across two counties in April. A request to remain in a state hospital to be treated was denied.

Common Pleas Judge Lawrence J. O'Toole yesterday ordered Baumhammers, 35, of Mt. Lebanon, transferred from Mayview State Hospital's forensic psychiatric unit to the Allegheny County Jail.


Immigration Attorney guilty in killing spree

The Press of Atlantic City

May 10, 2001

A jury convicted a former immigration lawyer Wednesday of killing five people in a shooting spree last year in which he drove through the suburbs calmly selecting nonwhite victims.Richard Baumhammers, a 35-year-old nonpracticing attorney, also was convicted of eight counts of ethnic intimidation in the rampage that left a sixth victim paralyzed.The jury took three hours to convict him on five counts of first-degree murder in the April 28, 2000, shootings.He displayed no emotion as the verdicts was read.


Man gets 5 death sentences, plus 112 years, for Pittsburgh-Area slayings

Philadelphia Daily News

September 7, 2001

Calling it the most "grotesque, vicious and frightening" case he's seen, a judge has formally sentenced mass-killer Richard Baumhammers to five death sentences - plus 112 1/2 to 225 years in prison.In imposing the death penalties a jury delivered in May, Allegheny County Judge Jeffrey Manning yesterday rejected defense claims Baumhammers was too mentally ill to know what he was doing when he shot and killed his Jewish neighbor, two Asian men, an Indian man and a black man.


5 killed in suburban Pittsburgh shootings

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania -- At least five people were killed and another critically wounded when a gunman went on a two-county shooting spree that began in his own neighborhood and included two synagogues and several minority-owned businesses, police said.

A suspect was apprehended about 1 1/2 hours after the shooting spree started, police said.

Police in Center Township, Pennsylvania, are holding Richard Baumhammers, 35, in connection with the shooting deaths of his wife, two Chinese restaurant employees and a karate student. Officials reported that another victim, a man of Indian descent, had also died after being shot at a grocery.

"At this time, we feel secure that the suspect involved is apprehended," Lieutenant T.J. Gianni of the Mount Lebanon Police told CNN.

"It is believed that the suspect who is presently incarcerated in the jail in Beaver County was responsible for these events," Allegheny County Police Acting Superintendent Paul Wolf agreed.

The FBI is assisting in the investigation.

Police believe the shooting spree began at the Mount Lebanon home of a woman whose body was found by officials responding to a fire alarm. After extinguishing the fire they found the body of a woman who had been shot.

Within "a matter of minutes" of her body's discovery, police received reports of shootings in Scott Township, a bordering community about five minutes from Mount Lebanon.

Soon after that, shootings were reported in nearby Robinson and Center townships, both in Beaver County.

The gunman opened fire in an Indian grocery store in Scott Township, killing one person inside and critically wounding another.

Two more people were killed at a Chinese restaurant and a third was shot dead outside a Korean-owned karate studio in Center Township.

Vinh Truong, a cook at the Ya Fei Chinese Cuisine restaurant at the Plaza at Robinson Town Centre in McKees Rocks, said his brother-in-law was one of the two persons shot there.

Truong was in the kitchen when an employee ran from the front of the restaurant, telling everyone to escape. Instead, he left the kitchen and saw his brother-in-law on the floor.

"I see my brother Tony on the floor," said Truong, who did not give the man's full name. "I tell everybody 'somebody shot Tony.'"

Diane Winsip said she was in her pizza shop with her sister and two children in Center Township, the door open for them to enjoy the breeze, when the shooting there broke out.

"We heard five or six gunshots" coming from C.S. Kim Karate, a karate school next door, she told a Pittsburgh television station.

"We went to the front door to see what the noise was," she said.

A man walked by carrying a briefcase and a gun, she said, and walked to his Jeep. There, he squeezed off "a couple more shots, then got in his Jeep and drove casually away. He acted like nothing happened," she said.

Winsip said she took down the man's license plate number, then ran to the karate studio, where she found a student lying face down.

Two conservative synagogues also were targets

At 2 p.m., a man stopped his car in front of the Ahavath Achim Synagogue in Carnegie, got out and shot out the glass doors in the front of the small building, said Lynn Roth, whose husband runs the center for worship.

No one was hurt, she said.

A driver in a passing car took down the car's license plate number and informed police, Roth said police had told her.

At 2:30 p.m., the glass front doors of Beth El Synagogue, south of Pittsburgh, were shattered by gunshots. Two swastikas and the word "Jew" were spray-painted in red on the building housing the conservative synagogue.

No one was injured and the nursery school was on vacation for the Passover holiday, said Rabbi Neal Scheindlin.


Pittsburgh gunman 'had racial motives'

Police in Pittsburgh investigating a shooting rampage which left five people dead last Friday say the suspect had set up his own party opposed to non-white immigration.

Richard Baumhammers, 34, of the Pittsburgh suburb of Mount Lebanon, had named himself chairman of The Free Market Party, which he described as a

Mr Baumhammers - whose parents emigrated to the United States from Latvia - allegedly killed his Jewish neighbour, two Asian men in a Chinese restaurant, an Indian-born grocer and a black karate student.

He is also accused of shooting into two synagogues and spray painting a swastika on one.

Mental illness

Lieutenant David Walsh of the Allegheny County Police Department said Mr Baumhammers was trying to recruit members to The Free Market party "anywhere he could get someone to sit and listen".

Mr Baumhammers had a history of mental illness and had been placed in the psychiatric unit of a Mount Lebanon hospital last year for more than a week after he complained that he had been poisoned during a trip to Europe, police said.

Mr Baumhammers qualified as a dental surgeon and was a professor at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Medicine.

He described himself as both an international and immigration lawyer, but appears to have done little legal work in recent years.

Mr Baumhammers' attorney, William Difenderfer, has said that his client has a history of mental illness, but refused to elaborate.

"It is way too early to say anything," he said.

Mr Baumhammers is now being kept under suicide watch at Beaver County Jail.


On Sunday, about 700 people gathered at a Hindu temple to remember Anil Thakur, 31, one of the men gunned down at the Indian grocery.

Another man, Sandip Patel, 25, remained hospitalised in a critical condition.

"The Indian community stands strongly united in condemning this violence," said Vinod Shah, the chairman of the Hindu Jain Temple in Monroeville.

"We cannot forget our belief in nonviolence."

The attacks came two months after another shooting rampage in the Pittsburgh suburbs.

On 1 March, Ronald Taylor, who is black, allegedly killed three white men and wounded two others.

Police said they found hate writings in Mr Taylor's apartment expressing harsh opinions of Jews, Asians, Italians and the media.


Cold Killer's 20-Mile Trail Leaves 5 Dead

What was so chilling was the unhurried, methodical demeanor of a goateed gunman, firing a handgun and wreaking ethnic and racial terror from an old-money section of Mt. Lebanon to an Indian grocery, a Chinese restaurant and a karate school.

Along the 20-mile trail of blood across two counties, five people were slain yesterday, another was gravely wounded and two synagogues were damaged by gunshots. One, the temple of the woman who is believed to be the first victim, was defaced with a spray-painted swastika and the word "Jew."

In the final act of mayhem played out over 72 minutes, the gunman killed a black karate student after he reportedly pointed his weapon at but spared the life of a white companion.

"What's wrong with these people? What's wrong with this world?" said a dumbfounded Shirley Kelly of Raccoon at the scene of the final killing in Beaver County.

Taken into custody was Richard Baumhammers, 34, believed to be an import-export and immigration lawyer who grew up in Mt. Lebanon, where his parents own a home. The son of dentists, he was arrested at about 3:24 p.m. yesterday in Ambridge, his black Jeep Grand Cherokee littered with spent shells and a bag containing a .357-caliber handgun. A bomb squad was called to investigate a suspected incendiary device.

During his arraignment in Beaver Falls on one count of murder and recklessly endangering another person, the 6-foot-2 Baumhammers appeared to smirk. He wore a bulletproof vest over a faded black T-shirt. As police rushed him to a police car for a trip to the county jail, people in a crowd that gathered yelled out, "He needs the death penalty" and "You're going to die."

He was being held last night without bail in the Beaver County Jail. Four other homicide charges and related charges are pending in Allegheny County.

"We are taking the tack of ethnic intimidation -- a hate crime," said Paul Wolf, acting Allegheny County police superintendent.

The victims included a Jewish woman who was Baumhammers' neighbor; a native of India who worked at the exotic India Grocers in Scott; two Asian-Americans who worked at the popular Ya Fei Chinese Cuisine in Robinson and were shot in full view of six customers; and a 22-year-old black man from Aliquippa who was taking a beginner's karate class. The wounded man also was of Indian descent.

Because the synagogues were hit, the FBI is investigating whether there are any violations of federal civil rights laws.

About 25 agents and other support personnel are on the case and have offered assistance to the various police agencies involved, according to special agent Jeff Killeen of the FBI.

"We're prepared to help in any way we can. We're treating this with the utmost urgency," Killeen said.

It was the second murderous shooting rampage in two months in the region.

On March 1, three people were killed and two others were wounded at an apartment building and two fast-food restaurants in Wilkinsburg. The victims were white; the suspect, Ronald Taylor, who was been found incompetent to stand trial because of schizophrenia, is black and is being held at Mayview State Hospital. He was also charged with ethnic intimidation.

Gov. Ridge, in California to speak to a Republican group, was stunned at the news.

"Not again. Those are the first words that came to my mind. Not again," Ridge said. "We are struggling to make sense of what appears to be yet another brutal racist rampage."

Shotguns everywhere

Yesterday's chain of events began at 1:43 p.m. when Mt. Lebanon firefighters responded to an alarm at a stately home at 788 Elmspring Road. On arrival, firefighters found a burning rug and the body of Nicki Gordon, 63, married and the mother of three children. Police said she had been shot.

The neighborhood, called Virginia Manor, is one of the most affluent areas of the South Hills, where judges, doctors and business leaders live in brick colonials or stone mansions with velvety lawns and mature trees.

At about the same time, police in neighboring Scott got a call about a shooting at the India Grocers in Scott Towne Center and summoned Mt. Lebanon police to back them up.

"That's when it got crazy," said Mt. Lebanon Police Chief Tom Ogden.

The serene neighborhood was shattered by the sight of police officers toting shotguns or having handguns drawn, shutting off traffic. Moments later, tactical team officers in olive helmets and camouflage clothing joined the sweep.

"There were cops with shotguns everywhere," said Steve Vogt, who lives nearby on Cochran Road. "It was pretty scary."

Gwen Zeichner, who also lives a few blocks away on Bower Hill Road, said she'd been walking to visit her parents in their Virginia Manor home when she, too, was stopped by police.

"The cops were setting up and they were yelling at me, 'Go, go, go. Get out of here,' " she said. "So I ran, scared to death. I just can't believe this. This is very unusual for this neighborhood."

Meanwhile, the gunman struck at Beth El Congregation of the South Hills, a brown brick complex off Cochran Road in Scott where Nicki Gordon worshipped. It houses a temple, social hall and nursery school attended by 116 pre-school children. About half of those children were attending the school's afternoon session when the gunman opened fire, blowing out the smoked-glass doors at the temple's entrance with a half-dozen shots.

The children, however, were in another section of the building and did not know what was happening in the front, temple President Sheila Schmeltz said. They were not harmed and were not told what had happened.

Using red paint, the gunman also daubed two swastika symbols on the bricks to the left side of the door and scrawled the word "Jew" on shards of glass that remained hanging in two of the front doors. He also scrawled another word, but investigators said they could only discern the letter "R" because the remaining glass fell and broke.

The gunman apparently left Scott by traveling over Swallow Hill Road into Carnegie. At the intersection of Chestnut and Lydia Streets, he paused long enough outside the buff-brick, two-story building that houses Ahavath Achim Congregation to fire at least four shots at 2:11 p.m.

Two of the bullets pierced each of the glass front doors. A third tore into a front window, barely missing the center candle of the electrified menorah that adorns the temple's entrance.

"It's so unfortunate. We never had any problems here in Carnegie. We've always felt very welcome here," said Stanley Roth, a past president who serves as spiritual leader of the congregation because it's too small to have a full-time rabbi. The Conservative congregation has about 45 families.

Roth also was fearful that the gunfire had harmed the temple's four Torahs, or holy scrolls, but the shots did not pierce the wall leading to the temple's sanctuary.

Roth said he knew of no reason why someone would target the temple, other than "I guess it's someone who hates Jews. This certainly brings back memories of things that have happened [to Jews] all over the world, things that we never expected to follow us to Carnegie."

No panic, no anguish

Shortly before 2 p.m. at India Grocers in Scott Towne Center, Kent Kretzler, owner of Travel Connections, was sitting at his desk when he saw the gunman walking by his front window. The gun was drawn and held straight out. He was wearing a blazer and dark pants.

Kretzler said he heard five or six "cracking sounds."

And then he saw a man walk past, carrying a gun. He showed "no panic, no anguish, nothing ... He was very calm," Kretzler said.

Kretzler said the gunman walked calmly to his car, which was parked in a handicapped spot.

"I'm looking at that gun, thinking, my God, that's real," Kretzler said.

India Grocers sells a variety of items, including spices, oils, ginger, rice, garlic and coconuts.

Killed was Anil Thakur, 31, a native of Bihar, India, who has no known relatives in America.

He was here on a work permit for The WideCom Group of Canada.

Shot in the neck was the store's manager, Sandip Patel, 25. Doctors at Mercy Hospital operated on him for two hours to remove the bullet.

He is in stable condition but faces the possibility of permanent paralysis.

Two storefronts away from the grocery is Noble Craftsman, a store that sells needlepoint, picture frames and other arts and crafts items. "We heard a crack, crack, crack," said store owner Pat Finlay. She said she thought it was someone with an electric staple gun.

After the gunman left, police received reports of shots being fired at the Ahavath Achim Congregation at 500 Chestnut St., Carnegie. Bullet holes were found in a ceiling and a wall, but no one was hurt.

Then about 2:30 p.m., the manager and a deliveryman were gunned down at the popular Ya Fei Chinese Cuisine at Robinson Town Centre. Killed were Ji-ye "Jerry" Sun, 34, of Churchill and Theo "Tony" Pham, 27, of Mt. Lebanon.

Witnesses said the gunman had asked for them by name before opening fire.

Vinh Truong, a Vietnamese worker who was cooking in the kitchen, said customers started yelling because someone had come into the restaurant and started shooting.

"I came out of the kitchen and saw Tony on the floor," he said. "They said the [gunman] asked, 'Where's Tony? Where's Jerry."

Truong said he is the brother-in-law of the deliveryman, who started working in the restaurant about seven months ago. Pham and Truong lived together in Castle Shannon.

Pham's wife, Bonnie, and son, Chris, 5, arrived at Robinson Town Centre shortly after 4 o'clock. Grief counselors met with them and other family members outside the restaurant. The family was not permitted inside.

Police blocked a section of the shopping center plaza for about five hours while they conducted their investigation inside the restaurant.

Feeling for a pulse

The gunman's trek next took him to C.S. Kim's School of Karate off Route 60 in Center Township, Beaver County, where Garry Lee, 22, of Aliquippa was shot.

Lee began taking classes three weeks ago and arrived at about 2:45 p.m. with his best friend, according to school master Marcus Murtaugh. They were the only students in the place.

According to a police affidavit, George Thomas II said a gunman entered and pointed a weapon at him. Thomas said the gunman then directed the gun at Lee, shooting him several times.

Thomas later picked Baumhammers from a photographic lineup as the shooter, police said.

Diane Wenzig of Center was in her pizza shop, Center Pizza, shortly before 3 p.m. when she heard what sounded like gunshots.

"I was sitting there with my kids and sister and we heard, 'Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam' -- multiple shots," Wenzig said. "I went to the window because I was curious and he came walking by. He was just calmly walking down the sidewalk -- and then I saw the gun."

Wenzig locked her shop door as the suspect, wearing sunglasses, a sport coat and carrying a briefcase under his arm, walked at a normal pace toward his Jeep.

"And then he popped off another couple of shots. I didn't see what he shot at. And then he calmly drove off," she said.

Wenzig wrote down the vehicle's license number and then went two doors down to the karate school.

On the floor, she saw Lee on the floor in his karate attire, bleeding and having trouble breathing.

Murtaugh was on the phone with 911 and handed the phone to Wenzig to give the description and license of the car.

Lee stopped breathing.

The dispatcher told her to turn him over, and she did so.

She saw wounds in his chest and on an arm. "I was holding his wrist, feeling for a pulse. He quit breathing on us," she said.

Police quickly closed in on the getaway car.

Aliquippa Patrolman John Fratangeli was parked on Route 51 near the Aliquippa-Ambridge Bridge when he spotted Baumhammers' black Jeep driving by.

He said he followed him over the roadway and into Ambridge.

He didn't turn on his flashing lights until he saw Ambridge police who could back him up.

Fratangeli, 28, said at first he thought he was going to be in the midst of a shoot-out but after an Ambridge car blocked his path, Baumhammer stopped his car and complied with the officers requests.

"He showed no emotion," Fratangeli said. Baumhammer also did not say anything to the officers.

Fratangeli said police found bullets on the car seat and the floor and that Baumhammers had more rounds in his pocket.

"There's no doubt in my mind he wasn't finished yet," Fratangeli said.

The rampage caused all kinds of havoc in the leafy neighborhoods of Mt. Lebanon. School officials locked down all 10 school buildings and delayed dismissals after police alerted them of the shootings at 2:50 p.m.

Students were not allowed to leave until 3:25 p.m. when school officials received word from police that it was safe to let them out, said Superintendent Glenn Smartschan.

Usual dismissal times for the district are 3 p.m. for the high school, 3:03 p.m. for middle schools and 3:30 p.m. for elementary schools.

Because the district only provides transportation in special cases, most of the 5,726 students walk to school.

In the Keystone Oaks School District, officials delayed dismissal at the request of Green Tree police for students who were Green Tree residents or attended Aiken Elementary School in Green Tree.

At the Keystone Oaks High School and Middle School, which are in Mt. Lebanon, about 250 students were not released until about 3:50 p.m. Regular dismissal is around 2:40 p.m. for both schools.

The 220 Aiken Elementary School pupils were not dismissed until about 4:15 p.m. but that was partly because the same buses that picked up the middle and high school students were used to transport the Aiken youngsters.

Normal dismissal time for those pupils is 3:10 p.m.

Keystone Oaks also enrolls youngsters from Castle Shannon and Dormont.


Heroine recounts shooting outbreak

She alerted Police to Baumhammers

By Rachael Conway - Post-Gazette

Diane Wenzig doesn't consider herself a hero.

If that were true, she said, accused killer Richard Baumhammers' fifth and final shooting victim, 22-year-old Garry Lee of Aliquippa, would still be alive.

"We were told the very next day that we were going to be getting a commendation," said Wenzig, who along with her sister, Shirley Kelly, were recognized during a public ceremony earlier this month by the Center Township commissioners for giving police Baumhammers' license plate number and for attempting to save Lee's life.

"That was hard for us because it didn't feel like we did right," Wenzig said. "Garry Lee died."

Yet Wenzig, of Center, did everything she could that sunny, spring afternoon one month ago when death strolled up to the door of the C.S. Kim karate studio, carefully leveled a gun at Lee and pulled the trigger.

Wenzig, a 38-year-old pizza shop owner with a knack for remembering numbers, had the wherewithal to notice and commit to memory Baumhammers' license plate just moments after she watched the 33-year-old immigration lawyer from Mt. Lebanon who is charged in the death of Lee and four others shoot the gun twice into the air.

"BFW-9916," Wenzig said. "It will be in my head forever."

In the month since the April 28 shooting spree, which left five people dead and one wounded in Allegheny and Beaver counties, Wenzig hasn't been able to stop thinking about the violence that shook the quiet shopping plaza where she and her husband, Alan, run Center Pizza.

There are days when Wenzig gets mad that Baumhammers chose to stop at Center Plaza, a small shopping center that also includes a dance club, a beauty products store, a performing arts studio and a cigar shop.

A May 18 court ruling that ordered Baumhammers to undergo at least 90 days of psychiatric treatment before he stands trial only adds to her frustration.

"He was caught red-handed. The evidence was on him," Wenzig said. "There is no reasonable doubt that he did this."

The anger comes easy.

It's the tears, Wenzig said, that take their toll.

"I have some rough days," she said. "We don't know what triggers it. Certain things affect me and I get teary-eyed. But so far, I've been handling it on my own."

Sharon Mixter, who frequents Center Pizza at least twice a week while her 6-year-old son, David, practices karate at Kim's, knows the shooting has affected her friend.

"I was concerned for her emotionally," Mixter said Thursday as she sat at a counter in Center Pizza, waiting for her son. "I still worry. That poor girl."

Wenzig, who grew up in rural Raccoon, knows very little about guns. Her father had one locked in a gun cabinet, but she never saw him fire it.

So when shots rang out at 3:01 p.m. April 28, Wenzig wasn't sure what she had just heard.

"I thought someone was beating on a garbage can with a baseball bat," Wenzig said. "It just went `whap, whap, whap, whap.' Multiple times. It didn't sound normal."

A few minutes earlier, Wenzig had begged her 16-year-old son, Travis, to make a pot of pizza sauce. Wenzig, who with her husband works from 11 a.m. to midnight, wanted to steal a few moments of peace so she could eat a steak sandwich -- her first meal of the day.

When Wenzig heard the commotion outside, she ran to the pizza shop's front door. Her sister, son and daughter, Alana, 15, followed.

Wenzig said her recollections of what happened during the next 15 minutes are stunningly clear. Details that would best be forgotten are etched in her mind.

As the four stood in the doorway, they watched a tall, well-dressed man wearing sunglasses casually walk from the karate studio toward the pizza shop.

The man, later identified as Baumhammers, had a dark briefcase tucked under his left arm. He held a shiny gun in his left hand. As he walked, he seemed to be fiddling with the gun's handle.

He walked off the sidewalk and into the parking lot just before he came to the pizza shop door. He fired two more shots into the air before climbing into his Jeep and driving away.

Wenzig saw the license plate and shouted the numbers to her sister, who was looking for a pencil and paper at the lunch counter.

Without knowing if Baumhammers would return, Wenzig ran to the karate studio. She found Lee face-down on the floor just inside the open door.

Wenzig, who has had no formal medical training, held his wrist, feeling for pulse. She checked to see if he was breathing. And she shouted details about Baumhammers' vehicle and license plate to instructor Marcus Murtaugh, who was on the telephone with 911 dispatchers.

Within seconds, Lee's heart failed. His breathing stopped.

Dispatchers asked Wenzig to find the bullet hole on Lee's body. She searched everywhere until she found a small, black hole in the upper right arm sleeve in the back of Lee's white karate uniform.

Turn him over, the dispatcher said.

Lee was a big man, Wenzig said. Murtaugh and a friend of Lee's who had been at the studio during the shooting, helped roll the man onto his back.

There was so much blood. Lee's heavy body was limp.

Like Baumhammers' license plate number, the look in Lee's eyes will haunt Wenzig forever.

"They were ... different," Wenzig said, her voice cracking.

An ambulance whisked Lee away, and Wenzig was left to deal with the unimaginable events she had just witnessed.

"It really didn't hit me until two days later," she said. "It was a beautiful day. I was watching my dogs run around the yard, and I was content and happy with my life. My husband and I have had years to work to fulfill our dreams. That's when I realized Garry Lee will never get to fulfill his hopes and dreams."

The people who work and visit the plaza say they won't let the senseless, violent actions of one man destroy their sense of peace and community.

Parents are still signing up their children for karate lessons, instructor Murtaugh said.

Mixter's son, who was scheduled for a private lesson with Murtaugh an hour after the shooting, refused to let the rampage keep him away from the studio.

"My son didn't want to quit," she said.

Monaca resident Helen Rambo said she, too, is glad her 9-year-old son, Travis, decided to go back to the studio.

"This could have happened anywhere, anytime," she said. "I still think this is a safe place."

Rambo said she hopes people take notice of Wenzig's disregard for her own safety, her determination to get Baumhammers' license plate number to the police and her attempt to save Lee's life.

The world needs more people like Wenzig, Rambo said.

"There are a lot of people who would see something like that happen and just keep on going," Rambo said. "She could have locked that door and stayed inside here and waited for the police to come."

Wenzig doesn't see things that way.

"We just did what we would hope anybody would have done in that situation," Wenzig said. "You can't let these people do this. You have to stop and take control."


Death penalty for Baumhammers brings tears and cheers

The defense attorney begged for Richard S. Baumhammers' life, but the jury gave him death.

The reaction in the crowded courtroom was silent but visible.

There were no outbursts from relatives of the five people he slaughtered on April 28, 2000.

In the second row of the gallery, Seima Horvitz, whose sister, Anita Gordon, was the first of Baumhammers' victims to die, closed her eyes as a tear trickled onto her cheek. She lifted her head skyward and mouthed the words, "Thank you."

Bang "Bonnie" Ngo's eyes were teary and she batted her long lashes to avoid crying. Her husband, Thao "Tony" Pham, was among those killed.

Baumhammers sat in silence with the same blank expression he wore throughout the trial, slumping and looking straight ahead, wearing the same blue blazer and khaki pants, seemingly impervious to the fact that he had just been sentenced to die.

And his parents, Andrejs and Inese, did not move as jury foreman Ron Frew of Monroeville read the verdicts, delivering a death sentence for each of those killed.

Jurors, who had appeared alert through 13 days of testimony and legal arguments, looked weary, having just concluded two deliberations: first on Wednesday, when they convicted Baumhammers of five homicides and a host of other charges, and then yesterday, when they met for three hours and 15 minutes to decide he should die by lethal injection.

But in the hall outside the courtroom, several spectators cheered and applauded when word got out that Baumhammers had been sentenced to death.

And relatives and friends of the victims, speaking later, were nearly unanimous in agreeing with the decision by the seven men and five women.

Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning set Aug. 27 as the date for official sentencing. From there, Baumhammers will be destined for death row in the Pennsylvania prison system, pending imminent appeals.

"I think it diminishes all of us, individually, as a people, as a nation, that we can put to death someone who is mentally ill," defense attorney James A. Wymard said.

The jury on Wednesday deliberated about 2 1/2 hours before finding Baumhammers guilty of 28 charges, including five murders and paralyzing a sixth victim in a 90-minute attacked fueled by racial and ethnic hatred.

The assaults, which covered a 20-mile stretch from Mt. Lebanon to Center, Beaver County, killed Gordon, 63, Baumhammers' next-door neighbor; Pham, 27, of Castle Shannon; Ji-Ye "Jerry" Sun, 34, of Churchill; Anil Thakur, 31; and Garry Lee, 22, of Aliquippa. Sandip Patel, 26, of India, was shot and paralyzed.

Insanity plea

Baumhammers, through his attorneys, pleaded innocent, claiming that he was too insane at the time to know that what he did was wrong. Wymard and William H. Difenderfer said Baumhammers heard voices that told him to kill.

Deputy District Attorney Edward J. Borkowski, however, was adamant that Baumhammers was not crazy.

In closing arguments during the first phase of the trial, Borkowski called Baumhammers, "cold, deliberate, calculating, selective and methodical. That describes his conduct that day."

Baumhammers, 35, a suspended lawyer who lived with his parents in Mt. Lebanon, seemed as oblivious yesterday as he has throughout the trial, which began April 27.

Zetta Lee, whose son, Garry, was the sixth shooting victim, said that, as a staunch Christian, she had not hoped for a death sentence against Baumhammers. She only wanted him to be confined in a facility more punishing than a prison hospital.

"I wanted him to go for life in prison. I wanted him to suffer. I wanted him to feel what we're feeling," Lee continued. "I don't think he's ever gonna know that. I think that as long as he's alive, he's gonna continue to spread his hate."

Several psychiatrists who testified during the trial agreed that Baumhammers suffered from a delusional disorder of the persecutory type. But experts for the defense and the prosecution did not agree to what extent Baumhammers was affected on the day of the shootings.

Borkowski, in a brief closing argument yesterday before the jury decided the sentence, said that despite the diagnoses, Baumhammers still is a white supremacist and a mass murderer.

He mention that Baumhammers' parents bore no blame for their son's actions.

"For all their love and for all their money and output, this defendant manipulated them," Borkowski said.

"Let him hear the voice of the evidence under the law, the verdict of death," Borkowski said in conclusion.

'God's decision'

Wymard, whose only task in the trial was to argue against the death penalty, fought in vain. He played to the jurors' consciences as he tried to get them to vote for a verdict that would sentence Baumhammers to five consecutive life terms without possibility of parole.

"Look at him," Wymard shouted during his closing argument yesterday as he pointed as his client, who sat with his shoulders hunched.

"It's clear just by studying him ... he has been mentally ill for some time. The only question that remains for your consideration is when he will die and who will decide when he will die, you or God," Wymard said. "I beg you, in the name of all that is right, let God make that decision."

The jury members hardly blinked during Borkowski's and Wymard's speeches, their faces sullen as the final phase of their duty approached.

A day earlier, as they listened to impassioned testimony from relatives of the murder victims, several of the men and women on the jury quietly cried.

When their work was finished yesterday, 10 of the jurors accompanied Manning and the attorneys into the judge's chambers for discussions about their experiences. Allegheny County sheriffs deputies then whisked them first to the Omni William Penn Hotel so they could get their belongings, and then they departed to their respective homes.

None of them responded to persistent media requests for comment.

Two alternate jurors, who were released before the deliberations began, spoke briefly to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by telephone last night.

Jerry Gutman, 46, of Plum, said he agreed with the jury's decision on Baumhammers guilt and on the death sentence.

"It was a good jury. I would have voted in the same way as the jury. The evidence was overwhelming and there was no question that the defendant knew what he was doing at the time it was done," Gutman said. "That was the key for me. He could tell right from wrong."

Bernadette Krausa, 64, of West Mifflin, said she was just glad she didn't have to participate in the deliberations.

"I don't know what I would have done. I was praying that [none of the regular jurors would be taken off the case] because I didn't want to make the decision."

Justice is served

Before he sent them home, Manning warned the jurors that they would be sought for interviews.

"You were called upon the most significant issue ever given to citizens chosen to serve as jurors. The decisions you have individually made -- and I tell this to all juries -- are the right ones because they are yours to make," Manning said. "When I sent you off to deliberate in this case, I told you to do justice. You did just that. Justice is not a result. Justice is a process."

Wymard said that the case is a long way from over as there are many points on which appeals could be based, not the least of which was the judge's ruling that allowed the jury to hear recorded telephone conversations between Baumhammers and his parents.

In the recording, the parents scolded their son for bragging and signing autographs for other inmates about his racist exploits. Inese Baumhammers was heard on the recording calling her son a racist.

Zetta Lee said that Andrejs and Inese Baumhammers had apologized to her, but that was not enough to ease her pain.

"My son didn't deserve to die, but justice was served," Zetta Lee said. "God is good. God is good."

Andrejs and Inese Baumhammers left the courtroom silently, flanked by lawyer Lee Rothman and several sheriff's deputies. Inese Baumhammers walked at a steady clip then, midway down a flight of stairs to a rear exit, wept briefly, then regained her composure without breaking her stride. The couple headed to a parking garage, got in their car and left.

One member of the defense team described the couple as "numb."

Inside Manning's chambers, prosecutor Borkowski hovered worriedly, making occasional and brief telephone calls and resisting pleas to go into the hallway and comment for the cameras.

His co-counsel, Beaver County First Assistant District Attorney Anthony Berosh waited with him.

"I'm obviously satisfied with the result," Berosh said, dismissing any qualms about whether the state would be executing a mentally ill man.

"We don't have trial by experts. We have trial by jury. The jury obviously rejected the opinion of the experts," he said.

About an hour after the verdict, Borkowski finally emerged and thanked investigators and Beaver County officials, but took no questions and said he would say nothing else.

Borkowski's boss, District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. issued a joint statement with Beaver County DA Dale M. Fouse: "The jury has spoken and justice has been served. We would once again extend our deepest and sincerest condolences to the victims and the families of the victims in this matter. Their courage, in the face of what we can only imagine is unbearable pain, is both admirable and inspiring.

"Finally, as parents, we extend our sympathy to Mr. and Mrs. Baumhammers."


Killer's parents, attorneys faced impossible odds

Saturday, May 12, 2001

There is, in the surreal jailhouse communications between Richard Baumhammers and his parents -- captured for posterity and prosecution by a phone tap -- a moment of near existentialism.

Baumhammers, charged with gunning down immigrants, nonwhites and a Jewish neighbor, was preparing an insanity defense based, in part, on his long history of insanity. He flummoxed his chances by dispensing autographs, legal advice and opinions on the political acumen of Adolf Hitler to fellow inmates who, in turn, passed this along to prosecutors eager to show that his were the deliberate crimes of a banal racist.

Andrejs and Inese Baumhammers accepted close to 400 calls from their son, a 35-year-old law school graduate, in the year he spent awaiting trial. He would greet them cheerfully. They would chat. On occasion, because Richard was not allowed his Walkman in jail, his mother would play music over the phone for him. Beatles tunes were a favorite.

On March 2, the sanguinity is broken.

Inese and Andrejs Baumhammers alternately shriek and wail at their son.

"Hello, death row," Inese says.

Portions of the tape were played in court this week, but the missing parts shine a hard light on a strange corner of parenting.

"You will die. You will be on death row the rest of your life," Inese Baumhammers tells her son.

Andrejs points out the downside.

"No visits. No magazines. No commissary. Nothing. Zero." he says.

Parents will, on occasion, ground their children, lift privileges, and send them to their rooms. But the exchange between Mom and Dad Baumhammers and the son they tried to cure of madness while keeping him on a $4,000-a-month allowance, took on dreamlike aspects that day in March. Their son, accused of a racist rampage, had taken up the mantle of a racist celebrity and, to hear his parents explain it, hurt the feelings of his lawyer, Bill Difenderfer.

Andrejs explains: "Bill says that he feels like he's been -- " "stabbed in the back," Inese finishes the sentence for him.

"Mom and Daddy both worked very hard," says Andrejs. "We put financial resources in to help you. Bill worked. Lee Rothman has worked."

Through it all, Richard Baumhammers expresses, at most, irritation at what has happened. His offers to deny the allegation are rejected after his parents point out that prosecutors now have "Best Wishes, Richard Baumhammers," on newspaper and magazine articles about racial strife.

"Well, I'll just waive the appeal and die," he says.

The fury wanes briefly, then resumes.

"What are you, crazy?" Inese Baumhammers shouts at her son.

"Yes, I am, actually," Richard says.

"Well, I know," Andrejs jumps in. "But, but -- people are not going to believe that."

"They're going to say you're a racist," Inese says.

"Mom and Dad know you're mentally ill," Andrejs adds. "Bill can't understand you're mentally ill. I called Bill back and I said, 'Well, you shot people because you're mentally ill and you're still mentally ill and you're signing things because you're mentally ill.' But that's hard to explain."

Hard, indeed. Richard lapses into petulance.

"To tell you the truth, I don't want to sit in jail the rest of my life. I'd rather be executed anyhow," he says.

"Well then execute yourself!" Inese barks.

"Well, I will," he pouts back.

By conversation's end, Richard has taken on the manners of a child about to quit a game he's losing.

"I'm firing my attorneys and I'm defending myself," he says.

"No, you're not!" they both shout.

He didn't.

In the courtroom this week, James Wymard, a thin, hyperactive man assigned to save Richard Baumhammers from the injection table, sat beside his client, a young man who looked like Buddha on Quaaludes, and thrashed around for some way to do his job.

As family members of the victims took the stand, they poured out their grief: the mother whose daughter has withdrawn into herself; the widow whose 6-year-old still cries out for his father.

Wymard could do little but add his sympathy and thank them for coming.

"I got a mountain to climb," he muttered to himself as jurors filed out during a break. "They have blood in their eyes. They have blood in their mouths. I'm trying to find some way to reach one of them. If I could just reach one of them."

But the one who really had to be reached was, by then, standing up and, in a habit learned over the past 13 months, putting his wrists behind his back and waiting for the handcuffs.


Victims left in wake of rampage

The five people slain in yesterday's rampage ranged from a neighbor of the suspect's to complete strangers.

Information on all but Mt. Lebanon resident Nicki Gordon was sketchy.

At Robinson Town Centre and Scott Towne Center, police roped off the shooting scenes and whisked family members of the victims in and out without letting them speak to reporters.

And later in the day, the family members of the victims either couldn't be located or refused to answer questions, saying they were too distraught.

Here are sketches of the five people who were shot to death, plus a sixth victim who was shot in the neck and remained hospitalized.

Anita "Nicki" Gordon

The cruelest irony of Nicki Gordon's life was that she died violently.

"She was the kindest person in the world," said Ellen Selker, her good friend for 30 years.

Gordon, 63, was shot dead yesterday at the beginning of a killing rampage that police believe was committed by Richard Baumhammers. He is suspected of killing four more people after Gordon, who was his next-door neighbor when he was growing up in Mt. Lebanon.

Gordon and Baumhammers were residents of the stately Virginia Manor neighborhood. Allegheny County property ownership records show that both families settled there in 1969, when Baumhammers was about 4 years old.

That he -- or anyone -- would harm Gordon was inconceivable to her friends.

"She had a heart of gold," said Lois Balk, another longtime friend.

Balk, like others who knew Gordon, couldn't bring herself to say anything else. The hurt of losing her friend was too much.

Gordon's death, like much of the rampage, seemed to have racial or ethnic overtones.

Gordon, born Anita B. Horvitz on Nov. 22, 1936, was Jewish. After she was slain, investigators believe, Baumhammers attacked two synagogues, including Beth El Congregation in Scott, where a swastika was smeared on a brick wall and glass doors were shot out.

Beth El was where Gordon and her husband, Sanford, attended services.

Rabbi Neal Scheindlin, who has been at Beth El for four years, knew Gordon slightly. Scheindlin said Gordon and her husband were longtime members of the congregation.

The Gordons have three daughters, Annette Gordon of Amity; Linda Gordon of Boston; and Dr. Nancy Gordon of Philadelphia.

Gordon also is survived by a sister, Seima Horvitz, of Squirrel Hill.

Gordon loved dogs and was especially devoted to her Shetland sheep dog, Chipper. She also was a talented amateur interior decorator, loved art and thrived on travel with her husband.

"We used to laugh that she'd been everywhere twice, so she would have to go to the moon," said Sylvia Sachs, another friend.

Turnout for the last night's regular service at Beth El was substantially higher than normal. People from throughout the region attended, in part to remember Gordon, whose gentle ways ended on one of the most violent days in the region's history.

Theo Pham

Pham, 27, of Castle Shannon, was a deliveryman at Ya Fei Chinese Cuisine at Robinson Town Centre. He was attacked inside the restaurant in front of customers.

Ji-ye Sun

Sun, 34, of Churchill, was the manager of the restaurant. He also was shot in front of onlookers.

A woman who answered the phone at his house said, "I don't think we can talk about this right now. We are in a very, very bad mood."

Garry Lee

Lee, 22, was a beginning student at the C.S. Kim School of Karate in Center, Beaver County. He had gone to work out with his best friend when he was shot.

The manager of the supermarket where Lee worked refused to talk about Lee, and his friend could not be located later. Police also refused to answer questions about Lee.

Anil Thakur

Thakur, 31, in the United States on a work permit, was shot dead at the India Grocer in Scott Towne Center.

He originally was from Bihar, India, and has no known relatives in the United States. He worked for the WideCom Group, a Canada-based producer of copiers and scanners.

Sandip Patel

Patel, 25, is manager of the India Grocer. He was shot in the neck and suffered paralysis.

Doctors operated on him for two hours to remove the bullet. He was in critical condition last night, but his vital signs had stabilized, said Linda Ross, a spokeswoman at Mercy Hospital.



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