O'Neal FURROW Jr.
Jewish Community Center shooting
Characteristics: Member of the white-supremacist group Aryan Nations
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder:
Date of arrest:
Same day (surrenders)
Date of birth:
Victims profile: US Postal Service carrier
Joseph Santos Ileto (Filipino American)
Method of murder:
(Glock 9mm handgun)
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Sentenced to life
in prison without the possibility of parole on January 24, 2001
Buford O'Neal Furrow, Jr. (born November 25, 1961) perpetrated the August 1999 Los Angeles Jewish Community Center shooting
on August 10, 1999, when he attacked a day care center at the North
Valley Jewish Community Center, Los Angeles.
The shooting injured three children, a counselor,
and a receptionist. He also shot dead US Postal Service carrier
Joseph Ileto who was Filipino American. Furrow, now serving life in
prison, was a member of the white-supremacist group Aryan Nations in
On January 24, 2001 Furrow pleaded guilty to all
of the counts against him. In exchange for pleading guilty, Furrow
avoided a possible death sentence, but was instead sentenced to life
in prison without the possibility of parole. According to the
indictment, Furrow expressed no regrets for any of his crimes.
Furrow was also an engineer who worked for
several years on the B-2 stealth bomber project for Northrop
Furrow's former girlfriend was Debbie Mathews,
widow of Robert Jay Mathews.
The August 1999 Los Angeles
Jewish Community Center shooting occurred on
August 10, 1999, at around 10:50 a.m. local time,
when white supremacist Buford O. Furrow, Jr. walked
into the lobby of the North Valley Jewish Community
Center in Granada Hills and opened fire with a
semiautomatic weapon, unloading 70 shots into the
The gunfire wounded five people:
three children, a teenage counselor, and an office
worker. Shortly thereafter, Furrow murdered a mail
carrier, fled the state, and finally surrendered to
On August 7, Furrow bought a used
red Chevrolet van in Tacoma, Washington, and loaded
it with five assault rifles, two pistols, 6,000
rounds of ammunition and a flak jacket. Furrow
considered attacking three Jewish institutions: the
Skirball Cultural Center, the University of Judaism
and the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of
Tolerance, but security measures presented too much
of a problem.
Furrow proceeded to drive from
Washington to the San Fernando Valley with the
stated purpose of "killing Jews". Three days later,
Furrow pulled off the freeway into the Granada Hills
area of Los Angeles and made his way to the North
Valley Jewish Community Center just before 11 a.m.
There were about 250 children
playing outside when Furrow walked into the lobby
carrying an Uzi-type submachine-gun. He opened fire,
spraying bullets from right to left, leaving smoke
and more than 70 shells on the ground. When he was
done, a receptionist, a camp counselor and three
little boys were wounded."
Furrow quickly fled the scene in
his van. Twenty minutes later, he carjacked a
woman's Toyota at gunpoint, left the van behind, and
then dumped the Toyota at a Chatsworth motel.
The shootings ended with the
death of USPS postal worker Joseph Santos Ileto in
Chatsworth, a few miles away from the center. Ileto
had just delivered mail to a home and was returning
to his postal truck when Furrow asked Ileto to mail
a letter for him. As Ileto agreed, Furrow pulled out
a Glock 9mm handgun and shot Ileto nine times.
Later, Furrow would confess that
he murdered Ileto because he thought Ileto was
Latino or Asian (Ileto was Filipino-American), and
because Ileto was a federal employee.
Police found Furrow's abandoned
van, where they discovered a cache of ammunition,
assault rifle magazines, bulletproof vests, a Ranger
Handbook, and freeze-dried food. Two books by
Richard Kelly Hoskins, a Lynchburg, Virginia, leader
of the Christian Identity movement were also found;
a copy of the book War Cycles, Peace Cycles,
and Vigilantes of Christendom: The Story of
Phineas Priesthood, a book which according to
the ADL justifies anti-Semitic and racist acts of
Furrow fled 275-miles in an $800
taxi ride from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, ending the
manhunt by walking into an FBI office to confess,
saying "You're looking for me, I killed the kids in
Los Angeles." Furrow also stated that he wanted his
shooting to be "a wakeup call to America to kill
The injured included a 5-year-old
boy who was hit in the abdomen and leg, losing 30
percent of his blood; two 6-year-old boys and a 16-year-old
girl; and 68-year-old receptionist Isabelle
Shalometh, who was grazed on the arm and back.
Joseph Ileto died from multiple gunshot wounds to
the chest and one to the back of the head. He was
found dead in a driveway.
In 2004, on the fifth anniversary
of the shootings, families of the victims and local
officials called for stricter gun control and hate
crime legislation. Ismael Ileto, Joseph's brother,
said: "We miss him very much ... and we cannot
understand why someone would take the life of my
brother. He was just doing his job when he was
Gunman expresses remorse for 1999 shooting
spree at San Fernando Jewish center
By Kevin Modesti - Pasadena Star News
A decade after he murdered a Filipino immigrant and
wounded five people at a Jewish community center in a San Fernando
Valley shooting spree, the gunman has surprised victims and their
families by renouncing his white-surpremacist views while expressing "deep
remorse" for his crime.
"I feel a life based on hate is no life at all,"
Buford O'Neal Furrow Jr. wrote in a letter from the federal
penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., where he is serving a life sentence
without the possibility of parole.
"(Victims) probably will never forgive me, but I am
truely (sic) sorry and deeply regret the pain I caused," Furrow said
in the letter, addressed to a reporter who had sought an interview
with the killer.
These are the most extensive public comments by
Furrow, now 47, about the Aug. 10, 1999, killing of letter carrier
Joseph Ileto in Chatsworth and shootings of three children, a 16-year-old
summer-camp counselor and an adult staff member at the North Valley
Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills.
Furrow had told investigators he targeted Ileto
because the victim was a nonwhite federal employee, and attacked the
Jewish facility as "a wakeup call to America to kill Jews."
Furrow avoided the death penalty by agreeing to
plead guilty to murder and firearms charges and was given two
consecutive life sentences and an additional 110 years running
consecutively with the life sentences. He signed documents calling for
him to spend the rest of his life in federal prison.
At his sentencing in March 2001, he blamed mental
illness for his actions, saying he had tried to have himself committed
before the shootings. He read a statement to a courtroom packed with
victims and families, saying in part: "I want to try, although it is
impossible, to convey my deep sorrow."
But a relative of one shooting victim said this
past week he remembered Furrow had "said he was sorry with a smile"
that day in court, and another relative said Furrow seemed sedated.
They said they had doubted the sincerity of the Olympia, Wash., native
with a long history of involvement with the Aryan Nations and other
In his letter, dated Aug. 19 and handwritten in
ballpoint ink on two sheets of ruled paper, Furrow implied it wasn't
until years later that he broke completely from his white supremacist
"About 5 years ago I threw away my racist books,
literature, etc. and took up a new leaf," Furrow wrote. "I now
publicly renounce all bias toward anyone based on race, creed, color,
sexual orientation, etc. and am a much happier person."
Furrow did not say what caused the change.
The letter appears to have been composed after
prison officials - citing security concerns - turned down a request to
interview Furrow as the newspaper prepared coverage of the 10th
anniversary of the shootings.
Shooting victims, relatives and Jewish and Asian-
American groups expressed surprise about the letter and Furrow's claim
to have had what he called a "change of heart." One shooting victim
described feeling "blindsided" by the development and declined to
respond. Some doubted the convict meant what he wrote and speculated
about his motives.
The brother of the slain Joseph Ileto responded
after hearing parts of the letter read over the phone.
"It still hurts that our brother and son was taken
from us, and a letter won't make up for that," Ismael Ileto said. "It's
a positive thing that he's saying he's changed. It gives us some type
of hope that people are able to rehabilitate themselves. And this is a
hopeful sign if it is true that this type of hateful thinking can some
day be turned around.
"I can't go any further than that. We hope people,
when they see this letter published, will consider also how much it
still hurts us, and that can never be corrected. If he is asking for
forgiveness, all we're saying is, `Ask God.'
"You can't do something, and then write a
remorseful letter now and everything's OK."
Alan Stepakoff - whose son Josh, then a 6-year-old
summer camper at the Jewish community center, was shot in the left
thigh and lower back - read a copy of Furrow's letter that was e-mailed
to him by the Daily News.
"There are three points I'd like to make,"
Stepakoff said. "One is, this doesn't change what he did. The second
point is we are glad he has renounced his hateful beliefs. The third
point is I'm not fully convinced of his sincerity."
Amanda Susskind, regional director of the Anti-Defamation
League, which fights anti-Semitism and bigotry, had the letter read to
her over the phone. She said this "shouldn't be his moment," and the
focus should remain on what he did and how such crimes can be
"The Anti-Defamation League would always rather see
a prisoner renounce hatred rather than choose the path of recruitment
and incitement of more extremist behavior within the prison system,"
Susskind said. "We have plenty of evidence of extremist cells and
extremist groups within the prison system, so we're very aware of how
this kind of rhetoric can fester and be fostered.
"We can't judge the veracity of what is in Buford
Furrow's heart. And whatever he says cannot change the history or the
lessons to be learned - the history behind that he tried to kill a lot
of Jewish children and did in fact kill a Filipino postal worker out
of pure hatred, and the lesson being that we need to pay attention
when there are signs of hatred emerging in our children and young
Susskind added: "At the Anti-Defamation League, we
don't think it's our place to forgive or accept an apology. It is the
victims' right first to accept an apology, and then the community's."
A relative of one victim said he was uncomfortable
with the question of whether to forgive Furrow, fearing that either
way, his answer could be misinterpreted.
Although a Terre Haute prison administrator
interviewed by telephone said she couldn't confirm or dispute the
authenticity of the 364-word letter, the envelope bore official
markings indicating it came from Furrow.
It began by expressing disappointment that the
interview request was denied, and ends by urging the reporter to
publish his statements. It came with a copy of a Furrow letter to
federal prison officials complaining he had been denied his First
Amendment right to speak, and claiming he was being silenced because
he had complained about prison conditions.
A relative of one shooting victim wondered if
Furrow is presenting himself in less-threatening terms to improve his
standing as a jail-house lawyer.
Furrow wrote: "My mind was filled with sickness and
unfortunately I acted on it. But, I am now a `model' inmate who has
shunned criminal activity and spend my day with exercise, art, and
learning prison civil law. I can't change the past, but I can damn
sure change the future, and my future will never include Neo-Nazi
activity again. That is all I can do."
Prison administrators did not respond to questions
about what Furrow's prison life is like.
Lewis Yablonsky, a Cal State Northridge professor
emeritus of criminology and author of three books on criminal gangs,
said it's not uncommon for prisoners to have authentic "conversions,"
since many have little to do except rethink their lives.
Yablonsky said some change their beliefs and later
After hearing the letter read to him over the phone,
Yablonsky said Furrow's allusions to complaints about prison
conditions suggest he is "still kind of a rebel."
As for whether Furrow's reversal is sincere,
Yablonsky said: "I would say he has changed. I don't think he's
falsifying it. ... I still wouldn't want to let him out."
Furrow pleads guilty to shootings, will avoid
death penalty, get life without parole
January 24, 2001
Buford O. Furrow Jr., the accused shooter in a
hate crime that left a postal carrier dead and five others wounded
at a Jewish community center in 1999, entered a guilty plea
Wednesday that will allow him to avoid the death penalty.
Judge Nora Manilla accepted a plea bargain, under
which Furrow will be sentenced in March to life in prison without
opportunity for parole.
The burley Furrow answered, "Yes, your honor" 16
times as Manilla asked if he were pleading guilty to each charge.
He made no other comment and showed no emotion.
The mother of U.S. Postal carrier Joseph Santos
Ileto, the man Furrow killed, as well as several other members of
Ileto's family cried as the charges were read and the pleas were
Furrow, a 38-year-old avowed white supremacist, was
indicted by a federal grand jury last year on charges of murder and
firearms violations stemming from the killing of Ileto.
According to the indictment, Furrow expressed no
regrets over the August 1999 killing of Ileto and the wounding of five
people at the North Valley Jewish Community Center.
In the 61-page indictment, Furrow told authorities
he would not have killed Ileto if the Filipino-American mail carrier
had been white. Furrow also said he targeted the Jewish Community
Center because of his hatred of Jews.
A federal grand jury returned a 16-count criminal
indictment against Furrow that included charges he committed an act of
terrorism, that he was motivated by religious and racial hatred and
that he would do it again, according to the court documents.
In addition to murder charges stemming from the
Ileto killing, he faced a dozen other charges including hate crimes
violations stemming from the shooting rampage at the North Valley
Jewish Community Center's day-care facility west of downtown Los
The 16 federal counts included:
• Murder of a federal employee of the United States
which carries a potential death sentence.
• Use of a firearm during a crime of violence
causing death, which also carries a potential death sentence.
• Possessing a firearm in violation of his parole
as a convicted felon -- he served five months for threatening two
mental hospital nurses with a knife.
The shooting rampage at the community center
occurred August 10, 1999, as dozens of children were playing. Five
people were wounded, including three young children. All five survived
and have since physically recovered.
Furrow then allegedly carjacked a sedan belonging
to a waitress and killed Ileto, a Filipino-born postman. Federal
authorities called his murder a hate crime, inspired by the victim's
race or nationality.
The gunman eluded a massive manhunt in Los Angeles,
abandoned the stolen car and took a taxi to Las Vegas -- an $800 trip
-- where he turned himself in to FBI authorities the next day.
Authorities say Furrow admitted shooting Ileto and wounding five
people at the Jewish community center as a "wake up call" to anti-Semites
and hate groups.
It is unclear whether newly-elected Los Angeles
District Attorney Steve Cooley will try to seek the death penalty on
other related charges against Furrow if the case is brought to state
The hate-filled descent of
White supremacist's shooting
rampage puts state's justice and mental health systems under scrutiny
By Heath Foster - Seattle Post Intelligencer
When Buford Furrow Jr. showed up drunk and suicidal
at a Kirkland psychiatric hospital one afternoon last October, he
couldn't have made his proclivity for violence more obvious.
The stocky, blue-eyed engineer admitted to Fairfax
Hospital staff that he had a semiautomatic pistol in his car and that
the night before he had fought off a strong urge to open fire at the
crowded Alderwood Mall.
Furrow's left arm and index finger bore deep wounds
inflicted in recent moments of self-hatred. His wallet contained an
official membership card of Aryan Nations, a militant Neo-Nazi group
that wants to empty the world of Jews and dark-skinned people. And he
was talking repeatedly about his fantasy of murdering his ex-wife, a
fellow neo-Nazi soldier.
Then, when workers refused to give him his truck
keys, he pulled a switchblade and threatened a social worker and the
"Give me my f---ing keys (or) . . . I will cut you
up," he said. Furrow didn't drop the knife until the third time a King
County sheriff's deputy ordered him to do so at gunpoint and then
booked him into the King County Jail.
Nine months later, Furrow strolled into the
North Valley Jewish Community Center near Los Angeles and opened fire,
wounding a 68-year-old receptionist, a 16-year-old counselor and three
young boys. Then he killed a friendly Filipino American postman who
crossed his path, later saying he did so because the postman's dark
skin and employment with the U.S. government made him a "target of
On each of the 285 days in between his Fairfax
Hospital arrest and his hateful rampage, Furrow was in custody or
under the supervision of Washington agencies.
His mental health was evaluated repeatedly -- by
psychiatric experts at the King County Jail, Harborview Medical Center
and Western State Hospital, as well as by a seasoned King County
Superior Court judge, prosecutor and three community corrections
In hindsight, it is easy to conclude that these
experts let a plainly dangerous man slip through their fingers. In a
brief interview at his Olympia home, Furrow's 66-year-old father said
he believed the state failed to give his son help that might have
prevented the tragedy.
Furrow's trajectory through Washington's mental
health and criminal justice systems is likely to be a central issue in
his upcoming trial, given that his team of federal public defenders is
widely expected to rely on a mental-health defense.
Furrow spent six weeks in intensive treatment,
first at Harborview Medical Center and later at Western State Hospital
in Steilacoom, before he began serving time in the King County Jail
for his assault at Fairfax.
A review of previously undisclosed records and
interviews with many of those involved in his case shows that
authorities did consider Furrow's mental illness as they made
decisions about the first-time offender's treatment, jail sentence and
conditions of his supervised release.
Perhaps naively, those who came into contact with
Furrow after he was stabilized, including his attorney, prosecutor,
sentencing judge and community corrections officers, decided that he
was not likely to reoffend as long as he stayed on his psychiatric
medications. For that reason, they did not delve deeply into his white-supremacist
history. And they did not take steps that could have kept Furrow in
custody longer and under closer scrutiny upon his release. For example:
The King County Prosecutor's Office did not charge
him with a second count of assault in the Fairfax incident, which
would have added three months to his sentence, or add a deadly-weapon
enhancement, which would have tacked on another year.
The community corrections officers who evaluated
Furrow before sentencing never requested his hospital psychiatric
records as they could have, thus missing information that might have
led them to recommend that Furrow stay in mental health treatment
after his release.
King County Superior Court Judge Harriett Cody did
not require continuing mental health treatment despite a new law that
allowed her to do so.
And the community corrections officer who
supervised Furrow after his release did not visit Furrow in his home
or search his car, as he could have, to see whether Furrow was
drinking or amassing weapons and ammunition.
Critics charge that these seasoned professionals
had a responsibility to take a harder look at Furrow's mental health
and animosity toward minorities, especially given the facts they had
available to them.
For example, the presentence investigation that
community corrections officers prepared for Cody noted that one of
Furrow's Fairfax victims confided the assault was so terrifying that
seven months later, she still feared he might seek revenge against
them. She emphasized Furrow's white-supremacist beliefs, and warned,
"He definitely needs a supervised program."
"It was irresponsible not to get his (psychiatric)
records," said Mark Leemon, a Seattle attorney who has successfully
sued the Department of Corrections for failing to adequately supervise
ex-prisoners before. "Here is a guy who is crazy enough that he is
thinking of killing his wife and her friends, is thinking of shooting
people in a mall, and has a mental illness that leads him to be
involuntarily committed for treatment. I can't imagine that (his
psychiatrists and psychologists) would have been thinking that his
medications were a panacea, and that as long as he stayed on them, he
would be just great."
But other experts question whether mental illness
alone drove Furrow's well-planned attack on the day-care center.
Sources close to the FBI investigation say agents believe it was pure
racism that motivated him.
Other events in Furrow's personal life, such as a
failed attempt to reconcile with his ex-wife over the Fourth of July
weekend, his intermittent unemployment and the stress of living at
home with a mother suffering from Alzheimer's disease, may have played
an even greater role in his decision that he had little left to lose.
Even if authorities had done everything possible to
keep Furrow under their thumb, there's no certainty they would have
prevented the former Aryan Nations first lieutenant from speeding
south to Los Angeles to find a place to massacre Jews.
"When something like this happens, there's always
the suggestion that somehow government could have prevented it," said
David Boerner, professor of criminal law and ethics at Seattle
University and a former King County prosecutor who has reviewed
Furrow's case. "But I think that misleads the public into believing
that we can guarantee a safe world. There's no such thing. There are
evil people in the world."
Under state law, Furrow's psychiatric records are
confidential, as is his official diagnosis. But according to
Department of Corrections records, he battled serious depression and
in recent years had suffered frequent and increasingly severe anxiety
Police got a clear view of his disturbed mental
state in a written confession after his arrest for the Fairfax assault.
"Sometimes I feel like I could lose it and kill
people," he wrote. "I also feel like I could kill myself."
Jail psychologists quickly recognized Furrow as
someone who needed treatment. At their prodding, within days of his
arrest, a specially trained mental health evaluator for King County
determined he posed a danger to himself or others, and Furrow was
civilly committed for psychiatric treatment at Harborview. He tried to
commit suicide there, corrections records show. Later, he voluntarily
agreed to extend his treatment at Western State, court records show.
What kind of continuing treatment hospital
psychologists and psychiatrists felt Furrow needed is not part of the
public record. Nor is it clear how much he shared with them about his
extensive past involvement with Aryan Nations.
Groups that monitor the white-supremacy movement
believe Furrow became deeply involved in the early 1990s, when he
began spending time at the 20-acre compound in Hayden Lake, Idaho,
that is a base for Aryan Nations and the Church of Jesus Christ,
The church, founded by Richard Butler, holds that
people of white Northern European descent are the true Israelites
tricked out of their birthright by Jews and forced to live with other
races. Disciples believe that Jews are the son of Satan, and blacks,
but not whites, are descendants of animals.
Eventually, Furrow rose to the rank of first
lieutenant in the Aryan Nations security force, according to the
Southern Poverty Law Center. It was also on the compound that he met
Debbie Mathews, widow of one of the movement's modern martyrs.
Her husband, Robert Mathews, was the founder of the
Order, a racist, anti-Semitic group tied to the June 1984
assassination of Alan Berg, an outspoken Jewish host of a Denver radio
talk show. Wanted for a number of other crimes, Mathews was killed
later that year during an FBI siege of his house on Whidbey Island.
Debra Mathews lived in the bucolic town of Metaline
Falls in northeastern Washington, and in 1994 Furrow got a job in
nearby Colville at LaDuke and Forge Equipment, a farm machinery
Reached at her home last week, Mathews said she
didn't want to discuss her relationship with Furrow. But according to
Butler, he married Mathews and Furrow in a March 1995 ceremony at the
The two took a romantic honeymoon to Las Vegas, but
it didn't take long for the relationship to sour, according to Mathews'
neighbor and friend of 20 years, Meda Van Dyke.
On a drive into town about a year after their union,
Van Dyke said Mathews complained that Furrow was trying to gain
complete control of her life and her finances.
"He wanted to control what she did, and what she
spent for, and she just couldn't handle that," Van Dyke, an 82-year-old
In December 1995, Furrow was laid off, and during
the next few years he lived only sporadically with Mathews in Metaline
Falls, Van Dyke said.
In March 1998, Furrow was hired as a design
engineer at Northwest Gear, an Everett aircraft-parts maker. That
spring, Mathews went over to the coast for a weeklong visit with
Furrow, Van Dyke said. Mathews reported having a "lovely time," but
that Furrow failed to persuade her then to sell her land and move
across the mountains, Van Dyke said.
Depression and suicidal impulses began to plague
Furrow more intensely that year until his arrest at Fairfax Hospital
last October, court records show.
Because his mental health records are not public,
the nature of the treatment he subsequently received at Harborview and
Western State is not clear. Ira Klein, director of civil adult
services at Western State, said the hospital's goal is to stabilize
patients with therapy and medication, and then return them to the
community with continuing mental health services.
Furrow returned to jail in early December, when he
was arraigned on assault charges. And by the time of his sentencing
May 21, Furrow appeared to be a changed man.
Powell, the community corrections officer who
evaluated Furrow's case before his sentencing, wrote in abbreviated
notes that Furrow then described the assault as "an act of desperation.
. . . He was trying to get help. . . . He kept going to hospitals for
treatment, but his medication wasn't doing the job. Current
medications are working nicely."
Whether psychiatrists agreed with that assessment,
Powell never knew, because he didn't review Furrow's mental health
records, according to corrections officials.
Powell did note in his report to Judge Cody that
Furrow faced some daunting challenges. The assetless Furrow felt a
full-time job would "destabilize his condition," yet was not looking
forward to living with his father, Buford Sr., who he said suffered
from severe depression and his mother Monnie, who was suffering from
"Furrow confided that he plans to stay at his
parents' residence only as long as it took to find his own place,"
Powell wrote. "He felt that his mother's illness would have
counterproductive influence on his peace of mind."
Nonetheless, Powell argued that Furrow had
responded well to treatment and was "deserving of some measure of the
At the sentencing, Furrow's public defender, Leona
Thomas, also assured Cody that he had been stabilized.
"I think it's one of those situations where the
medications made a very dramatic difference very quickly," Thomas said,
according to a transcript of the proceedings.
And Furrow offered the court his own sane-sounding
mea culpa: "I would like to say I am sorry for what happened. I really
feel a lot of remorse for the two women that I assaulted and I have a
lot more respect now for the people in the mental-health profession,
you know, what they have to go through in dealing with people like
myself who are in real bad shape. And I also would like to thank you .
. . for getting me up to Harborview and getting me on medications and
kind of helping me out. I do feel quite a bit better than I was when I
came into the jail system."
State law allowed Cody to sentence Furrow, who had
no criminal history, to as many as nine months in jail. If King County
Prosecutor Norm Maleng had added an additional assault charge, or a
deadly weapon enhancement, Furrow could have faced a sentence of more
than two years.
But Dan Donohoe, spokesman for Maleng, defended the
decision. He said under the statewide prosecutorial standards his
office adheres to, the single assault charge was a good fit for the
crime Furrow had committed.
Cody sentenced Furrow to eight months for the
assault. He served 165 days because of credit for good behavior. She
did not require Furrow to continue with treatment, though she sternly
admonished him to stay on his medications.
"It's not within any of our power to make you take
your medications," she observed.
She also required him to stay away from his victims,
from alcohol and from firearms.
In a recent interview, Cody said that because
Furrow's case could potentially come before her again, she could not
comment on why she did not take advantage of a 1998 law that allowed
judges to require mental health treatment as a condition of release.
Cody stressed that she takes each sentencing
decision seriously, but must act within the limitations of Washington
laws, which dictate specific sentence ranges for specific crimes.
"There are shortcomings in what I am able to do
under the law," she said. "It's not illegal to be a white supremacist."
Once Furrow was released, he moved in with his
parents in Olympia, and his case was transferred to Pat Gosney, an
experienced community corrections officer dealing with about 75 other
cases at the time.
Furrow checked in with Gosney June 16, who noted at
the time that Furrow was "taking medications that really help him with
his fight against depression."
A few days later, Gosney received a detailed letter
from Fairfax Hospital describing the assault on the social worker and
hospital director and urging him to make sure Furrow continued with
treatment and stayed in weekly contact with his corrections officer.
In early July, Gosney upgraded Furrow's
classification from minimum to medium, which meant he would have to
meet with Gosney at least twice, instead of once, a month.
Little is known of what Furrow did with his free
time this summer. Van Dyke, Mathews' longtime friend, said that Furrow
was seen in Metaline Falls over the Fourth of July Weekend.
"He . . . tried to get Debbie to sign over her
property and car to him," Van Dyke said. "He was always trying to
reconcile with her, but she wouldn't do it."
Furrow's failure to patch up his relationship with
Mathews may have contributed to his downward spiral. But when he
checked in with community corrections officer Gosney July 6, he was
reportedly "in a good mood." Furrow showed Gosney the medications he
was taking then, and Gosney discussed counseling options in the
community Furrow could explore, according to his notes. He also took a
urine sample to see whether Furrow was staying away from drugs and
The next day, lab results detected amphetamines or
methamphetamine in Furrow's system. Furrow insisted he hadn't been
taking the drugs and agreed to have the sample retested at his own
expense. The new test had no evidence of anything but the prescribed
psychiatric drugs Furrow was taking, and Gosney concluded that the
psychiatric drugs might have caused a false positive in the earlier
Gosney was impressed by the calm way that Furrow
handled the incident and told him so at a July 20 meeting. "I informed
(Furrow) that this situation was probably a little tough to deal with,
however, it shows positive progress regarding his moods, attitude and
anger," he wrote.
Furrow reported to Gosney's office again on Aug. 3,
and Gosney again spotted nothing unusual. Furrow "was in good mood . .
. no problems to note," he wrote.
Four days later, on Aug. 7, Furrow paid cash for a
red GMC van at the Tacoma Kar Korner used-car lot, the same van found
outside the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles after
The attorney Leemon said that given Furrow's
history, if Gosney had been visiting Furrow at home, instead of at a
government office, he might not have "had the wool pulled over his
The Corrections Department standards, adopted in
1997, make such field visits optional. Standards adopted in 1994 would
have required at least two monthly field visits, and Leemon said that
Furrow's case is evidence that the department's monitoring
requirements are so "ridiculously low" that they fail to protect the
"You can't say there's nothing we could have done (to
prevent the rampage) when you've done nothing," he said.
But Joe Lehman, secretary of the Department of
Corrections, defended both Gosney and the regulations. He said that
Gosney has been going through "a lot of soul-searching" since Furrow's
"But I honestly believe this is a committed, caring,
concerned, dedicated officer . . . who monitored what he thought were
the two primary elements of risk in the case . . . his mental status
and his use of substances," Lehman said. "What . . . the department
didn't know was that he . . . wanted to commit an act of domestic
Lehman said critics of the department are making
the dangerous assumption that Furrow stopped taking his medications
and that the undetected return of his mental illness caused the day-care
He points to the purposeful scouting that Furrow
did to find the Jewish Community Center, and the self-satisfied smile
on his face after his arrest, as evidence that Furrow's act wasn't
that of an insane, delusional man.
"We don't know that his act in Los Angeles has
anything to do with his mental health," he said. "Racism is a disease
of the heart, not of the mind."
L.A. shooting suspect
surrenders in Las Vegas
Shooting victims recovering
August 11, 1999
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Buford Furrow, the suspect
police had sought in the shooting at a Los Angeles-area Jewish
community center, turned himself in to authorities in Las Vegas on
Wednesday, sources told CNN.
Senior FBI officials in Washington said Furrow was
alone when he surrendered at the FBI field office.
"It was just a walk-in," a senior official told
CNN. "There were no negotiations."
Authorities also said Furrow would be charged in
the slaying of a postal worker who was shot near the community center.
Five people were wounded at the community center.
Afterward, information surfaced linking Furrow to hate groups in the
News reports said the Washington state native
belonged to, or was once associated with, the groups Aryan Nation, the
Order and Christian Identity.
He is listed in a database maintained by the
Southern Poverty Law Center of people connected with radical groups,
said Mark Potok, a researcher with the center based in Montgomery,
Potok said Furrow was a member of Aryan Nation in
1995, and said he has a photo of Furrow in a Nazi uniform, taken that
year at the white supremacist group's compound in Hayden Lake, Idaho.
Relationship with widow of hate group founder
Meantime, newspapers in Washington state reported
that Furrow once lived with Debbie Mathews, widow of Robert J.
Mathews, founder of the Order, a neo-Nazi hate group. Furrow and
Debbie Mathews reportedly met at an Aryan Nation gathering.
The Seattle Times said that until about a year ago
they lived with Mathews' teen-age son in Metaline Falls, located in
northwestern Washington near the Idaho border.
"He was very much a racist," said a former Metaline
Falls neighbor, an unidentified woman quoted by the Seattle Times.
In yet another development, a van believed driven
by Furrow contained a book, "War Cycles, Peace Cycles," written by
Richard Kelly Hoskins, who Potok called "one of the principal
ideologues of Christian Identity."
Christian Identity is a group with religious
overtones that considers white people superior to Jews and nonwhites.
"Hard-line Identity adherents believe that in order
for Christ to return to Earth, the globe must be swept clean of
satanic forces -- meaning Jews, homosexuals and a whole laundry list
of other enemies," Potok said.
In psychiatric hospital
In November, according to the Seattle Times,
Furrow tried to commit himself to a psychiatric hospital in a
Seattle suburb, but was reluctant to submit to inpatient treatment
and, at one point, pulled a knife on several staffers.
Court records show Furrow was charged with felony
assault on November 2, 1998, pleaded guilty to second-degree assault
and was sentenced to five months in the King County Jail.
Sources told CNN he was on probation at the time of
Furrow, 37, is suspected of walking into the
North Valley Jewish Community Center and firing more than 70 bullets
from what was believed to be a 9 mm weapon before escaping.
When the hunt for the suspect spread from
California to Washington, the Los Angeles police chief said
authorities were "looking wherever the leads will take us."
"If it requires us to go nationally or
internationally, we're certainly capable of doing that," Chief Bernard
Parks told CNN.
While authorities were investigating the
possibility that Tuesday's late-morning attack was a hate crime, Parks
said authorities knew of no "specific motive."
"The suspect did not make any comments before
firing at the victims," he said.
Condition of wounded
The wounded included three young boys attending
day camp, a 16-year-old counselor and a 68-year-old receptionist.
The most seriously injured was a 5-year-old boy,
who was shot in the abdomen and leg. He was in critical condition
after six hours of surgery, and his prognosis for recovery was
The other two boys, ages 6 and 8, and the teen-age
counselor were hospitalized in stable condition. The receptionist,
Isabelle Shalometh, went home Tuesday night.
Washington state roots
Furrow grew up in Lacey, Washington, near the
state capital of Olympia.
His family still lives there, and neighbors said
Furrow had recently been living with his parents.
On Tuesday night, FBI agents visited the home and
searched the area.
Agents also interviewed neighbors Janet and Tim
Tyrolt. Mrs. Tyrolt told reporters Furrow was " a perfect gentleman"
she first met two or three months ago.
As recently as 1994, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
reported, Furrow had lived in Rosamond, California, a town about 40
miles from the scene of the community center attack in Granada Hills.
The suburban San Fernando Valley community is about
30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
Police said that after the shootings the gunman
fled in a red van and, minutes later, stole a green car near the Van
Investigators followed his trail, from the shell
casings that littered the community center's lobby to the abandoned
red- and-white van. In addition to the Hoskins literature, it was
filled with ammunition, bulletproof vests, explosives and freeze-dried
The hunt next led police to a green Toyota Corolla
that was believed to have been stolen and then left in front of a
hotel in Chatsworth, a few miles from the community center. Police
said they found weapons in the car.
Officers surrounded the hotel, but the search ended
after four hours. "We were so close but still he managed to get away,"
Cmdr. David Kalish said.
The abandoned van, which had a Washington state
license plate, was purchased Saturday in Tacoma, Washington, according
to the used-vehicle dealer who sold it. Kalish identified Furrow as
Site of shooting to reopen
Officials at the North Valley Jewish Community
Center told CNN the facility would reopen as soon as police
investigators allow it.
Meantime, a summer program for youngsters was to
resume Wednesday at an Episcopal church next door.