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Patrick Edward PURDY

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


"The Stockton Massacre"
 
Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: School shooting - The police had ''no idea'' of a motive
Number of victims: 5
Date of murders: January 17, 1989
Date of birth: November 10, 1964
Victims profile: Schoolchildren aged between 6 and 9 (Cambodian immigrants)
Method of murder: Shooting (Chinese-made Type 56 semi-automatic rifle)
Location: Stockton, California, USA
Status: Committed suicide by shooting himself in the head the same day
 
 

 
 

The Stockton Massacre refers to the killing of five schoolchildren in Stockton, California on January 17, 1989.

On that date, an unknown person phoned the Stockton Police and warned of a death threat against Cleveland Elementary School. Later that day, Patrick Purdy, a disturbed drifter and former Stockton resident, opened fire on the school playground with a Chinese-made Type 56 semi-automatic rifle, killing five children and wounding twenty-nine others and a teacher.

The fatalities, Raphanar Or, Ran Chun, Sokhim An, Oeun Lim and Thuy Tran, were all Cambodian immigrants, except for Tran who was born in Vietnam. Purdy, who had carved the words "freedom", "victory", and "Hezbollah" on his weapon, and "PLO", "Libya", and "death to the Great Satin" (sic) on his flak jacket, then took his own life by shooting himself in the head with a pistol.

Repercussions

The multiple murders at Stockton received national news coverage and spurred calls for regulation of semi-automatic weapons. In California, measures were taken to first define and then ban assault weapons, resulting in the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Act.

On the Federal level, Congress struggled with a way to ban weapons like Purdy's military-style semi-automatic rifle without also including semi-automatic hunting rifles. In the end, Congress defined "assault weapons" as semi-automatic weapons with certain military-style secondary features such as flash suppressors, bayonet lugs, and pistol grips.

These were banned in the Federal assault weapons ban, enacted in 1994, which expired in 2004. President George H. W. Bush signed an executive order banning importation of assault weapons in 1989. President Bill Clinton signed another executive order in 1994 which banned importation of most firearms and ammunition from China.

To punctuate the complexity of the issue, neither California's Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Act nor the Federal assault weapons ban would have prevented Purdy from legally purchasing the weapon he used to commit his crime.


Patrick Purdy, a mentally disturbed flophouse habitue with a penchant for toy soldiers, thought Asians where at the root of all his problems.

In January 17, 1989, he decided it was time for resolution. He left his flea bag motel wearing the customary army fatigues with "Death to the Great Satin" (a typo or perhaps a strange fixation with fancy evening wear) scribbled on his sleeve and headed for the Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, California.

In the next six minutes the the lethal drifter opened fire in the schoolyard with an AK-47 killing five youngsters of Southeast Asian descent and wounding 29 children and a teacher. Purdy, 24, ended the attack by turning his gun on himself.

Arson investigator Marty Galindo was at a nearby car wash when he got a radio call of a vehicle fire near Cleveland Elementary School. Purdy, in what detectives later said was a diversion attempt, had stuffed his station wagon with fireworks and set the car ablaze moments before he walked onto the campus and opened fire.

"I can still smell the gunpowder. That's what I remember most -- the gunpowder. There were bullet casings everywhere. And I remember walking by a little girl's shoe, it couldn't have been more than a few inches long, that was sitting there on the ground. There was flesh on it. It had to have been cut off. I walked around the corner of a building and saw all those kids down. It was surreal. This was supposed to be where kids are playing games, happy," Galindo said.

When the smoke settled, Michael Jackson, the Peter Pan of auto-erotica, descended on the school to spread goodwill (and maybe something else) among the surviving kids. Four of the dead children were Cambodian, one was Vietnamese. Most were born in Thailand in refugee camps as their parents fled the genocidal regime of Cambodian ruler Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.


The Cleveland School massacre was an incident of mass murder that occurred on January 17, 1989, at Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, California, United States. The gunman, Patrick Purdy, who held a long criminal history, shot and killed five schoolchildren, and wounded 29 other schoolchildren and one teacher, before committing suicide. His victims were predominantly Southeast Asian refugees.

The shooting

On the day of the shooting, an anonymous person phoned the Stockton Police Department and warned of a death threat against Cleveland Elementary School.

Later that day, just before noon, Patrick Purdy, a disturbed drifter and former Stockton resident, started his attack by setting fire to his car that he had parked behind the school. He then moved to the school playground and began firing with a Chinese-made Type 56 semi-automatic rifle from behind a portable building. Purdy fired more than 100 rounds in three minutes killing five children and wounding thirty others including one teacher.

All of the fatally shot victims and many of the wounded were Cambodian and Vietnamese immigrants. Purdy, who had carved the words "freedom", "victory", and "Hezbollah" on his weapon, and "PLO", "Libya", and "death to the Great Satin" (sic) on his flak jacket, then took his own life by shooting himself in the head with a pistol.

Fatalities

1. Rathanar Or, age 9
2. Ram Chun, age 8
3. Sokhim An, age 6
4. Oeun Lim, age 8
5. Thuy Tran, age 6

Patrick Purdy

Patrick Edward Purdy was born on November 10, 1964 in Tacoma, Washington. His father, Patrick Benjamin Purdy, was a staff sergeant in the Army and was stationed at Fort Lewis at that time of his son's birth. His mother was Kathleen Toscano. When Patrick was two years old, his mother divorced her husband after he had threatened her with a weapon, and Kathleen moved with her son to South Lake Tahoe and later to the Sacramento area. He attended Cleveland Elementary School from kindergarten through second grade.

Patrick's mother remarried, though was again divorced five years later. Albert Gulart, Purdy's stepfather, said Patrick was an overly quiet child who couldn't cope with things and according to his aunt, he was an alcoholic during his childhood. When Purdy was thirteen, he once struck his mother in the face and therefore was permanently thrown out of her house. Purdy began living on the streets of San Francisco for a while, before being placed in foster care.

Purdy was adopted shortly after, and settled with his foster family in the West Hollywood area. There, he became a drug addict and went to high school only sporadically.

On September 13, 1981 Patrick's father died in a traffic accident and the family filed a wrongful-death suit in San Joaquin Superior Court against the driver of the car, asking for $600,000 in damages, though the suit was later dismissed.

Purdy also accused his mother of taking money his father had left him, using it to buy a car and making a trip to New York, an incident that deepened the animosities between them.

Purdy had a long criminal history, which began during early adolescence. In order to support his drug addiction, he became a prostitute, which resulted in his first arrest in 1980. He was later arrested in 1982 for possession of marijuana and drug dealing, in 1983 for possession of an illegal weapon and receipt of stolen property.

In October 1984 he was arrested for being an accomplice in an armed robbery, and spent 32 days in the Yolo County Jail. In 1986 his mother called police when he vandalized her car, after she refused to give him money for drugs.

In April 1987, he was once more arrested for firing a semi-automatic pistol at trees in the Eldorado National Forest. At the time, he was carrying a book about the white supremacist group Aryan Nations, and told a County Sherriff that it was his "duty to help the suppressed and overthrow the suppressor."

Later in jail he tried to commit suicide twice, once by hanging himself with a rope made out of strips of his shirt, and a second time by cutting his wrists with his fingernails. A subsequent psychiatric assessment found him to suffer from mild mental retardation, and to be a danger to himself and others.

In the fall of 1987, he began attending welding classes at San Joaquin Delta College and complained about the high number of Southeast Asian students there. In early 1988 he worked at Numeri Tech, a small machine shop located in Stockton, and from July to October as a boilermaker in Portland, Oregon, living in Sandy, where he had relatives. He also bought the Chinese-made AK-47 derivative used in the shooting there on August 3.

In October 1987 he left and drifted between Oregon, Nevada, Texas, Florida, Connecticut, South Carolina, and Tennessee searching for work. He eventually returned to California where he rented a room at the El Rancho Motel in Stockton on December 26. After the shooting the room was found decorated with numerous toy soldiers.

Police stated that Purdy had problems with alcohol and drug abuse and had developed a deep hatred for everybody. His hatred was especially directed against Vietnamese and other Asian immigrants, stating that they take away jobs from native-born Americans, while he himself struggled to get along.

According to his friends, who described him as nice and never violent towards anyone, Purdy was suicidal at times and upset and mad about the fact that he failed to "make it on his own".

Steve Sloan, a night-shift supervisor at Numeri Tech described him as a "real ball of frustration" who "was angry about everything", while another one of Purdy's former co-workers noted: "He was always miserable. I've never seen a guy that didn't want to smile as much as he didn't." In a notebook, found in a hotel where he lived in early 1988, Purdy wrote about himself in a self-loathing perspective: "I'm so dumb, I'm dumber than a sixth-grader. My mother and father were dumb."

Repercussions

The multiple murders at Stockton received national news coverage and spurred calls for regulation of semi-automatic weapons. "Why could Purdy, an alcoholic who had been arrested for such offenses as selling weapons and attempted robbery, walk into a gun shop in Sandy, Oregon, and leave with an AK-47 under his arm?" Time magazine asked, ignoring the fact that the weapon used was not an AK-47. They continued, "The easy availability of weapons like this, which have no purpose other than killing human beings, can all too readily turn the delusions of sick gunmen into tragic nightmares."

Purdy was able to purchase the weapons because the judicial system had not convicted him of any crime that prevented him from purchasing firearms. Neither had Purdy been adjudicated mentally ill, another disqualifying factor.

In California, measures were taken to first define and then ban assault weapons, resulting in the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Act. On the Federal level, Congress struggled with a way to ban weapons like Purdy's military-style semi-automatic rifle without also including semi-automatic hunting rifles. In the end, Congress defined "assault weapons" as semi-automatic weapons with certain military-style secondary features such as flash suppressors, bayonet lugs, and pistol grips. These were banned in the Federal assault weapons ban, enacted in 1994, which expired in 2004. President George H. W. Bush signed an executive order banning importation of assault weapons in 1989. President Bill Clinton signed another executive order in 1994 which banned importation of most firearms and ammunition from China.

Wikipedia.org


Patrick Purdy

"He was not talking, he was not yelling, he was very straight-faced, it did not look like he was really angry.....it was as if he was concentrating on what he was doing."

A survivor tells of the blitz.

Patrick Purdy was, no so amazingly, a loner and a drifter. He had slowly been building up a shitty record with the police on drugs charges, robbery and burglary, and was forced to leave his home town, (Stockton, Califoria) because of these charges. He moved to Sandy, Oregon, where he lived quite peacefully with relatives.

Then one day Purdy decided it was time to go home.

He bought himself an AK-47 assault rifle over the counter of a local store. He caught a bus back to Stockton.

Purdy paid a visit to his old school, the Cleaveland Elementary School on January 17, 1989.

At 11.40 am Purdy parked his car outside the school, got out, set it alight, and walked through the front gate armed with the AK-47 and two handguns. He strode like a man on a mission into a classroom and proceeded to randomly shoot at the children sitting behind their desks. While Purdy was reeling of bullets his car exploded outside. Seemingly finished with the classroom kiddies Purdy calmly walked back outside and let loose with the AK-47. Survivors say he was firing the weapon in wide swoops, causing maximum carnage, in all directions. After 130 shots of the automatic rifle Purdey pulled one of his handguns from his waistband and blew a large portion of his head off.

The entire homecoming only took one and a half minutes but in that time Purdy managed to kill five kiddies and injure thirty-nine, six of those seriously.

WIERD STUFF

When the police entered his hotel room after the spree they found an army of toy soldiers around the room. Purdy had been staging his own little war over the past few days.

On the day of his fame, Purdy dressed in camouflage clothing (nutters clothing if ever there was any) and had painted "PLO", "Libya" and "Earthman" on the front of the jacket. To this day no one has a clue what "Earthman" was all about. On the back of the jacket he had written "freedom" and "Death to the great Satin". Poor bastard couldn't even spell 'Satan'. Anyway the phase was taken from the Hezbollah group (a pro-Iranian group) and he had also scratched Hezbollah into the AK-47.

Purdy had fitted his new weapon with a bayonet.

He bragged about being in 'Nam', despite only being 8 years-old when the U.S. pulled out.

All the kids killed were asian.

In April 1987 he tried to hang himself while in prison. He also attempted to slash his wrists with his fingernails.

After the attempted suicide he was placed in a mental-health unit, where he was judged a danger to himself and others. But he was released.

"I'm so dumb, I'm dumber than a sixth grader."

Makes you feel almost sorry for the poor bastard.

The Wacky World of Murder


Five Children Killed As Gunman Attacks A California School

The New York Times

Wednesday, January 18, 1989

A young drifter dressed in military fatigues opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle at children playing outside and others inside an elementary school today. Five children between 6 and 9 years old, all of them refugees from Southeast Asia, were killed and more than 30 people were wounded, about half of them critically, before the gunman shot himself to death.

The gunman, 24-year-old Patrick West, originally of Stockton, had an ''extensive criminal history'' but the police had ''no idea'' of a motive, said Lucian Neely, a Deputy Police Chief in this agricultural city 65 miles east of San Francisco.

''He was just standing there with a gun, making wide sweeps,'' said Lori Mackey, who teaches deaf children at the Cleveland Elementary School.

She said she ran to her classroom window when she heard what she thought were firecrackers, and saw a man standing in the schoolyard, spraying gunfire from what turned out to be a Russian-designed AK-47 rifle. There were 400 to 500 pupils from the first to third grades playing at the noontime recess.

She said that when she realized what was happening, she took her 10 pupils into a rear room where they could not be seen.

''He was not talking, he was not yelling, he was very straight-faced,'' she said of the gunman, whom she described as about 5 feet 10, with short blonde hair. ''It did not look like he was really angry; it was just matter-of-factly.''

She added: ''There was mass chaos. There were kids running in every direction.''

Mr. West's criminal record was mostly in the Los Angeles area and included narcotics and weapons violations and soliciting for sex, Chief Neely said.

A 'Loner' and 'Alcoholic'

Mr. West, who sometimes used the name Patrick E. Purdy, had lived most recently in Lodi, about 15 miles northeast of here. Before that he lived in Sandy, Ore., a small town 25 miles southeast of Portland, where he purchased the AK-47 on Aug. 3., said Police Chief Fred Punzel of Sandy.

Chief Punzel said Mr. West had lived with an aunt and uncle in Sandy for several months until October and the aunt, Julie Michael, ''told me he was a loner, and as a child he was an alcoholic.'' He said Mr. West also had apparently lived in Texas, Memphis, Tennessee and Connecticut since leaving Oregon.

The gunman, dressed in battle gear and wearing a flak jacket, parked his car near the school, then set it on fire before entering the school grounds through a gap in a fence at about 11:40 A.M. He had two handguns and the AK-47, the police said.

He opened fire on the west side of a group of portable classrooms, then moved to the east side and continued firing across the blacktop where children were playing toward the main building about 250 yards away, Chief Neely said. He was no closer than that when he shot himself in the head.

About 60 rounds were fired; in some cases, the bullets went completely through the main school building and came out the other side to fall spent on the L-shaped school's front lawn, Chief Neely said.

As the police cleaned up the carnage, a large handgun and the AK-47 were lying on the ground near a pool of blood. Written on the pistol's handle was the word ''Victory.''

15 Wounded Critically

Bruce Fernandes, a spokesman for the San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services, said six people were killed, including the gunman, and 30 wounded, most of them pupils. Another Deputy Police Chief, Lucian Neely, said at least 15 of the wounded were in critical condition.

Mr. Fernandes said the wounded were evacuated to eight hospitals in the area. Two helicopters and a fleet of ambulances were pressed into service to transport the victims.

Chief Neely identified the dead children as Raphanar Or, 9; Ram Chun, 8; Thuy Tran, 6; Sokhim An, 6, and Oeun Lim, 8. Thuy Tran was from Vietnam, the others from Cambodia.

Three of the children who died were shot while in the yard, and the other two were inside the school, Chief Tribble said. He said at least one teacher was injured.

Pupil Describes Shooting

''There were a dozen students lying on the ground,'' said Cheryl Torres, who rushed to the school where her 11-year-old daughter, LeAnne Sundstrom, is a pupil. ''It was very frightening.''

Ramon Billedo 3d, a student, described seeing a schoolmate shot.

''I just saw him fall down,'' Ramon said. ''His head hit the ground. The teacher grabbed him and dragged him inside the other classroom.''

''Some kids were outside and some man came over here shooting like crazy,'' said Ricardo Rivera, 10, a fifth grader. ''A few kids got shot.''

Another pupil, Roberto Costa said the shooting started during his reading class. ''The bullets were hitting the walls,'' he said. ''Everybody got scared.''

'I Tried to Get a Pulse'

Brian Griggs was visiting a friend across from the school when he heard gunfire and ran to the scene.

''I tried to get a pulse, couldn't get a pulse,'' he said referring to a pupil. ''I was hoping an ambulance would show up. It seemed to take forever.''

The school, about four blocks from the University of the Pacific, is in a middle-class residential area. Several churches are nearby.

The AK-47 is a Russian design, but Chinese versions are available in many gun stores for about $300. It is capable of firing about 600 rounds per minute on full automatic.

Lieut. Fred Nixon of the Los Angeles police described the AK-47 as a ''military assault rifle. You use it for one purpose and one purpose only - to kill a human being.''

How Rifle Can Be Bought

Under Federal law, the purchase of a fully automatic rifle requires a 4- to 6-month background check by the authorities. But a semiautomatic rifle can be bought over the counter by completing a standard form stating that the applicant has no criminal record, among other requirements.

Chief Punzel said that the AK-47 and other semiautomatic rifles can be easily converted into automatics.

There have been a number of shootings in schools across the country in the last year.

Last May 20 a young woman named Laurie Dann went on a rampage at Hubbard Woods Elementary school in Winnetka, Ill., killing an 8-year-old boy and wounding five other children. She fled to a nearby home where she wounded a man, then killed herself.

Last Sept. 26, a man walked into Oakland Elementary School in Greenwood, S.C., and opened fire with a gun in a crowded cafeteria and in a third-grade classroom. Two 8-year-old girls died, one at the scene and the other a few days later. Nine other people were wounded, including two teachers.

The gunman was charged with murder and is awaiting trial.

On Dec. 16, a teacher was killed and another was wounded in a shooting spree at Atlantic Shores Christian School in Virginia Beach, Va. A 16-year-old student at the school was charged.

On Jan. 5, a 16-year-old ninth-grader was fatally shot in the schoolyard of Henderson Junior High School in Little Rock, Ark., by a 19-year-old man.


After Shooting, Horror but Few Answers

They fled the killing fields of Cambodia to bring up their children in the peaceful, fertile fields of the San Joaquin Valley of California. But today the thousands of Southeast Asian refugees who have settled here could only wonder in horror why a young American would walk into a schoolyard and open fire with an assault rifle.

There were few answers in the initial investigation of the shooting, which killed five children and wounded 29 others and a teacher Tuesday at recess at the Cleveland School. The killing ended when the gunman, Patrick Edward Purdy, shot himself in the head with a pistol.

The initial police accounts portrayed a deranged young man, once a pupil at the Cleveland School, who nursed an obsession with guns and the military.

'We May Never Know'

''Why he did this we may never know,'' said Capt. Dennis Perry of the Stockton Police Department, who is in charge of the investigation. ''He obviously developed a military hangup.''

When the police searched Mr. Purdy's latest residence, Room 104 of El Rancho Motel on the edge of Stockton, they found 100 or more small plastic toy figures of soldiers, tanks, jeeps and weapons. They were on the shelves, on the grates, even in the refrigerator. On the stock of his bayonetted rifle were carved the words ''Freedom,'' ''Victory'' and ''Hezbollah,'' the Shiite Moslem Party of God. On the camouflage shirt he wore over his flak jacket were other references to the Middle East, one of them misspelled: ''P.L.O.,'' ''Libya'' and ''Death to the Great Satin.''

There was no evidence that Mr. Purdy had any special animosity toward Asians. The Cleveland School, in a neighborhood into which the refugees have trickled since 1980, is 68.6 percent Asian. The dead and wounded included children of Cambodian, Vietnamese, Chinese and Hispanic origin.

Age Is Uncertain

Mr. Purdy, a sometime welder, gave his age as 26 on his driver's license, but as 24 and 27 in other official records.

The dead were identified as three Cambodian girls, Ram Chun, 8 years old, Sokhim An, 6, and Oeun Lim, 8; a Cambodian boy, Rathanan Or, 9, and a Vietnamese girl, Thuy Tran, 6.

Twenty-nine other children and a teacher, Janet Geng, 37, were taken to seven local hospitals. By this afternoon, nine children had been released; Miss Geng and the other 20 children were still in the hospital.

The Stockton Unified School District ordered all schools opened as usual today. Overnight, workmen patched the 60 or so bullet holes in the south wall of the brown stucco building and scrubbed out bloodstains. But only about a quarter of the 970 pupils showed up.

Those who did were greeted by psychologists and nurses trained in treating grief. Interpreters were brought in to help the children and parents who spoke little English. The children were urged to express their feelings and draw pictures of what they saw.

''The youngsters need to be in a place where they feel safe,'' said the school superintendent, Mary Gonazales Mend. She called the incident ''everybody's worst nightmare.''

This afternoon the Cleveland School's principal, Pat Busher, went to an apartment complex where many Cambodians live to reassure parents that the school was safe. ''We need the children back,'' she said.

'Nobody Knows Why'

But some experts doubted that the Asian community could quickly overcome the horror. The Cambodians, about 5,000 of whom have settled in this agricultural region, have had a particularly hard time adjusting to American life and learning English. Many work in menial jobs in fruit packing plants, cotton mills, gardens and restaurants, and many are on the welfare rolls.

At the Cambodian Community of Stockton, a social service agency about a mile from the school, a teacher, Elena Pehlke, was trying to calm fears.

''He was an alcoholic,'' she told her class in measured English, ''a very unhappy person. Nobody knows why.'' She then began a discussion of the gun control debate in response to a question about how a deranged man could easily buy a military weapon in America.

Grief in Another Town

Another community was also reeling as a result of the schoolyard rampage: Sandy, Ore.,a logging and farming town of 4,000 people in the shadow of Mount Hood, not far from Portland. It was there, in a store called the Trading Post, that Mr. Purdy apparently bought the Chinese-made AK-47 assault rifle.

Local sportsmen gathered today to commiserate with Clair Cooper, the owner of the store, who signed the firearms transaction record last August and accepted $349.95 from a customer he said he had never seen before.

Mr. Cooper, who took his phone off the hook and glowered at strangers in his store, said he rarely stocked the weapon and ordered one last summer only because a few customers had asked for it. In the future, he said, he would sell the gun only to customers who ordered it in advance.

Suspect's Arrest Record

In Stockton, the Police Department was trying to piece together the life and final days of the 150-pound, 5-foot 10-inch Mr. Purdy. He had a record of at least five arrests in California, dating to 1980.

He attended the Cleveland School from kindergarten to third grade. His parents later divorced. His father, Patrick Purdy, was struck and killed by a car about five years ago. His mother, now named Kathleen Toscano, has not been located.

He spent the first half of this year in his hometown of Stockton working at manufacturing jobs, then visited his aunt, Julie Michael, in Oregon.

Chief Fred Punzel of the Sandy Police Department said Mrs. Michael ''just fell apart'' when she heard the news about her late brother's son. According to local press accounts, she last heard from Mr. Purdy when he sent her a Christmas card with a Connecticut postmark.

Today the curtains were drawn at the Michael house and a note taped to the front door, written on an envelope in a shaky hand. The note, signed by Mr. Michael, begged that no one disturb his wife. ''Pat Purdy did not live here,'' it said, ''he only stayed with us for two weeks.''

Mr. Purdy apparently returned to Stockton on Dec. 26 and took a room at El Rancho Motel.

Two Minutes of Shooting

On Tuesday, just before noon, he arrived at the Cleveland School in his 1977 Chevrolet station wagon, burned the car with a Molotov cocktail in a Budweiser bottle and walked onto the crowded school grounds. There he opened fire.

He shot at least 106 rounds. ''He was not aiming as much as spraying,'' said Captain Perry.

''I thought it was firecrackers,'' said Ms. Geng, the teacher who was wounded, in a bedside interview at St. Joseph's Medical Center as she was about to enter surgery for a shattered femur. ''I did not see his face - just a gun going off in front of me.''

Children began to crumple. The shooting lasted about two minutes. Then Mr. Purdy put the pistol to his right temple and fell dead against a school wall.

In the chill of the morning after, a few parents brought their youngsters to school, among them Manuel Garcia, an electronics technician. ''She did not want to come to school,'' he said of his daughter, Denise, a kindergartner. ''My wife almost talked me out of it, but the more I thought about it, it was probably a good idea to bring her in to cope with it all. I wasn't even there, and I'm scared.''


Killer Depicted as Loner Full of Hate

By Robert Reinhold - The the New York Times

Friday, January 20, 1989

The 24-year-old man who opened fire on children in a schoolyard here Tuesday was a troubled loner full of hate who could not keep a job and had alcohol and drug problems, according to the portrait that is emerging from investigators and family members.

But nothing in the picture so far gives a good clue to what led the man, Patrick Edward Purdy, into the murderous rampage at the Cleveland Elementary School. He killed five Indochinese children and wounded 30 other people with an AK-47 assault rifle before committing suicide.

''He did not leave us a message,'' the chief investigator, Capt. Dennis Perry of the Stockton Police Department, said today. ''Without that we'll never know exactly why he did what he did. In a way, he beat us because we'll never know.''

Investigators disputed suggestions that Mr. Purdy nursed a special dislike for Asians, saying that interviews with family members and co-workers showed he disliked everybody, particularly authority figures like police officers.

He Drifted From Job to Job

''Through his lifetime, Mr. Purdy developed a hate for everybody,'' Captain Perry said. ''He was a loner, had no friends, no particular girlfriends. As far as dislike for any one race, that is not a pattern that shows up.''

Federal records show that Mr. Purdy, sometimes using the alias Eddie Purdy West, had bought five new pistols since 1984, a period in which he was drifting from job to job in many cities. His most recent purchase was the 9-millimeter Taurus brand semiautomatic pistol that he used Tuesday to kill himself with a shot in the right temple.

An autopsy showed no signs of intravenous drug use, no tumors of the brain or thyroid. A toxicological report on possible drug or alcohol use was not expected until next week.

The 9-millimeter pistol was purchased at the Hunter Loan pawn shop in Stockton on Dec. 28, 1988, and picked up after the required 15-day waiting period Friday, four days before the shooting.

A Long Arrest Record

He bought the assault rifle last Aug. 3 in Sandy, Ore., using the alias Patrick E. West. Apart from the use of the alias, the purchase was legal, since Mr. Purdy has never been convicted of a felony. Conviction of a misdemeanor does not disquality a person from purchasing a weapon in California.

But he had a long arrest record, dating to 1980 when he was arrested in Los Angeles on charges of soliciting a sex act from a police officer. Two years later he was arrested on a charge of possession of hashish or marijuana in Los Angeles County. The record does not show which of the two substances he was charged with possessing and the police said they did not have the disposition of the cases.

30 Days on Reduced Charge

In 1983, the police in Beverly Hills, Calif., arrested him on charges of possessing a dangerous weapon, a misdemeanor; he was convicted and put on probation. The same year, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies arrested him on a charge of receiving stolen property. The charge was dismissed for lack of evidence.

On Oct. 1, 1984, Mr. Purdy was arrested in Woodland, Calif., on charges of attempted robbery and criminal conspiracy. He pleaded guilty to reduced charges of being an accessory to a felony and served 30 days in jail.

His most recent arrest occurred in April 1987 when he was apprehended in El Dorado County, Calif., on the Nevada border, where he was charged with firing a 9-millimeter pistol in the El Dorado National Forest and with resisting arrest.

District Attorney Ron Pepper said that Mr. Purdy acted in a bizzare manner, telling officers that it was his duty ''to overthrow the suppressers.'' Mr. Pepper said that Mr. Purdy kicked deputies and kicked a window out of a patrol car.

He was originally jailed in a section for intoxicated prisoners where he attempted suicide by hanging and then by trying to cut his wrists with toenails and fingernails, Mr. Pepper said.

Mr. Purdy was then taken to the county psychiatric health center, Mr. Pepper said. A spokesman for the center declined to comment on Mr. Purdy's examination, citing patient confidentialiy.

A Danger to Others

Mr. Purdy pleaded guilty to both charges and spent 45 days in the county jail.

The El Dorado County probation report described him as a danger to himself and others.

Mr. Purdy had been drifting around the country, never holding a job for long, for several months. He frequently clashed with his supervisors.

He worked as a security officer in Glendale, Calif., near Los Angeles, leaving after an incident in which he failed to act when somebody was being beaten up, Captain Perry said. He next showed up in Key West, Fla., working as a laborer at a nursery and a construction company until the summer of 1984.

That fall, he returned to California, working near Sacramento, and then taking courses in welding in Stockton, where he had attended the Cleveland School as a youngster. For the first month of 1988 he worked here at the Numeri Tech Machine Shop and later at the FR Manufacturing Corporation.

He Worked in Connecticut

Last summer he drifted north to the Portland, Ore., area, where he took occasional work in the shipyards through the boilermakers' union, then traveled to Texas in a vain search for work, spent a month working at the DuPont Company in Memphis, and then a month, from mid-November to mid-December of 1988, at the Thames Cogeneration Company in Windsor, Conn., before returning to Stockton He was born in Fort Lewis, Wash., on Nov. 10, 1964, according to the birth certificate the police found in his automobile. Mr. Purdy spent a youth full of turmoil. His father, Patrick Benjamin Purdy, was divorced from his mother, Kathleen.

The elder Mr. Purdy served on active duty in the Army for more than three years, all of it in the United States, after entering the service in April 1963, The San Diego Union reported today, quoting a spokeswoman at the Army Reserve Personnel Center in St. Louis. Mr. Purdy spent most of his last year in a hospital for psychiatric evaluation, then was put on temporary medical disability for five years before being honorably discharged in 1971, the spokeswoman told the newspaper. Other newspapers in California had quoted members of Mr. Purdy's family as saying he served in the Army in Vietnam and was discharged on mental grounds.


SEVEN SLAIN AT SCHOOL
30 REPORTED SHOT BEFORE STOCKTON GUNMAN KILLS SELF

17 January 1989, SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS

A gunman opened fire on the campus of a Stockton elementary school today, killing six people and wounding approximately 30, then apparently turned the weapon on himself, police said.

Deputy Police Chief Ralph Tribble would only say there were "multiple injuries . . . that included some adults and children . . . and we have some fatalities there."


KILLER HAD ATTENDED THE SCHOOL 15 YEARS AGO
TOY SOLDIERS FOUND ALL OVER MOTEL ROOM

18 January 1989, SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS

The gunman who opened fire on an elementary school playground, killing five children and wounding 30 youngsters and a teacher, had attended the school 15 years earlier and may have had "delusions of grandeur" about terrorist groups, police said today.

Police began compiling a bizarre portrait of the gunman, 26-year-old Patrick Edward Purdy, saying he had placed dozens of toy army men throughout his motel room and may have had "some kind of military hang-up."


6 DIE IN SCHOOL ATTACK
MAN KILLS 5 CHILDREN, SELF; 30 HURT

18 January 1989, THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER

A young drifter clad in combat gear methodically sprayed elementary school children with bursts from an automatic rifle Tuesday before taking his own life. Five students died and 29 students and a teacher were wounded.

The gunman was identified by police as Patrick Edward Purdy, 26. Officials said he also was known as Patrick West, in addition to a half-dozen other aliases. He was described by authorities as a drifter with an extensive criminal background.


THE NAGGING QUESTION: WHY?
GUNMAN'S TROUBLED LIFE GAVE NO HINT OF CARNAGE TO COME

18 January 1989, SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS

Patrick Edward Purdy was a petty criminal and drifter whose life was stuck in neutral. But nowhere was there a hint he would one day become a mass murderer. The sparse portrait of Purdy that emerged this morning reveals a young man who had a troubled childhood, frequent run- ins with the law, and chronic difficulty finding his place in the world, according to relatives and police records.


CHILDREN RETURN TO SCHOOL AFTER GUNMAN'S RAMPAGE

18 January 1989, THE PHOENIX GAZETTE

Stunned elementary school pupils returned to classes today, one day after a young drifter with a long criminal record opened fire on a schoolyard jammed with laughing children, killing five and wounding 30 before committing suicide.

Patrick Edward Purdy, wearing a military flak jacket, a shirt bearing the word ''Satan'' and earplugs, killed himself with a bullet to the head after firing about 60 rounds from a Soviet AK-47 assault rifle at hundreds of youngsters enjoying recess Tuesday at Cleveland Elementary School.


HE WAS KID ALCOHOLIC, POLICE HEAR

18 January 1989, PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS

The 26-year-old drifter with a long criminal record who launched a mute, murderous assault on a California elementary school yesterday was described by his aunt as a loner and childhood alcoholic, police said.

Patrick E. Purdy purchased an AK-47 rifle in this Portland suburb several months ago, then returned to his hometown of Stockton, Calif., where he used the gun to kill five children and wound 29 others, along with a teacher, at Cleveland Elementary School before taking his own life.


EVEN FAMILY MAY NEVER KNOW MAN'S MOTIVE FOR CALIF. SCHOOL SHOOTINGS

19 January 1989, BEACON JOURNAL

A broken home, a history of childhood drinking and a criminal record might have been warnings. But authorities said WednesDAY, they may never know why Patrick Purdy attacked a schoolyard full of children with an assault rifle.

Purdy, a loner who often worked as a welder in his travels around the country, apparently lived in a bizarre fantasy world involving the military and the Middle East.


SCHOOL GUNMAN REPORTEDLY HATED VIETNAMESE

19 January 1989, St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch

A drifter who opened fire with an assault rifle on a crowded schoolyard, killing five children of Southeast Asian refugees, hated Vietnamese immigrants and believed they were robbing native-born Americans of jobs, a former co-worker said.

Patrick Edward Purdy, who wounded 30 others at Cleveland Elementary School before committing suicide Tuesday, was "seething" when he spoke about Vietnamese workers, Steve Sloan said.


CHILDREN RETURN TO SCHOOL AFTER KILLINGS
WHY MAN OPENED FIRE ON PUPILS STILL NOT KNOWN

19 January 1989, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER

STOCKTON, Calif. -- Children returned to class to confront their fears with help from psychologists yesterday, just one day after a gunman fascinated by toy soldiers killed five children at the school he attended as a boy.

Blood was washed from the pavement overnight, and bullet holes were patched at Cleveland Elementary School, where experts said it was important that pupils, mostly children of Southeast Asian refugees, deal with the trauma immediately.


'BEST FRIEND' CLAIMS DARK MOODS MADE SCHOOL GUNMAN'S LIFE HARD LONER WAS NICE, NEVER VIOLENT, WOMAN SAYS

19 January 1989, THE PHOENIX GAZETTE

A woman describing herself as the best friend of a schoolyard killer whose clothes and guns bore radical Islamic slogans says his struggle to cope plunged him into dark moods ''where he didn't want to live.''

''He had a bizarre attitude, kind of paranoid,'' said Kelley Riley, whom residents of the area described as Patrick E. Purdy's frequent companion in late 1987 and early 1988. ''He wanted to make it on his own (as a welder) but he couldn't. He'd get upset at things. He'd get mad at himself.


PURDY HAD TRIED SUICIDE IN JAIL

20 January 1989, SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS

Less than two years before this week's rampage at a Stockton elementary school, Patrick Edward Purdy tried to hang himself in a Lake Tahoe area jail cell and was deemed a danger to himself and others, according to police and court records.

Purdy, who killed five students and wounded 30 other students and one teacher before fatally shooting himself in the head Tuesday, fashioned a rope out of a T-shirt and tried to hang himself after being taken into custody April 28, 1987, on weapons charges.


POLICE DISCOUNT RACE MOTIVE IN SCHOOL KILLINGS

20 January 1989, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

Patrick Edward Purdy, who this week killed five Southeast Asian refugee children in a gun attack at a school playground, was consumed by an indiscriminate and apparently escalating hatred for all people, police officials and others familiar with the troubled young drifter said yesterday.

Though Purdy was known to make surly comments about the Southeast Asian refugees flooding into this city, a police investigator said it appeared that race played no role in Purdy's selection of targets.


FIVE ATTEND FUNERAL FOR STOCKTON KILLER
PURDY'S MOTIVE REMAINS A MYSTERY

21 January 1989, SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS

Five people showed up for Patrick Edward Purdy's funeral Friday -- a short, somber service in Lodi for the man who took his life and with it the secret of what drove him to shoot 35 children and one adult at a Stockton school earlier this week.

''This is not just the loss of a grandson," Julia Chumbley, his 63-year-old grandmother said Friday afternoon, hours after the private, family service at a funeral home had ended. "There's more to it than that."


PURDY TESTS SPOT CAFFEINE AND NICOTINE

26 January 1989, SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS

Patrick Purdy was on nothing stronger than coffee and cigarettes when he opened fire with an AK-47 outside an elementary school, killing five children before committing suicide, authorities said.

Toxicology reports performed on the body of the 24-year-old drifter have revealed only "a trace of nicotine and caffeine," Stockton Police Capt. Dennis Perry said.


MAN KILLS FIVE AT SCHOOL--AREA GROPES FOR MOTIVE

STOCKTON, Calif. - A young drifter wearing combat fatigues opened fire with an assault rifle on children in a schoolyard and classrooms Tuesday.

Five pupils - all children of Southeast Asian refugees - were killed, and 30 people were wounded before the gunman killed himself.

The gunman was identified as Patrick Edward Purdy, 26, originally of Stockton. He had an ''extensive criminal history,'' but police had ''no idea'' of a motive for Tuesday's attack, said Lucian Neely, deputy police chief of Stockton.

''He was just standing there with a gun, making wide sweeps,'' said a woman who teaches deaf children at the school, the Cleveland Elementary School. The teacher, Lori Mackey, witnessed the shooting after running to her window when she heard what she thought were firecrackers.

She said she had seen a man standing in the schoolyard, spraying gunfire back and forth at 400 to 500 pupils from grades 1-3 who were playing at recess.

When she realized what was happening, she said she took her 10 pupils into a rear room to hide them.

Mackey said that the gunman ''was not talking. He was not yelling. He was very straight-faced. It did not look like he was really angry. It was just matter-of-factly.''

She described him as about 5-feet-10 with short, dirty blond hair.

''There was mass chaos,'' she said. ''There were kids running in every direction.''

One schoolgirl said the shots had set off a panic at the school.

''Everybody just got down because they didn't know what was happening,'' she said. ''Everyone started screaming.''

A tearful mother clutching her child called the incident ''my worst nightmare.''

A Lutheran church near the school was turned into an emergency center as police, ambulances and parents arrived.

Translators were called in to help communicate with parents and children, many of whom speak little or no English, officials said.

Purdy - also known as Patrick West - lived most recently in Lodi, Calif., about 15 miles northeast of Stockton. Before that, he lived in Sandy, Ore., where he bought an AK-47 from the Sandy Trading Post on Aug. 3., said Sandy Police Chief Fred Punzel.

Neely, the Stockton deputy, said Purdy's criminal record had been mostly in the Los Angeles area and included narcotics and weapons violations and soliciting for sex.

Punzel said Purdy had lived with an aunt and uncle in Sandy for several months until October. Punzel said the aunt, Julie Michael, ''told me he was a loner and as a child he was an alcoholic.''

Punzel said Purdy had left Oregon for a job as a boilermaker in Texas. That job fell through, and he went to Memphis, Tenn.

The aunt and uncle last heard from Purdy at Thanksgiving, when he was in Connecticut, Punzel said.

His mother lives in Sacramento, Calif., and his father was killed in 1980 or 1981 when he was struck by a car as a pedestrian, Punzel said.

Police said the gunman - dressed in battle gear and wearing a flak jacket - had parked his car near the school, then set the car on fire before entering the campus through a gap in a fence at 11:40 a.m. (1:40 p.m. St. Louis time) with two pistols and the AK-47.

Purdy's car, a 1977 Chevrolet station wagon, bore Oregon license plates.

Neely said Purdy opened fire on the west side of a group of portable classrooms, then moved to the east side and continued firing across the blacktop yard toward the main buildings about 250 yards away. He was no closer than that when he shot himself in the head.

About 60 rounds were fired. In some cases, the bullets went completely through the main school building and came out the other side, Neely said.

As police cleaned up the carnage, a large pistol and the AK-47 were seen lying on the ground near a pool of blood. Written on the pistol's handle was the word ''Victory.''

Bruce Fernandes, a spokesman for the San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services, said five pupils had been killed and 30 people wounded, most of them pupils. Neely said at least 15 of the wounded were in critical condition.

Neely identified the dead children as Raphanar Or, 9; Ram Chun, 8; Thuy Tran, 6; Sokhim An, 6; and Oeun Lim, 8. Thuy Tran was from Vietnam; the others from Cambodia.

Three of the children were slain in the yard and the two others inside the school, said Deputy Police Chief Ralph Tribble. He said at least one teacher had been injured.

''There were a dozen students lying on the ground,'' said Cheryl Torres, who rushed to the school where her daughter, LeAnne Sundstrom, 11, is a pupil. ''It was very frightening.''

Fernandes said the wounded had been evacuated to eight hospitals in the area. Two helicopters and a fleet of ambulances were pressed into service to transport the victims.

Ramon Billedo III, a pupil at the school, described seeing a schoolmate shot.

''I just saw him fall down,'' Billedo said. ''His head hit the ground. The teacher grabbed him and dragged him inside the other classroom.''

Another boy, Ricardo Rivera, 10, a fifth-grader, said: ''Some kids were outside, and some man came over here shooting like crazy. A few kids got shot.''

Another pupil, Roberto Costa, said: ''They were shooting at my classroom and at (Rivera's) classroom at reading time. The bullets were hitting the walls. Everybody got scared.''

Brian Griggs, who was visiting a friend across from the school, ran to the scene when he heard gunfire.

''When you see bodies lying on a playground, you know it's, you know . . .,'' Griggs said, his voice trailing off.

''I tried to get a pulse, couldn't get a pulse,'' he said. ''I was hoping an ambulance would show up. It seemed to take forever.''

One mother, Deborah Copeland, said her wounded son did not know what hit him. ''He didn't see a thing,'' she said. ''He was playing marbles.''

An uninjured pupil, Gloria Ramirez, also was unaware of what was happening to her classmates.

''We thought it was a game or something,'' she sad.

The school, about four blocks from the University of the Pacific campus, is in a middle-class residential area. Several churches are nearby.


Bibliography

  • Lane, Brian & Gregg, Wilfred. The Encyclopedia of Mass Murder. Headline Book Publishing, London. 1994.

  • True Crime, Mass Murderers, Time Life Books. Virginia. 1992.



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