FBI Says Suspected LA Gunman Surrenders

Reuters/August 11, 1999
By Michael Fitzpatrick

LOS ANGELES- The man wanted in the shooting of five people at a Jewish community center in Los Angeles has surrendered in Las Vegas, the FBI said Wednesday.

"He turned himself in in Las Vegas,'' Federal Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Debbie Weierman said in Washington, referring to suspect Buford O'Neal Furrow.

News of Furrow's surrender came after police mounted a nationwide manhunt for the suspect, who was reported by news media to have ties to white racist groups.

Police said he opened fire at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles Tuesday, spraying the walls with more than 70 bullets.

A 5-year-old boy was critically wounded in the attack. Also wounded were two 6-year-old boys, a 16-year-old girl and a 68-year-old woman.

The shooting was the latest in a series that has provoked anguished debate over the ease with which Americans can obtain guns.

"This has become a nationwide manhunt,'' police spokesman David Kalish said, speaking before news of Furrow's surrender. He said the search involved the Los Angeles police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

The Seattle Times </stories.cfm?frame=1&co=12047289> said Furrow was an "avowed racist'' and a member of the Idaho-based Aryan Nations group.

Furrow, reported to have an explosive temper, last year sought help at a psychiatric hospital in Washington state, but was expelled for causing problems, the Seattle paper reported.

He was later convicted of a felony assault after pulling a knife on staffers at the hospital. He was released from jail in the Seattle area on May 21 after serving five months on the assault conviction.

The 5-year-old injured in Tuesday's shooting spent much of the day fighting for his life, but doctors were optimistic that he would survive after he underwent six hours of surgery. Doctors said the boy showed a remarkable will to live and would undergo further surgery Wednesday.

The center provides day care, nursery programs and camp activities for about 300 children. Dozens of children were playing outside when the attack occurred and others were on a field trip to the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

Authorities said it was a miracle that more people were not injured in the attack.

During the night, police said they found and searched a car that Furrow apparently hijacked and later abandoned at a hotel after the shooting. Police also were investigating the slaying of a postal worker not far from the hotel Tuesday to determine if it could be linked to the suspected gunman.

Police declined to speculate on a motive behind the community center shooting. But the Simon Wiesenthal Center said that literature found in a van owned by Furrow was written by a member of the American Nazi Party.

In its report, the Seattle Times said the suspect's links with racist groups included having lived until a year ago with the widow of Robert Mathews, founder of The Order, a neo-Nazi group that claimed responsibility for the 1983 murder of Jewish talk show host Alan Berg in Denver. Matthews was killed in 1984 in a shootout with FBI agents.

The gunman escaped after the attack, eluding police who arrived within four minutes of an emergency call. Nearby, a woman reported a man matching the shooter's description took her 1999 Toyota at gunpoint, abandoning his red van.

Police spokesman Kalish said Furrow bought the van, which was packed with about 6,000 rounds of ammunition, flak vests, body armor and survivalist literature, several days ago in Washington state.



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