Today in History: Los Angeles Jewish Community Center Shooting

Today in History: Los Angeles Jewish Community Center Shooting

M.C. Millman

On August 10, 1999, a white supremacist opened fire on children and staff at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, wounding five people before murdering a postal worker in Chatsworth.

Buford O. Furrow, a member of the Aryan Nations, walked into the lobby of the Jewish center in Los Angeles at 10:50 a.m. carrying an Uzi submachine gun and fired seventy rounds in three minutes. While 250 children were playing outside, the shooter shot the receptionist, Isabelle Shalometh, 68. He also shot Benjamin Kadish, 5; Joshua Stepakoff and James Zidell, both 6; and Mindy Finkelstein, a 16-year-old high school senior at the time, all of whom survived.

Furrow then drove to Chatsworth in a stolen Toyota he carjacked at gunpoint. Seeing a mailman returning to his postal truck after delivering mail to a home, Furrow asked him to mail a letter for him. As Joseph Ileto, 39, agreed, Furrow pulled out a Glock 9mm handgun and shot the mailman nine times. 

Later, Furrow confessed that he murdered Ileto because he thought Ileto was Latino or Asian and because Ileto was a federal employee.

Police found Furrow's abandoned van, where they discovered a cache of ammunition, 6,000 rounds, five rifle magazines, a pistol, bulletproof vests, homemade explosives, a Ranger Handbook, and freeze-dried food.

Furrow fled 275 miles to Los Vegas, Nevada, in an $800 taxi ride. 

He ended the manhunt when he walked into an FBI office saying, "You're looking for me. I killed the kids in Los Angeles." 

Furrow told police he wanted his shooting to be "a wakeup call to America to kill Jews."

Initially, Furrow pleaded not guilty to a federal charge of murder in killing Ileto and state charges of attempted murder for the five people he shot in the Jewish center despite having confessed to the shootings in interviews with detectives. But on January 24, 2001, Furrow pleaded guilty to all 16 felony counts against him. In exchange for pleading guilty, Furrow avoided a possible death sentence and instead agreed to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

On March 26, 2001, Furrow was sentenced to two consecutive life terms and 110 additional years without the possibility of parole and was ordered to pay $690,294.11 in restitution to victims' families and insurance companies. According to the indictment, Furrow expressed no regrets for his crimes.

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