Manhunt Ends: The Los Angeles Jewish Community Center Shootings
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ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Fear and hatred in Los Angeles. The suspect in yesterday’s shooting at a Jewish community center is in custody tonight in Las Vegas. Jeffrey Kaye of KCET-Los Angeles reports.
JEFFREY KAYE: 37-year-old Buford O’Neal Furrow surrendered to FBI agents this morning local time. He told them he had taken two taxicabs to get to Las Vegas from Los Angeles. In LA, Police Chief Bernard Parks briefed reporters on Furrow’s arrest:
CHIEF BERNARD PARKS: At 8:55 a.m. suspect Buford Furrow surrendered to the Las Vegas FBI office. It appears that the suspect left the Los Angeles area via taxicab that took him to the area of the California/Nevada border. At that time he traveled via second cab to the Las Vegas office of the FBI. Representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office are currently working together and will confer regarding the most appropriate charges and venued as relates to the suspect. Detectives from robbery-homicide division and Devonshire detectives are investigating the homicide of the U.S. Postal Service employee that occurred shortly after the assault on the Jewish community center. There’s a possibility that these crimes may be connected. Detectives from robbery-homicide, agents from FBI and ATF are currently en route to Las Vegas to conduct a follow-up investigation.
REPORTER: Can you tell us whether this man operated alone or if you have any reason to believe he had help, and can you also comment on reports that he had links to a group called “The Order” up north.
CHIEF BERNARD PARKS: The information we have at this time is that he was working alone. The investigation, as we go through it and get the thoroughness of it, will determine what its linkage is with other organizations and other people, but at this time it appears he worked alone.
JEFFREY KAYE: The Seattle Times reported today that Furrow had ties to the white supremacist group known as the “Aryan Nation.” David Lehrer of the Anti-Defamation League, has been tracking the groups Furrow is said to have been involved with.
DAVID LEHRER: It’s the small circle that has this paranoid and distorted view of the world.
JEFFREY KAYE: What can you tell me about Buford?
DAVID LEHRER: Buford apparently has a relationship with — was living with if not married to Debbie Matthews, who’s the widow of a fellow named Robert Matthews. Robert Matthews was the ideological and political leader of a group called the Silent Brotherhood. The Silent Brotherhood is an offshoot of the Aryan Nation. They all– that’s the group up in Northern Idaho. In 1984, they went on this rampage; they robbed armored cars of $4 1/2 million, most of which has never been accounted for. They engaged in bank heists; they murdered a talk show host, a Jewish talk show host in Denver, Allen Berg. They have this track record of this just bizarre view of the world that the time had come for them to act out and overthrow the government. They didn’t overthrow the government
JEFFREY KAYE: In the van that eventually led police to Furrow was a copy of a book said to contain racist themes. Police found the van yesterday afternoon in a parking lot. The van was filled with containers of ammunition. Police said Furrow had abandoned it after the shooting and hijacked a green Toyota at gunpoint, which he left at a motel. SWAT teams in riot gear searched the motel for four hours but Furrow eluded the manhunt.
Yesterday’s shooting at the North Valley Jewish Community Center left five people injured; they included three young boys, a teenaged girl, and a sixty-eight-year-old female receptionist, who was treated and released last night. The most seriously injured — a five-year-old boy — remained in critical but stable condition today at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles.
Around the country security was tightened at Jewish community centers, synagogues, and schools. In Los Angeles, with the exception of the center where yesterday’s shootings took place, Jewish community centers have remained open. Private guards and local police are being extra vigilant.
JEFFREY KAYE: So you’ll be coming around here more regularly?
OFFICER KELLY ARTZ: Yes, for a while — until things calm down a little bit.
JEFFREY KAYE: I see.
JEFFREY KAYE: — Jeffrey Rouss, whose organization oversees the LA centers — says the North Hills Center will return to normal as soon as possible.
JEFFREY ROUSS: Well, right now, the center is closed. We’re just beginning to be able to return into the building and we’re cleaning it up so that the evidence, the fact of the attack will be eliminated, so when our members in the community returns to the center, it will be as they remember it.
JEFFREY KAYE: Parents we spoke to outside another Jewish community center in Los Angeles said they were relieved the suspect was in custody, but they had mixed feelings about returning their children to this center. Some were initially reluctant to bring their kids here, but said they were determined not to be made victims.
JANE BARTELL: Well, what, are we going to stay home and locked down, in which case I want a gun too, if that’s how we’re going to live, and, you know, our children can’t ride their bikes in the neighborhood; they don’t have the personal freedom that we had as children, and so if they can’t come to camp and be free, where can they go?
JEFFREY KAYE: Layne Murphy said she insisted that counselors not remove the word “Jewish” from a school bus being used on a field trip.
LAYNE MURPHY: They were putting plastic stickers over the camp bus, covering the Jewish with “Youth Bus.” And the first thing I did when I got here this morning was I took those off, and I was proud to have been able to do that, and I was glad that my children saw me do that.
JEFFREY KAYE: At the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, an umbrella group, security has always been tight. President John Fishel said community organizations, both Jewish and non-Jewish, are coming together after yesterday’s tragedy.
JOHN FISHEL: If, indeed, there is a silver lining, pulling together the broadest-based coalition, regardless of religious belief, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of origin or ideology, that is a silver lining.
JEFFREY KAYE: And while this latest incident has focused attention on hate crimes, Lehrer says these incidents are not necessarily increasing, they’re just becoming more violent.
DAVID LEHRER: The general number of hate crimes hasn’t been increasing appreciably. There are up ticks and down ticks, depending — from year to year. They are approximately in the same ballpark over the past three or four years. In fact, they have been declining from their height of five or six years ago, but they’re becoming more virulent, and that isn’t part of function of the fact that these folks are so isolated, we think, and feel that they have to act out.
JEFFREY KAYE: Community leaders have called a meeting for later this week for residents of Granada Hills, where the shooting took place.