Survivors Remember 1999 Jewish Center Attack

Survivors of the Granada Hills Jewish community center attack and the family of the letter carrier killed later that day will  assemble Monday on the 10th anniversary of the violence to discuss how their lives have changed in the past decade.

The attack on the North Valley Jewish Community Center on Rinaldi Street  and the subsequent slaying of U.S. postal worker Joseph Ileto were the work  of Buford O. Furrow Jr., a white supremacist who had driven to the Southland  from Tacoma, Wash., three days earlier.

After the violence, he took an $800 cab ride to Las Vegas, where he  surrendered, telling police he had sought to kill Jews as a "wake up call to  America" and had fatally shot Ileto because he was a man of color working for  the federal government.

Furrow is now at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., serving  two life sentences plus 100 years without the possibility of parole. His guilty  plea -- to murder and firearm charges -- and his history of mental illness  persuaded federal prosecutors to forego the death penalty.

Furrow carried a 9 mm Israeli-designed Uzi submachine gun and a Glock  semiautomatic pistol when he turned up at the Jewish community center, where  security was light, and sprayed 70 rounds across the lobby.

Wounded in the attack were 68-year-old receptionist Isabelle Shalometh,  16-year-old camp counselor Mindy Finkelstein, and day campers James Sidell, 6,  Joshua Stepakoff, also 6, and 5-year-old Benjamin Kadish.

Furrow then carjacked a woman's Toyota and made his way to Chatsworth,  where the 39-year-old Ileto, a Chino Hills resident who was filling in on a  letter-carrying route that day, was shot nine times.

None of the Jewish center victims were killed, but Kadish spent 44 days  hospitalized and still walks with a limp.

"I still have nightmares," Kadish, now 15 and 6 feet 3, recently told  the Los Angeles Times, describing a recurring dream in which the killer is free  and coming for him again.

Other survivors remain afflicted.

Finkelstein described in an interview with the Daily News how, on a  recent rock-climbing trip to Santa Barbara, she and a friend ran into three men  carrying rifles near a gun club, prompting her to break down in tears.

"I keep thinking to myself how much I've healed, how much I've grown  up" Finkelstein said. "But I know what a victim I felt like that day" in  Santa Barbara.

This summer, Finkelstein and Stepakoff have been working with Women  Against Gun Violence and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence to plan an  Oct. 4 fundraising event called "Victory Over Violence." It will feature a 10K  run and 5K walk/run at Cal State Northridge.

Finkelstein, Stepakoff and Kadish and their families will among those  present at a news conference this morning to discuss hate-crime issues, gun  control and how their lives have changed in the past 10 years.

Members of the Ileto family also will attend the news conference at the  Asian Pacific American legal Center, as will Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen  Trutanich, Rep. Judy Chu, D-El Monte, and Assembly members Mike Eng, D-Monterey  Park, and Warren Furutani, D-Long Beach. 


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