A former Los Angeles area gang boss who’s on San Quentin’s death row is accused of using a shank to slash two prison guards while returning to his cell from a shower in the Northern California lockup, prison officials said on Friday.
Timothy McGhee, 39, who was the former leader of a Northeast L.A. area gang called Toonerville, is accused in the Thursday attack at 7 a.m. when the guards opened the shower door in the prison’s Adjustment Center, which houses male inmates on California’s death row.
“I don’t know why he decided to attack,” said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
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McGhee slashed and stabbed the guards with an improvised weapon -- a shank, officials said. The guards suffered injuries to their head, neck and arms.
Thornton said prison officials could recommend criminal charges be filed with the Marin County District Attorney Office, but prosecutors would then have to decide whether it would be worth taxpayers dollars to pay for a new trial for a man already on death row. He's considered a Grade B prisoner, the most violent, with few privileges, Thornton said.
McGhee, once listed among the United States Marshals Service’s Top 15 Most Wanted Fugitives, was sentenced to death in L.A. County in January 2009 after being convicted of first-degree murder for the slayings of three people between 1997 and 2001. He also was sentenced for the attempted murder of four other people, including two L.A. police officers.
The murders occurred during a four-year drive by McGhee to maintain control of narcotics distribution in the Atwater Village area of northeast Los Angeles. Authorities said he led about 200 gang members who claimed an area around Los Feliz Boulevard between San Fernando Road and the Los Angeles River.
Atwater Village is a neighborhood that struggled for years with gang violence.
McGhee became the focus of an international manhunt in June 2000 when authorities issued a warrant for his arrest in connection with the murder of a 16-year-old boy. Police accused McGhee of killing the boy because the boy had the same nickname as him -- Huero, according to the U.S. Marshals Service and the Los Angeles Police Department.
Among the dozen killings he was wanted for were the killing a 17-year-old boy who was caught tagging near the gang's stronghold and the murder of a young mother of two who was killed because of the type of vehicle she was driving, authorities said.
A federal, state and local task force of officers and agents eventually caught up with McGhee in February 2003 in Bullhead City, Arizona, where he was arrested in a traffic stop after more than 20 hours of police surveillance.
In addition to his death sentence, McGhee also received multiple, consecutive life sentences for four counts of attempted murder. Two of the attempted murder victims are L.A. police officers who were ambushed in July 2000.
McGhee smiled at his sentencing in January 2009. A judge called him “a committed killer; an obvious danger to society.”