LOS ANGELES, Dec. 5 (JTA) A federal grand jury has indicted on hate crimes and weapons charges the white supremacist charged with shooting five people at a Los Angeles Jewish community center in August.
The 16-count indictment against Buford O’Neal Furrow Jr. returned by a federal grand jury Dec. 2 superseded an earlier indictment, which dealt solely with Furrow’s alleged murder of Filipino-American mail carrier Joseph Ileto following the attack on the Jewish center.
The victims of the Aug. 10 shooting rampage included an adult receptionist, a teen-age counselor and three small boys.
The new charges are based on a section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that makes it a crime to interfere with a person’s right to public accommodations.
Following his surrender, Furrow reportedly told FBI agents that his attack on the Jewish center represented a “wake-up call to America to kill Jews.”
In the indictment, the North Valley JCC in Granada Hills, Calif., is described as a public facility, rather than a private Jewish institution, because the center accepts day-care children of all faiths and allows the public to use its swimming pool and meeting rooms for a fee.
The charges on the Ileto murder allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty, a decision that would have to be ratified by U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.
The charges bearing on the Jewish center attack carry a potential life sentence.
In a statement, Reno said, “Eliminating hate crimes and eliminating bigotry are among this nation’s most important and enduring challenges. Hate crimes represent an attack not just on an individual, but an entire community. We will continue to vigorously prosecute perpetrators of racial violence.”
Prior to the new indictment, the grand jury subpoenaed Richard Butler, founder of the Aryan Nations, the white supremacy group Furrow joined in the early 1990s.
Butler said in an interview that he was questioned about Furrow’s ties to the Aryan Nations and about the Christian Identity movement, which holds that people of northern European descent are the true Israelites, but were tricked out of their birthright by Jews.
Furrow, 38, is being held in a Los Angeles prison without bail.