LOS ANGELES (Oct. 14)
Anti-Semitism may have played a role in the death of a leading gun-control advocate and U.S. federal prosecutor in Seattle.
Thomas Wales, 49, who had organized one of the nation’s most far-reaching gun control initiatives, was shot at his home late on Oct. 11, apparently with a gun fired through a window as he worked at his computer.
The 1997 state ballot initiative failed, but during a bitterly fought campaign, Wales “attracted attention from extreme anti-Semites,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
In 1997, in a gun ownership discussion group on the Internet, one participant referred to “Tom Wales, yet another arrogant, gun-banning Jew, out in the open, unafraid,” according to the Times.
Wales left a job with a New York law firm and came to Seattle in 1983 “to do something more civically oriented,” a friend said.
He became an assistant U.S. attorney, specializing in white-collar crimes, and he prosecuted major business crimes and bank fraud cases. Police and FBI investigators are also considering the possibility that the apparent execution-style killing was connected with his prosecutor’s job, according to the Seattle Times.
In the mid-1990s, Wales became president of a statewide group called Washington Cease Fire, and built the small organization into one of the strongest state gun control groups in the country.
As recently as July, Wales helped organize an informational picket at the National Rifle Association’s gun show in Puyallup, Wash. “We simply cannot sit on the sidelines while the NRA comes into our state
and promotes a gun show where weapons will be sold without background checks,” he said at the time.
Wales was also a member of the Seattle Planning Commission. He was divorced and the father of two grown children.