The Washington State Department of Corrections has agreed to pay $2.25 million to the families of five California children who were wounded or traumatized when a prison parolee opened fire in a Jewish community center in 1999. The parolee is serving a life sentence in prison after pleading guilty in 2001 to the shootings at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, California. The families of the victims had filed a claim against the Department of Corrections (DOC), contending that corrections staff failed to properly supervise the parolee or visit his home, and should have known that he had obtained firearms and ammunition.
The parolee, a self-avowed white supremacist, tried to commit himself to a psychiatric hospital in October 1998. He threatened staff members with a knife, was arrested, pleaded guilty, and served five months in jail for assault with a deadly weapon.
In August 1999, the parolee drove from Washington state to southern California in a van loaded with weapons. He allegedly scouted out several Jewish-related facilities before settling on the North Valley Jewish Community Center outside Los Angeles, where he fired more than 70 rounds. Three boys, a teenage girl who worked as a camp counselor, and a female receptionist were injured by gunfire. The parolee then walked up to a mail carrier, asked him to mail a letter, and then fatally shot him. The parolee surrendered the next day, telling police the shootings were intended as a “wake-up call to America to kill Jews.”
The families of the three wounded boys, and of two other children who suffered psychological harm while witnessing the shootings, filed the claim in 2006. The DOC said the parolee reported as directed to his community corrections officer for several months before the shootings. He was banned from possessing firearms or alcohol. Since the shooting, state lawmakers have increased offender supervision. The Offender Accountability Act, which went into place in July 2000, gave the DOC more authority to impose conditions on offenders on probation. Since the shootings, the DOC has also gained easier access to felons’ mental health records.
Source: Seattle Times
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.