By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
After shooting five people at a San Fernando Valley Jewish day camp, hijacking a woman’s car and murdering U.S. Postal worker Joseph Ileto, self-professed neo-Nazi and alleged shootist Buford O. Furrow went shopping.
Furrow was the subject of intensive media attention and a manhunt involving hundreds of LAPD officers and federal agents, but what caught his attention was a Studio City sports-apparel shop, the Weeklyhas learned.
The Scorecard sits little more than two doors away from an MTA bus stop at the corner of Laurelgrove Avenue and Ventura Boulevard. The floor is jammed with racks of jackets and T-shirts, its shelves packed with hats, pennants and cups emblazoned with logos from professional sports teams.
Furrow entered the store at approximately 2 p.m., some three hours after his alleged murderous assault on the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills. The 37-year-old accused killer was wearing a white short-sleeved shirt, a dark-green vest and a dark-gray or faded-black small-billed cap, says the store clerk who waited on him. The clerk recounted his experience on condition of anonymity.
"I went to work about noon and didn’t know a thing about the shootings until I got home from work and watched the 6 p.m. news," explains the clerk, emphasizing that the danger he felt at the time of his scrape with Furrow had nothing to do with that day’s tragic events.
Puffing on a cigarette and choosing his words carefully, the clerk says he vividly remembers the man later identified as Furrow, because the encounter frightened him.
"I try to be outgoing, and part of my job is to help fit people. Our baseball caps are all individually sized," he adds. "Furrow was standing in front of the store’s west wall, trying on Braves and Indians hats. I was about 10 feet behind him and said, ‘We also have size 8s over here.’"
The clerk says Furrow turned to face him. "He didn’t seem angry or upset. He just said, ‘I wear a 7 and a half.’ ‘Oh, I’m sorry,’" I answered. "But from the size of your neck, I thought your head was bigger than that."
The clerk says he was only talking about correctly sizing the hat. But apparently the burly and balding visitor from Washington state took offense.
"He never yelled or anything. But he stared at me and then asked in a decidedly unfriendly tone, ‘Why would you comment on the size of my neck?’"
The clerk, who says he now realized that Furrow was angry, answered, "Because I sell hats." Apparently this was not the response that Furrow wanted to hear. Cutting the distance between them down to about five feet, Furrow, his face now flushed, stridently asked, "Why would you comment on the size of a perfect stranger’s neck?"
His tone was now menacing, the clerk says, and Furrow paused for emphasis after each word was uttered.
"I felt scared," says the clerk. "After all, here’s an angry guy who looks like he weighs 200 to 225 pounds, and has a neck bigger than his head. I put some more distance between us and said, ‘It’s my job.’ I added, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’"
Furrow, he says, looked at him and said, "I know you don’t." Repeating that cryptic remark, Furrow suddenly asked, "Are you the shopkeeper?" The clerk says he answered, "No," and backed away.
"I said, ‘Excuse me,’ and turned my attention to a lady customer. I never even looked at him again. I’ve learned that if someone gets angry, my best defense is just to back away," explains the clerk. "And right then I definitely felt on the defensive."
Approximately 15 minutes later, the clerk says, he headed off to lunch. "Furrow was gone, but I was still nervous. So the first thing I did when I got outside was look up and down Ventura Boulevard, to make sure he wasn’t waiting for me."
In light of Furrow’s alleged anti-Semitic and racist rampage, the clerk says he wonders if that final question to him had some kind of coded subtext.
"Maybe this guy thinks all store owners are Jewish, and he was asking me if I was Jewish," says the clerk. "I have no idea. I just know I felt threatened. The encounter with him was very strange, and I was glad to see him gone from the store."
When he first heard about the Center shootings, whose victims included three children, about the carjacking and Ileto’s murder, the clerk says, he thought this was "madness." He asked himself, "What kind of man could do these kinds of despicable things?" But after he saw the televised picture of a smiling Furrow being led away in handcuffs, the clerk says his reaction was, simply, "Holy shit."
Marcus Sanders also clerks at the Scorecard and says he remembers seeing the man now identified as Furrow in the store when he returned from lunch around 2 p.m. He says that Furrow left without buying anything.
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