By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
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.
"I didn’t pay much attention to him, because the other clerk was dealing with him. I just started waiting on another customer."
Sanders, who is African-American, says he bid Furrow goodbye as he passed by the front counter on his way out the door, but the accused killer never looked at him or acknowledged his farewell. "He seemed very intense."
Information remains sketchy as to what white supremacist Buford Furrow did and where he went between the shooting death of mail carrier Joseph Ileto, at 11:53 a.m., and 8 p.m., when he hailed Independent Cab driver Hovik Garibyan at the 7-Eleven store on the corner of Cherokee Avenue and Sunset Boulevard — less than a block east of the Weekly’s Hollywood offices — for his ride to Las Vegas.
Furrow reportedly told police that he stopped at Topanga-Lassen Plaza, a Chatsworth strip mall. He got a haircut at Supercuts, shopped for a shirt, sought a prostitute, and drank seven or eight beers at a San Fernando Valley bar — described as a "cowboy bar" by one LAPD officer.
His stop at the Scorecard (see story) around 2 p.m. adds another piece to that time puzzle, but there are still details left to be filled in.
Here’s what’s known so far:
LAPD received its first frantic 911 call at 10:49 a.m.: "Shots fired, victims down." The first police units arrived at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills four minutes later. Furrow was already gone.
Police say Furrow then drove Choi’s car to his red-and-silver van, which was parked near the corner of Woodley Avenue and Roscoe Boulevard. There he transferred weapons and ammunition from the van to the car.
At 11:53 a.m., Filipino-born Joseph Ileto, whom Furrow allegedly called a "target of opportunity" because Ileto was dark-skinned and wearing a U.S. Postal Service uniform, was shot dead on the street, in the 9900 block of Valley Circle Court.
Furrow then allegedly abandoned his stolen car containing the murder weapon, a Glock, model 26, 9mm pistol, in the parking lot of the 7-Star Suites Hotel in Chatsworth.
At 2 p.m., Furrow stopped at the Scorecard on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City.
The discovery of the stolen car in the hotel parking lot at approximately 3 p.m. started police on an intensive room-by-room search.
At 8 p.m., Furrow hailed cab driver Hovik Garibyan at the 7-Eleven in Hollywood and began his $800 ride to Las Vegas.
Arriving after midnight, Garibyan dropped Furrow at the New York, New York casino.
At 8:55 a.m. on Wednesday, August 11, Furrow, still holding approximately $2,000, turned himself in at the FBI office in Las Vegas.
LAPD officers flew to Las Vegas later that morning. Furrow waived extradition and was flown back to Los Angeles Wednesday evening.—J.C.