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Archive for Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Rampage suspect kills self after leading police on chase

September 11, 2001

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— A former security guard wanted in the slayings of five people shot himself to death during a furious gun battle with police early Monday, leaving a video suicide note boasting that he had "put on a hell of a show."

"I giveth and I taketh away, that's how it goes in (expletive) life," Joseph Ferguson said on the tape, which authorities showed to reporters.

Ferguson, 20, committed suicide in a stolen car shortly after midnight following a frenzied, 40-minute chase through suburban Rancho Cordova. The shootout left a bystander critically injured and a Highway Patrol officer wounded.

The suicide ended a weekend rampage that led authorities to evacuate Ferguson's co-workers from their homes for their own safety.

It was the second killing spree in Sacramento in three weeks. Late last month, a Ukrainian immigrant allegedly stabbed to death his pregnant wife and five relatives, then vanished for 10 days before he was captured.

Authorities say Ferguson began killing people Saturday night because he was despondent over getting suspended from his supervisor's job at Burns Security a week earlier. He was suspended after his ex-girlfriend, Burns guard Nina Susu, said he vandalized her car after the breakup.

She and another former co-worker were the first to die, shot as they worked at a city maintenance yard.

As the manhunt spread, police and Burns officials evacuated employees from their homes and escorted them to safe houses. Some 1,500 employees across Northern California were told to stay home from work Sunday for their protection.

By then, authorities say, Ferguson had holed up in the home of a Burns supervisor. He made the video there Sunday as he held the man and the man's wife hostage. In the video, he said he would soon kill himself.

"I put on a hell of a show," Ferguson said on the tape, wearing a black bulletproof vest, fingerless gloves and displaying a 9mm semiautomatic pistol. "I've taken four victims, this should be good enough to last about a week on the news. It's time to feed the news media."

Police say he killed the supervisor after 12 hours, then fled in the man's car as the wife called for help. Authorities could not immediately explain why the supervisor had not been taken to a safe location.

Police have also said Ferguson made cellular phone calls during the attacks, saying he wanted to commit a crime bloodier than that attributed to the 27-year-old Ukrainian, Nikolay Soltys. Ferguson said "he was going to outdo Soltys, something along those lines," said police spokesman Sgt. Daniel Hahn.

Ferguson lived with his father, Thomas. His mother, Susan, is in prison in California for molesting Ferguson and siblings, Sheriff's Capt. John McGinness said.

Ferguson had no criminal record. Police say they found a Nazi flag and white supremacist literature at his home, but said they don't believe race played a role in the killings. One victim was black and another was Asian.

They also found a cache of weapons at the home that included two assault rifles. Ferguson had apparently taken weapons for the killing spree from home and converted semiautomatic weapons into fully automatic ones.

Burns officials notified the FBI on Friday that Ferguson might be dangerous because he made threats after the suspension. An FBI check revealed no record of violence and nothing was done, police said.

After police found the first two victims Susu, 20, and Marsha Jackson, a 32-year-old single mother of three another Burns guard, George Bernardino, 48, was slain at a marina. John Glimstad, 19, an employee just hired at the city-run boat dock, was also killed.

Sometime later, Ferguson handcuffed another former co-worker to a tree at the Sacramento Zoo and fled in her car. Police Chief Arturo Venegas Jr. said the woman was spared because "he thought she was just a nice person."

After disappearing all day Sunday, Ferguson was spotted by a highway patrolman at 11:30 p.m. During the chase, Ferguson fired off more than 200 rounds at the pursuing officers before smashing his car into a light pole.

"There's holes all over the squad cars," Sheriff Lou Blanas said.

Ferguson remained sprawled in the car while authorities waited and sheriff's sniper reported that he could not see Ferguson moving. When police approached, they found he had shot himself, McGinness said.

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