Victim Of 1999 Jewish Center Shooting Rampage Talks To KCAL9
GRANADA HILLS (CBS) — Many wonder if tougher gun laws could have prevented the shooting massacre in Aurora, Colorado.
KCAL9’s Rachel Kim spoke to Joshua Stepakoff Friday night about a similar rampage that occurred in Granada Hills August 10, 1999.
Thinking about the movie massacre victims, he said, “It saddens me a lot to know that somebody else has to go through the same thing I did.”
Then only six, Stepakoff was shot in the leg at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills after a white supremacist, Buford Furrow, walked in went on a shooting spree about 11 a.m. that morning.
He sprayed more than 70 bullets on the school playground.
Stepakoff was one of five people shot at the Community Center, three children, an office worker and a teen counselor. “The next thing I knew, I got up and ran until I got outside and I was told by my counselor to lay down because she had realized something was wrong with me.”
Minutes later, Furrow shot a postal worker nine times a few miles away. Joseph Santos Ileto was found dead on a Chatsworth driveway.
Stepakoff says the physical scars eventually healed. The emotional scars remain.
He told Kim that he still has a difficult time trusting people.
But through his personal tragedy, he found triumph. These days, he advocates against gun proliferation.
And to the people who say guns don’t kill people, he has a simple answer. “We’re not going to have Columbine, Colorado, Virginia Tech… We’re not going to have all these things if people start to understand guns kill people.”
At the Los Angeles Gun Club, firearms instructor Christopher Park stresses that it’s still hard to get assault-type weapons in California.
To Stepakoff, those tough laws still don’t go far enough.