Ex-guard sought in new Sacramento killing spree
SACRAMENTO (AP) – Police say a disgruntled former security guard accused of killing four people Saturday said in cell phone calls during his alleged rampage that he wanted to commit a crime even bloodier than the slayings of seven people here last month.
Joseph Ferguson said ”he was going to outdo (Nikolay) Soltys, something along those lines,” said Sacramento Police spokesman Sgt. Daniel Hahn.
Police believe disgruntled Ferguson, 20, a former security guard from Sacramento, shot and killed three unarmed former co-workers and a fourth man late Saturday night and early Sunday, then handcuffed another guard and fled in her car. They also said he made a number of cell phone calls during his alleged rampage, and were checking out a claim Sunday that he shot a person in a gold van.
Ferguson remained at large Sunday and was believed to be heavily armed and possibly wearing a bulletproof vest, Hahn said. During an afternoon press conference Sunday afternoon, Sacramento Mayor Heather Fargo said there was a $120,000 reward for information leading to Ferguson’s capture.
The hunt for Ferguson comes three weeks after Soltys allegedly slashed his pregnant wife’s throat, then killed his aunt and uncle and their two 9-year-old grandchildren in Sacramento area. Authorities say he fled with his son, who was found dead in a cardboard box a day later.
In Soltys’ case, police had warned the Ukrainian community and Soltys’ family that he could be targeting them. He did not harm any more members of his family before he was caught and charged with murder.
That case, authorities said, has given them an unfortunate benefit in tracking Ferguson.
”We are fortunate, in a way, from the Soltys case,” said Sacramento Police Chief Arturo Venegas Jr., because it stimulated a relationship with state and federal law enforcement that has carried over into the search for Ferguson.
Members of the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the California Highway Patrol are cooperating to track Ferguson, Venegas said.
Ferguson lived with his father, Tom, who police do not believe is in any danger. But they were concerned for the safety of those Ferguson had contact with, namely, other employees of Burns Security, where he worked.
Police are investigating a report that one of the slain women at the equipment yard was Ferguson’s ex-girlfriend; that woman’s parents are under guard, Hahn said.
Ferguson, Venegas said, was ”despondent about breaking up with his girlfriend.” Venegas also said police found white supremacist materials at Ferguson’s home.
Police also are looking into reports the woman may have warned the company that Ferguson was planning a rampage, Hahn said.
Ferguson was believed to be driving a dark green Toyota Tercel stolen from a former co-worker he left handcuffed to a tree but unharmed at the Sacramento Zoo about 1:30 a.m. Sunday, Hahn said.
About 11:18 p.m., police responding to a shots-fired call at a city equipment yard found two dead female Burns security guards in uniform. Police suspect Ferguson took a Burns Security vehicle from the yard and used it to crash through the gates of the zoo.
Police also found the bodies of two men at the Miller Park Marina about 10 miles north, immediately southwest of downtown. One of the men was a uniformed Burns guard, and the other was apparently a marina worker, Hahn said.
All four victims were unarmed and riddled with gunshot wounds, Hahn said. Police found AK-47 rounds, shotgun rounds and 9 mm handgun shells at the crime scenes.
”Obviously this person is probably not in a right frame of mind,” Hahn said.
Venegas said police found a handgun at the first shooting scene and recovered an assault weapon at the marina. He did not specify the type of handgun or assault rifle.
Ferguson was suspended for unknown reasons last week from his job with Burns Security, Hahn said. Police said he made a series of calls to former co-workers Saturday night threatening to kill them and club- and movie-goers in the city’s busy Old Sacramento district.
While police were trying to account for Burns employees Sunday, the company pulled its approximately 150 employees from their jobs in the Sacramento area, company chief executive officer Don Walker said.
”If this individual was indeed a suspended Burns security officer, we’ll do whatever we need to cooperate with police,” Walker said.
Ferguson had handguns and long rifles with him, Venegas said, and Ferguson’s father told police ”numerous weapons” were missing from the home.
Police identified Ferguson as a 6-foot 1-inch tall white male, about 150 pounds, with shaved brown hair and blue eyes. He was wearing a black T-shirt and black fatigues during the alleged shootings and is believed armed with two 9 mm handguns, two rifles and a shotgun.
Ferguson’s neighbors said they rarely saw the family, who lived in a one-story brick and stucco house with a painted owl on the peak of the roof and a high wooden fence topped by barbed wire. One sign on the fence read ”Danger. This property protected by California Canine Security,” and another sign had a picture of a Doberman pinscher on it and read ”I can make it to the fence in 2.8 seconds. Can you?”
Next-door neighbor Will Cameron said he chatted occasionally with Tom Ferguson, but said most residents of the quiet, working-class street didn’t talk much. A longtime resident of south Sacramento, Cameron said, he was ”used to people getting shot.”
”It does kind of spook me out,” Cameron said. ”I’ve never been this close before.”
Lonnie Basped, the Fergusons other next-door neighbor, said the news surprised him. He only saw the family when he was going to work each morning and said they usually cut their lawn around 6 a.m.
”It seems strange for things like that going on,” he said. ”It makes me think about keeping my family secluded.”
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