Three tragedies commemorated today


Usually in The Daily JOLT newsletter's Thurston County Trivia department we tell you about fun and hallowed "Days" and other commemorations. You know, National Julienne Fries Day (this Thursday).  National Lemon Meringue Pie Day (this Sunday). 

Not today.

Today, Aug. 10, 2021, is the 21st anniversary of when a man arrived in Los Angeles in his van, having driven there from his home in Lacey, Washington with a suitcase filled with an Uzi submachine gun and ammunition and a mind filled with hatred.

Finding two educational institutions and the Museum of Tolerance too secure, he kept driving until he arrived at the Jewish Community Center where he fired off some 70 rounds over the course of a few minutes, miraculously only wounding five innocent people. He kept driving until he encountered a Filipino-American letter carrier, Joseph Santos Ileto, whom he shot to death. Ileto was another ideal target, being an Asian, an immigrant and a federal employee. The man turned himself into the FBI two days later and was eventually sentenced to life in prison.

The man was a member of the neo-Nazi group Aryan Nations, then based in northern Idaho. That’s the group that was successfully sued by the Southern Policy Law Center and which nearly dissolved following the judgment granted in the civil case.

Many people think that’s the end of the story, that a lone white supremacist shot some people and was convicted for his crimes. It’s not the full story.

Turns out this man had a long history of mental health problems and had frequently sought help. According to the Los Angeles Times, in October 1998 – just 10 months prior to the events of Aug. 10, 1999 – he became agitated during a pre-admission interview at a private psychiatric facility and threatened the staff there. “He was arrested, pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to six months in jail,” according to the Times.

Mentally ill. Sought help. Wound up in jail. Serves some time, then gets released. And then, commits a worse crime. Familiar?

Today is the commemoration of three tragedies: the shootings, the murder and another failure to provide adequate mental health services that might have prevented the first two.


The lead prosecutor in the 1999-2001 case?  U.S. Atty. Alejandro N. Mayorkas, an immigrant, a Latino, a Jew and the very same man who is today the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

One more thought

If you didn't see today's Thurston County Trivia in your own copy of The Daily JOLT newsletter, click here to get the answer to this question:  

Q:  According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, how many hate groups are operating now in Washington State?  And how many are shown as "STATEWIDE" organizations, likely easily accessible to people in Thurston County?

Danny Stusser is the publisher of The Journal of Olympia, Lacey & Tumwater.


3 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • Tractor1

    Danny please STOP bringing up issues from 20 years ago. Today is now and we need to focus on the future not the past.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2021 Report this

  • DanaMadsen

    Oh come on, Keith. We need to pay more attention to history since we seem to be making a lot of the same stupid mistakes over and over again! History is learning......

    Wednesday, August 11, 2021 Report this

  • franiazgorski

    Thanks for the reminder.. that story is one of many examples of a lack of resources to effectively address MH and racism ...not to mention a ..... Unfortunately, you don't have to be an Aryan Nation member to hate .... ..and the WA Human Right sCommission is one of the most underfunded agencies in the state... That tells me the the state does not give GAF about racism ,,

    Wednesday, August 11, 2021 Report this