Ex-guard suspected of killing four in Sacramento

Monday, September 10, 2001

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- For the second time in a month, this city's police force has launched a manhunt for a suspect in a mass murder, warning those with links to the suspect that they, too, could be targets.

Police believe former security guard Joseph Ferguson, 20, of Sacramento, shot and killed three unarmed ex-coworkers and a fourth man Saturday night, then handcuffed another guard and fled in her car.

Ferguson remained at large Sunday and was believed to be heavily armed and possibly wearing a bulletproof vest, said Sacramento Police spokesman Sgt. Daniel Hahn.

Police said Ferguson made a number of cell phone calls at the time of the rampage, and were checking out an alleged claim by Ferguson that he shot a person in a gold van.

The hunt for Ferguson comes three weeks after Nikolay Soltys allegedly slashed his pregnant wife's throat, then killed his aunt and uncle and their two 9-year-old grandchildren in the Sacramento area. Authorities say Soltys 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 target them. Soltys' family was put under surveillance, and he was caught 10 days later in his mother's back yard.

Ferguson lived with his father, who police do not believe is in any danger. But they were concerned for the safety of other employees Ferguson worked with at Burns Security.

"The people we believe are in immediate danger we have evacuated, so they're safe," Hahn said.

Ferguson was suspended for unknown reasons last week from his job with Burns Security. 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.

Police also are checking out a report that one of the slain women was Ferguson's ex-girlfriend.

and that she may have warned the company that he was planning a rampage.

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.

"At this time we don't know the motive for the shooting," Hahn said. "Obviously this person is probably not in a right frame of mind."

Police were still trying to account for Burns employees Sunday morning, Hahn said. Ferguson's father told police "numerous weapons" were missing from the home, Hahn said.

Neighbors said they rarely saw Ferguson or his father, who lived together in a one-story house with a high wooden fence topped by barbed wire. One sign on the fence read "Danger: This property protected by California Canine Security." Another had a picture of a Doberman pinscher and read, "I can make it to the fence in 2.8 seconds. Can you?"

Next-door neighbor Will Cameron chatted occasionally with Ferguson's father, Tom, but said residents of the quiet, working-class neighborhood didn't talk to each other too much. He said he had grown up around that area of Sacramento, and was "used to people getting shot."

Lonnie Basped, who lives on the other side of the Ferguson house, said he was surprised by the news, and only saw the family when he was going to work in the morning, and that 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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