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Gian Luigi FERRI





Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Revenge - Dissatisfied with the legal services he had received from the law firm of Pettit & Martin
Number of victims: 8
Date of murders: July 1, 1993
Date of birth: December 29, 1937
Victims profile: Allen J. Berk, 52; Jack Berman, 36; Donald Merrill, 48; Shirley Mooser, 64; Deborah Fogel, 33; Jody Jones Sposato, 30; David Sutcliffe, 30; John Scully, 28
Method of murder: Shooting (two TEC-9's and a .45 semi-automatic pistol)
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Status: Committed suicide by shooting himself the same day

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Gian Luigi Ferri, 55, killed eight people and wounded six others before committing suicide at an office building at 101 California St. in San Francisco

July 1, 1993

Apparently dissatisfied with the legal services he had received from the law firm of Pettit & Martin, he entered their offices on the 34th floor of 101 California Street at 2:57 PM and within 4 minutes had killed 8 people and wonded 6. He then is reported to have killed himself.

The weapons, two TEC-9's and a .45 semi-automatic pistol, have caused some controversy. Lawyers for the families of the deceased have sued both the gun makers and the store where the guns were purchased. They charge that the sellers of the gun acted irresponsibly because they should have known the weapon they sold to Ferri was inappropriate for legal use.


101 California Street Shootings is the name given to a mass shooting that took place July 1, 1993 in San Francisco, California, claiming the lives of eight people and the shooter. The killings sparked a flurry of legal and legislative actions that were precursors to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that took effect in 1994.

The Shootings

At 2:57 p.m. on July 1, 1993, 55-year-old businessman Gian Luigi Ferri entered an office building at 101 California Street in San Francisco, and made his way to the 34th floor and the offices of the law firm of Pettit & Martin. (Ferri, who had been a client of the firm at least ten years prior to the shootings, nursed an irrational grudge against Pettit & Martin for many years.)

Exiting the elevator on the 34th floor, Ferri donned a pair of ear protectors and began to open fire with a pair of TEC-9 handguns and a .45 pistol. After roaming this floor he then moved down one floor through an internal staircase and continued shooting. The carnage was continued on several floors before Ferri eventually shot himself fatally as San Francisco Police closed in. Eight people were killed in the attack, and six others injured.

The reason for the shootings was never fully determined, but a letter left behind by Ferri claimed a long list of complaints.

The Victims

Allen J. Berk, 52, was a partner in Pettit & Martin, and was well respected in the San Francisco legal community. He earned an undergraduate degree from City University in New York, and received his law degree from George Washington University. Berk was experienced in labor law, and had represented a number of management groups.

Jack Berman, 36, was a partner with the firm Bronson, Bronson, & McKinnon who was visiting the offices of Pettit & Martin on the day of the shootings. A president of the American Jewish Congress known for his work specializing in employment law and chairing the firm's pro bono committee, Berman was born in Moosup, Connecticut, in 1957 and graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in 1979 before completing his juris doctor from Boston University School of Law.

Berman's community work extended beyond the AJC, as he also co-founded TAX-AID, an organization that provides free income tax preparation, and the San Francisco Transitional Housing Fund, a program to aid homeless individuals in finding housing. In recognition of Berman's service to the legal profession and the Bay Area populace, the California Young Lawyers' Association gives an annual award in Berman's name.

Donald Merrill, 48, was an employee of the Trust Company of the West, which had offices at 101 California Street. He had worked as an energy industry consultant, working with independent energy projects

Shirley Mooser, 64, was a secretary at the Trust Company of the West, which had offices at 101 California Street.

Deborah Fogel, 33, was a legal secretary for the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine, which had offices at 101 California Street.

Jody Jones Sposato, 30, was a young mother.

David Sutcliffe, 30, was a law student at the University of Colorado at Boulder who was interning at Pettit & Martin for the summer.

John Scully, 28, was a lawyer with Pettit & Martin who died, according to news reports, while protecting his wife from the gunman. Interested in labor law, Scully earned his bachelors degree from Gonzaga University, then received his law degree at the University of San Francisco.

Injured in the attack were Vicky Smith, 41; Sharon Jones O'Roke; Michelle Scully, 27; Brian F. Berger, 39; Deanna Eaves, 33; and Charles Ross, 42.


The shootings spurred calls for tighter gun control and were followed by a number of legal and legislative actions.

Shortly after the incident, President Bill Clinton signed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, also known as the Brady Bill, which was a precursor to the sweeping 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which included the contentious Federal assault weapons ban. Lawmakers chose not to renew the ban, which expired in 2004. The ban had little effect in California because its gun control laws were already more stringent.

California, at the state level, implemented some of the toughest gun laws in the United States. The state also repealed a law that had given gun manufacturers immunity against lawsuits, following an attempt by some relatives of 101 California street victims to sue the companies that made the weapons Ferri used.

A number of organizations were formed in the wake of the shootings, including the Legal Community Against Violence, which acts as a resource for information on federal, state, and local firearms policies. The AJC founded the Jack Berman Advocacy Center to lobby and organize with regard to gun control and violence reduction.


Suit Can Proceed Against Maker Of Guns Used in 1993 Killings

The New York Times

Wednesday, April 12, 1995

A state court judge has ruled that the maker of the guns used in a shooting that killed eight people in a law office in 1993 could be sued for the deaths.

The ruling by Judge James Warren of San Francisco Superior Court on Monday did not address the question of whether the manufacturers of the magazines and ammunition in the weapons could be included in the suits. That will not be decided until this summer.

Judge Warren refused to dismiss a series of lawsuits against the makers of the guns that Gian Luigi Ferri used when he burst into the law firm of Pettit & Martin and sprayed the offices with bullets.

Using three guns, including two semiautomatic weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, Mr. Ferri, killed eight people and wounded six others before shooting himself.

Judge Warren ruled that gun manufacturer Navegar Inc. might be liable under legal theories of strict liability and negligence. Strict liability allows damages to be awarded for any harm caused by a dangerous product.

A lawyer for Navegar, Ernest Getto, contended that the semiautomatic guns Mr. Ferri used were legally made in Florida and sold in Nevada. Neither state had a ban on assault weapons at the time.

"The bottom line is that nothing Navegar did has any connection whatsoever to what happened," Mr. Getto said. "We did nothing unlawful in California."

Judge Warren's decision is the first that an assault-weapon maker may be held accountable for the damages resulting from the criminal misuse of its product.

The judge based his ruling on the fact that the TEC-DC-9 gun used by Mr. Ferri was a slightly modified version of one banned by the California Legislature in 1989. He reasoned that the company introduced the gun into the general market even though it could have foreseen that the weapon would eventually turn up in California and possibly be used for criminal purposes.

The Center to Prevent Handgun Violence filed eight lawsuits in May on behalf of the survivors and the families of the victims. The suits maintain that the manufacturers negligently made and sold products that "would be used to kill or injure innocent people in a violent criminal act."

They maintain that the makers are liable because their products have no legitimate sporting or self-defense purpose and are easily adapted to mass killings.

The suits named Navegar, maker of the TEC-DC-9; Hell-Fire Trigger Systems, maker of the trigger accelerator used; USA Magazines, maker of the 32-round magazine standard in the TEC-DC-9; and Superpawn, the Nevada pawnshop where Mr. Ferri bought his guns.

Michelle Scully, whose husband,John, died trying to protect her from Mr. Ferri, said the ruling would force makers of assault weapons to think about the consequences of their products.

"This means they cannot sell these weapons and market them to the criminal element, take the money they make and sleep well that night," Mrs. Scully said. "They will have to think about how those guns are used, the shattered lives they leave behind, the innocent people they are going to kill."


Victims of Chance in Deadly Rampage

The New York Times

Wednesday, July 7, 1993

When a gunman began his shooting spree in the halls of the Pettit & Martin law firm here last Thursday, his first victims were Jack Berman and Jody Jones Sposato, who were trying to do what the gunman himself apparently thought he was trying to do: fight the system.

Colleagues say Mr. Berman, a lawyer with Bronson, Bronson & McKinnon, had worked hard to persuade his firm to spend less time defending corporations and more time helping people fight former employers. Ms. Sposato's case was one of the first in his campaign.

"Jack Berman was helping Jody Sposato fight the system," said Sarah E. Robertson, an associate who worked for Mr. Berman. "It's unfathomable that this madman came in and tried to hurt the system and he got Jack and Jody."

The six other people killed by Gian Luigi Ferri last Thursday included a secretary, a summer intern and an executive aide. Two victims were lawyers with Pettit & Martin, which 10 years ago gave Mr. Ferri the advice that he blamed for his financial downfall. But neither had had anything to do with that advice. And none of the dead or wounded were on a "hit list" Mr. Ferri had carried in with him. Hurting the 'Little People'

The lack of a link between Mr. Ferri and his victims has made it all the harder for family, friends and colleagues of those who were shot to make sense of the violence. It is, they say, like trying to draw moral lessons out of an event that was as random and impersonal as a natural disaster.

The people Mr. Ferri gunned down may have worked in a high-rise office in the city's financial district, but they were "little people doing humble jobs," said Charles Ross, a lawyer who was among the six who were shot but survived.

Mr. Ferri, a 55-year-old mortgage broker and unlucky real-estate speculator from Los Angeles, ended his 15-minute rampage by raising a gun to his chin and killing himself.

This week, the funerals and memorials began, as did attempts to create some good from the grief. At nearly every service, mourners are talking about stricter laws to control the semiautomatic pistols Mr. Ferri legally bought before using them to kill. On talk radio shows, callers discuss the "Falling Down" syndrome, a term taken from the title of a recent movie to describe middle-aged men who crack under financial and emotional pressure. And Harvey Saferstein, president of the California Bar Association, has called for an end to lawyer bashing, which he said contributed to Mr. Ferri's rage. No Connection With Firm

A rambling letter found in Mr. Ferri's bag and released over the weekend by the police makes clear that the man saw himself as a victim of a system out to crush him. Among others, he blamed the law firm Pettit & Martin, which had given Mr. Ferri advice in several real estate transactions in 1981.

Among the first victims of Mr. Ferri's paranoid rage were four people in a glass conference room of the Pettit & Martin offices on the 34th floor. The firm had occasionally represented one of the parties and had lent the room for a deposition, although no one with the firm was in the room.

Mr. Berman, 35, sat with Ms. Sposato, 30, who was filing a sex-discrimination suit against her former employer, Electronic Data Systems, over her dismissal several years ago. Deanna Eaves, 33, a stenographer, took notes as Sharon O'Roke, 35, a Texas lawyer for E.D.S., took Ms. Sposato's deposition.

The deposition was to have taken only a day, but it spilled over for a second, putting them in harm's way. The gunman fired through the conference room's glass window, killing Mr. Berman and Ms. Sposato on the spot. Ms. Eaves hid under the table, and Ms. O'Roke ran for her life, while being shot five times. Ms. Eaves, who was shot in the arm, was released from the hospital today, and Ms. O'Roke is still in the hospital in serious condition. Dying for His Wife

Down the hall, John C. Scully, 28, an associate with the firm, heard the shooting and ran down a staircase to an empty office on the 33d floor where he had left his 27-year-old wife, Michelle Scully. A lawyer at another firm, Ms. Scully had come to her husband's office to use the law library and study privately, friends said. They ran toward the elevator to escape but were confronted by the gunman.

As Mr. Ferri aimed, Ms. Scully later told The San Francisco Examiner, her husband thrust himself in front of her and was fatally wounded. Ms. Scully, shot in the arm, was released from the hospital over the weekend.

On the same floor, it had become a habit for David Sutcliffe, a 30-year-old summer intern from the University of Colorado law school, to break the monotony of work in the early afternoon and visit Charles Ross in his office. The intern liked to ask the 42-year-old lawyer, who was working for the firm as an independent contractor, for advice ranging from how to maintain integrity as a lawyer to what sights he should visit in California.

That afternoon, Mr. Sutcliffe was excited about having met the California Attorney General, Daniel E. Lungren, at a luncheon with Pettit & Martin. "He seemed a little star struck," Mr. Ross recalled. Fearing a 'Pathetic Death'

Moments after Mr. Sutcliffe left his office, the gunman appeared in the doorway and shot Mr. Ross in the arm.

"I knew I was confronting a reality I couldn't even imagine," said Mr. Ross in an interview Monday at his home, where he is recovering from his wound. "The gunman was cold, detached, impassive as if I could be anybody. It made me realize that I had to be as cold-blooded to him as he was to me." He added, "I was worried that I would die some pathetic death in the office."

Mr. Ross slammed his door shut, only to have the gunman open it again. Then, yelling, "Who the hell are you?" Mr. Ross said, he pushed past the gunman and ran down two corridors, ducking into a room to hide.

Those not as fortunate as Mr. Ross had, like him, never seen or heard of the gunman, the police said. Besides Mr. Berman, Ms. Sposato and Mr. Scully, the dead were Allen J. Berk, a partner with Pettit & Martin; Deborah Fogel, 33, a secretary with the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine; Donald Michael Merrill, 48, who worked for Trust Company of the West as a financial consultant, and Shirley Mooser, 64, an executive assistant at the Trust Company of the West.

Brian Berger, 39, a Pettit & Martin lawyer, remains in critical condition with massive chest injuries; Victoria Smith, a marketing vice president for the Trust Company of the West, is in fair condition.

The hardest thing about the ordeal, Mr. Ross said, was hearing that Mr. Sutcliffe had been killed soon after leaving his office. Breaking down in tears, Mr. Ross described the intern as "a friendly kid who had a Jimmy Stewart sincerity that was rare."

"I worked for what I got," Mr. Ross said, haltingly. "I fought for my life. But I have survivor's guilt."


Seeking Motive in the Killing of 8: Insane Ramblings Are Little Help

By Robert Reinhold - The New York Times

Sunday, July 4, 1993

The deadly rampage in a law firm here appears to have been the irrational and desperate act of a deranged man.

That is the almost inescapable conclusion from a rambling semiliterate screed found on the man's body after he killed eight people, wounded six others and finally killed himself on Thursday at the law offices of Pettit & Martin here. The 55-year-old gunman -- variously identified by the authorities as Gian Luigi Ferri or Gianluigi Ferri -- carried a list of more than 30 names, apparently targets of his wrath, but no one on his list was among the victims.

In his four-page typed letter, Mr. Ferri ranted about a flavor enhancer in food, monosodium glutamate, the Food and Drug Administration, and the legal profession. Excerpts of the letter were published today in The San Francisco Chronicle.

In his letter, Mr. Ferri said he had been "raped" by Pettit & Martin. Contrary to rumors of a recent connection between Mr. Ferri and the law firm, Pettit & Martin reported Friday that it had advised him a dozen years ago on some real estate deals in the Midwest but had no contact with him since then.

The letter, filled with misspellings and grammatical errors, said, "The last thing that made all of this come to a head is that I am one of those people of the 5% of the population (12.5 million people), where the poison monosodium glutamate (MGS) has reached such high levels in our cells, that a minimum amount more can kill us."

The letter ended with a blast at lawyers. "When you hire a consultant or an attorney you don't hire for the purpose of getting raped and than having all your efforts toward legal recourse totally thwarted by a corrupt legal system of 'esquires'. Esquires in the dark ages romed the countryside to steel from the working people and give tothe prince. Do attorney want us to call them esquires because their allegiance is to the monarchy?"

None of the dead or wounded appeared to have any connection with Mr. Ferri or were on his "list of criminals, rapists, racketeeres, lobbyists."

Among the dead were a young law intern at Pettit & Martin, three of the firm's employees and four other people who did not work at the firm.


The Broker Who Killed 8: Gunman's Motives a Puzzle

By Robert Reinhold - The New York Times

Saturday, July 3, 1993

He appeared to be a portly middle-aged professional carrying an attache case and wheeling a lawyer's case on a dolly. But when he stepped into the law offices on the 34th floor of a downtown office building here, he shed his jacket, donned a pair of orange ear protectors and went to battle with three semi-automatic pistols.

The question today in San Francisco was what drove the gunman, identified as Gian Luigi Ferri of Los Angeles, into a murderous spree on Thursday afternoon in which he killed eight people, wounded six others and then ended his own life with a bullet from a .45-caliber Colt placed under his chin.

But a murky picture began to emerge today of Mr. Ferri as a real estate speculator who once won a million-dollar judgment and more recently sought to file for bankruptcy. Members of the firm he assaulted, Pettit & Martin, were at first unable to recognize Mr. Ferri, but later today they discovered that he had been a client in 1981. They had given Mr. Ferri advice in several real estate transactions, mainly to buy several trailer parks in Indiana and Kentucky. No Contact Since '1982

Shortly after that, said Vickie Spang, marketing director for the firm, he complained that the seller had made misrepresentations. She said the firm had helped him find local counsel in Indiana that helped him win a $1 million judgment there. Pettit & Martin had no records of any complaints about its own work from Mr. Ferri, Ms. Spang said, and had had no contact with him since 1982.

Whether he ever collected the judgment could not be learned, but it appeared that when he began shooting Mr. Ferri was a man down on his luck. He recently approached a law office in Hollywood seeking to file for personal bankruptcy.

He told the lawyers in Hollywood that he had lost $300,000 in a land deal in Leadville, Colo., near Aspen. "Somebody did a real number on him," Elias Francisco, a paralegal at E. Francisco & Associates, a law firm run by his brother Emilio, said today.

The county coroner, Boyd Stephens, identified the gunman as Mr. Ferri, 55, of the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles, owner of ADF Mortgage, which was incorporated in Nevada in 1987. The police found his 1986 or 1987 Cadillac in a parking garage in the Embarcadero Center, a block from the 48-story glass and granite tower where Mr. Ferri spread carnage. Described as Quite Man

"His name didn't mean anything to me," said Richard E. Climan, a partner in the Pettit firm, which has 160 lawyers in six offices and practices mostly business law. The chairman of the firm, Theodore Russell, could not be reached for comment.

In Woodland Hills, neighbors of ADF, which occupied a second-story office in a shopping strip, described Mr. Ferri as a quiet man who spoke with a foreign accent, when he spoke at all. He appeared to be in financial trouble, they said, and would sometimes sit in his car for two hours at time.

"He always stayed by himself and seemed lonely and sad," said Marilyn J. Petlack. "I never saw any clients going in there. I knew he was not doing well financially, but he didn't seem like a criminal type." At the nearby Oakwood apartment complex where he rented a furnished one-bedroom apartment, the manager said Mr. Ferri had not paid his June rent.

The police said they found a list of names on Mr. Ferri's body, but no one on the list appeared to be among the victims. And at least two of the dead appeared to have been entirely unrelated to any issue he had with the firm: Jack Berman, a 36-year-old partner in another San Francisco law firm, Bronson, Bronson & McKinnon, and a client of his, Jody Sposato, 30, who were there to give a deposition in a lawsuit she had brought against a former employer over her dismissal.

The San Francisco County coroner said the others killed were Deborah Fogel, a secretary for the law firm Davis Wright & Tremaine; Donald Michael Merrill, 48, of Oakland, whose employment and reason for being in the building were unclear; and four employees of Pettit & Martin, John C. Scully, 28, an associate lawyer in the firm; a law partner, Allen J. Berk, 52; a summer legal assistant, David Sutcliffe, 30, of San Francisco, and a secretary, Shirley Mooser, 64.

Last October, Mr. Ferri walked into the Hollywood offices of E. Francisco & Associates, bankruptcy lawyers based in Irvine, Calif., to ask about filing for bankruptcy. "He was very gentle, very friendly, a chubby little guy," recalled Elias Francisco. "But he was hard up. He was hurting."

He said Mr. Ferri described losing $300,000 when he was not allowed to build on land in Leadville. "I got the feeling he had a lot of money at one time," Mr. Francisco said. He said Mr. Ferri could not afford the $1,100 fee to file for bankruptcy. 'Prepared for Battle'

San Francisco authorities gave this account of Thursday's events:

Mr. Ferri, dressed in a dark business suit and carrying his cases, entered the elevators at 101 California Street shortly before 3 P.M. At the 34th floor, "He shed his coat and prepared for battle," said Inspector Napoleon Hendrix.

His battle armaments were two 9-millimeter Intratec DC9 semi-automatic machine pistols, carried in shoulder straps and each loaded with 50-round magazines, a smaller .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition loaded into dozens of magazines carried in his innocent-looking lawyer cases.

Without speaking a word, Mr. Ferri opened fire on a glassed-in conference room where a deposition was in progress, killing Mr. Berman, the lawyer, and his client, Ms. Sposato. He killed another person on the 34th floor, then moved to lower floors, leaving five more dead and six wounded.

Two minutes after the first emergency call, 110 police officers arrived and shut down the elevators. Terrified office workers tripped the fire alarms, but the police turned the alarm off, which locked the doors in the stairwell, trapping the gunman who was trying to escape down the stairs. Somewhere below the 29th floor, Mr. Ferri saw officers coming up the stairs, and fled back up the stairs and then shot himself to death with a single bullet.

The shootings brought calls today for tighter controls on the machine pistols that Mr. Ferri carried under his jacket. "Believe it or not, they are legal," said Mayor Frank Jordan, the former police chief here. "There is absolutely no place for them in an urban society. They are used for only one purpose, warfare."

Mr. Ferri bought his semi-automatic weapons from two stores in Las Vegas, Nev., this spring, said a spokesman with Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. In April, he purchased a semi-automatic at Super Pawn, a pawn shop in Las Vegas. A month later, he purchased the same make of gun at Pacific Tactical Weapons in Las Vegas.

The semi-automatic Intratec DC9 is legal to possess in California without registration with state officials.



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