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Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Revenge
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: December 2, 1993
Date of birth: 1960
Victims profile: Anna Velasco, 42; Richard Bateman, 65; and Phillip Villegas, 43 (state employees); and James Edward O’Brien, 35 (police detective)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Oxnard, California, USA
Status: Killed during a shoot-out with the police the same day

All Alan wanted was a job and no one would give it to him. So on December 2, 1993, this computer analyst became the avenging angel of the unemployed. First he went to the Star-Free Press in Ventura, California, and presented his case against the Unemployment Agency to an editor.

Then at 11:41 he entered an unemployment office in Oxnard and started shooting at state employees, killing three. Afterwards he headed to another unemployment office killing a cop on his way.

He was shot down by the police in the parking lot of the second unemployment office before he could wreak more havoc.


Man's 7-Year Search to Find Job Ended With 5 Dead in California

The New York Times

December 4, 1993

Alan Winterbourne wanted a job and even ran for Congress partly because the pay looked good.

But his job search evolved into a long battle with bureaucracy, and it ended Thursday in a shooting rampage at a state unemployment office that left him, three state employees and a police officer dead.

The police said today that they were uncertain what set off Mr. Winterbourne, who was 33. They were reviewing documents he had left at a newspaper just 30 minutes before the attack in which he went into detail about his seven-year search for work.

"We've got thousands of things to look at," said David Keith, an Oxnard police spokesman. "Our first review of those documents reveals nothing that gives us insight as to motive."

Workers Singled Out

Mr. Winterbourne, armed with a pistol and a shotgun, walked into a local office of the California Employment Development Department just before noon on Thursday and opened fire. He singled out workers, witnesses said.

Mr. Winterbourne fled in a car after a brief shootout with the police. In the pursuit, he killed an Oxnard police officer and was later killed by the police outside another unemployment office in nearby Ventura, when he emerged from his car carrying a gun. Five other people were wounded, one by police bullets.

The police seized two rifles besides the shotgun and pistol. Mr. Winterbourne had no record of arrests, Mr. Keith said.

Avelina Villalobos, the employment department's office manager in Oxnard, said she did not remember seeing Mr. Winterbourne in the office before the shooting. Asked if any of the victims had worked with him, she said, "To my knowledge, nobody had anything to do with him."

'Tell Us the Reason Why'

Flowers and cards piled up today outside the bullet-marked entrance to the office, which was closed for the day. One handwritten note on a red poinsettia read: "We have comfort in God. We know He took four people home. Please tell us the reason why."

A half-hour before the rampage, Mr. Winterbourne left documents with The Ventura Star-Free Press detailing his search for work. He said he would call later to discuss them with an editor.

Among the documents were job applications and 288 letters to every major employer in the county.

Mr. Winterbourne had been unemployed since 1986 after resigning as a computer engineer for the Northrop Corporation, citing an inability to adapt to a change in assignment. Six months after quitting, he filed for unemployment benefits at the Oxnard office, but his application was denied after Northrop said he had left voluntarily.

The envelope left at the newspaper included a transcript of his appeal to an administrative law judge on Dec. 3, 1986. Mr. Winterbourne told the judge he quit Northrop, where he worked on a missile contract, out of fear for his personal safety, but could not elaborate because of Government secrecy.

In 1990 he lost a Republican primary contest to Robert J. Lagamarsino, then an incumbent Congressman representing California's 19th Congressional District. Mr. Winterbourne said before the primary that he was attracted by a Congressman's salary of more than $100,000. "I think it would be a good job," he said.


"Largest Hero Sendoff in Ventura County History"

Officer Jim O'Brien,

Ventura County Star

December 8, 1993

More than 10,000 people turned out Dec. 7, 1993 to give a fallen police officer the largest hero’s sendoff in Ventura County’s history.

Oxnard Police Detective James Edward O’Brien, 35, was buried with full police honors, including a 21-gun salute by the Los Angeles Police Department's honor guard.

"That Jim O’Brien gave his life as part of his commitment to public service humbles all of us gathered here today," said Oxnard Police Chief Harold Hurtt. "He was a person like you and me. He had a family, he had many friends, and he had hopes for the future - all of which were cut short by a mindless act of violence."

In addition to the 5,000 mourners, another 5,000 people lined streets and freeway bridges along the route of the five-mile-long motorcade that carried O'Brien to his final resting place at Santa Clara Cemetery in Oxnard.

They were there to celebrate the life of the officer who was shot to death Thursday, Dec. 2, 1993, while pursuing gunman Alan Winterbourne, who had killed three people at the Oxnard employment office.

The Rev. Liam Kidney, who officiated at the funeral Mass, described O'Brien as a "cop's cop." "He loved being a cop," Kidney said. "He loved being where the action was. Being a policeman was his life."

O'Brien was the third officer of the Oxnard Police Department killed in the line of duty since October 1971.

Born July 30, 1958, in Long Beach, O'Brien was a longtime Ventura County resident.

He was awarded the Medal of Valor by the Peace Officers' Association of Ventura County in 1991 for saving the life of a resident in La Colonia.

He was a member of the Oxnard Peace Officers' Association, Ventura County Peace Officers' Association, Peace Officers' Research Association of California, and California Narcotics' Officer Association. O'Brien attended California Lutheran University and was a graduate of Ventura College and Hueneme High School.



By Mark Nollinger

Every day for eight years, systems analyst Alan Winterbourne tried to find a job. And every day he failed. Then one day it all became too much.

At 11:15 on the morning of December 2, 1993, Alan Winterbourne, a 33-year- old computer engineer, appeared in the lobby of the Star-Free Press in Ventura, California, a placid coastal town about 60 miles north of Los Angeles. Winterbourne was a husky six-footer dressed in a dark sport coat, gray slacks, a white shirt and clip-on tie, with long brown hair flowing past his shoulders and a scraggly beard reaching his chest. He asked for opinion page editor Timm Herdt. He handed Herdt a Manila envelope he said contained some documents relating to unemployment and asked the editor to look them over at his leisure - he would call back later to discuss them. Winterbourne then politely thanked Herdt for his time, turned, and left. Herdt put the envelope aside, unopened, and went back to work.

Winterbourne drove ten minutes south to the neighboring city of Oxnard, then parked his tan 1978 Dodge Aspen on a residential street near the state Employment Development Department. In the lobby of the nondescript, one- story building, about fifty people, some of them mothers with young children, waited for their turn to be called. Three dozen or so EDD employees busied themselves with their work behind the service counter.

At 11:41, Winterbourne walked through the main entrance. With-out a word, he stepped up to the service counter, pulled a .12 gauge shotgun from under his jacket and opened fire on the state workers.

Employees and clients hit the floor, scrambling across the linoleum in a frantic search for cover. Ignoring the unemployed, Winterbourne sprayed the office floor with random shotgun blasts aimed at EDD workers. A computer terminal exploded, and 65-year-old Richard Bateman, a retired businessman who was visiting the agency on behalf of a nonprofit group that helped disabled adults find work, fell to the floor in convulsions.

Phillip Villegas, 43, a clerk with a ready smile who had started at the unemployment office as a volunteer, turned to flee. A shell slammed into his back, knocking him to the ground.

Kicking open a gate, Winterbourne entered the work area, where those employees who had not barricaded themselves in offices tried to hide under their desks. He marched up and down the aisles in silence: firing, reloading, and firing again. As Bateman groaned in pain, Winterbourne finished him off with two more blasts to the upper body. He shot Anna Velasco in the hip - the popular 42-year-old worker had spent the prior evening translating a healing mass for her church's Spanish-speaking congregation - then fired a second round into her chest from close range as she cowered under her desk. When the shotgun jammed, he drew a Smith & Wesson Classic .44 magnum revolver and kept shooting at the others.

Suddenly, Winterbourne stopped. He leapt over the counter, stuck the pistol into his waistband, calmly straightened his jacket, and walked out a side door. Three workers -- Anna Velasco, Richard Bateman, and Phillip Villegas -- lay dying. Four others were wounded. Alan Winterbourne had never met any of them.

Outside, Winterbourne ran into four police officers arriving on the scene. They exchanged gunfire as he sprinted across the street to his car. Winterbourne sped off through an unincorporated green belt of lemon groves and produce farms between Ventura and Oxnard, only to get stuck in traffic at the corner of Victoria Avenue and Olivas Park Road. Sgt. James O'Brien, 35, a decorated Oxnard detective and the father of two young children, skidded to a stop about 200 feet away and took cover behind the open door of his unmarked police cruiser. Winterbourne leapt out of the Dodge, a Browning .300 deer-hunting rifle in hand. Peering through the scope, he aimed at O'Brien's car and started shooting. One bullet smashed through a police spotlight and struck O'Brien in the head, killing him instantly.

Fearing for the safety of the other motorists, the police held their fire. Winterbourne jumped back into his car and roared into the outskirts of Ventura. In a new development of concrete office parks and squat warehouses, he turned into the parking lot of the Ventura unemployment office. Half a dozen police cars followed, blocking driveways and taking position for a final standoff. When Winterbourne emerged from his car brandishing yet another rifle, a Ruger Mini-14 with a fresh 30-round clip, the officers cut him down in hail of gunfire.

Police handcuffed the body. The worst shooting spree in the history of Ventura County was over. Five people, including Winterbourne, died in less than twenty minutes.


In Memory of Oxnard
Officer Jim O'Brien
July 30, 1958 - December 2, 1993

Shot and killed during pursuit of multiple murder suspect.
10,000 turn out for hero's funeral.



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