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Gunman Listed Grievances in Rambling Letter

July 04, 1993|JENIFER WARREN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN FRANCISCO — The gunman who killed eight people in a rampage through a San Francisco office tower saw himself as a victim of multiple conspiracies whose efforts to succeed were thwarted by a corrupt and callous legal system, according to a document police found on his body.

Gian Luigi Ferri, 55, also believed he was being poisoned by monosodium glutamate and blamed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Surgeon General for failing to warn consumers about the food additive, an aide to Mayor Frank Jordan said Saturday.

Although police refused to release a copy of the four-page declaration, portions of which appeared in Saturday's San Francisco Chronicle, city officials confirmed its authenticity, describing the document as a rambling manifesto laden with bitter rantings and grammatical errors. Authorities found the letter after Ferri shot himself in a skyscraper stairwell Thursday evening.

In one reference to the scene of the carnage, Ferri accused Pettit & Martin--the law firm where he killed five people--of racial and ethnic prejudice. Elsewhere he wrote: "What happened to me at P & M . . . was rape."

And, in a section labeled "LIST OF CRIMINALS, RAPISTS, RACKETEERES, LOBBYISTS," the letter names an assortment of businessmen and lawyers, along with phone numbers and, in some cases, Ferri's specific gripe.

Despite the list, police said none of those mentioned in the document were killed or wounded in Thursday's attack, one of the worst mass killings in California history.

"He could have (had a grudge), but he did not select his victims in that way," Inspector Napoleon Hendrix, the chief investigator on the case, said in an interview Saturday. "He just went in and started shooting, without picking out anyone in particular."

Hendrix said police still have not determined Ferri's motive or defined any connection between Ferri and Pettit & Martin.

But in a statement issued Saturday, the firm said it provided Ferri with real estate, tax and corporate advice in connection with investments, including the purchase of several mobile home parks in Indiana and Kentucky in the early 1980s.

Later, Pettit & Martin referred Ferri to an Indianapolis law office, which represented him in a lawsuit over the same properties--three in Indiana and one in Louisville, Ky. According to the statement, Ferri won a $1-million settlement.

Stephen Lee, a partner in Barnes & Thornburg, the Indianapolis firm that handled the suit, said that Ferri seemed pleased by the outcome.

"We all got along fine and I didn't perceive any hard feelings," Lee said.

Ferri's letter suggests he felt otherwise. Describing the transaction, he wrote, "I spent the last 13 years trying to find legal recourse and to get back on my feet, only to find a wall of silence and corruption from the legal community."

On Saturday, several people on Ferri's list said they were mystified and shaken to learn their names were included.

"It was quite eerie to find out my name was on there," said Jack Woodcock, a Las Vegas real estate broker who helped Ferri assemble an unsuccessful condominium development deal last year. "I'm just gratified he didn't come looking for me."

Woodcock described Ferri as "an opinionated guy" and said he made "lots of comments about how everyone seemed against him."

"He was frustrated," said Woodcock, who last saw Ferri during a tense meeting over the collapsed real estate venture about eight months ago. "He felt people weren't seeing things his way. But he didn't seem violent at all."

Arnold Brown of San Francisco, who served as Ferri's accountant in the early 1980s, said he was accused in Ferri's letter of conspiring with other businessmen against the gunman.

"The statements are preposterous and just plain out wrong," said Brown, recalling Ferri as "a bit eccentric" but not memorable in any other way. "It's all very puzzling and tragic."

Among the more bizarre elements of the single-spaced letter is Ferri's claim that monosodium glutamate--a common food additive--was killing him. He called the accumulation of the "poison" (MSG) in his cells the "last thing that made all of this come to a head."

Elsewhere, Ferri seemed to lash out at corporate society and its treatment of unsuccessful businessmen:

"There is this condiscending attitude in business that when you get emotionally and mentally raped, well 'you got screwed' and the accepted results is that the victim is now supposed to go to work at 7-11 or become homeless and the rapist is admired and enveied as 'a winner,' " he wrote.

At 101 California St., location of the granite and glass high-rise terrorized by Ferri, few remnants of the tragedy were visible Saturday. A strand of yellow police tape fluttered in the stiff breeze blowing off the bay, and a mound of bouquets left by mourners lay outside the main entrance. A few tourists snapped pictures of them.

All but one of the six people wounded by Ferri remained hospitalized. Two were in critical condition, two were listed as stable and one was in good condition.

Among the dead were two people whose occupations were not previously available--Deborah Fogel, 33, a legal secretary from San Rafael, and Donald Merrill, 48, a father of two from Oakland who was a consultant for Trust Co. of the West.

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