Two young victims of the Jewish community center shooting were released from hospitals Thursday while the most seriously wounded, 5-year-old Benjamin Kadish, remained in critical but improving condition.
James Zidell, 6, and Mindy Finkelstein, 16, left separate hospitals just two days after they and three others were wounded at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills.
Federal and state prosecutors have charged Buford Oneal Furrow, 37, a white supremacist from Washington state, with the shootings as well as the slaying, an hour later, of postal worker Joseph Ileto in Chatsworth.
Benjamin, shot in the leg and stomach, remained on a respirator. But he improved from Wednesday, when surgeons operated on his broken leg, said Marlen Bugarin, a hospital spokeswoman.
"His vital signs are good and he's alert. He's able to talk. He's aware of his surroundings," Bugarin said. Doctors hope to "wean" him from his respirator sometime today.
Finkelstein, a 16-year-old counselor at the community center, clutched a large, white stuffed duck as she left Woodland Hills' Kaiser Permanente Hospital in a wheelchair. She wore a blue T-shirt and shorts. Her right calf was bandaged after treatment for two gunshot wounds. Her mother, Donna, carried her crutches.
She and her mother cried as her father, Dave Finkelstein, made a brief statement, thanking the hospital staff, paramedics and the police.
"We're thrilled that Mindy is recovered and can go home to our family," he said tearfully. "Our prayers and thoughts are with the other victims and their families."
Asked how she was doing, the Chatsworth High School senior smiled and put her hands up in the air, palms up, to signal she was getting better.
James Zidell, who was shot in a heel, was carried from Granada Hills Community Hospital by his father, Gary Zidell, accompanied by family members toting flowers, balloons, toys and cards he had received.
"He left having a lot of fun. He left in good spirits," said Lori Kapper, a hospital spokeswoman.
Later, Gary Zidell said the family is encouraged by his recovery.
"He is a lucky boy," he said.
"They didn't have crutches small enough for him," Gary Zidell said as he stood on his porch outside the family's house on a cul-de-sac. "We're waiting for them to be delivered.
"Psychologically, [James] is doing pretty good," said Zidell, who spent both nights in the hospital with his son. "He's a brave little kid."
Physically, his father said, he will need crutches for several days, maybe weeks.
Isabelle Shalometh, a 68-year-old receptionist at the community center, was home Thursday recovering from graze wounds on the back and arm.
Six-year-old Joshua Stepakoff was in good condition and may be released from Childrens Hospital today Bugarin said. He has a full cast on his left leg and is expected to recover fully, Bugarin said. He was feeling well enough to play Nintendo with his brother.
Civil rights leaders and family members expressed rage after federal prosecutors revealed that the gunman targeted Ileto, a Filipino American, because of his skin color.
Raquel Ileto, the slain mailman's sister, called the hate crime "a horrible thing."
Stewart Kwoh, executive director of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, said the shooting of Ileto was one of more than 500 hate crimes against Asian Americans in the last year.
"Unfortunately, there are certain hate groups who look at anybody who is different as a target," Kwoh said. "We think it's outrageous that these hate groups are targeting people because they are different."
Filipino American leaders planned a rally against hate crime.
"There is a sense that we need to rally behind this issue," said Rachel Estuar, co-chairwoman of Filipino Civil Rights Advocates.
"The natural reaction is to turn in, because people are fearful and might not understand that resources are available," Estuar said. "What I would urge people to do is look outward and get involved and have an open dialogue."
Postal employees mourned Ileto's slaying.
"The employees are having a real hard time dealing with that," said Terri Bouffiou, a spokeswoman at the Chatsworth post office. "To me personally, it was like a kick in the gut."
Meanwhile, arrangements were set Thursday for Ileto's funeral at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Skyrose Chapel at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier. A viewing and visitation service will be held in the same chapel from 6 to 8:30 p.m. today.
Postal employees from throughout the San Fernando Valley plan to fill in for co-workers from the Chatsworth branch so they can attend the funeral.
Times staff writers Kristina Sauerwein and Caitlin Liu contributed to this story.