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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Man Convicted in City Hall Shootings

November 14, 2000

RIVERSIDE — A jury convicted a man Monday of trying to kill the mayor, two council members and a police officer during a shooting spree at City Hall two years ago.

The Superior Court jury found Joseph Neale Jr., 50, guilty of 12 counts of premeditated attempted murder. The trial now will move to a sanity phase.

Neale entered a City Hall meeting room and began shooting on Oct. 6, 1998.

After opening fire inside the chambers, calls from police outside the room drew Neale away from where the wounded mayor and several City Council members were trapped. Police shot the gunman through a blocked door and rescued the hostages.

Mayor Ron Loveridge, Councilman Chuck Beaty, Councilwomen Laura Pearson and now-retired police Sgt. Wally Rice, one of the rescuers, all recovered from injuries.

Beaty and Rice, who were the most seriously hurt by the gunfire, embraced in the courtroom after the verdict.

Deputy Public Defender Lawrence Fait said he was "terribly disappointed" in the verdict, but declined further comment.

Neale, a letter carrier for the Postal Service, reportedly was angry over the loss of his job as a part-time chess coach at a city recreation center.

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