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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Jury Says Man Was Sane in Shooting at City Hall

November 23, 2000

RIVERSIDE — A man who shot up City Hall was sane when he wounded the mayor and several City Council members, according to the jury that convicted him of attempted murder.

Wednesday's verdict means that instead of being sent to a state hospital, Joseph Neale Jr. could be sentenced to multiple life terms in prison. A sentencing hearing is scheduled next month.

The same jury that rejected Neale's contention that he was insane found him guilty Nov. 13 of 12 counts of attempted murder.

The U.S. Postal Service worker was believed to be angry over losing his job as a part-time chess coach at a Riverside recreation center. He had filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the city in 1995 blaming age and race for his firing. Neale is black.

Jurors watched surveillance video of the October 1998 shooting that showed an armed Neale struggling with a council member and another council member slumped under a chair.

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

Mayor Ron Loveridge, council members Chuck Beaty, Laura Pearson, Ameal Moore and Terri Thompson and three police officers were wounded. All recovered.

Neale also was convicted of attempting to murder council member Alex Clifford, City Manager John Holmes and two other police officers. Those four were not hurt.

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