News Updates

October 18, 1989 1 min read

Patrick Purdy, who last January opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle on a Stockton, Calif., schoolyard, killing five children and wounding 31 others, acted on his own and out of racial hatred, the state’s attorney general has concluded.

After the killings, Mr. Purdy turned the weapon on himself. (See Education Week, Jan. 25, 1989).

Many of the victims were from Vietnamese and Cambodian families, and “Purdy attacked Southeast Asian immigrants out of a festering sense of racial resentment and hatred,” Attorney General John Van de Kamp said in a report after a lengthy investigation by the state department of justice into the 26-year-old Purdy’s life and the killings.

The investigation concluded that Mr. Purdy, who had a disturbed family life, blamed all minority groups for his emotional problems. He chose Cleveland School for his attack because it had a large population of Southeast Asian children, and because he had once gone to school there, Mr. Van de Kamp said.

The investigators also concluded that Mr. Purdy carefully planned the murders to “make people remember him.”

Mr. Van De Kamp said he undertook the investigation in part to help calm widespread fears in the Asian community that Mr. Purdy’s attack was part of a widespread conspiracy of violence against them. He also called on the Congress to approve legislation to ban the sale of assault rifles and ammunition nationwide.

Three assistant state superintendents have been selected to help reorganize the Jersey City, N.J., school system, which was recently taken over by the state.

Elena J. Scambio, the district’s newly appointed superintendent, last week chose the new team to replace the district’s former administration. (See Education Week, Oct. 11, 1989).

Judith Wilcox has been designated assistant state superintendent for elementary and secondary programs; Eloise Forster, assistant state superintendent for curriculum; and Victor Demming, the state business administrator. All three previously had been administrators in other New Jersey districts.

A version of this article appeared in the October 18, 1989 edition of Education Week as News Updates