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Wilkinsburg shooting suspect left suicide note, profanity-laced screed

Gunman's writings filled with hate

Tuesday, March 07, 2000

By Michael A. Fuoco, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

A four-page suicide note and a five-page screed titled "Personal Legit Feelings" discovered in Ronald Taylor's apartment show the suspect in last week's Wilkinsburg shooting rampage at times reflecting on lifelong health problems and at others spewing racial and ethnic attacks from which few are spared.

Shooting suspect Ronald Taylor. (Post-Gazette) 

On the title page of the suicide note, Taylor, 39, who has a history of mental illness, writes that anyone who reads it should feel free to contact former counselors "to let them know I finally followed through with my plan."

"To my family starting with you, mother, who I love so much, I know this will probably destroy your life but I've been suffering physically for too long. ... I've been experiencing so many different health problems from the time that I was born till now.

"I've been patient year after year, decade after decade with my health but I decided to end it all."

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette yesterday examined photocopies of the signed, undated, hand-printed writings. Police found them in a backpack in Taylor's Wood Street apartment in Wilkinsburg after the shootings, which left three dead and two seriously wounded. The siege was racially motivated, police have charged; Taylor is black and the victims white.

Taylor's writings are very legible and include both complete and fragmented sentences and numerous misspellings and grammatical errors. He jumps without transition from a reflective to an aggressive tone. Often, the change is accompanied by a change from lowercase to uppercase letters.

"So [expletive] Jesus Christ," he writes after saying he has decided to end it all. "You no good, heartless, evil, bias, favoritism, Jewish cold-blood [expletive]. And most of all [expletive] the entire world."

But just as quickly, the mood changes once again.

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"I'm sorry, mother, for taking my own life with your gun that I sneaked for the second time in two years.

"Try to understand when a person is physically suffering for a long time ... and I'm treated by racist, biased doctors and nurses who so often give me generic, cheap medication that is ineffective [and] causes return visits to emergency rooms [that] frustration so often sets in. I get fed up with doctors treating black patients differently from whites in terms of unfairness, unequally and like dirt.

"Jesus Christ made a very costly mistake putting white people on the face of the earth. ... I'll see all of my enemies in hell. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha."

Taylor did not say what his physical ailments were.

In the other writing, which has a title page of "Death to Jerusalem" with drawings of blood dripping from the word "death," Taylor begins: "As long as the system remains racist white and racist Jew, black people will never overcome. ... Poor blacks will remain poor with no hope as God continues to look down on us with complete neglect and no intervention."

And then he begins launching invective -- at whites, Jews, Asians, Italians, white police officers, "feds," and "Uncle Tom" blacks.

He gives "a big thumb up--way to go" to both Adolf Hitler and Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and predicts what he calls "the United Snakes of America will burn in hell."

The Post-Gazette did not see a hand-printed one-page "Satan List" denoting Taylor's "targets," including addresses of various businesses in the Wilkinsburg-Pittsburgh area. Police have said previously that neither the McDonald's nor the Burger King restaurants in Wilkinsburg -- where four of the five victims were shot -- was on the list.

In addition to three homicide charges and other charges related to shootings, Taylor also is charged with ethnic intimidation under Pennsylvania's hate crime statute.

Police said Taylor, apparently enraged by what he considered the slow replacement of his apartment door, set fire to his residence; killed a maintenance man inside the building; fatally shot another man inside the Burger King on Penn Avenue; shot the other three victims outside and inside the nearby McDonald's; and fired two errant shots at Wilkinsburg police officers before surrendering inside a nearby office building.

Yesterday, on the day two of those killed were memorialized in services, the conditions of the two wounded survivors were upgraded to fair. Steven Bostard is in UPMC Presbyterian and Richard Clinger was moved to the UPMC rehabilitation facility in Squirrel Hill.

As revealing as Taylor's writings might be, there was little in his apartment to denote the anger apparently raging inside him.

"Apart from the fire damage, it was an average-looking apartment," said Allegheny County homicide Detective Regis Kelly, who searched the residence. "Judging from what I could see it appeared to be a neat, orderly place where, more or less, everything had its place.

"Basically, it was a normal apartment with fairly decent furniture considering what his economic status was."

The refrigerator had a normal amount of food in it. There was a normal amount of clothing.

There was a video game console with boxing and football game cassettes. In a closet were vinyl record albums and 45s, primarily music from the '70s.

There were no books or periodicals but quite a number of newspapers -- folded and stacked in a closet -- that detectives are perusing to see any articles that might be relevant to the incident. But it's possible, Kelly said, the newspapers were only there because Taylor used them on wire hangers so his pants wouldn't get creased.

Nothing really stood out, except for what Kelly described as "items" placed neatly on a wall. He declined to reveal what they were other than to say they "gave the impression that the individual had a dislike for certain groups."

Shortly after the search began, Kelly said, the writings were discovered in a notebook in a backpack.

Taylor was not a recluse who never left his home, neighbors told police, but, they added, they never saw anyone visit his apartment.

"No one seemed to have a lot of information about him," Kelly said.

Every so often, Taylor walked a few blocks from his old apartment in East Liberty on Penn Circle West to Liberty Video on Penn Avenue.

George Tanner, who owns the store, yesterday said Taylor was "very pleasant" and occasionally came in the store with his brother, Chuck. Taylor's name was still in the computer at the store, but he hadn't checked out any movies since May 1997.

"I have to say that I was really surprised when I saw what happened," Tanner said. "He was never a problem here. He was friendly, kept to himself. Sometimes he was a little aloof, but we all are. There was no evidence that he had some kind of problem."

William Blair, who went to high school with Taylor, said he had ran into him occasionally over the years, including seeing him about a year ago.

"He seemed fine to me," said Blair, a sales representative at the New Pittsburgh Courier newspaper. "This was the first I've heard of him being a mental patient. He was soft-spoken and quiet. If he knew you, he talked to you.

"This is all a shocker. It makes you wonder."

Staff Writers Mike Rosenwald and Johnna A. Pro contributed to this report.

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