101 California Street Shootings

101 California Street shooting
Gian Luigi Ferri
Location San Francisco, California, United States
Date July 1, 1993
2:57 pm
Attack type Mass murder, murder-suicide, suicide attack
Weapon(s) Two Intratec TEC-DC9
Norinco M1911 pistol
Deaths 9 (including the perpetrator)
Injured (non-fatal) 6
Perpetrator Gian Luigi Ferri

101 California Street Shooting was a mass shooting that took place July 1, 1993, in San Francisco, California, claiming the lives of nine people, including the shooter, Gian Luigi Ferri. The killings sparked a number of legal and legislative actions that were precursors to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, H.R.3355, 103rd Congress (1994). The Act took effect in 1994, and expired on September 13, 2004, through the operation of a sunset provision.

The shootings

On July 1, 1993, 55-year-old failed entrepreneur[1] Gian Luigi Ferri (born December 29, 1937 as Gianluigi Ettore Ferri) entered an office building at 101 California Street in San Francisco, and made his way to the offices of the law firm of Pettit & Martin on the 34th floor. Ferri's reason for targeting the firm is unknown; it had advised him about some real estate deals in the Midwest in 1981, but had no contact with him ever since. After exiting an elevator, Ferri donned a pair of ear protectors and opened fire with a pair of TEC-9 handguns and a Norinco NP44 (a Chinese-manufactured copy of the Colt M1911 pistol). He reportedly used a mix of Black Talon hollow point and standard ammunition, and used Hellfire trigger systems for the TEC-9 pistols. After roaming the 34th floor, he moved down one floor through an internal staircase and continued shooting. The attack continued on several floors before Ferri committed suicide as San Francisco Police closed in. Eight people were killed in the attack, and six others injured.[2]

The reason for the shootings was never determined. A typed letter left behind by Ferri contained a list of complaints,[3] but the letter was largely unintelligible. Ferri claimed he had been poisoned by monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer in food, and that he had been "raped" by Pettit & Martin and other firms. The letter also contained complaints against the Food and Drug Administration, the legal profession (which he claimed gave "allegiance to the monarchy"), and a list of over 30 "criminals, rapists, racketeeres [sic], lobbyists", none of whom were among his actual victims.[4] Subsequent reports claimed that Ferri's issues related to a conference he had at a law firm on the 35th floor, and targeted Pettit & Martin by mistake.

The victims


Allen J. Berk, 52, was a partner at Pettit & Martin, experienced in labor law, and was well respected in the San Francisco legal community. He earned an undergraduate degree from City University of New York, and received his law degree from George Washington University. The law firm left his office exactly as it had been for over a year afterwards.

Jack Berman, 36, was a partner with the firm Bronson, Bronson, & McKinnon who was at Pettit & Martin's offices to attend a deposition of his client Jody Sposato. Both attorney Berman and his client were killed. A president of the American Jewish Congress known for his work specializing in employment law and chairing the firm's pro bono committee, Berman was born in Moosup, Connecticut, and graduated from Brown University before receiving his law degree from Boston University School of Law. Berman also co-founded TAX-AID,[5] an organization that provides free income tax preparation, and the San Francisco Transitional Housing Fund, a program to aid homeless individuals in finding housing. The California Young Lawyers' Association gives an annual award in Berman's name.[6]

Donald "Mike" Merrill, 48, was an employee of the Trust Company of the West, which had offices at 101 California Street. He had worked as an energy industry consultant, working with independent energy projects.

Shirley Mooser, 64, was a secretary at the Trust Company of the West, which had offices at 101 California Street.

Deborah Fogel, 33, was a legal secretary for the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine, which had offices at 101 California Street.

Jody Jones Sposato, 30, was a young mother and a client of Bronson, Bronson & McKinnon. She was the plaintiff in a sex discrimination lawsuit against her employer, Electronic Data Systems Corporation. She was at Pettit & Martin for a second day of deposition, accompanied by her attorney Jack Berman.

David Sutcliffe, 30, was a law student at the University of Colorado at Boulder who was interning at Pettit & Martin for the summer. Ironically, Sutcliffe had not even been chosen initially for the intern program. The firm had called him to turn him down; Sutcliffe was so excited and overjoyed, thinking he had been accepted, that the firm made space for him.

John Scully, 28, was a lawyer with Pettit & Martin who died, according to news reports, while protecting his wife from the gunman. Interested in labor law, Scully earned his bachelors degree from Gonzaga University, then received his law degree at the University of San Francisco. He had gotten married about a year before the shootings. Many in the firm had gone with him to Hawaii for their wedding. His new wife was visiting the firm for lunch when the gunman arrived. Scully pushed his wife underneath the desk, shielding her with his own body.


Vicky Smith, 41.

Sharon Jones O'Roke, 35, was in-house counsel at Electronic Data Systems Corporation in Dallas, Texas, and was using a Pettit & Martin conference room to take the deposition of Jody Jones Sposato. O'Roke was the first one shot during the attack. Both Sposato and her attorney, Jack Berman, were killed. Deanna Eaves, one of the injured, was a court reporter recording the deposition proceedings.

Michelle Scully, 27.

Brian F. Berger, 39.

Deanna Eaves, 33.

Charles Ross, 42.


The shootings spurred calls for tighter gun control and were followed by a number of legal and legislative actions.

California, at the state level, implemented some of the toughest gun laws in the United States.[7] The state also repealed a law that had given gun manufacturers immunity against lawsuits, following an attempt by some relatives of 101 California street victims to sue the companies that made the weapons Ferri used.

A number of organizations were formed in the wake of the shootings, including Legal Community Against Violence,[8] which acts as a resource for information on federal, state, and local firearms policies. The AJC founded the Jack Berman Advocacy Center[9] to lobby and organize with regard to gun control and violence reduction.

The firm, Pettit & Martin, did not long survive the attacks. Despite mutual support, counseling and therapy provided employees, many of whom suffered physical ailments from the trauma, there was not much spirit left to carry on. After the deaths of the long-lived name partners, the firm dissolved a few years later.

See also

San Francisco Bay Area portal


External links

  • j.weekly article about the shootings
  • z Publishing aggregation of news articles about the shootings
  • The New York Times (July 7, 1993)
  • The New York Times (July 3, 1993)
  • The New York Times (July 4, 1993)
  • The New York Times (April 12, 1995)
  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (July 3, 1993)
  • Gunman kills 8 and committs suicide, Kingman Daily Miner (July 2, 1993)
  • Murder in Calif.: What price fame?, St. Petersburg Times (July 6, 1993)
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