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Contact: Colin Smith, 415-464-5175
According to a story by reporter Ann Simmons in today’s Los Angeles Times, entitled “Ex-Black Panther Granted Parole,” the man convicted of killing ranger Ken Patrick in 1974 will be released on parole next month. The following is an excerpt from that article:
A former captain of the Black Panther Party, who was convicted of killing a park ranger near San Francisco 31 years ago, has been granted parole, despite a last-ditch attempt by law enforcement officials to block his release.
Veronza Leon Curtis Bowers Jr., 59, is expected to leave a federal prison in Coleman, Fla., on June 21, said U.S. Parole Commission officials.
"If he gets into trouble, he could be kept in," said Tom Hutchison, a spokesman for the Maryland-based commission. But most inmates close to their release date, he said, "just bide their time" and wait to be freed.
Bowers was convicted in 1974 of killing Kenneth Patrick, 40, the first National Park Service ranger to be killed in the line of duty. Patrick was shot three times while tracking poachers at Point Reyes National Seashore in August 1973. He left a wife and three children.
"Allowing this killer back in the streets puts the public and police officers at risk," said Chuck Canterbury, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police. "We will exhaust every legal avenue in an effort to keep Bowers where he belongs — behind bars."