Special Reports

Bear Assassination

Sometime in the darkness of Feb. 29, 1964, a 24-year-old Tacoma man pumped three 9 mm bullets into Fuzzy, the large Point Defiance polar bear with a manner so mild he would eat from his keepers’ hands. The 6-year-old bear, shot in his cage, lived for 16 hours before his death, according to news accounts. They called the killer a “sniper” and an “assassin.”

Three days later, unemployed salesman Steven Joseph Wood Jr. was arrested. He was charged March 4. FBI analysts matched the slugs that killed Fuzzy with a 9 mm Luger, said a message sent to Tacoma by telegram from J. Edgar Hoover.

Wood, who confessed to killing Fuzzy, wept when Judge Bertel Johnson sentenced him to “not more than 10 years in the state reformatory” for possession of a firearm by a felon. He also received a six-month suspended jail sentence in Fuzzy’s death, a misdemeanor.

Kris Sherman, The News Tribune