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Shootings Unsettle Washington, DC Area - 2002-10-09


The Washington D.C. area had begun to recover emotionally from the September 11th terrorist attacks, but any sense of security disappeared last week. Washington is once again living in a state of suspended fear, as six people have been killed and two wounded by a sniper in the last week. A city and its people are living in fear, the gunman is still at large and police officials have few answers. Melinda Smith reports.

A 13-year old boy is the latest victim of a serial sniper. He was shot outside his school Monday in a Maryland suburb of Washington.

Ballistic evidence ties this latest shooting to the seven earlier attacks, according to Prince George's County Police Chief Gerald Wilson.

GERALD WILSON, PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY POLICE CHIEF
“The projectile that was recovered from our victim this morning has been linked to the other cases in the Washington metropolitan area.”

In nearby Montgomery County, where the earlier shootings took place, Police Chief Charles Moose was angry about the latest shooting.

CHARLES MOOSE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE CHIEF
"All of our victims have been innocent, have been defenseless, but now we're stepping over the line because our children don't deserve this."

The victims were all apparently selected at random and shot once from a distance with a hunting or military rifle.

Police officials have few leads and no suspects. Former Federal Bureau of Investigation profiler Gregg McCray suggests the shooter may have picked his young victim for a reason…

GREGG McCRAY, FORMER FBI INVESTIGATION PROFILER
“To choose a child is to choose probably the most vulnerable victims out there and it also goes to the sense of outrage that he is trying to instill in the community."

Residents of the Washington D.C. area have been advised to go about their normal activities. But they are nervous by the random nature of the shootings, which have taken the lives of a diverse group of people. The killer shot three men and two women in Montgomery County over a 17-hour period. The first victim, a man, was gunned down in a grocery store parking lot. One man was shot as he mowed a lawn. A cab driver was killed at a gasoline station. A woman sitting on a bench outside a post office was shot in the head. A little over an hour later, the shooter killed the fifth victim -- a young woman who had been vacuuming her car at another gasoline station. And later that evening, the sixth victim a 72-year old man was shot and killed while crossing the street in Washington.

WOMAN 1
"With everything right now, I am scared to come here you know."

WOMAN 2
“I'm more self conscious about being in parking lots, just spending time out in the public."

Whether this is terrorism or the criminal acts of a deranged individual, a combination, or something in between, people are left wondering where the shooter will strike next.

WOMAN 3
“I don't get the feeling that they are going to find him anywhere."

MAN
“I don’t want to let the individual who is doing this terrorize me into hiding at home or anything like that. I really don’t want to let him win.”

It’s that sense of frustration combined with fear…that has residents in this nation’s capital wondering if life will ever be the same, or if living with terror is quickly becoming their new reality.

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