Authorities in the U.S. state of Maryland have announced two arrests in connection with a nationwide manhunt into a serial sniper who has killed 10-people during the past three weeks.
It was just a few hours after authorities issued an arrest warrant in the sniper case that police say a motorist along an interstate highway north of Washington, spotted a car at a rest stop matching a police description. Authorities were quickly called and moved in to make the arrests.
"Shortly after 3:30 this morning, the tactical response team arrested two people who were sleeping in the vehicle," announced Maryland State Police Spokesman Greg Shipley. "They were taken into custody. They are described as African-American males, one approximately 20, one approximately 40."
Police sources are identifying the two as John Allen Muhammad, a former army soldier wanted on a federal weapons charge and Lee Malvo, who might be his stepson.
They are the first arrests in what has become a nationwide manhunt for the serial sniper, but it is unclear if investigators suspect one or both with being the killer or whether they simply believe the two have knowledge about the case.
Just hours before the arrests, Maryland's Montgomery County police chief Charles Moose warned the public not to assume that John Allen Muhammad was involved in the sniper shootings. He also issued another cryptic message to the sniper who has killed 10-people seemingly at random across the mid-Atlantic region.
"You asked us to say quote 'We have caught the sniper like a duck in a noose' end quote. We understand that hearing us say this is important to you. However, we want you to know how difficult it has been to understand what you want because you have chosen to use only notes, indirect messages and calls to other jurisdictions," Chief Moose said.
Late Wednesday, FBI agents were seen searching a home across the country in Tacoma, Washington, combing the property with metal detectors. The FBI refuses to say whether that search is connected to the sniper manhunt. But news reports say John Allen Muhammad had lived there while he was in the army at Fort Lewis, Washington, just south of Tacoma.