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Police Seek Clues in Latest US Sniper-Style Shooting - 2002-10-20

Law enforcement authorities are investigating a shooting that wounded a man late Saturday, about 100 kilometers south of Washington, D.C. There is no word on whether the latest attack is connected to a series of sniper killings that has terrorized residents in the nation's capitol.

The latest victim is a 37-year old man who was shot as he was leaving a restaurant in Ashland, Virginia. The victim is listed in critical, but stable, condition. Authorities say he suffered internal injuries when he was struck in the abdomen by a single bullet, which doctors have so far been unable to retrieve.

Police have declined to release the man's identity and will not say what clues they have found, if any.

Officers will not say whether they have forensic evidence linking this shooting to 11 sniper shootings in and around the Washington D.C. area in a little more than two-weeks. But the law enforcement team probing the sniper attacks has joined local police in investigating the latest shooting.

Nine people have died in those attacks after being randomly targeted while going about their daily lives.

The unsolved sniper shootings have gotten the attention of members of the Bush Administration. Secretary of State Colin Powell was asked about the gunman on the television program Fox News Sunday.

Mr. Powell said it is possible the sniper shootings are tied to the terrorists organization, al Qaida. "But I have seen no evidence to tie this terrible series of attacks in the Washington area to al Qaida. I think we are looking for every possible connection. But so far, I have seen nothing that does tie it to al Qaida."

Similarly, National Security Advisor Condeleeza Rice, appearing on the CBS program Face the Nation, said she has seen no evidence of international terrorism. But Ms. Rice said nothing is being ruled out in the search for the killer or killers.

Ms. Rice said President George Bush is briefed everyday on the progress of local and federal law enforcement authorities to find the sniper. And she said the president remains concerned that a killer is on the loose, terrorizing the community.

"He has spoken about it, as all Americans have, as a sickening possibility that this goes on, that peoples' lives are being disrupted, that we feel, of course, for the victims and their families. The president is very much on top of it and looks at it every single morning," she said.

The sniper's victims fit no discernible pattern, they were black, white, male and female, young and old.

Law enforcement authorities remain frustrated because they have very few leads in the case after a two-week intensive manhunt.