Police investigating the series of sniper attacks that have terrorized Washington say they have received a message warning that area children are not safe. Disclosure of the warning came on the same day as the shooting death of a bus driver who police fear is the sniper's latest victim.
The chilling warning to police was apparently contained in a letter left at the scene of a shooting last Saturday near Richmond, Virginia.
Authorities presume the letter was left by the sniper who began a shooting rampage nearly three weeks ago that has left nine people dead and three others seriously wounded.
Montgomery County, Maryland, Police Chief Charles Moose, the man heading the sniper investigation, read the warning to reporters.
"We recognize the concerns of the community and therefore are going to provide the exact language in the message that pertains to the threat," he said. "It is in the form of a postscript: your children are not safe anywhere, at any time."
Chief Moose also said authorities have received another message that they presume is from the sniper. "We have received a communication. We will be responding soon," he said.
On Monday, Chief Moose revealed police had received a message, presumably from the sniper, but that the communication was garbled. At a news conference, he asked the man to call again.
Police meanwhile are treating a shooting Tuesday as likely the work of the sniper. Conrad Johnson, a 35-year-old bus driver and father of two, was struck by a gunshot as he stood on the top step of his commuter bus in suburban Maryland, just north of Washington.
Chief Moose is urging residents in the Washington area to be on "heightened alert."The person or people have demonstrated a willingness and ability to shoot people of all ages, all races, all genders and they have struck at different times of day, different days and at different locations," he said.
The sniper shootings have sown fear and anger throughout the Washington metropolitan area and drawn national and international news coverage. Many local residents say they are fearful to do such every day things as shopping, gassing up their cars or taking their children to school.