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Arrest Warrant Isssued in D.C. Sniper Case - 2002-10-24

Authorities trying to catch a serial sniper roaming an area of the Mid-Atlantic states centering on the Washington, D.C., area have issued an arrest warrant. This could represent the first break in a nationwide manhunt to catch a killer or killers responsible for the deaths of 10 people. Police have also gone on television to issue another cryptic message to the killer.

Late Wednesday night, Maryland's Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose announced a federal arrest warrant was being issued for John Allen Williams, also known as John Allen Muhammad, for firearms violations. "We believe that Mr. Muhammed may have information material to the investigation," said Chief Moose,

He stopped short of labeling the 42-year-old as being the suspected sniper. Still, the development marks the first time in the three-week investigation that authorities have been able to name anyone in connection with 10 seemingly-random shooting deaths. The latest victim of the sniper a bus driver in one of Washington's Maryland suburbs was shot dead Tuesday.

Over the past few days, authorities have exchanged a series of cryptic communications with the sniper, who has begun leaving notes for police, one of them threatening to harm children, if certain demands were not met.

During his brief announcement Wednesday night, Chief Moose again used the media to try to communicate with the killer. It was a strange message that perhaps only the sniper understands. "You asked us to say "we have caught the sniper like a duck in a noose." We understand that hearing us say this is important to you," Chief Moose said. " 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." And, with this message, he again appealed to the killer to call or write police, saying authorities remain ready to talk and without elaborating offering other means of addressing what the gunman has asked for.

Just hours before this dramatic turn of events, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents were seen searching a home across the nation, in Takoma, Washington. They were combing the property with metal detectors. The FBI refuses to say that search is connected to sniper manhunt. Officials involved in the investigation have told reporters authorities are looking for several "people of interest," some of whom may have ties to the military.