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Beltway Sniper Shootings-FR Commentary-Tuesday, Oct. 15
Fox News, CNN, Press Conferences | October 15, 2002 | Fox News, CNN, Press Conferences

Posted on 10/15/2002 2:17:07 AM PDT by Peach

To avoid multiple vanity threads regarding any news from press conferences, let's keep a live commentary thread going again today.

Note: This is the graphics-free thread. Graphics can be found under the thread titled "Beltway Sniper Shootings-Graphics Only"

TOPICS: Breaking News; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; US: District of Columbia; US: Maryland; US: Virginia
KEYWORDS: banglist; dc; fallschurch; md; nonterroristattack; sevencorners; shootings; sniper; va
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A woman was killed with a single gunshot to the head at 9:15 last night at a Fairfax County, Virginia shopping mall and police are treating the crime as likely connected to the Beltway killer. There are differences in this crime because there was no immediate access to a highway. Early reports indicate it may have been in a parking garage. Police have issued a BOLO for a cream colored Astrovan with a missing tail light and a ladder on top.
1 posted on 10/15/2002 2:17:07 AM PDT by Peach
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To: Route66; Peach; Bella; Pete; areafiftyone; brigette; harpseal; Merovingian; Miss Marple; ...
2 posted on 10/15/2002 2:17:48 AM PDT by Peach
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To: Peach
Please stop by and visit at Prayer Thread
3 posted on 10/15/2002 2:27:56 AM PDT by Peach
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To: Peach
i live 4 mi. from this Home Depot. This is my stomping grounds. i had been concerned before, but now i am really worried. i pass this place about 20 times a day. what my husband and i cannot figure out is how they got away quickly! even at night that intersection is fairly busy. This is 2 mi. inside the Beltway, but there are a ton of lights and all kinds of congestion between the Beltway and this intersection in falls church. That is an extremely Latino area of Falls Church, with a large apartment complex directly across Route 50 from the HOme Depot.
4 posted on 10/15/2002 2:29:55 AM PDT by xsmommy
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To: xsmommy
You are in my prayers. Be safe.
5 posted on 10/15/2002 2:32:35 AM PDT by Peach
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To: xsmommy
Do you know if the woman was in an enclosed parking garage? CNN was reporting that this morning, but the pictures don't match the reporting.
6 posted on 10/15/2002 2:33:43 AM PDT by Peach
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To: Peach
Thanks. my kids school is 2 mi. away from this shooting site. They were already in lockdown for the past 2 weeks, but i imagine that the school is going to be nervous beyond belief now. I think of all of the kids that walk around school to the local public library to do homework. I hope their parents will not let them do that now.
7 posted on 10/15/2002 2:34:37 AM PDT by xsmommy
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To: Peach
i haven't seen any news coverage yet. My husband just told me about this as the alarm went off this AM. the enclosed parking garage is kind of open air, if she was loading from the home depot, she would have been in the garage area. The exits/entrances all front into that garage area.
8 posted on 10/15/2002 2:36:02 AM PDT by xsmommy
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To: Peach
Woman Fatally Shot in Head in Va.
Tue Oct 15, 2:07 AM ET

By MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press Writer

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) - A woman was shot in the head and killed Monday night as she and her husband loaded packages into their car outside a Home Depot in suburban Washington. Police were investigating whether it was the latest shooting by a sniper already blamed for eight deaths in the past 12 days.

Police swiftly closed down highways in the area, about 10 miles west of the nation's capital, creating massive gridlock as they searched for a van from which the shooter might have fired.

Fairfax County Police Chief Tom Manger said authorities were on the lookout for a cream-colored Chevy Astro van that was missing a left rear tail light and had a silver roof ladder. Virginia State Police said the van was last seen traveling east on Route 50 from Falls Church. Interstates 66 and I-95 are nearby.

Witnesses at some of the earlier shootings also reported seeing a white or cream-colored van or truck.

The woman was felled by a single shot about 9:15 p.m., authorities said. All the other deaths in the sniper spree were also caused by one shot, and two people also were wounded by a single bullet.

The Maryland task force investigating the sniper attacks was conferring with Fairfax County authorities to see if Monday's victim was the sniper's ninth.

"It's too early to tell at this time (if the shooting is linked), however we are working it and investigating it with that potential in mind," Manger said.

The woman was shot in the head as she and her husband loaded packages into their car's trunk, said Ellen Qualls, a spokeswoman for Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner. Someone fired the fatal shot from a van, she said.

"There's some pretty decent eyewitness information that maybe we haven't had in some of the previous shootings," Qualls said.

Immediately after the shooting, the victim's body lay under a sheet 30 yards in front of the store entrance.

Police were still scouring the parking lot for evidence and interviewing witnesses early Tuesday. There were a number of people in the parking lot when the shooting occurred, Manger said.

"More than anything else, I wished I was outside so I could identify this guy," one woman who had been stuck inside the Home Depot as authorities closed it told CNN. "I am used to seeing blood, but this amount of blood shocked me."

The Home Depot is located in the Seven Corners Shopping Center, a 450,000-square-foot strip shopping center with a parking garage.

Monday's killing occurred at one of northern Virginia's busiest intersections, where major arteries come together to form seven corners. Clint Van Zandt, a former FBI (news - web sites) profiler who lives in Fredericksburg, Va., said the location sets the slaying apart from the others.

"This is not bold, this is brazen," he said. "It's a much more highly congested area, even under the cover of darkness."

Kristin Reed, a supervisor at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in the sprawling strip mall, said six employees were locked inside the store for a time with an FBI agent.

"Cops and cops and more cops," Reed said of the scene outside. Shopper Raymond Massas said he "heard one shot. Not very loud, like a snap. After that I heard people start panicking."

Two police helicopters circled the scene as bystanders looked on.

"It hasn't been this frightening since 9/11," said Bob Bakley as he stared across Route 50.

Added Abdel Elkheshisn: "We thought, 'It's in Maryland. It's not here, it's far away."

The sniper had shot 10 people in all in the killing spree that began Oct. 2. On Friday morning, a 53-year-old Philadelphia man was gunned down in Spotsylvania County, Va., as he pumped gas. The killer had gone two straight weekends without an attack.

Earlier Monday, the longest lull yet in the Washington sniper's killing spree brought little relief as jittery residents flooded police with calls upon hearing car backfire, firecrackers or breaking glass.

"Everyone is edgy," said Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose, who is heading the investigation. "People are hearing things that may normally be overlooked."

President Bush (news - web sites) said the "cold-blooded" attacks have made him sick to his stomach. "I weep for those who have lost their loved ones," he said. "The idea of moms taking their kids to school and sheltering them from a potential sniper attack is not the America that I know."

Four police squad cars rushed to a Silver Spring car dealership Monday after the window of a customer's BMW shattered when he closed the door. The man dialed 911, thinking a bullet broke the glass.

"He had no idea what happened — he was just freaked out," said David Earhardt, the dealership's service manager.

"People hear a noise, they're going to call — they want to put an end to this just like we do," said Prince William County, Va., Detective Dennis Mangan, whose department brought in a helicopter to search the woods before determining a reported gunshot was just a car backfiring.

Authorities in Baltimore, meanwhile, seized a white van and found an assault rifle, sniper manual and ammunition similar to the .223 bullets used in attacks that have killed eight people and wounded two others, WBAL-TV reported.

MSNBC reported that a tarot card was found in the van and a sign on the dashboard read "Gihad in America." A tarot card was also found at one of the shootings.

The van's owner was questioned Monday night by police and released with no charges filed.

"At this time, the task force believes this is not related to our sniper incidents," said Louise Marthens, a Montgomery County police spokeswoman.

Profilers said a long break could suggest the sniper was trying to outsmart police and change routine.

"Falling into a pattern is falling into a trap," said Robert K. Ressler, a former FBI profiler who helped investigators track killers such as Jeffrey Dahmer. "People this deep into aberrant behavior aren't just going to hang it up and call it quits."

Many schools in the region remained under lockdown Monday, meaning outdoor recess and physical education classes were canceled, and students were kept indoors all day.

"I'm looking around for every white van I see," said Richard Spears, who was mowing grass at James Monroe High School in Fredericksburg, Va. "It makes you a little leery."

Moose said people can now write as well as call with their tips. He gave an address: P.O. Box 7875, Gaithersburg, Md., 20898-7875.

Federal and local investigators refuse to discuss any details of the manhunt. But they have logged some consistencies: the killer favors suburban gas stations; takes down each victim with a single bullet; and, judging from the tarot card left at one of the shootings, appears to enjoy taunting police. It read: "Dear Policeman, I am God."
9 posted on 10/15/2002 2:38:34 AM PDT by Textide
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To: Textide
Thank you for posting this; lots of info in here.
10 posted on 10/15/2002 2:41:49 AM PDT by Peach
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To: xsmommy
I'm stationed in Japan with the USN now. I used to live in Fairfax. That's the area I bought our Ford minivan. We used to always go to "Mark's Duck House". When our van was serviced, we'd hang out at the Barnes and Noble, or walk to the Vietnamese Mall, with a double stroller. I was due to rotate back to DC this wife asked me at lunch today to extend in Japan, she's terrified half a world away!! My Brother, also a Marine, lives in Fredericksburg. My Daughter, a college sophmore, spent the summer there, working in the same strip mall, walking to work, where the woman was shot last week. Please "watch your six" and take care. We are 13 hours ahead here and glued to our TV sets...nobody was watching the baseball playoffs or Monday Night Football. Semper Fidelis.
11 posted on 10/15/2002 2:45:09 AM PDT by MCFujiTanker
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To: Peach
local news is citing CBS and AP saying a witness or witnesses saw the shooter exit vehicle and take the shot
12 posted on 10/15/2002 2:51:35 AM PDT by sell_propaganda
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To: MCFujiTanker
I know all of the things of which you speak, the Ford dealer, Mark's Duck House, the Eden Center. This is truly terrifying because as you know that area is SO congested. that is what is so remarkable about this shooting. There is NO easy in/out from that spot. They said there is some decent eye witness testimony this time, that makes sense, since that area is crawling with people. Unless the guy is invisible, even taking by surprise, seems like someone would see SOMETHING!
13 posted on 10/15/2002 2:53:36 AM PDT by xsmommy
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To: sell_propaganda
perhaps his brazenness at selecting such a high density area will finally be his undoing. it doesn't surprise me to hear someone saw him do this, considering how crowded that area is, even at 9:15pm. i want this guy fried.
14 posted on 10/15/2002 2:55:24 AM PDT by xsmommy
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To: sell_propaganda
Yes, and on some thread I just read (last night's thread regarding another shooting?), police said witness saw an olive skinned man(men?) driving away. Hopefully someone got a license plate number this time.
15 posted on 10/15/2002 2:58:52 AM PDT by Peach
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To: xsmommy
that's what I'm thinking, trying to guess his next move I thought he would have expanded his range but he stayed inside, he may have gotten angry watching tv this weekend
16 posted on 10/15/2002 3:03:05 AM PDT by sell_propaganda
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To: sell_propaganda
i would like to know where the shot came from, and from how far away. i know this area intimately and i am trying to imagine where he was placed and how he got away.
17 posted on 10/15/2002 3:05:13 AM PDT by xsmommy
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To: Peach
Olive skin has been whitewashed already.
18 posted on 10/15/2002 3:06:18 AM PDT by spycatcher
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To: sell_propaganda; xsmommy
local news is citing CBS and AP saying a witness or witnesses saw the shooter exit vehicle and take the shot

sp, it would seem that in Virginia, where the citizens are free to bear arms, that with so many witnesses there ought to have been a chance of one of them carrying and able to either shoot the murderer or shoot out his tires! We all need to be armed and trained and on our toes. That is the only way to save lives in a case like this. I am very much afraid that with more 'gun control' legislation more of this sort of sniper crime will be taking place. When guns are outlawed only outlaws and law enforcement will have guns. There will always be outlaws; there will never be enough law enforcement to protect every indiviual.

xs, I am so sorry for the situation you are in. I had no idea (it never occurred to me) that you are in that area. I have been praying fervently from the first reports of this terrible maniac. I have added you to my list. LOLuv.

19 posted on 10/15/2002 3:08:05 AM PDT by .30Carbine
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To: xsmommy
how he got away.

No law enforcement on the scene. No armed citizen present.

20 posted on 10/15/2002 3:11:48 AM PDT by .30Carbine
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