Skip to comments.Sniper kills for the thrill: 8th attack leaves teen near death
Posted on 10/08/2002 2:00:45 AM PDT by kattracks
WASHINGTON - The thrill killer terrorizing the capital suburbs shot a 13-year-old boy at his schoolhouse entrance yesterday to taunt police hunting for him, experts said.
They suspect the gunman targeted a schoolboy because officials spent all weekend assuring area parents their kids would be safe at school.
The killer's chilling motive was his own amusement.
"This person is killing for sport," said James Fox, dean of Northeastern University's College of Criminal Justice. "He's turned the Montgomery County area into his own personal shooting gallery."
The boy, who let out a cry and dropped his red knapsack as blood erupted on his shirt, became the marksman's eighth and youngest victim moments after his aunt dropped him off at school.
A single .223-caliber bullet from a long hunting rifle smashed into the boy's abdomen at 8:09 a.m., ripping through his pancreas, spleen and part of his left lung. His aunt bundled him into her car and rushed him to a hospital, where he was on a ventilator last night in serious condition.
Relatives said the eighth-grader normally attends a prayer service before classes at the Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie, Md., but missed it yesterday.
No one saw the shooter or the white box truck he is believed to be driving, possibly with a companion.
Judging from an area of matted grass where a police dog sniffed gunfire residue, the maniacal marksman was lying in wait on a wooded hill above the school, watching through his scope as the kids arrived at the entrance 150 yards away.
A tired Montgomery Police Chief Charles Moose could not contain his emotion when faced with a shot child.
'Getting ... personal'
"All of our victims have been innocent and have been defenseless," he said, a tear running down his left cheek. "But it's stepping over the line - shooting a kid. I guess it's getting to be really, really personal now."
Moose and County Executive Doug Duncan had promised Sunday that the schools would be safe, vowing a massive police presence and noting the killer did not appear to have targeted children.
That might have been a mistake.
"They were trying to reassure the mothers and fathers, but the shooter might have seen that to be a challenge," said former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt.
"He might have thought: 'I'll take it right to where you said was safe to show you that no one and no location is safe.'"
Cops were posted at schools all over Montgomery County - but the shooting took place next door, in Prince George's County, another Washington suburb.
On a positive note, experts noted that the sniper took a greater risk by leaving his getaway car to climb around in the woods. He also may have left behind useful evidence on his grassy knoll - hairs, fibers or other debris.
"He's taking greater chances," said Van Zandt. "It's part of the usual pattern. You start to feel omnipotent. Eventually, he'll make a mistake, and that's how he'll be caught."
Moose called on Attorney General John Ashcroft to send federal help, and Duncan called on parents to help guard school kids this morning.
President Bush, who has monitored the wave of shootings, decried the "cowardly" shootings and issued a statement sending his "thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families."
In a region already traumatized by crashing planes and anthrax letters, the level of panic in the Washington region reached new heights after the lull of a shooting-free weekend.
Schools across the area locked youngsters indoors, parents rushed to take their kids home and pedestrians everywhere looked nervously over their shoulders.
"It's a fearful time," Duncan said. "As I'm leaving the funeral of one victim this morning, I'm getting briefed on this latest event."
The mad marksman began his reign of terror Thursday, picking off six people at random.
On Friday, the sniper shot a woman in a Virginia mall parking lot about 50 miles south of Washington. She was the first to survive, and her condition was upgraded yesterday to fair from serious.
Something I learned while in medical school and doing my required stint at a psychiatric facility:
The psychiatrist with the most aggressive personality and power is the one who is "right."
Provocative theory, our first video game killer?
I personally have been wondering if it is a terrorist who dreamed up this scenario because he was out of touch with his leadership and frustrated, like the one who shot up LAX.
But your theory is more interesting.
Why would he do that? My first thought is he is rounding up sheep in a way. Wives and family and the people that work and live in Washington DC will stay in the area where he is not shooting at. It could be a prelude to a very large attack on DC.
I still think he COULD be part of a larger plot against DC. Do you know the area? Which areas around DC are more affluent then the others? Thanks.
It may be some psychological game the sniper is playing but it may well be some sinister political motivation. The reason for speculation is to try and determine a logical means of finding and stopping the sniper. Unfortunately this article provides no new insights that lead us to that goal.
Stay well - Say safe - stay armed - yorktown
Perhaps I can be permitted to speculate. Let us suppose - just for a moment - that this murderer is in truth and in fact a terrorist. And that these events constitute a field test of a specific methodology.
We can note several things. First, the existing law enforcement mechanisms in Montgomery county have proven broadly ineffective in stopping the killer. Might we extrapolate that other areas would be equally ineffective?
Second, it seems probable that a great many resources are being committed to this effort. Resources are limited. Therefore a terrorist group might conclude that the liklihood of an individual operative being neutralized would decline rapidly as the number of killers increased. As few as a dozen such terrorists, operating semi-independently around the country, could exhaust the available resources.
Third, the killer - by attacking a child - has caused law enforcement to concentrate resources around schools. With the limitations previously mentioned, this must surely mean that other areas will be less protected. Were the killer to wait a few days, some targets might well be completely unprotected.
Nightmare scenario: At some point, the killer begins to target officials of one sort or another. This could range from politicians (Judges, Prosecutors) to police officers, or even to garbage collectors.
The problem is, even if this killer isn't a terrorist, he may be providing a demonstration of just how effective such tactics could be.
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