Skip to comments.Washington sniper vanishes after signature hits
Posted on 10/13/2002 1:43:35 PM PDT by Tumbleweed_Connection
US police have said they do not want to the muddy waters of an investigation into a sniper who has killed eight people and wounded two by releasing an inaccurate sketch, amid reports the meticulous killer circling the nation's capital has been sighted.
Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose was asked to comment on reports that the sniper who has electrified the Washington area has been spotted, and police are working on a composite sketch.
Chief Moose, struggling for the right words, said he did not want to "muddy the waters" by releasing an image to the media too soon.
"Please rest assured that when we have something where we are sure that the media can help us we will use that," Moose said.
"The concern is that we pollute the whole thought process, we cause people to have tunnel vision, think they see what they heard on TV and mix that up with reality."
The power of the media has taken center stage in the hunt for the shooter - or shooters, who has used a high-velocity rifle to slam a single bullet into 10 victims since October 2, eluding the largest federal, state and local manhunt in the history of the Washington region.
Chief Moose released a composite image of an older model, mid-sized commercial truck, with light damage to its right rear bumper and black lettering -- a row of large black block letters above a row of smaller letters, on each side.
Chief Moose said the white truck, which has a roll-up door at the rear, was seen at more than one of the shootings by more than one witness and he asked the media to distribute it widely.
He declined to discuss any of the witnesses further.
"None of the witnesses have been able to give us the exact wording" on the truck or its license plate number, Chief Moose said at a news briefing.
The chief said the image is generating new leads.
"Maybe he has had this vehicle repaired," he said, calling on mechanics and body shop workers to think back.
Investigators are working on a sketch of a second vehicle, described as a white Chevrolet Astro van, seen near the latest shooting on Friday, Chief Moose said.
"We're working with a sense of urgency" to get that photo to the public, he said.
Physical evidence has been scant, with one taunting clue apparently left by the shooter near where a 13-year-old victim was shot - a tarot "death" card with the words "dear Mr Policeman, I am God" scrawled on the back.
The cold, methodical killer, who picks off random victims while concealed in a sniper's nest at a comfortable distance, claimed his 10th victim and eighth fatality on Friday.
Kenneth Bridges, 53, a businessman and father of six on the road from Philadelphia, was killed on Friday at an Exxon gasoline station near a busy interstate highway in Virginia.
Good question; but why this time, send a message with a tarot card? I've not heard any such thing was done previously in any bombings, domestic or abroad. Why change "tactics" of communication, for our benefit?
Good point. I guess they'd have to bitch him to death.
(Look at Exodus 20:5.
"Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them:
for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God")
I am sure there are similar passages in the Koran,
which this writer certainly is referring to.
Because as Ossama points out in the training manual we captured in Kabul, random sniper shooting tends to demoralize the civilian population and adversely affect productivity.
If he was not concerned about what we would do in response, he might well implement this scheme in a number of metropolitan areas at the same time. This is an easy cheap way to impact your adversary with relatively low risk of casualties (detection and capture of the shooter and his spoters). You could have 100 of these out for a couple of hundred thousand dollars and knocking off 1000 civilian targets every two weeks would have a real impact.
This is an Australian news source is it not?
Terrorize people?? OR
See how they would shut down the highways all around the loop??
Interesting. Two cards have that number on it, BTW, and both of those appear to be "crusaders." I wonder if this reflects back to when the Christians killed many moslems during the crusades.....
The images are the first of any kind to be released in association with a killer who has been stalking suburban Washington areas and targeting victims apparently at random. More than a week after the shootings began, a massive task force of county, state and federal officers still won't say if they know who they're looking for, or even if the sniper is acting alone.
"We're putting information out, asking people to have their memories jogged," said police Chief Charles Moose of Montgomery County, where five people were killed.
The two images, produced by the FBI based on witnesses from more than one shooting, show a flat-front white truck with a roll-up door in the back, a weathered paint job, a small dent in the back bumper and unknown dark purple or black writing on the side.
The witnesses were unable to provide the exact wording on the truck or the license plate number. They did tell investigators it appeared to be an older model with a loud motor.
Moose said investigators are also working with witnesses to produce a similar composite sketch of a white Astro van with a ladder on the top that was reported seen leaving the scene of Friday's deadly shooting at a gas station near Fredericksburg, Va.
Asked if the separate sketches meant the sniper may be using more than one vehicle, he said it "is not our goal to make any suggestions at all. We're working with witnesses."
The images were released as the reward for information in the case reached $500,000.
The latest victim was Kenneth H. Bridges, 53, a Philadelphia businessman and father of six who was shot as he pumped gas Friday morning at an Exxon station just off Interstate 95 in Spotsylvania County, Va., about an hour south of Washington.
It was a brazen attack, carried out with a single shot as a state trooper stood just across the street. Bridges fell to the pavement as gasoline continued to pump into his silver Buick.
The trooper rushed to help the victim, and the killer disappeared.
The attacks, all carried out in public places as the victims went about their daily tasks, raised a specter for area residents already shaken by last fall's terrorist hijackings and anthrax attacks.
At least one high school homecoming and several Friday night football games were canceled by worried school officials in and around Washington, D.C.
Members of the Guardian Angels, the volunteer public safety organization, manned two gas stations in Alexandria, Va., to pump gas for travelers who were too scared to get out of their cars. "We're just trying to do our part to make people safe," said group member John Ayala.
Across the street from the scene of Friday's shooting in Virginia, Raja Abilnona parked three tow trucks alongside his filling station as a shield.
"Maybe my customers will think it's safer," he said. "It's harder to see in here ... at least it will make it more difficult for someone to shoot."
Despite jitters, motorists continued to gas up, looking over their shoulders now and then for whoever is terrorizing the community.
"There's what, about 4 1/2 million people living around here?" said John Sewell, 70, a retired schoolteacher who stopped at a RaceTrac station in Spotsylvania County. "I think my chances are pretty good that that guy isn't going to shoot me."
In each shooting, the sniper has fired a single round from a high-powered rifle and most have taken place within easy access of a major highway.
Clarence Shook, filling his truck just up the road, said he keeps a 9 mm Ruger pistol under the dashboard. "I'm not afraid," he said. "But I am cautious."
Tipsters have deluged toll-free hotlines, police stations and sheriff's stations, but their information has yet to lead to the person or people responsible. More than 1,900 calls were received in the 24 hours after the shooting in Spotsyvania County alone, sheriff's Maj. Howard Smith said Saturday.
Near the Exxon station where Bridges was killed, authorities knocked on motel room doors in their search for witnesses and possibly the killer.
One man who was questioned said investigators compared his face with a photo of a sandy-haired man.
"They thought I was the sniper," said Hobert Epps, 36, of Athens, Ga., who said he was staying at a nearby motel.
Epps said investigators told him the picture was from a video surveillance camera near the scene of one of the shootings.
Reporters asked Moose repeatedly Saturday about Epps' claim and about residents who may have seen the occupants of a white cargo van seen leaving the Exxon station. He said it has been his practice not to release such investigative details.
Moose, who planned to appear on four Sunday morning network talk shows, also warned members of the media not to follow investigators as they pursue tips in the case. He said such behavior could threaten the safety of witnesses.
"If you are engaged in that kind of activity, you not only stand the chance of jeopardizing the investigation, but the safety of our investigators and the safety of our witnesses."
On the Net:
Montgomery County Police Department: http://www.co.mo.md.us
Federal Bureau of Investigation: http://www.fbi.gov
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms: http://www.atf.treas.gov
By the way, apparently some of you missed the big thread yesterday,
where there was much discussion of Tarot cards
including a cartoon in a Palestinian newspaper
that featured a Tarot card.
So it's clear Arabs, as well, are very familiar with Tarot cards.
Sure there is. We can turn Mecca into a radioactive parking lot, right after we steal their holy meteorite.
A) it's limited to the DC area
B) no one has still answered why a terrorist would attack an Arts & Crafts store
C) the only people who seem terrorized are the 24/7 conspiracy wing of freepers
D) got Reynolds Wrap?