Thoughts on the sniper’s attack

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Just when you thought it was almost safe to come out of the water, boom, we are back to square one.

Monday was filled with suspense and excitement as authorities in Montgomery County, Md. thought that they had caught the sniper who has terrorized the areas of Washington, D.C., Maryland and Richmond since Oct. 2. The two men who were arrested because of a letter from the sniper proved to lead to another dead end road when a 24-hour investigation found that the men were innocent and in the wrong place at the wrong time.

To date, nine people have been killed and three wounded by the sniper’s bullets, and people in Suffolk had also begun to feel tension and anxiety when the sniper seemed to be striking closer to the city line. However, yesterday morning the sniper seemed to move back to the area to claim one more victim near the area where he shot the first one three weeks ago. So far 12 victims have been shot, nine fatal and three wounded in Maryland in the areas of Aspen Hill, Rockville, White Flint, Wheaton, Bowie, Kensington, Silver Springs, Falls Church, Manassas, Montgomery County, and Washington D.C.

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About 5:56 a.m. Tuesday on Connecticut Avenue near Aspen Hill in Maryland, the latest victim, a commuter bus driver, was fatally shot. If it is confirmed that it is the work of the sniper, this would total 13 people have been shot and 10 have been killed.

I have been keeping a close look on this situation because I have many friends living in that area. One of them, John Davis, who is a native of Suffolk and lives in Oxon Hill, Md., also owns a home here in Suffolk. He was here last weekend to take care of some business and to attend a Booker T. Washington Alumni Assoc. meeting. Since we sometimes see each other often when he is here, I chose to focus our latest meeting on the sniper.

Davis told me that people in the areas of Washington and Maryland are living on edge, but that he is not afraid because of his past employment with criminal investigations in the U.S. Army.

&uot;People have been staying home afraid to go out, and department stores are experiencing a slowdown in purchases because people are afraid to go to malls and stores,&uot; said Davis. He also said gas stations have placed canvasses on gas pumps so that the sniper can’t see them from the street.

&uot;Children are in lockdown and ball games that have to be played are kept very secretive. No one knows where they are going to be played but the teams and parents. Most of them are canceled but some of those that are played are even done so far away from the Washington area.

&uot;Everywhere I go I look for the sniper hoping that he will show up in my view so that I may get a chance to grab him. I’m not afraid, just steamed up that he and guys like him are going around doing this kind of stuff,&uot; said Davis.

Davis is retired from the Criminal Investigation Dept. in the U.S. Army, Military Police and Criminal Investigation for the army and retired from the secret service. He was part of that team when Ronald Reagan held the job as president. He also worked for the Navy Police Force, Navy Intelligence and worked undercover with private investigations.

The sniper seems to be changing the way of life for many people. With these incidents people can’t lead normal lives like the situation with the recent anthrax scare and terrorist strikes because no one knows where the sniper will strike next. He has struck at a restaurant, at a gas station, at a department store, a parking depot and at a school. You have to get gas to drive from one place to another, some children have to walk to get to school, at times you have to load groceries and other items into your car or you may even want to eat out at a restaurant.

It was reported on Channel 13 ABC National news Tuesday morning that the police seem to be getting frustrated with this cat-and-mouse chase.

Monday was a day of incredible developments and we know how that turned out. The sniper’s three and one half page letter demand for money and the telephone number location where police were suppose to wait, wasn’t met because the person who listened to the sniper’s telephone message could not understand the call. Therefore, Chief Charles Moose of the Montgomery Co. Police Dept. issued the following statement to the news media hoping that it would reach the culprit. &uot;The person you called could not hear everything that you said. The audio was unclear and we want to get it right. Call us back so that we can clearly understand.&uot;

News reports on the ABC &uot;Today Show&uot; with Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer then reported that the police department was wondering if the sniper would try to contact them again and if they did, how? Would it be through a letter or a sniper’s bullet? Perhaps that 13th shooting yesterday morning was the sniper’s answer because after a thorough investigation, the shooting of the 37-year-old man who was shot in Ashland, Md. on Saturday night was the 12th victim among the three wounded.

Davis left here to travel back to Maryland last Sunday and I called him Monday to see if he had arrived safely. He said that on his way there, he stopped at a rest stop and a man also stopped by the same one to change a flat tire. He helped the man change that tire and informed me that this man was driving a blue van.

I want to give a word of advice to John because I will always value his friendship: John, you are scheduled to arrive in Suffolk this weekend to take part in our fashion and talent show. Just make sure that you stay clear of vans, and please don’t take any chances helping anyone to repair any vehicle – especially the white ones.