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Police Continue Manhunt; D.C. Link Eyed

Police Chief Says High-Speed Hunting Rifle Likely the Weapon

By Washington Post Staff Writers

Friday, October 4, 2002; 1:06 PM

A fatal shooting on Georgia Avenue in the District last night may be connected to a murderous spree in Montgomery County that left five people dead in 17 hours, a source close to the investigation said this morning.

Pascal Charlot, 72, was standing on the corner at Georgia Avenue and Kalmia Street NW when he was struck by one bullet about 9:20 p.m. He was taken to Washington Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead. Forensic experts are examining the wounds and comparing them to those found in the Maryland victims. The District murder site is a block from the Montgomery County line.

Police said the investigation into the Montgomery County killings continues. None of the bullets in the five Maryland shootings have been recovered but fragments were found in one of the victims.

During an early afternoon press conference, Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose said that his department is working closely with the Metropolitan Police Department on a possible link between the shootings.

"We are very involved, we're very much interested in it, but at this point we are waiting on some medical work," Moose said at a noon news conference. "We'll let the science tell us what it is."

Based on preliminary investigation, law enforcement officials said the bullet most likely used in the Montgomery County shootings was a .223 caliber fired from a high powered rifle. During a press conference, officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms showed reporters examples of guns capable of shooting that sort of bullet. They included a Colt AR15 semiautomatic rifle, which is the civilian version of an M16. Bullets from these types of guns typically travel about 3,000 feet per second and an accuracy up to 600 meters, said Joseph Riehl, the ATF's assistant special agent in charge.

Police continue to search for suspects.

"We're operating under the pretense that they are still in the area," Moose said today. "We owe that to the people who live here."

As for the suspects, he said, "it could be military, it could be a hunter, it could be someone who grew up on a farm and has an interest in weapons."

He said law enforcement officials are checking local gun records.

"We want to cast as wide a net as possible . . . as each moment passes without any incident, that feels good," Moose said. "But the anxiety is still very high."

Despite that anxiety, people in Montgomery County tried to go about their normal routines today. In the 2½-mile radius where the random shootings occurred, people pumped gas, bought groceries and took their children to school, just like any other day, but it was hard to go through those motions without worry.

"I'm standing a little closer to the gas pump today," said Paul Dooley, 58, of Aspen Hill, as he gassed up his car only feet from where a cabdriver had died just 24 hours earlier at the Aspen Hill Mobil Mart.

Heather Hurley, 28, of Wheaton, thinks the shooting spree is over but she's not taking any chances. Her elementary-school son, recently suspended from school, was coming to work with her. "I'm not leaving him at home alone, not after yesterday," Hurley said.

Montgomery County police and Maryland state police fanned out across the county this morning to preside over rush hour traffic, remembering that most of the five killings happened at rush hour Thursday, Moose said. Montgomery County schools opened on time today, but the schoolday will be much like yesterday, when students spent the day indoors. Extracurricular activities will go on as scheduled this afternoon and evening, according to Brian Porter, director of communications for the county's schools.

The search for the white truck, which dominated much of the news coverage yesterday, continued this morning. Across the street from the Leisure World Plaza post office, where Sarah Ramos became the fourth victim in the deadly spree, a Montgomery police officer pulled over a plumbing company truck that was white and box-shaped--the vehicle description provided by the only witness to the violence.

The truck soon was sent on its way.

"It's sickening what happened, and I hope to hell they catch him," said J.F. Minton, 84, a retired engineer who lives in Leisure World. "It's a damn shame you can't even walk around without getting shot."

About 20 bouquets of flowers have been laid on the plaza bench where Ramos sat reading before being killed with a single gunshot to the head. In the window of the luncheon restaurant behind the bench, a bullet hole was sickening evidence of that violence.

Some wished there was more they could do to help find the culprit. "I try to be observant. Everybody is looking around, especially for white trucks. But there are so many suspicious-looking people these days. I mean, where do you start?" asked Bill Jones, 73, a retired military man who also lives in the seniors community.

Fears were heightened this morning after unfounded reports of a gunshot on St. Paul Drive, not far from the Kensington gas station at Connecticut and Knowles avenues where the last fatality occurred.

"I come here every morning," said Danielle Reed, 23, of Kensington, "and actually almost didn't come today. I'm afraid."

She parked her car close to her destination and hurried inside.

The shooting that began the wave of terror appears to have been the only one that didn't claim a victim. As the spree continued for the next 17 hours, five people would die and 24 hours after the last shooting, residents remain on edge.

Officials said they believe the shootings began at 5:20 p.m. Wednesday, when someone fired a shot through the window of Michaels, an arts and crafts store, in a shopping center at Georgia Avenue and Aspen Hill Road. The store was busy, but no one was hit.

Forty minutes later and two miles south, 55-year-old James D. Martin was shot while crossing the parking lot of Shoppers Food Warehouse in Wheaton's Glenmont Shopping Center, at Randolph Road and Georgia Avenue.

The shootings resumed yesterday at 7:41 a.m.

James L. "Sonny" Buchanan Jr., 39, who operated a landscaping business, was mowing a strip of grass along Huff Court behind Fitzgerald Auto Mall in White Flint when he was shot once in the torso, according to police and witnesses.

Thirty-three minutes later, at 8:12 at a Mobil station at Aspen Hill Road and Connecticut Avenue, three miles north of where Buchanan was shot and a block from where the store window was shot the night before, Premkumar A. Walekar, 54, an Indian immigrant from Olney, was shot while filling up his cab's gas tank.

Walekar stumbled into a minivan parked at a nearby gas pump and then fell to the ground.

At 8:37, two miles north, Ramos, 34, of Silver Spring was sitting on a blue metal bench outside the post office at Leisure World, at Georgia Avenue and International Drive, her purse resting beside her, when she was shot in the head.

At 9:58, at a Shell gas station at Connecticut and Knowles avenues in Kensington, five miles south of Leisure World, Lori Lewis Rivera, 25, stopped to vacuum her minivan. Moments later, service station attendants found her collapsed inside the van, pinned by the driver's side door and bleeding.

_____Possible Weapons_____

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms released this guide to firearms possibly used in the shooting spree that killed five people in Montgomery County:

• Armalite AR-180

• Browning Model BRR

• Bushmaster "Shorty" Carbine

• Bushmaster "Dissipator" Carbine

• Bushmaster "Target" Model Rifle

• Bushmaster "V Match Commando" Carbine

• Bushmaster "V Match Competition" Rifle

• Bushmaster "DCM" Competition Rifle

• Bushmaster "A3 Type Shorty" Carbine

• Bushmaster "A3 Type Dissipator" Carbine

• Bushmaster "A3 Type Target" Rifle

• Bushmaster M17S "Bullpup" Rifle

• Colt AR-15

• IMI Galil

• Remington Model 788

• Remington Model 722

• Remington Model XP-100


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Yeah, they matched the weapons, and they are similar to the ones used on Thursday.

How despicable and horrible it is to take aim at people doing everyday things. The killers, if we ever catch them, should get the maximum sentence :mad:

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