Sniper identity remains a mystery as victims increase

By on October 31, 2002

Nine dead, three injured and still no identity of the serial sniper.
The latest development in the story comes after a 37-year-old man was shot in the abdomen in the parking lot of a Ponderosa Steakhouse in Ashland, Va., last Saturday. The sniper is believed to have left a note at the scene of the crime that contained a phone number.
After urging the sniper to call them at the number provided in the note, police were able to get in contact with a person claiming to have a sniper-related message last Monday, but audio problems prevented any communication from taking place. Montgomery County, Md., Police Chief Charles Moose issued a statement Monday afternoon urging the unknown person to call police back.
“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,” Moose said in a press conference.
The note is the second piece of communication the sniper has left since the shootings began. The first piece was a tarot card that read, “Dear Policeman, I am God.”
Since the first shooting, details have been vague relating to the sniper. In fact, the only details that have been released are those relating to the automobile driven by the sniper, and even these details are not specific.
Authorities are currently searching for Chevrolet Astro-type minivans with a ladder rack on the roof, Ford Encoline vans with a ladder rack on the roof and white box-type trucks. These types of automobiles are very common, making the search for the sniper all the more difficult.
Two men were taken into custody last Monday morning near the area where the phone tip originated in Richmond, Va. One man was in a white van parked at an Exxon gas station payphone, while the other man was at a nearby location.
Federal law enforcement officials said, however, that no evidence was found that could link either man to the shootings. The men, of Mexican and Guatemalan descent, had their cases turned over to the Immigration and Naturalization Service and will be detained until their removal hearings come up.
In the meantime, the hunt continues in the search for the identity of the sniper. The details are vague, but officials say the sniper has followed a pattern of reaction to police reports in the media and has shifted strategy and location to throw police off.
Up until last Saturday’s shooting, police had commented how the sniper seems to take weekends off. The latest shooting shows that police and officials are uncertain as to where and when the sniper will strike next.


About Eric Jackson - Staff Writer