TOPICS > Politics

Manhunt: D. C. Sniper

October 21, 2002 at 12:00 AM EDT


KWAME HOLMAN: One of the arrests this morning took place at this gas station just outside Richmond, Virginia, about 10 miles from the site of the latest shooting Saturday night. Eyewitnesses said three police officers stormed this white van and arrested the male driver.

KEITH UNDERWOOD, Eyewitness: The police officers, it was, they had external, they had put on external bullet proof vests. They had hats on, dark hats on. And then their rifles.

REPORTER: To the best of your belief, belief,…

KEITH UNDERWOOD: They approached the car on the passenger side, I was in the building so I couldn’t hear anything, but when they first got there all three of them were drawn. Their guns were ready. One of them reached, grabbed the passenger front door handle, shook it, it was locked. He went back up into his stance, and they came right back down and tried it again, and it was like maybe three or four times and it finally popped open. Once that opened, they grabbed the sliding door, threw that open, I remember a couple of them going in. I think they were still outside the car, like they reached in, grabbed him, pulled him out and set him on the ground.

KWAME HOLMAN: Officers also took a second man into custody. Hanover County Stuart Cook.

STUART COOK: Those individuals are being questioned at this time. The investigation is continuing and we have no further comment as to what evidence has been collected to this point. They are being questioned in regards to the investigation but have not been charged as we speak.

KWAME HOLMAN: Now that ballistics tests have linked Saturday’s attack to the other shootings, the 37-year-old man who was critically wounded in Ashland is victim number 12. Nine have died. Saturday’s shooting, the first to occur over a weekend, took place in the parking lot of a Ponderosa restaurant. It’s just off Interstate 95.

MATTHEW WICKS: We were sitting over there and just talking and then we heard a lot of gunshot. We had just thought it came from right in here. We heard a man over there groaning like he had been hit, we just saw him laying down.

KWAME HOLMAN: Ashland, just north of Richmond, is significantly south of the previous attacks. It’s about 30 miles from Fredericksburg, the site of two shootings, and 85 miles south of the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area. Law enforcement officials from multiple agencies converged on the scene in minutes, shutting down major roadways for more than 30 miles around the site. Since then, they’ve been combing a wooded area near the restaurant, where reportedly police found a lengthy note containing threats that is believed to be the work of the shooter. Last night, Montgomery County police Chief Charles moose directed this message apparently to the author of the note.

CHARLES MOOSE: To the person who level us a message at the ponderosa last night, you gave us a telephone number. We do want to talk to you. Call us at the number you provided.

KWAME HOLMAN: This morning, the chief followed up with another terse statement.

CHARLES MOOSE: We are going to respond to a message that we have received. We’ll respond later. We are preparing our response at this time.

KWAME HOLMAN: This afternoon, Chief Moose added this:

CHARLES MOOSE: We’d like to thank the media for carrying a message that has been very well done, I know that that’s somewhat awkward and we appreciate that. I would also like to start with another message, certainly the most important thing that I have to do here this afternoon. 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.

Again, if you could carry that message, clearly, carry it off and it will be greatly appreciated.

REPORTER: Are you communicating to the sniper last night and today, sir?

CHARLES MOOSE: Unfortunately I will not be able to discuss the issue or answer any questions regarding attempts to communicate. It just would be inappropriate and detrimental to our investigation.

KWAME HOLMAN: There’s been one other instance of possible communication from the sniper or snipers. Two weeks ago today, after a shooting at a middle school in Bowie, Maryland, officers found a tarot card with a message on the back saying, “Mr. Policeman: I am God.” In Richmond, the surgeon who treated the man shot Saturday said he remains in critical but stable condition, and is lucky to be alive.