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Update: D.C. Sniper Manhunt

October 22, 2002 at 12:00 AM EDT
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CORRESPONDENT: This bus stop appears to be centered in between two apartment complexes.

RAY SUAREZ: Today’s shooting occurred around 6:00 in the morning, much earlier than the 12 confirmed sniper shootings in the region. Still, the location is consistent. The Aspen Hill section of Montgomery County is where the deadly spree began. The attacks began the evening of October 2; six people were killed in a 27-hour period, all in a five- mile radius. Today’s gunshot victim, 35-year-old Conrad Johnson, died just after his family arrived at the hospital. If his death is linked to the sniper, he’d be victim 13, and the tenth fatality. Johnson was shot as he was preparing for his morning’s bus route. Doug Duncan is Montgomery County executive.

DOUG DUNCAN, Montgomery County Executive: Mr. Johnson is 35 years old. He’s married, the father of two; loved basketball, loved his kids. Very large, extended family. He’s going to be missed, missed greatly.

RAY SUAREZ: Within minutes of this morning’s 911 call, area law enforcement officials once again flooded the scene, tying up nearby major commuter corridors throughout the rush hour. Still, there were no arrests, and public safety remains the chief topic in the area. Montgomery Police Chief Charles Moose:

CHARLES MOOSE, Police Chief, Montgomery County: We remain concerned about the safety of all the people in our region. We realize that the person or the people involved in this have shown a clear willingness and ability to kill people of all ages, all races, all genders, all professions — different times, different days and different locations. Certainly I would encourage everyone to remain cautious, vigilant about their activities, to remain observant — anything out of place, anyone driving away from an area erratically, anyone behaving strangely or in a way that maybe is not themselves but we also want us to remain resolved, to remain focused and very resilient. As Americans, we have proven to be resilient time and time again as people try to threaten our way of life, try to threaten our freedom as individuals and our freedom as a nation.

RAY SUAREZ: After the Ashland, Virginia, shooting Saturday night, the killer reportedly left a lengthy note at the scene containing threats. This afternoon, Chief Moose returned to recite verbatim a portion of the “communication” they received.

CHARLES MOOSE: Your children are not safe anywhere at any time. We feel it’s important to provide this information to the public. We’re not providing the remaining content of the message. It does not communicate to the public. However, to share that at this point would be detrimental to an investigation and it will not be released. Please understand that this exact language has previously been shared with the leadership and law enforcement, community leadership, people that needed to make decisions. As a result of numerous inquiries and reporting of incorrect versions, different versions, we felt that it was important to come out and give the exact version so that people could have it and put it in the proper context.

RAY SUAREZ: Moose also said authorities would be responding soon. In the Ashland, Virginia area, schools were closed for a second day. And in Montgomery County Maryland schools operated under what’s called code blue. Schools locked down, all outdoor activities canceled.