TOPICS > Politics

Shooting Linked to Sniper Attacks

BY Admin  October 10, 2002 at 6:30 PM EDT

Dean Harold Meyers, 53, of Gaithersburg, Md., was gunned down shortly after 8 p.m. Wednesday, moments after filling his tank with gasoline at a Manassas, Va. Sunoco station some 30 miles west of Washington.

Prince William County Police Chief Charlie Deane told a news conference that “ballistic evidence has conclusively linked this shooting with others in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.”

Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert said he would seek the death penalty against the killer, saying a new Virginia law allows the death penalty to be invoked in murders “in which the perpetrator tends to terrorize the general public.”

“If I have anything to do with it, we will prosecute in this jurisdiction, and do it to the full extent of the law,” said Ebert.

Since Oct. 2, a gunman killed five people and wounded one in two suburban Maryland counties, killed one person in Washington, D.C. and wounded another near Fredericksburg, Va., a city located about 50 miles south of Washington, before Wednesday’s attack. Ballistics evidence has connected the previous crimes.

Autopsy reports show that Meyers, who died at the scene, was struck once in the upper part of his body. Victims in the other sniper shootings around the nation’s capital were all shot once with a high-powered assault or hunting rifle, police said. Two of the earlier victims were also shot at gas stations.

Police had said they were looking for a white minivan, possibly a Dodge Caravan, seen speeding away after the Virginia murder, but Deane downplayed the lead, saying the occupants had a “reasonable” explanation for their actions, the Associated Press reports. Officials had previously told reporters they were searching for a white commercial delivery truck in connection with earlier sniper attacks.

The Secret Service, FBI, U.S. Marshals and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have joined state and local police in the investigation that now spans four jurisdictions.

Police said people had called in more than 1,500 “credible leads” to public hotlines. Authorities also announced they are offering a reward of $307,000 for information leading to the arrest of the person or people behind the attacks.