Police Confirm Tenth Victim, Eighth Fatality in Sniper Attacks
The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms established the link late Friday night between the shootings by examining bullet fragments removed from the scene and the victim.
Officials said that some 1,900 calls had come into police tip lines offering information on the latest killing — Spotsylvania County Sheriff Ronald Knight said the rate of calls was nearing 40 a minute.
“To me it is terrorism… any time someone does something and the terror is here, that is terrorism,” Knight told reporters. “It is striking fear in peoples’ hearts.”
As Spotsylvania authorities discussed their case, officials in Montgomery County, Md., scene of five of the attacks, announced the reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the sniper had reached $500,000.
The shooting was the most brazen attack thus far, taking place at 9:30 a.m. as a Virginia State Trooper worked 50 yards from the scene.
“Obviously we’re dealing with an individual who is extremely violent and doesn’t care,” Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Maj. Howard Smith said.
Police officials flooded the area within minutes. Authorities closed many of the exits on Interstate 95, the major highway located only 500 yards away from Friday’s attack. Armed police also stopped white vans and trucks at a major interchange near Washington, DC, some 45 miles north of the Virginia scene.
Although news coverage focused on reports of a white van seen at the time of the shooting, Col. W. Gerald Massengill, superintendent of Virginia State Police, said authorities were not limiting their search to those vehicles only.
“We don’t want preconceived notions out there, but certainly you have to play the hand that you’re dealt and the information that has come to us is white vans,” Massengill said.
The attack marked the second shooting in the Fredericksburg area. A 43-year-old woman was shot in the back as she left a craft store some four miles away from Friday’s attack.
The victim in the attack, Kenneth Bridges, a 53-year-old business executive from Philadelphia, Penn., died at the hospital a short time later. Bridges, a father of six children, was traveling back to his home after a business trip and had stopped in Massaponax for gas.
Bridges murder was the fourth shooting at a gas station. Wednesday night, Dean Meyers, 53, was shot and killed at a gas station in Manassas, Virginia, some 30 miles away from Massaponax.
Since Oct. 2, the shooter has killed five people in Montgomery County; one person in the District of Columbia; one person in Prince William County, Va.; wounded a 13-year-old boy in Prince Georges County, Md.; and killed one and wounded another in Spotsylvania County