Saturday Shooting Linked to Sniper

Hanover County Sheriff Stuart Cook told reporters ballistics evidence linked the shooting Saturday at a Ponderosa steakhouse in Ashland, Va. to other shootings in the Washington area that have left nine people dead and two others wounded.

The developments come after a pair of short press briefings from Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose, who has been heading up the multi-jurisdictional sniper investigation.

In a briefing early Monday, Moose made a short statement to the press, after which he took no questions.

“The message that needs to be delivered is that we are going to respond to a message that we have received,” Moose said. “We are preparing our response at this time.”

His statement followed a press briefing Sunday evening, during which Moose made reference to a message police received at the Ponderosa Saturday.

“To the person who left 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. Thank you,” Moose said.

Moose did not specify whether his message Monday was meant for the same person or people as his message Sunday night.

At a briefing Monday afternoon, Moose again addressed reporters with another message for the person police are trying to contact.

“The person you called could not hear everything you said,” Moose said. “The audio was unclear and we want to get it right. Call us back so that we can clearly understand.”

This time, Moose did take questions from members of the media, but declined to comment further on whom police were trying to contact.

Two men taken into custody near a Richmond-area gas station early Monday and questioned regarding the sniper attacks turned out not to be linked to the shootings, Virginia officials said.

Meanwhile, the 37-year-old man wounded by a single shot to the stomach in Saturday’s attack remains in critical, but stable condition following his second surgery to treat internal injuries. Doctors recovered the bullet from the man’s stomach during surgery Sunday night. They said they were cautiously optimistic the man, whose identity had not been released, would recover, but said he would need more surgery.

Five of the deaths in the sniper attacks that began Oct. 2 came in Montgomery County, while one person was killed in Northwest Washington, D.C. and three others died in suburban Virginia. The deaths were all results of single shots.

A 13-year-old boy in Bowie, Md. and a woman in Spotsylvania County, Va. were wounded in attacks that law enforcement officials linked to the sniper.