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Terror link to Maryland shootings? Experts divided whether killing spree work of al-Qaida ^ | Friday, October 4, 2002

Posted on 10/03/2002 11:45:15 PM PDT by JohnHuang2

Though al-Qaida training videotapes and manuals captured in Afghanistan specifically show the planning of attacks on Americans in drive-by shootings, experts who have analyzed those materials are cautious about concluding the murder spree outside of Washington yesterday is connected in any way to terrorism.

The videotapes and training manuals, which show Osama lin Laden's terrorists have prepared to kill Americans with small-arms fire from trucks and vans, were first revealed in a WorldNetDaily report last month.

But John Holschen of Insights Training Center, who produced a report on the tape for military and law enforcement officials, said the rash of shootings in a small area of suburban Washington in a short period of time is unusual but not altogether unique.

"It's not inconceivable that this will turn out to be a terrorist attack," he said. However, he cautioned against jumping to any conclusions without more information.

The training video captured in Afghanistan shows al-Qaida operatives practicing the following kinds of assaults:

Skip Gouchenour, a licensed detective in Pennsylvania who has analyzed the videotape and other training materials and made a presentation on them for the Pennsylvania Detectives Association, agreed that the Maryland shooting and murder spree is very unusual.

"I'm not dismissing the possibility of a terrorist connection," he said. "It's strange, indeed."

Gouchenour specializes in investigating murder cases for district attorneys, defense attorneys, police agencies and private citizens. He says he has run across similar murder sprees in his career, but finds some of the details of this case unusual.

Police across the Washington area are searching for what they describe as "a skilled shooter" who killed five people in a random death spree beginning Wednesday night and continuing yesterday morning in Montgomery County, Md.

The shootings took place at two shopping centers, two gas stations and on the lawn outside an auto dealership along Rockville Pike. The victims were ordinary people doing ordinary things on a seemingly ordinary day.

As a result of the attacks, children were kept indoors at schools in the county.

"We do have someone that so far has been very accurate in what they are attempting to do, and so we probably have a skilled shooter," said Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose yesterday. Police said they are looking for a small, slightly damaged white truck that may have black lettering on the side. Witnesses to the shootings said they saw a truck matching that description leaving some of the crime scenes.

Montgomery County police spokesman Derek Baliles said police suspect the shooter was armed with a rifle.

About 40 minutes before the first killing, a shot was fired through a window of a Michael's craft store in the 3800 block of Aspen Hill Road. No one was hurt, but Montgomery County police said they believe the incident may have been related to what followed.

The first fatal shooting occurred Wednesday night at 6 o'clock, when James Martin, 55, of Silver Spring was killed in the parking lot of a Shoppers Food Warehouse at Randolph Road and Georgia Avenue in Wheaton. By yesterday morning, the stores in the area were open for business as usual. A security tape from a camera that monitors the lot had been turned over to police.

Then about 7:40 a.m., James Buchanan was pushing a lawn mower over a narrow strip of grass in front of the Fitzgerald Auto Mall on Rockville Pike when he was shot.

The next victim was Premkumar A. Walekar, a part-time cab driver. It was about 8:10 a.m., at a Mobil gas station on Aspen Hill Road at Connecticut Avenue in Aspen Hill, when the killer struck and Walekar died pumping gas.

About 8:30 a.m., Sarah Ramos, 34, was sitting on a bench at the shopping center near the Leisure World retirement community off Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring when the killer next took aim and fired.

It was just before 10 a.m. at a Shell gas station in Kensington and Lori Lewis-Rivera, 25, was vacuuming her minivan. The station, at the corner of Knowles and Connecticut avenues in the heart of Kensington, is visible from all directions. But again the killer struck as if coming from nowhere.

Throughout the day the manhunt intensified, but as night fell there had been no arrests. Though authorities have downplayed the possibility of terrorism, the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Secret Service have all been involved in the investigation.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: alqaeda; banglist; beltwaysniper; dcsniper; dcsnipers; snipertimeline; snipertraining
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Friday, October 4, 2002

Quote of the Day by Pontiac

1 posted on 10/03/2002 11:45:15 PM PDT by JohnHuang2
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To: JohnHuang2
Good morning, nice to see!
2 posted on 10/03/2002 11:57:03 PM PDT by OldFriend
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To: JohnHuang2
Now earlier tonight on FNC they reported that it might be one or two men in a white pickup truck but they didn't identify the perps' race. Has anyone heard? how about the victims' race?
3 posted on 10/04/2002 12:00:27 AM PDT by Texas_Jarhead
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To: Texas_Jarhead
I heard that they hit Hispanics, Blacks, Whites.

4 posted on 10/04/2002 12:45:22 AM PDT by ClancyJ
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To: ClancyJ
Yeah. 2 Whites, 2 Hispanics, 1 Black. 3 men, 2 women. About as random as you can get, I think. The Wash. Post has fairly detailed biographics of all the victims. Very very sad.

I don't know if it was terrorists, but from what I've read, it has to be someone who had some sort of advanced markmanship training. 5 people killed from far away with 1 shot each? Police couldn't do that. The average military person couldn't do that.

5 posted on 10/04/2002 12:59:38 AM PDT by Jeremy_Reaban
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To: Jeremy_Reaban
Also, if you look at terrorists, the only ones known for this sort of thing are the IRA. However, the IRA apparently does have some ties to some Palestinian groups, as well as Farc. So it wouldn't be a stretch if those ties went beyond those 2 groups.
6 posted on 10/04/2002 1:01:37 AM PDT by Jeremy_Reaban
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To: OldFriend
Goodmorningbackatya, friend.
7 posted on 10/04/2002 1:11:07 AM PDT by JohnHuang2
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To: JohnHuang2
Separate Shootings Leave 4 Dead (Montgomery Co. MD)

Posted by My Favorite Headache to gridlock On News/Activism Oct 3 1:11 PM #100 of 204

I am. First thing that came to mind was "Urban Terrorism" when I heard about this 90 minutes ago. Those images and warnings about Urban attacks and Al Qaeda popping out of SUV's...rings some serious bells.


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8 posted on 10/04/2002 1:15:12 AM PDT by My Favorite Headache
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To: JohnHuang2
The Post article has witnesses reporting large "booms", but no sign of anyone running away or cars speeding away.

Seems like folk are looking for someone close by, with a handgun, when the loudness and lack of people seen fleeing would tend toward a large bore rifle some distance away.

9 posted on 10/04/2002 1:21:04 AM PDT by twntaipan
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To: All; twntaipan
I read in one story about the man who was mowing the grass had a hole in his chest that was about the diameter of a coffee cup rim, this was stated by someone that tried to help the man while he was laying on the ground dying. At first they said (witness who tried to help the man), they thought he hit something with the lawn mower and that it hit him in the chest. I don't know much about guns, but it seems like bullet hole left in the man's chest seemed to be large in size. What type of rifle or bullet would leave such a large hole the size of an average coffee cup rim? Unless he was shot at close range.
10 posted on 10/04/2002 1:45:47 AM PDT by stlnative
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To: JohnHuang2
Baltimore Sun 5 killed in Md. suburb; gunman still at large - Police seek white truck in sniper-style attacks; manhunt sweeps area; Shooter's skill 'heightens concern'; Random shootings target victims in Montgomery during a 16-hour period -

By Alec MacGillis, Del Quentin Wilber and Jeff Barker Sun Staff Originally published October 4, 2002

[Full Text] SILVER SPRING - A tip about a white truck was the best lead police had last night in a string of brazen, sniper-style shootings in the heart of Montgomery County that left five people dead and swept the suburbs with a wave of fear.

The shootings yesterday morning and Wednesday night - carried out with deadly accuracy with what police say may have been a high-powered rifle - set off a huge manhunt and threw the county into high alert as police urged motorists to stay off the roads, schools shut students in classrooms and parents driving children home had them crouch in their seat.

The shootings occurred within a few miles around Wheaton and along the county's busy thoroughfares. Killed were a 55-year-old Colesville man outside a grocery store; a 39-year- old Abingdon, Va., man mowing the lawn at a car dealership; a 54-year-old Olney cabdriver refueling his taxi; a 34-year-old Silver Spring cleaning woman sitting on a bench near a post office; and a 25-year-old Silver Spring woman vacuuming her car at a gas station.

A witness saw two men speeding away from the post office in a white box delivery truck with black lettering and a damaged rear lift gate. Police said the truck was probably an Isuzu. Hundreds of state, city and county police, as well as FBI and other federal agents, were pulling over white vans and trucks across the state last night, without finding suspects.

To police and residents alike, every aspect of the shooting spree was chilling: the apparent randomness with which victims were selected; the daring of choosing such public places for the attacks; and the precision of the hits, each apparently with a single shot.

"We have someone who, so far, has been accurate in what they are attempting to do," said Montgomery County police Chief Charles Moose. "We feel like we have a skilled shooter, and that heightens our concern."

The incidents began, police say, with a single, puzzling shot that gave no hint of the carnage to follow. At 5:20 p.m. Wednesday, a bullet hit the lighted number over one of the cash registers at Michaels craft shop on Georgia Avenue. At first, workers thought it was a power outage; then they saw the bullet hole in the window.

A clerk was ringing up a purchase at the time.

"I would have been No. 1," she said.

Officers searched displays of flowers and ribbons for hours, looking for the bullet. As far as police know, it was the only one to miss its target.

About 45 minutes later, James D. Martin, 55, of Colesville, was gunned down in the parking lot of a new Shoppers Food Warehouse on Randolph Road in Wheaton. Police were reviewing tapes from surveillance cameras.

The violence resumed early yesterday, when James L. "Sonny" Buchanan, of Abingdon, Va., 39, was shot while mowing the lawn outside Fitzgerald Automotive in the 11000 block of Rockville Pike.

An employee heard a loud bang around 7:40 a.m. - loud enough to cause him to drop to the ground - then saw Buchanan running along the rear fence before he fell, said Al Briggs, the dealership's service director.

Briggs drove up soon after and ran over to Buchanan's bloodied, unconscious body. He said he knew immediately that the man wasn't going to make it, but told him help was on the way.

"The whole time this morning I was hoping against hope it wasn't him," said Rob Smith, the dealership's service manager, a friend of Buchanan's.

The dealership gave video from surveillance cameras to police.

About a half-hour later, Premkumar Walekar, 54, of Olney was refueling his taxi at a Mobil station at Aspen Hill Road and Connecticut Avenue, as he does almost every day.

Alex Millhouse, a mechanic there, was sitting at a pay phone when he heard what sounded "like a double explosion, like a car backfiring." He saw Walekar clutching his left side, with blood streaming. By the time he reached him, Walekar was slumped against a van.

Millhouse and fellow mechanic Warren Shifflet watched as a woman from the van administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation before an ambulance arrived. "She was shaking," Shifflet said.

It seemed as if the shot had come from a strip mall across the street, said Millhouse, though "it was so loud, it sounded like it was right here."

Some 25 minutes later, Sarah Ramos, 34, of Silver Spring was sitting on a bench outside the post office near the large retirement community Leisure World when she was struck.

Hairstylist Suzy Cooper, 57, was in the back of Images, a nearby beauty shop, when she heard a noise. "In a way I knew it was a shot, but then I thought, 'No, it wouldn't happen around here.'"

When Cooper stepped outside, she saw Ramos sitting motionless on a metal bench in front of a nearby restaurant's plate-glass window. Above the woman's head was a quarter-size bullet hole surrounded by a spider web of cracks. Beneath the bench was a pool of blood.

Cooper said members of Ramos' family later said she had been waiting to be picked up for her housecleaning job. "When I saw her, it looked like she was still waiting for somebody," Cooper said.

For hours, detectives interviewed shopkeepers and searched the plaza parking lot and nearby bushes for evidence. They walked to Georgia Avenue to determine whether a shot could have come from there.

"We've talked to 100 people, and for every one who says it came from far away, there is someone who says it came from a short [distance]," said Detective Mark Zifcak.

The shopping plaza, usually full of elderly people in cars and motorized carts, was quiet as detectives searched an area of the parking lot cordoned off with yellow tape.

"People here at Leisure World are staying closer to home," said state Sen. Leonard H. Teitelbaum, who lives in the 7,000- person community. "It's a very bone-chilling thing."

While police were investigating near Leisure World, Lori Ann Lewis-Rivera, 25, of Silver Spring, was felled while vacuuming her minivan at a Shell station at Knowles and Connecticut Avenue, near Kensington's "Antique Row."

Mechanic Jimmy Akca assumed that an air bag had exploded when he heard a loud noise near the coin-operated vacuum. But when he stepped outside, people were yelling, "Call 911!"

"She must have been about to vacuum the driver's side. It looked like she was about to open the door because was she under the door," Akca said.

By late morning, police said the five fatal shootings were related, and the county plunged into high alarm. Police dispelled initial fears that the shootings were racially motivated by stating that the first and last victims were white, but had little to offer on a possible motive.

The county school system put all schools under lockdown, keeping students away from windows and telling parents that they could pick up their children only after showing identification. Early in the afternoon, police and school authorities decided to send children home at the usual time.

Life in the normally traffic-congested area slowed as many residents stayed home or took back roads, stunned by the thought that they'd frequented the same locations that were targeted. Dentists' offices and beauty parlors reported widespread cancellations; businesses saw sharp drop-offs; contractors working on homes quit early, afraid of being in the open.

Juana Garcia, 59, of Aspen Hill, felt sorry telling her mother to stay inside. "It's a beautiful day," said Garcia, leaving the store near where Martin was killed. "But it's a very bad day."

Moose urged residents to "continue with life" but remain alert. "Each moment that passes without a further incident, I say a small prayer," he said.

For the county, the shootings represented crime of nearly unprecedented scale. In 1976, five members of a Potomac family were bludgeoned to death by William Bradford Bishop Jr., a State Department diplomat who has never been found. But such violence is foreign to the county, which had 20 homicides so far this year and 19 last year.

"Our homicide rate has just increased by 25 percent in one day," Moose said.

The shock was especially strong because Montgomery County considers itself a retreat from the high crime, and high vigilance, of nearby Washington.

"We consider ourselves safe and secure - manicured lawns,'" said Rep. Constance A. Morella, who represents the county. [End]

Sun staff writers Andrea F. Siegel, Julie Bykowicz, Jamie Smith Hopkins and Kimberly Wilson contributed to this article.

11 posted on 10/04/2002 1:45:53 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: brigette
The size of the wound could be a result of several factors, I think. (Come on gun guys, help me out here).

But it would be very consistent with a large bore, high powered rifle.

12 posted on 10/04/2002 1:53:44 AM PDT by twntaipan
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To: brigette
The exit wound is always larger than the entrance wound in these types of things.
13 posted on 10/04/2002 1:58:27 AM PDT by Brad C.
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To: JohnHuang2; Dog
Jim, some comments that are interesting, after yours yesterday.
14 posted on 10/04/2002 2:01:53 AM PDT by Neets
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To: brigette
What type of rifle...

Any medium caliber rifle round (say .243 Winchester to .308 Winchester) would leave that type of wound, as an exit wound (where the bullet left the body after entering from the other side and expanding). If such a wound were in the chest area, then the bullet would have entered from the other side of his body, or from his back...

the infowarrior

15 posted on 10/04/2002 2:14:35 AM PDT by infowarrior
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To: JohnHuang2
The fact that there haven't been more shootings in the area, coupled with the fact that the perps are still at large lead me to suspect that they've moved on from the Montgomery County MD area, and are headed to parts as yet unknown to repeat the process...

the infowarrior

16 posted on 10/04/2002 2:24:10 AM PDT by infowarrior
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To: JohnHuang2
I don't believe in coincidences. Given the "randomness" of the victims this doesn't seem to be a person or persons targetting members of a specific ethnic or religious group. The very nature of the killings "smells" like terrorism to me; of course, if random killings occur in other states it will pretty well define what is going on. As well, that this occurred almost within our nation's capitol speaks volumes to me.
17 posted on 10/04/2002 2:24:28 AM PDT by waxhaw
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To: infowarrior
What type of rifle...

Any medium caliber rifle round

What type of weapon would the al-Qaeda boys have practiced with in Afganistan? AK-47? Does that qualify as a medium caliber rifle round?

18 posted on 10/04/2002 2:27:52 AM PDT by twntaipan
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To: twntaipan
What type of rifle...

A Red Ryder B.B. Gun with a compass in the stock, and this thing which tells time.
I know this isn't a laughing matter, but it's late, and I need a laugh.

19 posted on 10/04/2002 2:31:15 AM PDT by GOPyouth
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To: twntaipan
The AK-47 is chambered for a 7.62mm x 54mm round which definitely falls under that category. However, the AK is an assault rifle designed for high firepower, and not the kind of accuracy seen here. This is not to say that the shhoter isn't using something like a Dragunov sniper rifle, which is chambered for the same ammunition...

the infowarrior

20 posted on 10/04/2002 2:34:47 AM PDT by infowarrior
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