- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 5, 2002

The killer who gunned down five persons in Montgomery County on Wednesday and Thursday is most likely a white man in his 20s or 30s, well-trained in shooting and familiar with the area, and was accompanied by at least one partner, forensics experts said yesterday.
Former FBI Agent Clinton Van Zandt said the killer, who shot his victims during an 18-hour rampage, demonstrated a knowledge of the county by staying within a six-mile area to shoot all the victims.
"It suggests he knows the area lives, works, has a friend or significant other here," Mr. Van Zandt said.
The killer may have had some sort of military connection or been a "military or paramilitary wannabe," Mr. Van Zandt said, adding that no evidence points clearly to the shooter having killed in the past.
He said whoever is responsible had plenty of shooting practice with smaller targets and is "cold" and "callous."
A lot of planning probably didn't precede the shootings, but the killer probably has long had an anti-social mentality and thoughts of harming someone, the former FBI profiler said.
"This person didn't just fall off the turnip truck one day and go from being a good citizen to a spree killer," Mr. Van Zandt said.
Anger was not the sole motivator, he said, adding that killing has become an "aphrodisiac" for the shooter, who probably doesn't feel any remorse.
Mr. Van Zandt and former profiler Robert K. Ressler said it's unlikely that one person carried out the killings. They said one person was probably the shooter, while the other drove the vehicle.
The pair are "giving themselves high-fives" as they shoot victims in a Columbinelike spree that Van Zandt said won't end until they are caught. "They're moving. They like it," he said. "This is emotional heroin for them."
Mr. Ressler likened the spree to that of Andrew Cunanan, the suspected killer of fashion designer Gianni Versace and four other persons. Cunanan died in an apparent suicide as police cornered him on a Florida houseboat in 1997.
Serial killers go though "emotional cooling-off periods" that could span days or even months, Mr. Ressler said. In this case, the killings were only hours apart.
"You're dealing with not a serial killer, not a mass murderer, but a spree killer," Mr. Ressler said.
"This is a highly solvable crime," Mr. Van Zandt said. "The question is, are they going to let us take them alive? They've done everything they wanted."
Mr. Van Zandt and Mr. Ressler said crimes like this are generally solved by eyewitnesses or friends who notice that the culprits have disappeared.
"There are people out there right now who have suspicions," Mr. Van Zandt said.
The Montgomery County shooter hit five victims with a single shot each, but the accuracy of the weapons not necessarily the skill of the shooter may have made that possible, said Chase Foster, supervisory special agent for the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC), an arm of the FBI that investigates unusual or repetitive crimes.
Investigators are confident the killer used a high-powered rifle with a .223-caliber round.
"It doesn't take a great deal of practice to be effective with those weapons," Mr. Foster said.
NCAVC agents helped Montgomery County police develop a suspect profile, Mr. Foster said, adding that he did not know when the profile would be completed.
Police are searching for a shooter, a driver and a white truck with black markings on the side and a dent in the rear left side. Mr. Van Zandt said the killers probably have ditched the truck in a lake or garage.
The killings are typical of a shooting spree, except that police suspect two persons are involved, said Louis B. Schlesinger, a professor of forensic psychology at John Jay College of the City University of New York.
Mr. Schlesinger said the prospect of a pair of killers working together indicates some planning occurred before the shootings.
The apparent lack of a motive could be an indication that the murderer would harm anyone not just a woman or children as serial killers tend to do, he said.
"That's much more dangerous than a serial killer," Mr. Schlesinger said, "and there's a lot of mobility here."
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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