- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 10, 2002

The parking lot at the Montgomery County police headquarters in Rockville has become a circus. Only the elephants are missing.
Instead, reporters and cameramen from across the country and from overseas jostle politicians who stop by, eager to get on camera with their condolences and campaign-season sound bites.
Reporters from Germany, China, Australia and points between have set up work stations and satellite trucks in the lot at 2350 Research Blvd., joining cameramen and correspondents from all the U.S. networks, as well as cable outlets and local stations.
Even Playboy magazine, sans centerfold celebrities, is there.
The sniper has, for once, put the attention just outside the Beltway.
"This is the largest event we've had here," said Officer Derek Baliles, a county police spokesman, before answering a telephone call from a newspaper in Prague. "These crimes have touched so many good people in such a random manner. I think that's why everyone is here."
ABC News Radio correspondent Pam Coulter said the heavy media presence is because no one has seen a crime such as this happen so close to Washington, an area still unnerved by the September 11 attack on the Pentagon and the batch of anthrax-laced letters sent shortly afterward.
"This is the nation's capital, and it's definitely a sensitive area right now," Mrs. Coulter said after filing an update on the story. "This crime raises the specter of terrorism. It has struck fear and terror in people throughout the region. That's why everyone is here."
NBC's "Today" show sent co-anchor Katie Couric to press briefings yesterday, while ABC News sent "20/20" co-anchor John Miller to work the story for the network's news shows.
The story has made headlines overseas, in countries such as Canada, Scotland, France, Ireland and England.
"Sniper In The Suburbs," reads a headline in Daily Mail, a London newspaper. "Leafy US suburb in fear as sniper shoots 6," reads a headline in the Irish Times.
Since Thursday morning, journalists have camped out in front of headquarters, under bright white tents, waiting for Montgomery County police Chief Charles Moose and his deputies to release new information about the random acts of violence that have left six persons dead and two wounded.
Most times, standing beside Chief Moose at the bank of microphones, was a visiting politician offering condolences to the victims' families and commending the chief and his department for their work on the case.
D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams has stopped by, so have Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Paul S. Sarbanes, both Maryland Democrats. Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening made an appearance at the podium, as did Montgomery County State's Attorney Douglas Gansler, Superintendent of Maryland state police Col. David Mitchell and Virginia Secretary of Public Safety John Marshall.
Journalists say what interests them the most is keeping the story alive and keeping it fresh, even if there is nothing significantly new to report on a given day.
"The biggest challenge is keeping the story updated and keeping up with the new details that emerge from the press conferences," said Beverly Kirk, a reporter with NBC NewsChannel. "This is a very important story that's captured the nation's attention, and we want to do the best we can to keep the public informed."
Brian Karem, a writer for Playboy, said the best story is one that pushes people to call police if they remember seeing something suspect before any of the shootings occurred.
"Getting information out to the public is paramount," Mr. Karem said. "You know you've done your job, though, when you write a story that makes someone want to phone in a tip."


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