- The Washington Times - Friday, October 11, 2002

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — A man was shot to death today in a brazen attack carried out at a gas station as a state trooper worked a traffic accident directly across the street.

It wasn't immediately clear if the shooting was linked to nine sniper attacks that have killed seven people and wounded two in the Washington area. As in two of those attacks, witnesses today reported seeing a white van leaving the scene.

The trooper heard the shot at about 9:30 a.m. but only saw the victim, a black man, fall at the Exxon station pumps about 50 yards away, said Maj. Howard Smith of the Spotsylvania County Sheriff's Office. The victim's identity was not released.

"With a uniformed trooper across the street, obviously we're dealing with an individual who is extremely violent and doesn't care," Mr. Smith said.

Authorities immediately shut down a stretch of Interstate 95, and they began pulling over white vans after witnesses reported seeing a van with two people driving from the gas station.

Bruce Bingham, who was working at another gas station across the street, said he also heard a single gunshot and saw an unmarked white van at the corner.

"It would be, if you pulled out of the Exxon and tried to make a left to go south on Route 1, it would be right there, the very first vehicle after the stop light," he said.

Authorities said witnesses were giving them descriptions of the men seen inside.

In Washington, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer was asked today if the attacks could be connected to a terrorist group.

"We don't know if it is or is not," Fleischer said. "Whatever the word you want to use to describe it, this is clearly terrorizing the people who are involved, and their families."

No one is known to have actually seen the triggerman carry out any of the sniper attacks that started more than a week ago in suburban Washington; however, police have been reviewing video surveillance tapes from the shooting scenes, all public places.

Friday morning, Montgomery County, Md., Police Chief Charles Moose said a special projects unit of the FBI was working "with a sense of urgency" on a graphic aid to be distributed to the public in the search for the sniper. He and FBI officials declined to describe the graphic, but said it would be clear later today.

Authorities haven't said if surveillance tapes from Wednesday night's attack, at a gas station in Manassas, held any clues.

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