- The Washington Times - Monday, October 14, 2002

Authorities investigating the sniper attacks around the Washington area that have killed eight persons and injured two indicated yesterday they have more evidence than they are releasing.
"We don't want to release anything that may cause the media or anyone to think they're a suspect," federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent Mike Bouchard said. "We don't want them to fear they are going to be labeled as a suspect."
The New York Post reported yesterday that authorities have a videotape that may identify the sniper.
A surveillance tape reportedly caught a suspicious person during Wednesday night's attack at a Manassas gas station, the newspaper reported.
The newspaper reported that Hobert Epps, a 36-year-old Georgia man detained by investigators near the scene of Friday's shooting, said police compared his face with a photo from the tape.
Mr. Epps, a 5-foot-9 white man of medium build with sandy brown hair and a mustache, said officers told him the wallet-sized image was from a video surveillance tape taken at one of the crime scenes, according to the article.
On the Sunday morning talk shows, police officials declined to answer questions about the investigation, saying they must strike a balance between calling for the public's help and revealing what they know to the killer.
"The concern is that we pollute the whole thought process, that we cause people to have tunnel vision, think they see what they have heard on television and mix that up with reality," Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose said on "Fox News Sunday."
Authorities said yesterday that they are not ruling out the possibility that more than one person is carrying out the shootings and using a vehicle other than the widely publicized white truck to flee the crime scenes.
"We've tried to be clear, we're not ruling out anything," Chief Moose said on ABC's "This Week" when asked whether the sniper has an accomplice. "We want to keep an open mind. We want to let the evidence and the facts of the case lead our investigators to bringing this to closure."
Ten persons have been shot since the sniper attacks began Oct. 2. Eight of the victims have died, each from a single gunshot.
Chief Moose said investigators are looking for a white Chevrolet Astro van with a ladder on top, a sketch of which could be released today. On Saturday, police released a composite of a white box truck that reportedly was seen leaving one of the shootings in Montgomery County.
An Astro van reportedly was seen at the most recent shooting in Fredericksburg, Va., on Friday, prompting a massive police dragnet from Washington to Richmond. Interstate highways, state roads and even back roads were shut down for several hours, but the dragnet was not successful in capturing the gunman.
"We want it to be real clear that there are two separate vehicles, and we want to talk to people that may have some information about either vehicle," Chief Moose said on CNN's "Late Edition."
"There are many pieces, many nuances to a complex investigation like this. And we want to continue to tell people that we want to hear with regards to each and every thing that is out there," he said.
Without going into too much detail, Chief Moose acknowledged that police had been on the lookout for an older model burgundy Chevrolet Caprice, which was spotted leaving the scene of an Oct. 3 fatal shooting in Northwest.
"There's been more law enforcement focus on that, not a big push for public feedback about that," he said on CNN.
Police have not said whether they know the identity or appearance of the sniper, whose only communication to authorities made public was a tarot card left at one shooting scene with the words "Dear Mr. Policeman, I am God" scribbled on it.
Several former FBI profilers, appearing on talk shows yesterday, said they believe there are two persons carrying out the shootings "a strong leader and a follower" and cautioned the public against focusing solely on a white truck or van as a getaway vehicle.
"I can't imagine it's more than two [perpetrators], at most," former FBI profiler Gregg McCrary said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "We don't quite know what to make of the white truck. I was involved in a serial murder case where eyewitnesses to an abduction reported seeing two men in a beige Camaro. And when we resolved it, it was not two men, but a man and a woman in a gold Nissan. So we don't want to get tunnel vision on this thing."
The profilers described the killer as an irrational and egotistical person who may have been fired from his job or gotten divorced or separated.
The fact that the killer has so far not struck on weekends suggests he may not have to account for his time during the week but would be missed if he took the time to attack during the weekend. The sniper is clearly able to make plans and act in a premeditated fashion, profilers said.
They also believe the killer is paying close attention to the media coverage and responding to what police are saying about the investigation. For example, when police said last weekend that schools were safe, the sniper critically injured a 13-year-old boy on his way to class the next Monday.
"This killer certainly is enjoying not just the notoriety, but the fact that he can outsmart the police," James Fox, a criminal justice professor at Northeastern University, said on "Face the Nation." "He's feeling smug and in control."
The profilers believe the killer or killers will not turn themselves in to police, no matter how many times Chief Moose asks them to surrender. If they get a chance, they will most likely go out in a blaze of violence when they are caught, the profilers said.
"I don't think the shooter or shooters are going to just quit, because they are so emotionally involved," said Robert Ressler, a former FBI profiler, on NBC's "Meet the Press." "If they are stopped, they are not going to put their hands up. They're going to go out in a blaze of glory if they get the chance."


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