- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 19, 2002

If the man who fed police spurious information about the fatal shooting Monday at the Home Depot in Seven Corners did so intentionally for whatever sick or stupid reason he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Yesterday, police arrested and charged a 38-year-old Falls Church man, Matthew Dowdy, with misleading the investigation. As a result of his fanciful account, police wasted critical time and resources pursuing false leads and erroneous suspect descriptions. The public was misinformed as well told by police to be on the lookout for a cream-colored Chevy Astro van with a ladder rack and a burned-out brake light. Meanwhile, the shooter gained valuable time and perhaps even a little breathing room as authorities checked out these multiple dead-end leads.

The intense investigation continues, as well as the investigation into the suspect's tale-telling account.

It's difficult to imagine otherwise. He either saw the shooting, or he didn't. He could either identify the weapon, or he couldn't. The latest evidence suggests that the sniper was more than 200 yards away, across the street from the Home Depot, and not in the parking lot area at all, as the "witness" told police. Under those circumstances, Mr. Dowdy could not have seen what he said he saw. He seemingly took it upon himself to send police on a wild-goose chase while Monday's shooting victim, FBI analyst Linda Franklin, was still lying dead in a pool of blood outside the store and while a vicious killer who has struck down eight other area residents remains at large.

"He couldn't see what he said he saw," said Robert F. Horan Jr., the prosecutor in Fairfax County, said.

Such a person deserves to feel the full weight of the law descend upon him. Justice requires no less.

This action, though, should not discourage anybody from giving any good-faith tip to police.

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