- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Kang Min, who works at the Mobil gas station in Montgomery County where one of five sniper attacks occurred in early October, says life was finally starting to get back to normal when the news came in yesterday of another shooting less than a mile away.
"After that day of shootings a few weeks ago, business got really slow here, but last week it was picking up again," Mr. Min said. "Now, it's back to the way it was when the shootings started."
The Mobil station sits at the corner of Aspen Hill Road and Connecticut Avenue, where Premkumar A. Walekar, 54, was killed by a single gunshot to the chest while he was pumping gas into his taxicab Oct. 3.
The station is literally "walking distance" from where Ride-On Bus driver Conrad Johnson, a 35-year-old father of two, was fatally shot just before 6 a.m. yesterday in an attack that bore all the hallmarks of the serial sniper.
The latest slaying happened too close for comfort, says Warren Shifflet, a mechanic at the Mobil station. "Oh my God, [the snipers] back; that's the first thing I thought when I heard," Mr. Shifflet said. "I thought, either he's back or he lives right near here. This is scary. It's really scary."
Susan Greenhut, who stopped to fill up at the Mobil about 10 a.m. yesterday, said that when she learned of the most recent shooting, her gut reaction was the same. "My immediate thought was that this person lives right here," she said. "It's too close to home."
Mrs. Greenhut said that she has relatives who live in Israel, and that she frequently makes note of news reports about violence and killings there. She said she plans to visit Israel in January to join a religious mission.
"This is practice for it," she said as she stood pumping gas into her car, less than 10 feet where Mr. Walekar was standing when one of the sniper's bullets struck.
The fresh wave of fear creeping through Montgomery County yesterday was also being felt a few miles south on Connecticut Avenue, where about two hours after Mr. Walekar was killed, Lori Lewis Rivera was fatally gunned down at a Shell gas station.
Mrs. Rivera, 25, was shot in the back at 9:58 a.m. Oct. 3 while vacuuming her minivan at the Shell station in the 10500 block of Connecticut Avenue.
John Mistry, one of the station's owners, said that since Mrs. Rivera was killed, no one has used the vacuums. Mourners have placed several pots of purple, red and white flowers at the base of the vacuums with a small American flag.
But Mr. Mistry said he keeps a maroon Peugeot station-wagon parked in front of the makeshift memorial to keep it out of sight of customers.
The Shell station has lost about 35 percent of its business since Oct. 3.
"We just put a car there now for the customers," Mr. Mistry said. "Some of them get very emotional, especially the ladies."
"We are fighting to help the customers," said Johannes Gebrey, an employee at the station. He said he often offers to pump gas for customers who are afraid to stand in the open next to their cars.
Members of the Guardian Angels, a national community support and crime-prevention group, appeared at the Shell station yesterday afternoon, also offering to pump gas for frightened customers.
Terry Thomas, manager of Master's Tuxedo, a shop sitting directly across from the Shell station on Connecticut Avenue, said she was shocked and frightened by the news of the latest shooting.
Mrs. Thomas said that on Monday she had a lengthy conversation with a customer at her shop about whether the sniper might hit in the county again. "I'm afraid to go near the windows now," she said.
During business hours she keeps the glass front door of the Tuxedo shop locked. She only opens it when she sees customers who want to come inside.
Mrs. Thomas said she thinks the police are doing the best job they can to catch the sniper. "All we can do is hope that he doesn't hit anymore," she said.

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