- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 24, 2002

TACOMA, Wash. The first clue that the day would be different came when neighbors saw men in suits snooping around the slate-colored duplex.

"They just moseyed up and started looking around like they owned the place," said Dean Resop, who lives a block away from the home. The strangers were FBI agents.

Within hours, it became apparent that a working-class area of Tacoma had become the latest focus of the investigation into the Washington, D.C.-area sniper shootings that have left 10 persons dead and three others critically wounded since Oct. 2.

The FBI refused to say publicly what it was looking for at the property on South Proctor Avenue. But law-enforcement sources speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed the agents were seeking evidence at the rental home related to ammunition.

Also yesterday, FBI agents visited Bellingham High School, 90 miles north of Seattle. Mayor Mark Asmundson told the Bellingham Herald the agents were apparently seeking information on a male teenager who once attended the school and on an older man. He said both left the area about nine months ago.

Last night, police said they were seeking 42-year-old John Allen Muhammad, also known as John Allen Williams, and his 17-year-old stepson, John Lee Malvo.

Army Pvt. Chris Waters, a Fort Lewis soldier who lives directly across from the duplex, said he heard repeated gunfire from somewhere in the neighborhood almost every day in January, but he wasn't exactly sure where.

"It sounded like a high-velocity round," said Pvt. Waters, who fires a variety of high-powered weapons as a soldier.

Eventually, Pvt. Waters said, he called police, and they cruised through the neighborhood. He said they didn't find anything suspicious.

"It sounded like a high-powered rifle such as an M-16," he said. "Never more than three shots at a time. Pow. Pow. Pow."

Fort Lewis, the largest Army base in the Pacific Northwest, is home to soldiers who undergo some of the Army's most intense sniper training, although authorities said last night that Mr. Muhammad had been stationed at Fort Lewis, but did not undergo sniper training.

They are part of the Army's first new medium-weight combat brigade, which includes a large complement of snipers trained to operate in urban areas, mountains and countrysides.

As part of their Fort Lewis training, teams of snipers one shooter and one spotter are taught to remain undetected in an area at least 48 hours before they're supposed to fire their weapons.

In March, Lt. Victor Satterlund told the News Tribune newspaper in Tacoma that the snipers' motto is "one shot, one kill," but their goal is to kill with up to three shots.

In the Tacoma neighborhood, children played in the late afternoon sunshine yesterday, their parents watched investigators cut up and remove a tree stump, pull up nails and examine a 55-gallon barrel.

"They cut the burn barrel in half. They went through that for a good hour," said Matt Cousineau, who lives next door to the duplex. "They are not missing a square inch of that yard."

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