- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 24, 2002

Ballistics tests have shown the serial sniper has fired the same type of bullet from the same gun in the 14 attempted killings, but little is known about the type of gun he is using.
"We haven't ruled out anything beyond the fact it fires a .223 caliber bullet," said Cpl. Rob Moroney of the Maryland State Police, who is part of a task force including federal and local law-enforcement authorities.
"Officers, troopers and federal agents working on the task force should be on the lookout for anything," Cpl. Moroney said.
Still, investigators know one thing for sure. The weapon fires with extreme accuracy killing 10 persons with 14 shots since the shooting spree began Oct. 2.
"There's definitely a wide variety of weapons that could be used to achieve this sort of accuracy with the .223 ammo a wide variety that's readily available on the consumer market," said Ken Cooper, a weapons expert from Tactical Handgun Training of New York, a company specializing in firearms training for security guards and police.
He also said residents should look for more than the stereotypical killer carrying a long gun case or hunting bag.
"The case could literally be the size of a laptop computer that would not necessarily look like a gun bag," Mr. Cooper said.
Experts says hundreds of weapons, including at least one handgun, can fire the .223 bullet with extreme accuracy from several hundred yards.
For example, the Thompson Encore Pistol, which is regarded as a novelty hunting weapon, can be fitted with a barrel from 12 inches to 15 inches in length. The gun also can be bought on the Internet and mounted with a detachable scope for a more precise aim.
The gun was for sale on Web sites yesterday from $350 to $1,000, depending on the accessories.
Mr. Cooper said that the gun is easy to use, and that a novice could become very accurate with it within a short period of time.
He thinks the sniper could be walking away from the shootings with a pistol tucked inside a normal-sized jacket.
There are also several kinds of rifles with very short barrels, such as the AR-15, which are easily concealed and capable of firing .223 ammunition, Mr. Cooper said.
"What we're talking about is concealability," he said. "It would be most likely that this guy is using a high-powered military type rifle that has a collapsible stock or a folding stock. But he also could definitely be using a pistol."
A Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent said yesterday roughly 100 different rifles for sale in the United States fire a .223 round.
The sniper's choice of bullet also adds to his mystique because the .233s were originally designed for wounding, not killing, Mr. Cooper said.
He said the idea of the design was to make a lightweight bullet to wound the enemy so their fellow soldiers would have to retrieve them, thus diverting their attention from battle.
"If you were an expert, you'd be using a higher-caliber weapon," he said. "An expert sniper would use a .308 caliber. But obviously [the sniper] has picked a gun he likes and he's good at shooting. The rounds he's using are doing a lot more damage than wounding probably some type of very good, very expensive hunting round. He's using rounds that really want to do some damage."

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