- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 24, 2002

The number of passengers waiting for Metro or Ride On buses yesterday at a stop near North Gate Park in Aspen Hill was significantly less than usual a day after the serial sniper shot his 13th victim from the nearby woods.
"It could have been me," said Rupert Clerke, who is now driving the morning bus route that belonged to Conrad Johnson before he was killed yesterday morning.
Nearby, mourners had placed bouquets, burning candles, a coffee mug and a painting of Jesus.
Mr. Clerke, a native Jamaican, said that he has been driving for Ride On for 16 years and lives near Connecticut Avenue and Aspen Hill Road, within a quarter-mile of three of the sniper killings.
A senior at Wheaton High School, who declined to give his name, said yesterday that he kept looking over his shoulder while riding the bus but, like many passengers, had no other means of transportation.
Mr. Clerke's afternoon routine of picking up students from the high school was interrupted on Tuesday when police sealed off the area after Mr. Johnson was shot about 6 a.m.
Motorists were not allowed to leave, buses routes were cancelled, and residents who had walked to a store or left for other reasons were not allowed to return until noon.
Nicole Collins, 15, typically rides the Ride On bus to her 10th-grade classes at John F. Kennedy High School, but she did not do so the past two days.
On Tuesday, she avoided a nearby bus stop and skirted the yellow police tape to find another way to school. She eventually got a ride with a motorist.
Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan went to one of the Ride On depots yesterday morning as drivers prepared to begin their routes. He reported that they were concerned and mourning the loss of Mr. Johnson.
"People showed up today," Mr. Duncan said about the gathering drivers. "It was their day off but they showed up to help."

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