- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 8, 2002

A 13-year-old boy being dropped off at school yesterday became the latest victim of a sniper attack, the eighth person shot since Wednesday.
The boy, whom police did not identify, was shot in the chest at 8:09 a.m. outside the Benjamin Tasker Middle School in the 4900 block of Collington Road in Bowie. He was in critical but stable condition after surgery last night at Childrens Hospital Center in Northwest.
Authorities in Prince Georges County say all schools will be open today but will be under lockdown conditions. No outside or after-school activities will be conducted, and there will be an increased police presence at each school.
The bullet used to shoot the boy was identical to the .223-caliber bullets used in the seven other shootings, said Joe Riehl, assistant special agent in charge of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).
"The evidence is consistent with evidence found at the other scenes," Mr. Riehl said.
Five persons were killed in Montgomery County by a sniper within a 16-hour period on Wednesday and Thursday. Another man was killed in Northwest near the D.C.-Montgomery County border on Thursday night, and a woman was wounded in Fredericksburg, Va., on Friday.
President Bush yesterday decried the "cowardly and senseless" sniper shootings that have terrorized the Washington area, and pledged federal support.
Montgomery County police Chief Charles A. Moose wrote U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to formally request federal assistance to track down the sniper. Officials of the FBI, the ATF and the U.S. District Attorneys office assured Chief Moose at county police headquarters in Rockville last night of assistance.
"There is no way we can surrender to this kind of terror," said Chief Moose, who will lead the task force of local, state and federal authorities.
The ATF has analyzed the bullets and found ballistics evidence to link all but two of the shootings to one gun. Those two bullets were badly damaged, and police say they may never be able to determine whether they are linked to the others shootings.
As in the other shootings, the boy was struck with a single shot from a high-powered rifle. Police reported that they found no shell casing, but WUSA-TV (Channel 9) reported last night that a casing had been found.
A Prince Georges County security official said that a white box truck was seen leaving the area.
Investigators believe the shot came from the wooded area north of the school, the official said.
Police immediately suspected the attack was carried out with a small-caliber rifle, most likely a .22-caliber one, because there was so little blood at the scene.
Acting on a tip from a student, 20 armed police stormed the school, believing the attacker was inside the school with a gun. The tip proved to be incorrect.
Bowie residents expressed disbelief over the attack.
"You dont expect to send your child to school to have them shot," said Bowie Mayor Fred Robinson, a retired Prince Georges County police major. "It is a tragic situation. People are concerned. It is shocking."
The boy was shot as his aunt dropped him off at the school.
"The young man was being dropped off at school by a guardian," Prince Georges police Chief Gerald Wilson said. "The guardian saw him slump down and turned around. As the guardian approached him, the boy said he believed hed been shot."
The woman drove her nephew to Bowie Health Center, where he was stabilized and then transported by helicopter to Childrens Hospital Center. Doctors said they were optimistic he would survive.
"I heard something go pow. I heard a woman screaming," said Mark Jones, 38, a vehicle detailer who lives across the street from the school.
Mr. Jones said that he was walking behind a neighbors home when he heard the shot.Fifteen chemists were dispatched quickly to Bowie to analyze evidence, according to Mike Bouchard, special agent of the ATF.
A mobile laboratory and a police dog, trained to sniff out explosives, were also sent to the school, to help determine any possible link to the earlier shootings.
"Every possible resource is being used," Mr. Bouchard said, referring to cooperation and resources from all local police departments, the state police, the ATF and the FBI.
Montgomery County police sent 80 recruits to search a wooded area near the school. Chief Moose said investigators also are continuing to provide new information to FBI psychological profilers and ATF geographical profilers.
Although the streets around the school were closed by police, parents who had come to get their children parked their cars on the Maryland 197 overpass over Route 50 and walked about a half-mile to the school, located at Kenhill Street and Maryland 197.
"This hits close to home," said Rayston DeSouza, who picked up his son Nicholas, 13. Mr. DeSouza said that when he heard that a 13-year-old had been shot, he and his wife were concerned.
"It could have been our son," he said.
Prince Georges schools Superintendent Iris T. Metts said that Tasker Middle School is the only school where parents were asked to get their children. She said other county schools were put under Code Blue, where students were kept inside and the doors remained locked.
"We live in very dangerous and unpredictable times," she said.
Prince Georges County Council member Audrey Scott, a Bowie Republican, said she went to the Bowie Health Center. She said a detective showed her the X-ray of the youth, which revealed the bullet lodged in his upper-right chest above his heart and bullet fragments in his chest cavity.Mrs. Scott said she met the boys parents, who live in Bowie.
"They are devastated," Mrs. Scott said.
Bill Gertz and Arlo Wagner contributed to this report.


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