- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 9, 2002

The six random killings in the Washington area in the last week have been bad for the businesses near the scenes of the shootings. Business owners reported a slight drop in sales while their customers lamented the tragedy of unsuspecting people being gunned down merely because they were alone, vulnerable and few witnesses were nearby.
Some area businesses were taking steps to make their customers feel safer.
Starbucks Coffee Co. decided to remove outside seating from its stores in the Washington area. Starbucks operates 150 coffee shops in the area, about a third of them with patio seating.
"In terms of a precautionary measure, we pulled them," said Shannon Jones, Starbucks' Mid-Atlantic regional marketing manager. "Our highest priority is that our customers and our partners are safe."
Business has been slow the last couple of nights at the Kensington Shell service station at 10615 Connecticut Ave., the sight of one of the shootings.
The explanation is simple: "They haven't caught that sniper yet," said manager John Mistry. "People are scared, especially the ladies."
Thursday morning, Mr. Mistry was in his service station when he heard a loud pop, which he dismissed as a car tire bursting. Minutes later, he and his co-workers found Lori Ann Lewis-Rivera, 25, on the ground beside her minivan. She had been vacuuming her minivan at the station's coin-operated vacuum cleaner when a sniper shot her from a nearby grocery store parking lot.
As Mr. Mistry spoke, Charles Dahan, a 53-year-old eyeglass manufacturer who works nearby, paused after purchasing a Popsicle.
"What a terrible waste," he said.
A few miles away, the Fitzgerald Auto Mall at 11411 Rockville Pike in White Flint lost the contractor who mowed the grass.
James Buchanan, 39, was cutting a strip of grass behind a back lot at the auto sales outlet, out of view of anyone else. He was killed with a single shot.
"He did this job as a favor for us," said Dottie Fitzgerald, manager of the auto mall, a long-time friend of Mr. Buchanan.
Flowers and notes cover the site where Mr. Buchanan fell. One note from a friend says, "Heavenly Father, please hold my hand. Pull me away from hate."
Similar stories follow the route of the killer from suburban Maryland into the District.
"That guy's a cold-blooded killer," said Michael Griffin, 42, a landscape architect who stopped in for lunch at the Eddie's Carry-Out at 7730 Georgia Ave. NW.
The restaurant is across the street from where Pascal Charlot, 72, was shot and killed Thursday while standing at a street corner in the District.
O.B. Watts, another customer at the Eddie's Carry-Out, added, "He's probably watching it on TV, thinking, 'What's my next move?'"
The first sniper bullet Wednesday night smashed through the front window of a Michaels arts and crafts store at 13850 Georgia Ave. in Aspen Hill.
Although no one was hit, the path of the bullet can be seen where it tore through a checkout-stand light.
At the Aspen Hill Barber Shop in the same shopping mall, Kenny Velasquez, a barber, said he heard the shot but did not immediately realize what had happened.
Business has suffered in the last few days. "It's a little bit slower than normal, just a tad bit," Mr. Velasquez said.


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