- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 17, 2006

Lessons learned from the Washington-area sniper shootings helped Phoenix authorities track down the two men arrested in connection with a series of similar killings that terrorized residents for the past year.

“What they’ve developed from [the D.C. sniper case], we’ve been garnering that information,” said Sgt. Andy Hill, a spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department. “You have to learn from those other things. And I’m sure that after these cases, others will learn and glean from what we did.”

Police on Aug. 3 arrested Dale Hausner, 33, and Samuel Dieteman, 30, in connection with 37 random shootings that killed seven and injured 17 in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

In the 2002 sniper spree, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were linked to 13 shootings, including 10 fatal, in the D.C. area. Muhammad, 45, was found guilty of several of the murders and has received the death penalty. Malvo, 21, was also found guilty of murder and is serving a life sentence.

The task force assembled to investigate the killings in Phoenix was similar to the one formed in Montgomery County in 2002 — consisting of local police departments and federal agencies such as the FBI; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Thomas Mangan, a spokesman for the ATF’s Phoenix field office, said the agency sent six agents, analysts and a technical support staff that had worked the D.C. sniper case.

“What we had learned and gleaned from the [D.C.] sniper case was to integrate a process to coordinate and track those leads and to see if there were patterns or nuggets of information you could glean,” Mr. Mangan said. “That piece of fragmented information may marry up with calls that might have been received days earlier.”

Authorities eventually placed Mr. Dieteman under surveillance after several tips from the public.

Mr. Mangan said task force officials stressed the importance of controlling information released to the public and properly briefing operators of tip lines.

In the D.C. sniper case, press coverage resulted in the faulty lead that the shooters drove a white van.

Boastful phone calls made by Malvo to a tip line helped solidify him and Muhammad as the shooters. And calls to the line resulted directly to the capture of the snipers.

Charles A. Moose, the former Montgomery County police chief who led the task force investigating the D.C. sniper shootings, has declined to comment on the comparisons. He is now enrolled in the Honolulu Police Department recruit academy.

The Phoenix shooting spree also sparked analysts’ comparisons to the Washington-area sniper shootings.

James Alan Fox, professor of criminal justice at Northeastern University in Boston and author of “Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder,” said the cases are not identical, but there is the striking similarity of both having two men who had a relationship.

In the D.C. case, he said, Muhammad was a loser-turned-mentor to the wayward Malvo. In the Phoenix spree, Mr. Hausner — who has said the shootings were the sole work of Mr. Dieteman — took in Mr. Dieteman as a roommate after learning he had no place to stay.

“Part of their shooting spree is a very perverse form of male bonding,” Mr. Fox said. “For those who shoot partly for the thrill, for the sport, having a teammate intensifies the pleasure of the game.”

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