Monday, November 9, 2009

DC Sniper

If you lived in the Washington DC region during the fall of 2002, then I know you remember the horrible when John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were terrorizing then entire area.
On October 2, 2002, James Martin was shot to death in the parking lot of a Shopper's Food Warehouse in Wheaton, MD. On October 3, six more people were killed in a matter of hours, setting off a frenzied man-hunt for a serial killer. There was a lot of speculation as to the type of person may be committing the crimes. It was thought that the individual may be driving a white box-type truck.

The entire area was paralyzed with fear. A few of the random killings took place at gas stations and almost all happened in broad daylight. People were afraid to go to the gas station, or even leave there homes. Police were stopping every white-box truck they could find.

On October 7, 2002, the unthinkable happened. A student was shot as he was dropped off at his middle school. His Aunt quickly pulled him back into the car and drove directly to an urgent care facility, saving his life. Authorities linked his shooting with the others and a tarot card was found at the scene saying, "I am God".

If the hysteria wasn't bad before, it certainly was afterwards. My school (which was in the same system as the boy's) had a number of portable classrooms out back. For a time, students were walked out to the classrooms. After the student was shot, classes were moved inside. There was a level of fear that was just unspoken.

The terror continued with another killing on October 9th and another shooting that wounded the victim on October 19th. On October 22, the final victim, Conrad Johnson, a bus driver, was shot and killed while standing on the steps of his bus.

John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were arrested in nearby Frederick, MD on October 24th. They did not have a White box truck, but instead had a Chevy Caprice that had been modified so that a person could lay down in the back seat and shoot out of a hole the trunk.

It was a terrifying time that no one in the area will soon forget. The killings were so random, that everyone felt like a target. Personally, I remember fearing the worst that October 3rd morning. It was a Thursday and my father volunteers at a library near the shooting in Kensington. He often got gas at the Shell station because it usually was the cheapest around. Little details were immediately released, but when the news came out that a person was killed pumping gas at the Shell, I got worried. My father had no cell phone at the time and I could not get a hold of him. I found out later in the day that particular victim was a woman.

Everyone has a similar story from that three week period in October. Every day I drive through the area where the majority of these shootings took place and have shopped in some of the shopping centers where he committed these heinous crimes. Tonight at 9pm, John Allen Mohammad is scheduled to be executed in Virginia as punishment for his crimes. Whether or not you believe in the death penalty, whether or not you feel as though his lawyers didn't do their job (he defended himself with some legal assistance), whether or not you feel he is mentally ill, Muhammad turned a young man (Malvo) into a monster, killed 10 and wounded 3 others and terrorized the entire Metro DC region. It is hard to think that life in prison would be enough to make up for all he has done.

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