Anxiety remains high after attacks; events canceled across the region
The Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) system central office has reinstated modified Code Blue emergency procedures for the third time as a result of the recent sniper attacks in the area.
washingtonpost.com reported that police have just taken a man into custody in Virginia and confiscated his white Plymouth Voyager minivan, though it is unclear whether or what the action has to do with the sniper attacks.
Another shooting, which police say could be related to the previous sniper attacks, happened on the evening of Saturday, Oct 19 in Ashland, VA. A man leaving a Ponderosa steakhouse after dinner was shot in the stomach and rushed to Virginia Commonwealth University's Medical College of Virginia Hospital in critical condition.
The shootings have caused serious disruption to local school systems' schedules; among postponed activites are Blair sports events and Homecoming. For more information, see related article, Homecoming football game and dance postponed; pep rally canceled.
Witnesses report seeing a white Chevy Astro van with a ladder rack speeding away from the scene after the previous shooting, five days ago. A white panel truck was seen at several previous scenes.
This region has seen a string of shootings that police are attributing to a "cowardly" sniper since Thursday, October 3. Five people were shot and killed in Montgomery County on Thursday, Oct 3 in apparently random attacks and two more were shot in DC and Spotsylvania County the following weekend. Police have found one spent shell casing from a shooting at Benjamin Tasker Middle School last Monday.
Under the modified Code Blue, classes will continue on the regular schedule and eighth period classes will be held for students who have them. Students who have classes in portables should go to class via the SAC doors. Other doors to the building should be locked and guarded. All outdoor MCPS after-school activities and programs, including adult evening school, have been cancelled indefinitely. Indoor programs are currently operating as scheduled.
Students are reminded that cell phone usage is not allowed during the school day and parents are being asked to not panic or attempt to take children out of school. Parents who do wish to take children home will have to provide identification before they will be allowed to take their children. Students who walk home are encouraged to walk in groups, and all staff must remain in the building until dismissal is completed.
Officials believe that a white Isuzu or Mitsubishi delivery-style box truck, possibly with a damaged rear left door, which was seen at one shooting location, may be involved in the shootings. Police have reason to believe that the van may contain two men armed with high-powered hunting rifles, and have released composite sketches of what the truck may look like. A white Astro van with a ladder rack was seen at the latest shooting scene by several witnesses.
Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) chief Charles Moose asked anyone who believes they may know the location of the truck or have any other information to "continue to call [and] look at everything in a suspicious manner." He added that occupants of the van could be "angry or upset" and urged people to "let [the police] decide if your information is any good."
The tip hotline is 1-888-324-9800; the reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the sniper now tops $500,000. Anyone who wishes to add to the reward fund may call 240-777-2500.
Students worried about the sniper can call the MCPS youth crisis hotline at 1-800-422-0009 and visit the MCPS resources web page at http://www.mcps.k12.md.us/info/emergency/resources/.
The first of the Montgomery County sniper attacks happened at 5:20 p.m. on Wednesday, and the first fatality occured later that night. The next day, four people were killed in about two hours. A chronology of events follows.
More information to come as this story develops.
|5:20 p.m. Wed. Oct. 2||Michaels store||First shot fired; nobody injured|
|Wednesday evening||Glenmont Shopping Center, Shoppers Food Warehouse||First victim, James D. Martin, killed|
|7:14 a.m. Thurs. Oct. 3||Near White Flint Mall||James L. "Sonny" Buchanan Jr. shot while mowing lawn|
|8:12 a.m. Thursday||Aspen Hill Mobil station||Cabdriver Premkumar Walekar killed while pumping gas|
|8:37 a.m. Thursday||Leisure World Post Office||Sarah Ramos shot while sitting on a bench|
|9:58 a.m. Thursday||Kensington Shell station|
Connecticut and Knowles Avenues
|Lori Lewis Rivera killed while vacuuming her van|
|Sat. Oct. 5||Washington, D.C.||Another shooting by the same gunman|
|Sun. Oct. 6||Spotsylvania County||New shootings which police are connecting with Montgomery sniper attacks|
|Mon. Oct. 7||Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Bowie||Student shot just before school; believed to be related to previous shootings|
|Wed. Oct. 9||Battlefield Sunoco gas station, Manassas||Dean Harold Meyers shot while pumping gas|
|Fri. Oct. 21||Massaponax||Kenneth H. Bridges killed while pumping gas|
|Sat. Oct 19||Ponderosa Steakhouse, Ashland||Unidentified 37-year old man shot in the stomach, in critical condition|
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