Latest Shooting Tied to Sniper?
from NBC, MSNBC and News Services
BOWIE, Md., -- A 13-year-old boy was in critical but stable condition
Monday after being shot in the chest outside a school in this
Washington, D.C., suburb. It was not known if the attack was related
to the sniper shootings last week that left six people dead, but
authorities were conducting ballistic tests to see if there was a
link to the earlier shootings.
"We do not know for certain that this case is related," Gerald
Wilson, police chief for Prince George's County, told reporters. He
acknowledged that police were looking into a report that the boy
might have been in an altercation earlier that morning.
Fred Thomas, the county's public safety director, said police were
interviewing the few witnesses at the scene and that officials hoped
the ballistics tests would yield more information.
The boy, whose name has not been released, was shot once in the
chest outside Benjamin Tasker Middle School just after 8 a.m. The
shooting appeared to have been at a distance because no one reported
seeing the shooter.
Wilson said there were few witnesses because the shooting happened
about a half-hour before classes started. He appealed to the public
to call any tips into a police hot line at 800-673-2777.
The boy's aunt, who had just dropped the boy off, rushed him to a
nearby clinic. From there, he was airlifted to Children's National
Medical Center in Washington.
A hospital spokeswoman said the boy was in critical but stable
condition as doctors worked to save his life. He was still in surgery
four hours after being taken to the hospital.
The shooting occurred just after 8 a.m. ET, according to a
guidance counselor at the school, which has more than 1,300 students
and is about 20 miles from the first shootings last week in
neighboring Montgomery County, Md.
'You think you're safe, but you're only as safe as your next step.'
- SHARON HEALY,
Mother of a student at Benjamin Tasker
As police converged on the scene, school officials locked down the
premises until parents arrived to take their children home. Children
in other Prince George's schools were not allowed outside Monday for
recess or lunch.
Police searched nearby woods, which border two-thirds of the
Sharon Healy had just sent her 12-year-old son, Brandon, to school
on his bicycle when she heard of the shooting. She said she ran there
and pulled him out of class.
"You think you're safe, but you're only as safe as your next
step," Healy said. Said her son: "I was scared."
Othar Haskins, 13, of Bowie, standing outside the school with his
mother, India Haskins, said he was a friend of the boy who was shot.
"He's funny, he's always around friends," Othar said. "He helps
you out when you need it. He's a good friend." The boy cried and put
his head on his mother's shoulder as he spoke.
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said federal authorities
- the attorney general, Treasury Department and Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms - have been "very involved on the ground and
have lent support and equipment."
Asked if there was any evidence that this is a terrorist at work,
Fleischer replied: "I've not heard anything like that, but the fact
of the matter is that people are trying to determine who the shooter
is, or shooters are, and we continue to help local officials in that
Montgomery County's schools had expected to resume a regular
schedule Monday, but after the shooting, outdoor and afterschool
activities were canceled.
An hour after the shooting Monday, police raced to a nearby
shopping center after receiving a report of a gunshot there. The
report turned out to be unfounded.
Profiles Being Prepared
In the investigation into the earlier shootings, police were
awaiting an FBI psychological profile of the shooter, Moose said
They're also using a "geographic" profile, which maps the crime
locations to possibly determine where the killer lives.
"This is another tool that we have not used before and we want to
assure people in our community that we want to try each and every
thing that is available to assist us," Moose said at a news
Unlike psychological profiles, which try to describe the killer,
geographic profiles use crime locations to determine where the killer
feels comfortable traveling and home in on where he or she lives.
The typical geographic profile focuses the investigation on 5
percent or less of the area originally under consideration, according
Moose said investigators were making progress, but added, "some of
the more desirable smoking gun leads just aren't there."
A prayer vigil for the shooting victims was held at St. Mary's Roman
Catholic Church in Rockville, Md., on Saturday. Click "Play" to hear
Archbishop Theodore McCarrick describe the fear in the community.
One Victim Buried
While the search continued, family and friends gathered to bury
Prem Kumar Walekar, a taxi driver slain Thursday at a Rockville, Md.,
Nieces and nephews sang songs and remembered a man they called
"Prem Uncle" while standing under a video screen that flashed
snapshots from his life. Walekar, 54, was remembered as quiet, funny,
generous and caring, a man who showed his affection with a gentle
pinch of a child's cheek.
Walekar was one of five people shot to death at random in
Montgomery County in a 16-hour span Wednesday and Thursday. A sixth
victim was killed Thursday in Washington, D.C.
Bullet tests confirmed that the same weapon was used to kill
Walekar and three other victims.
Investigators said Sunday that ballistics evidence also linked the
shooting of a 43-year-old woman in Spotsylvania County, Va., on
Friday with the Maryland murders. Now in stable condition, she was
shot in the back outside a Michaels craft store in Fredericksburg, Va.
A window of a Michaels store in Montgomery County was shot out 45
minutes before the first killing, but a bullet obtained from that
scene was too badly damaged to be of any use in the investigation.
No arrests have been made in the spree.
The police hot line to report information about any of the
shootings in Montgomery County is 240-777-2600.