MIDDLETOWN, Maryland (CNN) -- Members of the sniper task force
arrested an ex-soldier and his stepson early Thursday at a freeway
rest stop. Sources told CNN the two were considered suspects in the
shootings that have killed 10 and wounded three in the Washington
Sources identified the two as John Allen Muhammad, 42 -- a Gulf War
veteran named in a federal arrest warrant for firearms violations who
was being sought as a material witness in the sniper case -- and his
17-year-old stepson John Lee Malvo, a Jamaican citizen.
They were taken to an undisclosed location in Montgomery County and
questioned. The string of deadly shootings began in the county three
weeks ago, and the most recent victim linked to the sniper was killed
there Tuesday. (Trail of the sniper)
A weapon has not been recovered, but witnesses said police removed a
couple of duffel bags from the car. Police have obtained a warrant to
search the car more thoroughly.
Muhammad and Malvo were sleeping in a blue 1990 Chevrolet Caprice,
which a motorist and attendant recognized as matching the description
of a vehicle authorities were looking for -- a blue or burgundy 1990
Chevrolet Caprice with New Jersey license plate NDA 21Z.
The sighting was reported to police, who relayed the tip to the
sniper task force, which dispatched officers to the scene some 50
miles northwest of Washington.
The rest area is along a seven-mile stretch of Interstate 70 near
Myersville, Maryland, that had been shut down in a dragnet launched
just a few hours earlier by Montgomery County Police Chief Charles
Moose, the head of the sniper task force.
After the October 3 shooting of Pascal Charlot, 72, in Washington,
D.C., law enforcement officials searched for a burgundy Chevrolet
Caprice. One such car was later found burned out in the D.C. area,
but it was never determined whether it had anything to do with the
The Baltimore Sun reported Wednesday that authorities got a break
in the case from a recent phone call believed to be from the sniper,
who said that investigators should "take him seriously" and "check
with the people in Montgomery," or words to that effect. The
newspaper said police then checked recent shootings in Montgomery,
Alabama, and found a double shooting outside a liquor store on
September 21 that involved .223 caliber ammunition -- the same type
used by the sniper.
Police found a piece of paper bearing Malvo's fingerprint at the
scene, the newspaper reported. Malvo, authorities learned, lived with
Muhammad. Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright told CNN that sniper task
force investigators "came to us two days ago ... (and) we gave them
the evidence we collected in the case." Bright said the fingerprint
was among that evidence, but investigators "have not officially
Authorities searched a duplex in Tacoma, Washington on Wednesday
and left with a tree trunk apparently used for target practice.
Sources said Muhammad once served at Fort Lewis, not far from the
North of Tacoma near the Canadian border, the mayor of
Bellingham, Washington said the FBI and local police had searched
Bellingham High School, where Malvo reportedly attended school last
Military officials told CNN Muhammad was not trained as a sniper
and was not in the Special Forces, but had expertise in combat
Federal authorities searched a paramilitary training camp in
Marion, Alabama, on Wednesday, local officials said. The FBI would
not say where the search was conducted, but did say the search was
related to the sniper case. Police in Marion said the property
searched was a training camp -- "Ground Zero USA" -- that specializes
in urban warfare, martial arts and SWAT tactics. Police did not
elaborate on what, if anything, was taken from the property.
Authorities removed a tree trunk from a duplex in Tacoma, Washington.
It was apparently used for target practice.
At a midnight news conference Wednesday, Moose delivered another
message to the sniper, urging him to contact police.
"Our inability to talk has been a concern for us as it has been for
you," Moose said. "You have indicated that you want us to do and say
certain things. You asked us to say, 'We have caught the sniper like
a duck in a noose.' We understand that hearing us say this is
important to you.
"However, we want you to know how difficult it has been to understand
what you want because you have chosen to use only notes, indirect
messages, and calls to other jurisdictions."
Law enforcement sources said a note was found near the scene of
Tuesday's fatal shooting of a bus driver in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Sources said the note is similar to the letter found after a weekend
shooting in Virginia that has been linked to the sniper.
Sources told CNN the Virginia letter revealed a frustrated
individual -- believed to be the sniper -- critical of law
enforcement's efforts in the investigation. The writer complained
that he tried numerous times to call authorities, only to have
officials hang up on him.