Make this page my home page
  1. Drag the home icon in this panel and drop it onto the "house icon" in the tool bar for the browser

  2. Select "Yes" from the popup window and you're done!

October 24, 2002
Print Comment RSS

Two Arrested in Sniper Case

Former Soldier Named In Federal Firearms Warrant

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 area.

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 fatal shooting.

Other developments:

  • 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 authenticated it."

  • 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 duplex.

  • 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 year.

  • Military officials told CNN Muhammad was not trained as a sniper and was not in the Special Forces, but had expertise in combat support missions.

  • 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.





  • PoliceOne Offers

    Sponsored by

    P1 on Facebook

    Connect with PoliceOne

    Mobile Apps Facebook Twitter Google

    Get the #1 Police eNewsletter

    Police Newsletter Sign up for our FREE email roundup of the top news, tips columns, videos and more, sent 3 times weekly
    See Sample