DC Sniper

Does anyone live near the area of the shootings? This is freaking awful. I just saw on Boston.com that a 13 year old was shot this morning.

Does the pattern suggest that this is a terrorist? Or a serial killer?

If ever an Internet message board could crack a case wide open, this would be the one to solve.

It’s truly disturbing. While at this point my entirely uninformed opinion would be that it’s likely some right-wing gun nut (I used to live in the Northern Virginia area, and there are plenty of gun nuts out there) or something similar, I don’t think they should rule out terrorism. Actually, no matter who it is it’s “terrorism,” because the only purpose I can discern (other than pure mental illness) is to terrorize people, but you know what I mean.

Think about it (this is a stretch, admittedly, but whatever): if you were a foreign terrorist organization what better, and cheaper, way is there to truly cause terror than to randomly gun down suburbanites in the US? It costs virtually nothing, and it’s damn hard to stop–drive a van up, shoot from the back at a distance, drive off. Unless someone actually is in position to see the shooter, well, shoot, it’s nearly impossible to get solid eye witnesses, and it’s pretty easy in these areas for nondescript vehicles to merge in with the crowd. And it causes much more insidious if lower key horror than big bangs like the WTC, because it affects more people potentially–not as direct victims but as scared and confused victims.

Frightening.

Yeah, I thought about a terrorist too Bob. But then again terrorism sort of depends on people knowing it is terrorism, not some random nut. America is more likely to think “nut” in this case. What seems clear to me is that this person is well trained. Not all of them have been kill shots but I haven’t heard of the sniper missing his target either.

That takes real gun training with this high-powered weapon, real talent, the kind that, despite Grossman, you just can’t get from video games and is easiest to get from the military. Not likely I know, but what if it’s a US special ops guy or former SF guy gone nutso?

My brother and his wife live in Rockville. In fact, their PO Box is at -that- same post office where one of the shootings occurred.
My wife, son and I are flying out from CA to DC to visit this weekend. We made the plans awhile ago, and we aren’t changing them.

I live in Prince George’s County - the county to the east of Montgomery, where the spree started.

There was another sniping this morning, in Bowie MD. A thirteen year old boy being taken to school by his aunt was shot in the chest. He is in surgery at this moment. No confirmation as to whether this is a connected shooting, but the area is on edge, naturally. My wife walks to work every morning, so I’m a little nervous myself.

The initial profile suggests a local killer who’s doing this for the sense of power it gives. Spree killers tend to keep going until they are brought down - usually violently.

Troy

Yeah, I tend to agree it’s some nut on a warped power trip, though at this point who knows?

The “skill” needed to murder people like this though isn’t that hard to come by. Anyone with any time on a rifle range could do it, given normal abilities I think. After all, it’s cold-blooded killing, with no one shooting at you and unsuspecting targets. Probably easier than shooting deer, if you think about it. Very scary.

In what I thought was spectacularly dark irony, an acquaintance of mine returned this weekend to her home in D.C. from a visit to Bosnia, and was much more nervous about coming home to D.C. than she’d been about arriving in Bosnia.

‘Think about it (this is a stretch, admittedly, but whatever): if you were a foreign terrorist organization what better, and cheaper, way is there to truly cause terror than to randomly gun down suburbanites in the US?’

Blow up a day care center?

I’ll be really surprised if this turns out to be terrorism.

I live about 10 minutes from the last shooting (Bowie, MD). My friend has a son who goes to the school where the shooting happened. He was dropped off a minute after the shooting took place. My office is about 20 minutes from the original 5 shootings and I used to live in the area where they happened. My wife grew up in the area where they happened.

Needless to say I am nervous anytime I go out anywhere. When I pull into a gas station now I always try to position myself and car where I am covered from long distances and I find myself scanning the horizon looking for a white box truck. If I go out I try to not park in the open and never stop moving. It sounds kind of paranoid but I would rather be paranoid than the next victim.

Anyway we are all pretty freaked out about it here.

– Xaroc

I would be surprised if this morning’s shooting is the same person from last week. Weren’t last week’s victims killed with a single shot? This morning’s victim took multiple shots. I hope I am wrong.

While as I’ve said it’s most likely that this is not “terrorism” as we commonly describe it (in other words, not some Al Quaida plot or whatever), I still think this sort of seemingly random murder is scarier than blowing up anything, short of something really horrific like nuking a city or whatnot. A single blast kills more people but then it’s over and you can implement measures to protect places–and it’s much easier to protect places than individuals, especially if those individuals are just average Joes and Janes.

I’d be surprised if it was “terrorism” too, but it is hitting our society where it’s most vulnerable and susceptible to fear IMO.

From what I understand, the shots mostly all struck in the same general area (correct me if I’m wrong, I haven’t been keeping up with this). That alone suggests the man has some marksman training. From what I understand, he also struck highly sensitive areas, I believe he shot them in the head, didn’t he? I’m having trouble finding any news reports on this now.

But to get on with it, the man has some sort of training. This isn’t like shooting a dear, and it’s not like shooting a handgun. A .223 rifle is -heavy-. Hell, -all- rifles are heavy. Controlling the rifle along with your body movements to get a perfect shot is not easy at all. The only thing you can do to have control over the weapon, short of get in a perfect hiding spot with perfect coverage that gives you complete and utter leverage, is to become especially suited to holding, moving, dealing, and working with that weapon, and even then. You do not get this kind of training from a rifle range. Hell, you’d be crazy if you thought they let you climb buildings, lie on the ground, or shoot -anywhere- except from a designated booth.

The point being that this guy has some marksman training. He knows how to control his shots. He knows how-to pick where he takes his shots from. But most importantly, he knows how-to control himself. You want to tell me that Joe Blow next door could do what this guy’s doing with a few visits to the rifle range? Then you’re fucking insane. Whoever’s doing this is either very smart and very lucky with a weapon, or has planned this, knows what he’s doing to execute it, and is going to get away with it.

Xaroc - is there something you want to confess?

Chet

My guess is that the guy is a hunter. Hunting deer in certain terrain is exactly the same thing that is happening here. You don’t go stomping through the woods scaring everything away. You set yourself up in a good firing position, and patiently wait for the deer to walk into range. If he is firing from inside a vehicle, he has plenty of things to rest the rifle on for a steady shot. He probably finds a good location, sets up, and waits for the right time to shoot - few witnesses around him, and a non-moving target. That kind of patience is generally something you have to learn, and hunting is how you learn it. The lack of misses also tells me the murderer is an experienced hunter (or sniper) - no “buck fever” making him get nervous and miss or try a bad shot. He could be a trained sniper to obtain those skills, but those are so rare in comparison to experienced hunters.

The .223 is at best a varmint gun, and even then most varmint hunters consider it too underpowered. All of the skilled hunters I know would never consider using it on deer. The .223 is a bad choice for a sniper, so there has to be some other reason the shooter chose that round.

My guess is that the murderer is using a customized rifle to obtain very high accuracy, and accurate shot placement is why he picked that rifle, which dictated that size bullet. The news reports said the slugs are either .223 or .222, which are both high-velocity small slugs. To me, that opens up a wide variety of possible varmint rounds that use similar slugs. For examples, see http://www.huntingdigest.com/features/view_feature3.asp?ID=275 I would not be surprised if the guy was using a custom varmint rifle like this one: http://www.hatchergun.com/varmint2.htm That one, just to show the parallel, can fire 55 grain bullets, which is the same weight of bullet for most common .223 rounds.

On the other hand, a Mini-14 with a scope fires standard .223 rounds, and with a little accurizing might be accurate enough at 200 yards. Mini-14s are a favorite of the gun accessory nuts. Also, it could be a standard bolt-action hunting rifle, like the Ruger M-77: http://www.ruger-firearms.com/rfpages/m77r.html Note that the Ruger is available in three different .22 centerfire calibers, and it would be very tough to distinguish between them based on recovered bullets.

Finally, just to muddle things a bit more, he could be using a custom bolt-action pistol. They would be a lot easier to use inside a vehicle, and could still hit accurately at 200 yards. Hard to find pictures of these things, but the second one on this page shows a hit on a prarie dog at 346 yards. That pistol is 6mm, slightly larger than a .223 (5.56mm). http://www.brooksiebuffstuff.com/assortedhuntingphotos.htm

The only problem I have with the hunter argument is the fact that the police are making the shots out to be so accurate and well-placed, that I doubt most hunters would be able to do that. Not saying they can’t. The guy could be the best deer hunter on Earth. I’m just saying that most hunters I know personally can’t hit the exact same spot each go-'round.

The custom pistol would be a good choice for what he’s doing, too. I hadn’t thought of that. Would make for easy concealment and disposal, something that this guy probably needs. But I’d have to agree that he’s using some kind of customized rifle. It would fit the theory that he’s at least smarter than your average bear, and a better shot.

Just more of my .02. :)

I haven’t read about all the targets yet, but from what I’ve seen he has gone after stationary targets or those that are walking towards him. One woman was leaned into her car vacuming the seat, another was a man walking towards his car in the parking lot (shot in the center of his chest, suggesting the shooter was directly in front of him). The 13 year old was most likely standing still in front of the school, since he was shot in the chest and not in the back (suggesting he wasn’t walking towards the school doors).

Pure 100% speculation of course. With the right rifle and no need to lead, anyone who has fired enough shots can seem like a marksmen. If he was picking on people driving by, it would make me a little more suspicious that he had true military style training.

You know I hate to say it but I look at America’s gun ownership laws and this latest incident and I am surprised this hasn’t happened before.

The 2nd Amendment is killing America.

[size=7]WHAT?[/size]

Argh. Troll. Hammer+2, 1d4 Fire Damage.

WHAT?[/quote]

Let me spell it out in simple terms :

Strict gun laws = less guns = less chance of random shootings = safer country.

Comprehende ?