Target Practice: Seven Victims in Three Days On Monster: DC Sniper

Man aiming with rifle

On Monster: DC Sniper, journalist Tony Harris is chronicling the events of the sniper attacks in Maryland and Washington, DC in October of 2002. Five people were shot in less fifteen hours, all over Montgomery County, Maryland, and the police had only one lead: a white box van, speeding away from the scene of one of the shootings, a needle in a haystack. “A sniper case is about the worst kind of case you can have,” David C. Reichenbaugh, retired lieutenant with the Maryland State Police, says. “Most homicides, the shooter has some connection with the victim...This case, we have nothing. A white box truck and a high speed bullet, that’s all we had. And spreading panic – we had plenty of that.”


The panic was perfectly understandable, particularly because people were being shot doing innocent, everyday things: Premkumar Walekar while filling up his gas tank, Sonny Buchanan while mowing his lawn, Lori Ann Lewis Rivera as she left the grocery store. “Sarah Ramos was 34 years old...she was just sitting on a bench...reading a book and she was shot,” Tony tells us. “That’s no regard for human life at all. That’s literally target practice... and that just sort of brings home, for me, the depravity of it all.” Detectives wondered if someone, or even multiple someones, had some kind of grudge against the county, until reports of a similar shooting in Washington, DC was reported. Then, another call came in from Fredericksburg, Virginia, "the seventh victim in just three days," Tony says. The snipers had expanded their target area. 

With the nationwide media coverage, the lack of motive, and the utter randomness of the attacks, everyone was on edge, even the authorities; as they worked to identify the white box truck, interview witnesses, analyze bullet tracings, and run down their precious few suspects, anxious thoughts of their own families lingered in the back of their minds. “I was concerned about my kid,” David says. “The police side of me says, ‘That's just unrealistic and the odds are astronomical,’ but Dad part of me says, ‘Hey, my kid could be the next target.’ I guarantee you every parent, certainly in Montgomery County and now the District of Columbia, was beginning to think the same thing.” And on the morning of October 7, they got a call from Benjamin Tasker Middle School: “Our worst fear.” Find out more about this gripping story, and the lives that were shattered by this killing spree, only on Monster: DC Sniper.

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