Posted 2:12 p.m. Oct. 7
by Bernadette Simpao
U-WIRE (DC BUREAU)
(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – The shooting of a Spotsylvania County woman Friday has been linked to the same gun used to kill at least four of the six victims in the series of sniper shootings in the Washington, D.C., area, authorities said Sunday.
“The forensic evidence has shown us that their shooting is linked to the Montgomery County shootings, linked to the D.C. shooting,” Montgomery Police Chief Charles A. Moose said of the Virginia case.
Investigators continued their search Sunday for the elusive sniper responsible for killing six people in Montgomery County and the District, and the first funeral was held for one of the victims, Prenkumar Walekar, 54.
Police are urging residents of the Washington area to be vigilant, and to raise their doubts of people who appear suspicious.
“We remain convinced that someone in our community knows who’s engaged in this,” Moose told reporters. “[Someone] is aware that they haven’t been around, is aware that they have been acting differently, that they have altered their schedule, that they may be gloating.”
Authorities have taken a former North Carolina man into custody in Fairfax County, Moose said. Robert Gene Baker III, formerly of Raleigh, was reported missing but is now in custody on an auto theft warrant from Florida.
Moose said Baker is not a suspect in the sniper killings in Maryland and the District, but added that authorities are talking to him. No weapons were found in Baker’s possession, Moose said.
Five people were shot and killed during a 16-hour period from Wednesday night to Thursday morning, and the sixth victim was killed in Washington Thursday night. Investigators said each victim seems to have been shot at random, and all were shot only once, leading authorities to deem these acts sniper attacks.
Authorities are waiting for ballistics reports from the other two Maryland shootings, and are expecting a psychological profile of the killer from the FBI. So far, 600 credible tips from more than 2,500 calls to a hot line are being pursued by 100 police investigators and 50 federal investigators.
Police are also searching for a white box van, which a witness saw leaving one of the shootings. It appeared that two males were in the van, a six-wheeled vehicle with a bent rear bumper and black letter on its front and sides.
“Whoever is involved in this madness, rethink what you’re doing, Moose said at a press conference Friday night. “Turn yourself in. Surrender to law enforcement.
Authorities have offered up to $50,000 for information leading to the shooter’s arrest and indictment.
The shootings began Wednesday afternoon when a shot was fired through a window at a Michaels craft store, in Wheaton, Md., but did not hit anyone.
The first murder occurred at 6:05 p.m. on Wednesday, when 55-year-old James D. Martin was shot in the parking lot of Shoppers Food Warehouse in Wheaton.
The second shooting occurred at 7:41 a.m. Thursday, when James L. Buchanan, 39 and the son of a retired Montgomery County police officer, was shot while mowing a lawn off Rockville Pike, a main thoroughfare in Montgomery County.
Prenkumar Walekar, a taxi driver, was killed while pumping gas at a Mobil station in Wheaton. A caller reported his death at 8:12 a.m. Thursday.
At 8:37 a.m., Sarah Ramos, 34, was shot at a post office near Leisure World, a retirement community in Wheaton. It was at this shooting that a witness reports seeing a white van leaving the post office parking lot.
Lori Ann Lewis-Rivera was reported shot at 9:58 a.m. in a Shell gas station in Kensington, Md., where she was vacuuming her car.
On Thursday evening, around 9:15 p.m., Pascal Charlot, 72, became the only victim killed in Washington and the only one shot at night. He was taken to a hospital, but died less than an hour later.
This article appeared in the October 7, 2002 issue of the Hatchet.