Recent shootings strike fear

Police are investigating a shooting in Manassas, Va. that occurred Wednesday night and may be connected to the same gunman as a weeklong series of shootings in D.C. and city suburbs.

CNN reported a man was shot while pumping gas at about 8:15 p.m. Police are looking for two white males in a white vehicle, according to reports. A witness to a previous shooting reported seeing a white box van with black lettering and damage to the rear.

Earlier in the week, school officials warned students to watch for suspicious activity after a 13-year-old boy was shot outside a Maryland elementary school Monday. Officials said though the University is not known to be a target of the serial sniper, students should remain alert.
“We are concerned about random acts of violence,” said University Police Chief Dolores Stafford. “We are at a heightened state of alert.”

Nine incidents have been linked with the sniper. The spree is thought to have begun with a single shot fired through the window of a Michael’s craft store in Aspen Hill, Md. last Wednesday. Since the first shooting, eight shots have killed six people and wounded two others from distances up to 150 yards, according to police reports.

The Associated Press reported the killer has left a “death card” from a Tarot deck at the scene of Monday’s shooting.

“We have no reason to believe that GW is a target,” Stafford said. “Thursday, when we became aware of what had occurred, members of the crisis team met to decide what the plan of action should be.”

Vice President for Public Safety John Petrie said UPD is working closely with the Metropolitan police and increasing MPD presence on campus.

“These are random killings,” Petrie said. “The best we can do is advise students to keep up with the news, report suspicious activity and the University will strive to keep students and staff informed.”

Police are investigating shootings as far away as Fredricksburg, Va. that may be connected to the sniper.

GW students and parents of students are anxious about the rash of shootings.

“My mom’s called me several times this week,” freshman Brynne Damman said. “She told me to stay in groups. I’m scared, but it’s in the back of my head, I still plan to go out.”

“Parents recognize where we are located and understand that we are doing everything that we can to ensure their and their children’s safety,” said Rodney Johnson, director of Parent Services.

“I am panicked,” said Judy Silverman, mother of senior Lori Silverman. “I call (Lori) all the time. Also I am telling her not to stop and talk to people on her way to class, I don’t want her to be a target.”

UPD placed notices in residence halls a week ago after the first shootings. Since then, the University has held emergency staff meetings to discuss the situation and strategies to deal with the danger.

Despite the danger, many said they are not phased by the threat the enigmatic killer poses.

“I’m scared because (the shootings) have been pretty random and this hasn’t left any clues,” said Derrick Strickland, a junior. “But these killings won’t stop me from going out.”

-Ellaine Gelman and Mosheh Oinounou contributed to this report.

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