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Arrest warrant isssued for sniper witness

  1. Fig_Jam

    4,756 Posts.

    From the Washington Politics & Policy Desk
    Published 10/24/2002 2:00 AM
    View printer-friendly version

    WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Police issued a federal arrest warrant late Wednesday for a man they want to question in relation to the series of sniper attacks that have terrorized the Washington area since Oct. 2.

    The man is John Allen Muhammad, also known as John Allen Williams, 42. Police said he should be considered "armed and dangerous." But they said he is being sought on a federal weapons charge, and emphasized that no one should assume Muhammad is involved with the sniper shootings.

    Williams "may have information pertinent to our investigation," Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose told reporters. Moose identified Muhammad as a black male, and said he may be traveling with a minor.

    The chief did not elaborate on the minor, but law enforcement sources identified him as Muhammad's stepson, John Lee Malvo, 17, a Jamaican citizen.

    Police issued an alert for a car presumed to be carrying Muhammad and Malvo, saying they were looking for a 1990 blue or burgundy Chevrolet Caprice with the New Jersey license plate NDA-21Z.

    Moose then directed another message to the sniper linked to the attacks that have killed 10 people over the past three weeks.

    "You have indicated you want us to say and do certain things," he said, reading from a drafted message.

    "You've asked us to say 'we have caught the sniper like a duck in a noose.' We understand 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," Moose added. "Let's talk directly. We are waiting for you to contact us."

    FBI agents served a warrant earlier Wednesday in Tacoma, Wash., at the request of the D.C.-area task force investigating the sniper attacks.

    The source said that the search of a back yard in Tacoma was based on "evidence that could lead to a clue that investigators hope could lead to another clue." Lewis served at Fort Lewis, Wash., an Army base near Tacoma.

    The residence was once occupied by a soldier stationed at Fort Lewis, but law enforcement has yet to determine if the former occupant lived in or near the Washington, D.C., metro area, the source said.

    The back yard was divided into grids, and FBI agents and officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms swept metal detectors over the ground, searching for shell casings. Crews also sawed off a large tree trunk and carried it away for analysis. The stump was sent to Washington, D.C., to see if bullets from target practice were lodged in the wood.

    An FBI Seattle spokeswoman told reporters at the scene that the search was done with the consent of the property owner.

    Authorities Wednesday connected the death of bus driver Conrad Johnson, 35, to the string of shootings in which a sniper has killed 10 people and wounded three others in Maryland, Virginia and Washington.

    The first shooting -- about 5:20 p.m., Oct. 2 -- linked to the sniper went through a crafts store window but didn't injure anyone.

    Johnson was shot as he stood on the top step of his Montgomery County bus. He was at an area drivers often use to do routine paperwork. He was pronounced dead at a hospital several hours after the 5:50 a.m. shooting.

    The sniper has been blamed for five shootings -- including four deaths -- within a mile of Tuesday's incident. Two other attacks have occurred a few miles south of the site and another just inside the District of Columbia border from Maryland. Another attack on Maryland resulted in the wounding of a 13-year-old boy outside a school on Oct. 7.

    There have been five assaults in Virginia. In addition to the wounding of the man in Ashland, a woman in Spotsylvania was also wounded but survived while two men and a woman were killed.

    (With reporting by P. Mitchell Prothero, Shaun Waterman and Roy Clark in Washington)

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