SPOTSYLVANIA COUNTY — The sniper may be getting more bold, if indeed Friday morning’s attack was by the same person who has shot nine others in the metro area in recent weeks.
The latest attack took place across the street from a state trooper, said Spotsylvania Sheriffs Department spokesman Maj. Howard Smith.
“The trooper was probably about 50 yards away,” Smith said. “He was across the street working a traffic accident.”
“He only heard the shot; he didn’t see it,” Smith said.
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“He came directly across the street to the victim and assisted the victim until rescue arrived,” Smith said. The victim was taken to Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg were he was later pronounced dead.
The sniper’s willingness to attack with an officer in sight shows that “Obviously we’re dealing with an individual who is extremely violent and obviously doesn’t care,” Smith said.
Smith wouldn’t say how many shots were fired or were the victim was hit, and said it was too soon to release any more information on the victim’s identity beyond the fact that he was a black male.
A white van with a ladder rack was seen leaving the area, Smith said. Police immediately shut down access to U.S. 1 and Interstate 95, police said.
“We checked every vehicle getting onto or off the interstate,” Smith said.
Highways were closed all the way to the beltway, as well as south, east and west, Smith said.
It’s difficult to block off all secondary roads, said State police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell. “We don’t have enough officers to shut down all the ramps so we are working with the locals to shut down all the ramps.”
“We were asking people for permission to search the vehicles,” Smith said. “We were identifying people in the vehicles.”
“We do have some description of the folks inside the van,” he said, but wouldn’t elaborate further. He did say there were two people in the van.
“I’m not sure if they (people in the) van had anything to do with this,” Smith said. “We’re looking at it.”
Smith said there a pursuit of a white van by the Stafford County Sheriff’s deputies, but after the van was pulled over, no one was charged or held.
Currently, he said, no suspects are being held.
“Everybody’s been released,” he said.
Police are interviewing several people who heard and saw things, Smith said, but he wouldn’t release the information.
Spotsylvania is being assisted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, FBI, U.S. Marshals, Secret Service, Montgomery County task force, Virginia State Police and coordinating with other counties’ law enforcement agencies.
Spotsylvania has cancelled all leave for law enforcement and most officers are working 16 hour shifts, Smith said.
“We don’t have enough manpower to put [officers] at every gas station,” Smith said, but extra officers are on the street.
“I’m sure there are a lot of people afraid to do anything,” Smith said, but he encouraged people not to let this stop there activities, but to be more aware of their surroundings and be cautious.
“We need to go on with our life. We can’t stop living,” he said.
All evidence is being taken to the ATF lab in Rockville, Md. said ATF Special Agent Harold Scott. He would not specify what evidence had been collected.
Police are still interviewing people in hotels and businesses surrounding the Exxon station, but when they have complete the interviews the businesses would be allowed to reopen, Smith said.
Since the shooting at Michael’s craft store in Spotsylvania Oct. 4, police have received more than 1,300 phone calls, and they encourage anyone with information to report it. Call 1-888-324-9800.