3 • THE DEATH CARD
On October 7th, our worst fear is realized. And the sniper leaves a message.
Speaker 1: 00:00 Welcome to Monster: DC Sniper. A production of iHeartRadio and Tenderfoot TV. The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are solely those of the podcast author or individuals participating in the podcast and do not represent those of iHeartMedia, Tenderfoot TV or their employees. Listener discretion is advised.
Tony Harris: 00:22 Monday, October 7, 2002. It’s now day six of the sniper investigation. After two whole days with no shootings, the area seemed calm, but that feeling didn’t last long.
Karen Pumphrey: 00:37 It happened very early in the morning, well before the buses or any classes began.
Tony Harris: 00:43 This is Karen Pumphrey, a former teacher at Tasker Middle School.
Karen Pumphrey: 00:47 I was on a landing and I heard someone kick the front door with such veracity. I thought somebody was out there playing early unsupervised and I heard all this yelling so I was not real happy about it and I expected to see some kids out front and I didn’t. It was only one boy, Iran, and he was about 20 feet down near the drive. He was alone, nobody else, and he was yelling and he was holding his stomach. I walked over and I asked him, “What’s the matter?” He said, “I’ve been shot.” I knew he was in pain, it was clear. But I really didn’t think he was shot.
Karen Pumphrey: 01:26 I was like, “We’re going to get you some help.” I went in, I said, “Iran is hurt. He says he’s been shot.” They called 911.
Speaker 4: 01:35 Hello.
Speaker 5: 01:35 Hello. This is Benjamin Tasker Middle School. We have a child out front that says he’s been shot.
Karen Pumphrey: 01:40 The principal got up and when we came out, he wasn’t out front anymore, only his backpack was there. This silver car was pulling away from the curb. We didn’t know what was wrong with him and we didn’t know who was in the car. One of the counselors came running up, jumped in his car and followed.
Speaker 6: 02:03 There is ruthless person on the loose.
Speaker 7: 02:06 What unnerved this community the most is the randomness of the murder. Ordinary people doing ordinary things.
Speaker 8: 02:13 They killed five people in one day and then went on the rampage for the next month.
Speaker 9: 02:18 It is quite a mystery. The police say they have never had a crime quite like this.
Speaker 10: 02:23 Be careful. These guys are using weapons that are going to go right straight through our bulletproof vests.
Speaker 11: 02:30 There’s a white van just went by with two guys in it.
Speaker 1: 02:33 From iHeartRadio and Tenderfoot TV, this is Monster: DC Sniper. 13-year old Iran Brown arrived at Tasker Middle School at about 7:30 AM on October 7th. It seemed to be a completely normal Monday morning except of course a sniper was on the loose in the DC area. And on this morning, Iran Brown became the sniper’s eighth victim. But before school officials could get help to him, Iran Brown disappeared. John Lloyd was the principal at Tasker Middle School. He explained what was happening to a 911 dispatcher.
John Lloyd: 03:12 Hi, how are you?
Speaker 4: 03:13 Hi, sir.
John Lloyd: 03:14 I’m the principal at the school.
Speaker 4: 03:15 Did somebody just drive off with him?
John Lloyd: 03:18 Yes. I don’t know where. I have no idea.
Karen Pumphrey: 03:22 It turns out his aunt had dropped him off and then went to pull away. It must have occurred immediately because she hadn’t gotten out of the parking lot yet and then it turns out she did hear the shot so she came back, but we didn’t know that. We didn’t know who was taking him.
Speaker 13: 03:39 Prince Georges County Emergency, can I help you?
Tonya Brown: 03:44 I think I’m going to be able to drive my nephew to the hospital.
Speaker 13: 03:48 What’s the matter with him?
Tonya Brown: 03:49 He just got shot.
Speaker 13: 03:51 Is he conscious?
Tonya Brown: 03:51 You’re not going to die.
Tony Harris: 03:54 Iran Brown’s aunt, Tonya Brown, actually called 911 as she rushed him to the hospital.
Tonya Brown: 03:59 Help me. Are you okay, Iran?
Tony Harris: 04:04 Tonya was trapped in the morning rush hour traffic and Iran was bleeding out in her car.
Tonya Brown: 04:12 Please let me go. I got to go past. Let me go past.
Speaker 13: 04:17 Ms. Brown, I need your telephone number.
Tonya Brown: 04:22 I’m almost there. I’m getting ready to turn in right now.
Speaker 13: 04:25 You didn’t see who shot him? He doesn’t know?
Tonya Brown: 04:26 I didn’t see anybody.
Speaker 13: 04:27 And he didn’t see anybody?
Tonya Brown: 04:29 No.
Speaker 13: 04:30 Okay, go ahead and go in the ER. We’re going to send an officer out, okay?
Tonya Brown: 04:34 Okay.
Speaker 13: 04:34 All right.
Karen Pumphrey: 04:35 We knew within 10 minutes, 15 minutes that he was shot, that his injuries were extensive and that he was going to be Medevaced to Children’s and then at that point the buses were starting to show up. The onslaught of media and police presence was just crazy. There were helicopters in the air from every news agency. The FBI was on site and then of course, immediately within minutes, parents start calling. I’m coming to get my kid. We had, at the time, maybe 1300 kids and by the end of the day we had 23 left.
Speaker 15: 05:19 I really understand the parents are concerned but I think under the circumstances, the safest place for the children right now is inside of that building with adults so we’re not going to dismiss school, we’re going to keep school in session and we are going to secure students within buildings.
Speaker 16: 05:39 I’m almost positive they said, do not come to the school, but I did make it to the school, so did hundreds of other parents. It’s very difficult to tell a parent not to come to the school when your child could have been in danger. My name is Gerald [inaudible 00:05:55], I live in Brandywine, Maryland. I woke up that morning, I spoke to my wife and my kids and from my understanding she was going to take him to school. My son was attending Tasker Middle School. Of course, do your normal kiss goodbye, have a good day, behave. As I was leaving home, I saw a bunch of police cars and ambulance and fire trucks over by the school and I thought about stopping over there, but then I said, let me get out of here. It’s too much traffic. So I get on Route 50 and I hear on the radio the breaking news of a boy had been shot at Benjamin Tasker Middle School.
Speaker 16: 06:36 From that point, I’m driving fast down Route 50 to the school and calling my wife to find out what’s going on. Did she take him to school, is he okay? She’s not answering the phone. I went to the school. It was chaotic. There were children everywhere, there were parents everywhere. There were police, fire personnel, ambulance, EMTs. Unbelievable scene. And I’m walking through the parking lot, there was a lot of parents greeting their children in tears of joy that it wasn’t their child that was shot and I’m scanning and scanning, I finally located my son. He broke down in tears and it was a big relief to know that he was okay. At the same time, it was sad my son actually took a class or two with the young man who was shot. Very emotional day just to know that my son could have been a target. It’s a scary feeling.
Tony Harris: 07:35 Imagine learning that someone had been shot at your child’s school. As a parent, there’s no bigger fear than finding out it was your child who was injured. But while adults were coming to pick up their children, Iran Brown was rushed into surgery.
Dr. Eichelberge: 07:55 The youngster came into the hospital and he had already bled a significant amount, was already getting transfusions. He was not in good shape. My name is Martin Eichelberger. I am a pediatric surgeon at Children’s National Medical Center. During the day, early morning, I happened to be called by our communications center, said, “Look, you better look at the TV here because of the fact that there was some youngster that has just been shot.” That was enough to know that we were going to have to operate on this youngster.
Dr. Eichelberge: 08:27 Within what’s called the golden hour, your chances of survival from any kind of injury is much greater if you can get surgical care within the first hour. We started to get our team ready. What we did learn was that he had been taken to one of the urgent care centers that was close to the middle school. They did a terrific job over there of resuscitating this youngster by making sure he had an IV, they put a tube in his chest because he had been shot in his left chest. It took probably a half hour from the time he was shot to the time he got to us. During the operation there are a lot of different steps that were involved. He had a gunshot wound just underneath his xiphoid and it went through the rib and ended up, if you can think of a trajectory up towards his scapula. The tip of his scapula, which is a little bit on the lower side and he had an injury that basically hit several organs in the abdomen and also his diaphragm and his lung. It took a while to make sure that all of these organs were properly dealt with.
Dr. Eichelberge: 09:39 As we were going along, it was an hour and a half, two hour operation, he got stabilized, he stopped bleeding. We were able to treat his lung without having to take any of the lung out. A couple of the organs, similarly, were partially had to be removed, but in general he tolerated it very, very well. He’s lucky because if the angle had been just a little bit more towards the middle, it would have hit his heart. There’s nothing we probably would have been able to do. Even though we have a great team, not all patients survive so we were happy just to have him stable. And during that time there was an effort by the enforcement community to try to retrieve the bullet.
Tony Harris: 10:28 Dr. Eichelberger’s colleague, Curt Newman, was in charge of communicating with the police.
Dr. Eichelberge: 10:35 Dr. Newman came to me and said, this is what they want, to try to get the bullet. Would it be easy to do? I looked at the xray and put my finger down where I thought the bullet was, and yes, I could palpitate it with my finger. I was able to pull out this bullet. I gave it specifically to Dr. Newman who gave it to a specific person to make sure that that chain of evidence was kept intact.
Dr. W. Curtis: 11:10 When we were contacted about what had happened, of course, we all sat in shock. We just couldn’t believe, we kept asking, “Are you sure? Are you sure?” My name is Dr. Wayne R. Curtis, cousin to the Brown family. We were obviously very scared and anxious about what was going to happen with him having gotten shot like that at such a young age. They said he would come out of it okay, but as time told he’s doing okay, but at that time we were all just concerned for his life.
Dr. W. Curtis: 11:47 We went to the hospital with my sons to visit with him. At that point in time there was a request to meet with the press.
Tony Harris: 11:58 National media wanted Iran Brown’s parents to provide a statement, but Curtis said the parents were still processing their shock.
Dr. W. Curtis: 12:07 As we came out the back of the hospital to approach the press corps, you could imagine if you’re not in front of something like that before and you’ve got … it must have been 50 people with cameras and asking questions, it can be unnerving. As we were walking up the hallway, I don’t think we got more than five steps onto the sidewalk after the building and they just said, “Look, we can’t do this. You should do this.” I said, “Okay, I’ll do it.”
Dr. W. Curtis: 12:33 He continues to remain in critical but stable condition. He’s a fighter. We remain optimistic. As our doctors have told us, this is a marathon, not a sprint, but we are confident that we will make it to the finish line.
Dr. W. Curtis: 12:49 You think about the magnitude of a child, any person getting shot, but when children get shot it sort of magnifies it even more. We had psychological issues from it occurring. The family, as much as possible, they tried to normalize his life and their lives of a very, very unfortunate tragedy.
Tony Harris: 13:18 Iran Brown was alive and safe. But back at Tasker Middle School, authorities were still trying to make sense of the attack. What kind of person would shoot a 13-year old? Soon police would get a major clue. A communication from the snipers.
Tony Harris: 13:47 The shooting at Tasker Middle School sent the region into a frenzy. It was now clear that the sniper attacks were not over and now the discussions about who was behind the attacks continued. Once again, the question came up, is this foreign terrorism? Many in the DC area certainly thought so. On the day Iran Brown was shot, WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi’s show fielded live calls about the shooting.
Speaker 19: 14:17 I’m concerned about my kids’ safety because I think this shooter or shooters is trying to make a statement that I can shoot Americans anytime, any place, anywhere I want to and they are doing it around the nation’s capitol to make a statement.
Speaker 20: 14:31 I was calling in agreement with your past caller mentioning some ties between the shootings and terrorism. I just see this as being completely related to the timing of what’s going on today in our country.
Tony Harris: 14:47 And the media had helped fuel that fear. All over cable news, TV stations were speculating that this was quite possibly an act of terror.
Garrett Graff: 15:00 He is orchestrating this whole event, really to spread fear, to spread terror because he wants to be in charge and he is executing people just to show his power.
Speaker 22: 15:10 It became pretty clear to people that these random shootings across DC and around DC were linked.
Tony Harris: 15:20 This is journalist and historian, Garrett Graff. He says it made sense that people thought foreign terrorists were responsible for the sniper attacks.
Speaker 22: 15:29 There was a very quick realization that this could be the next stage of a terror campaign. You had people begin to call in suspicious activity reports all over the city. This was, in some ways, maybe exactly the second wave that we had been led to fear was coming ever since the 9/11 attacks. In some ways, the ideas that these sniper killings would be somehow linked to Al Qaeda seemed a very logical theory at the time. The idea that here you had a terrorist really aiming to undermine American’s just going about their daily lives, making it impossible to do the things that hundreds of millions of Americans literally had to do every day. Go buy groceries, fill up your car with gas, drive to work. The attacks on these commuters, these workers, these families around DC in some ways seemed a very logical next stage of Al Qaeda targeting the homeland and really threatened to make ordinary daily life in America insecure.
Tony Harris: 16:52 While the country was debating who was behind these attacks, investigators were working to find the sniper. Following the shooting of Iran Brown, police shut down the area surrounding Tasker Middle School. They began searching, looking for any clues. Benjamin Tasker Middle School, where Iran Brown was shot is around 20 miles east of Washington, DC and about 75 miles northeast of where the last shooting occurred in Spotsylvania, Virginia. Was there something special about this school that drew the snipers this far out? I went to see for myself and as we pulled up, I noticed the school was right next to a highway, Route 50, and it was surrounded by thick, wooded areas. Maybe this was the ideal spot to hide with a quick getaway nearby. It was in these woods that authorities searched for evidence after the shooting.
Tony Harris: 17:50 I asked one of the investigators to meet me here and walk me through what happened on the morning of October 7th.
Mike Pyo: 17:56 My name is Mike Pyo with the United States Marshals Service. I oversee our K-9 operations program. Back in 2002 my partner was Explosives Expert K-9, Beacon, and he was trained for explosives and weapons detection.
Tony Harris: 18:10 I’m curious as to the jurisdictional lines here. A number of agencies are here. Tell me why the US Marshals Service is called in.
Mike Pyo: 18:21 It’s about resources. We’re not coming in here to, obviously, lead the investigation. This is PG County, obviously PG County Police Department, this is their scene, but there’s not a lot of dogs back there that were trained specifically to find guns and shell casings. They had bomb dogs, but some of the bomb dogs are not trained to that level of evidence recovery. ATF-trained dogs literally are sniffing explosives probably multiple times a day because we have to feed them.
Tony Harris: 18:50 To train dogs like Beacon and maintain their sensitivity to certain odors, the dogs are only fed when they detect the odors correctly.
Mike Pyo: 18:57 It’s classical conditioning. When the dogs come in odor, Beacon would start salivating because it’s Pavlov’s theory. The bell rings, he anticipates the food coming in so they automatically salivate. Those are the changes that we look for. The dog says, “Hey, I give you the indication. The contract is, you have to pay me.” The payment is the food.
Tony Harris: 19:18 So Michael, take me back to the day. How does that day start for you?
Mike Pyo: 19:22 On October 7, 2002, by the time I got here it was a pretty chaotic scene. They had the streets blocked off. A lot of law enforcement, a lot of onlookers, a lot of media. The one thing that really struck to me was actually where we’re standing right now, was Iran Brown’s backpack. You could see a little bit of a pool of blood that was still left there. Someone said that they saw somebody or heard a gunshot on the front of the school up on that hill.
Tony Harris: 19:51 That would be across the street from the school.
Mike Pyo: 19:52 Across the street. And of course, that white box truck, they said that they saw a white box truck. That, up in the hill, to hear, kind of didn’t make sense to us. You would have to literally bend the bullet if that was how the shot was taken. If you were to do the shooting, where would you put yourself? The obvious place was probably right in the woods. From the front of the building, the right side, if you walk out of the school on the right side, there’s a little bit of wooded area and that goes to a park.
Mike Pyo: 20:20 I selected my search area and actually started to search. We started searching, we get to about midway in, maybe seven to 10 feet out to the wood line and there was a tree and there was a huge branch that was fallen down. He stopped and he searched the branch that was on the ground and, honestly, I actually wasn’t paying attention to him at that point because I was actually watching my step. I turned my head to look at where I’m going to put my foot next, I heard the PG County officer said, “Hey, look at your dog.” I turned around, he started to bracket, bracket meaning he’s in odor, but he wants to get to where the most of the odor is coming from, left to right, left to right, left to right. Boom, he sits and a big drool comes down. Once that occurred, we stopped. The PG County officer, the SWAT officer, one other officer went out, got some of the evidence technicians to come in and they all started to literally search this area and I was told that a shell casing was located.
Mike Pyo: 21:29 If you step back five or 10 feet, unless you really look, you’re not going to see somebody hiding in there. So if you actually look, it’s a perfect line of sight. I fully believe that he may have laid that rifle right on that piece of wood, took the shot, the shell casing comes out and it’s that area where they located the shell casing. With that, they worked their way backwards and that’s where they find the tarot card.
Tony Harris: 22:02 A tarot card, one from a special deck of cards that some say can predict the future. And the shooter didn’t just leave any card, they left the death card. On it was a skeletal knight riding a white horse and holding a black flag. This image is said to show that no one escapes death, whether rich or poor, young or old. The card seemed to perfectly capture the sniper’s MO. No one is safe, everyone is vulnerable. But the more disturbing aspect was what was written on the card. For you, Mr. Police. Call me God. Do not release to the press.
David Reichenba: 22:44 Now they’ve got a God complex.
Tony Harris: 22:48 This is retired Maryland State Police Lieutenant David Reichenbaugh.
David Reichenba: 22:52 At least we’re starting to get a picture of what we’re dealing with here. That card, at that time I didn’t even know about it and I was the commander in charge of the criminal intelligence part of it. That was kept very, very close to the vest and for good reason. We didn’t want that to get out there. But unfortunately it did. The following day, which was Tuesday, October 8th, WUSA Channel 9 breaks the story about the tarot card and for us, that was a punch in the gut.
Speaker 25: 23:24 More about that calling card. It was left at the scene of the most recent shooting, that’s the school in Prince Georges County. It was a card from a fortune telling deck that’s known as the death card with a note written on it. Dear Policeman, I am God. It’s the latest chilling development in this chilling case and massive investigation.
David Reichenba: 23:45 That wasn’t supposed to be released. It didn’t need to be released at that point and there it is all over network news, which meant we had an internal leak that actually plagued this investigation throughout the entire 23 days. Quite honestly, evidence was getting leaked that you want to hold close to the vest. And there’s a couple of reasons behind that. You never release everything that you know about a homicide for the simple reason that whoever the bad guy is, should be the only other person other than the police that really knows what happened.
Tony Harris: 24:21 By this point, police were receiving hundreds of calls every day on their tip line. Now that the tarot card information was public, the number of calls only increased and at times, the phones were so busy that callers couldn’t get through. It became too much for police to handle and they had trouble figuring out which tips were good and which ones weren’t.
David Reichenba: 24:43 With everything being put out there in the media, now we’ve got what I always called our confessors calling, confessing that they are the shooters.
Speaker 26: 24:53 I’m the sniper.
Speaker 27: 24:54 Excuse me?
Speaker 28: 24:59 Hello.
Speaker 29: 25:05 This is the sniper. I’m going to kill someone. I’m tired of this shit, I’m just going to turn myself in.
David Reichenba: 25:07 There’s all sorts of psychological reasons why people do that, but it happens all the time and the more media attention a case has, the more of these kind of folks that you have come out of the woodwork for whatever reason. Fortunately most of the time you can quickly dispel them and eliminate them very quickly because they don’t have enough information. They can’t even describe the crime scene so you know they didn’t do it. However, with all the information being out there, and now the tarot card, these people are calling with enough information that you just can’t ignore them. So now all these folks had to go on the suspect list. It was creating quite a few red herrings for us. Police weren’t happy about the tarot card getting leaked to the public, but the media felt it was necessary to publish that information.
David Reichenba: 26:12 Dave Statter was a reporter for Channel 9. His station broke the story about the tarot card.
Dave Statter: 26:17 The tarot card was first internally at our station reported by a reporter at Channel 9 by the name of Stacy Cohan. She found out about this tarot card and this message from the apparent snipers to police and it was soon confirmed by Mike Buchanan. He was one heck of a reporter and if Mike and Stacy are telling me they have this information, I know it’s true.
Dave Statter: 26:38 We didn’t immediately go with the story. They worked with police, they let them know what we had and said give us a good reason why we shouldn’t go with this because reporters don’t want to screw up an investigation. We want to get our information out there, but we don’t want to make it harder to catch people who are involved in crimes. Our news director at the time was involved in it and they all dealt with police and not one person in Prince Georges County Police or in Montgomery County Police said please don’t air this information. I believe they aired it a short time later. When it aired and the Washington Post also did the same story, this set off the chief of police in Montgomery County, Charles Moose, who pretty much attacked both news organizations for reporting that story.
Charles Moose: 27:23 I have not received any message that the citizens of Montgomery County, or Channel 9, or the Washington Post or any other media outlet to solve this case. If they do, then let me know. We will go and do other police work and we will turn this case over to the media, but today, the people in my community have asked the police department to work the case, so I beg of the media, let us do our job because I am convinced that we are broaching interference. If my team feels it’s important to put things out there, that’s sad and if the media feels that it is their job to put things out there so that they can be promoted, then that is also sad.
Tony Harris: 28:05 Chief Moose had singled out Channel 9 and the Washington Post, the two media outlets who first broke the tarot card story. Washington Post reporter, Josh White, took issue with Chief Moose’s comments.
Speaker 32: 28:19 That tarot card was a really important piece of both the investigation and the public’s understanding of what was happening. While certainly there are always going to be things that law enforcement doesn’t want out and there are going to be things that they want to keep from the public in order to help them solves crimes, frankly, our job is to find out what those things are and responsibly report what we believe will help further the public’s understanding of the situation.
Speaker 32: 28:45 In the grand scheme of things, there are plenty of things in every investigation that I’m sure the police wish weren’t out there, but by the same token, for us to report it, we have to know about it. And for us to know about it, that means someone deeply involved in the investigation feels that it’s information that should be out there or we wouldn’t know about it.
Speaker 32: 29:06 There were aspects throughout the investigation that someone said this is going to cause harm, that’s something we take seriously and certainly weigh as we make decisions. In that particular case with the tarot card, trying to understand at all what this was about was of the most important aspect of what we could do as journalists.
Tony Harris: 29:27 It’s a tricky situation. For police, it’s imperative to maintain control over sensitive information. As a journalist, you have to inform the public about what’s going on, but you also don’t want to report anything that might interfere with the investigation so reporters have to make a tough decision. At the end of the day, the media and law enforcement simply might not agree on what should be published. But in this case, White thinks it was important to release the tarot card info for another reason. To him, it indicated that the attack was not the work of foreign terrorists and that was something the public needed to understand.
Speaker 32: 30:09 It immediately changed how people looked at this. It was no longer maybe Al Qaeda or ISIS. It was certainly a version of terrorism, people were terrified, but it changed the nature of, I think, how everybody looked at it.
Tony Harris: 30:25 What about law enforcement, did they still see this as possibly connected to foreign terrorism?
Clint van Zandt: 30:32 I think everyone had to consider that potential. You had to say, “Is this the next shooter drop?”, because now we’ve closed off the airlines, we’ve hardened the doors between the passengers and the pilot and co-pilot. Are they going to come at us at a different way now? My name is Clint van Zandt. I’m a former FBI agent, criminal profiler and hostage negotiator. This was terror. I don’t think there was any doubt that these shooters were waging terror on the American public. The question is, what was the reason for that terror. You couldn’t say no, this is not some organized event, but I saw and heard of no evidence of any type of international connection. The tarot card, the call me God, I am God. I couldn’t see a radical Islamic fundamentalist who might be doing this for his own religious purposes calling himself God. That didn’t make any sense. You would have said, “I am acting on God’s part. I am the hand of God. I am the fist of God”, perhaps, but I am God, no, that just did not ring true.
Clint van Zandt: 31:54 The verbiage that was used in there was nothing that would lend itself to international terrorism or nothing that would lend itself to someone trying to disguise themselves as a domestic terrorist when they were in fact international. Internationals normally would take credit. They want to take credit. They want to stand up and beat their chests and say look what we can do. That wasn’t taking place so in the absence of that, I think in my particular case, it seemed like more like a domestic situation for a defined purpose.
Tony Harris: 32:34 There were a few other possibilities. When investigators met to discuss the tarot card, someone mentioned the death cards left by soldiers in the movie, Apocalypse Now. Someone else remembered that God was the nickname of the chief sniper in the 1990 movie, Navy Seals. Was the sniper a military man or at least a fan of military movies? Others thought the tarot card indicated the work of a serial killer with an interest in the occult. Whether these were terrorists, serial killers or something else, it made no difference. Paranoia was at an all time high. Children were being shot in broad daylight and the airtime devoted to the case was nonstop on nearly every major TV network. The entire country was watching.
Josh White: 33:44 The fact that a child was shot, was a pivotal moment. It showed a willingness on the part of the attackers to go after anybody.
Tony Harris: 33:52 This is Washington Post reporter, Josh White.
Josh White: 33:55 And it was at that moment that people really changed their minds about how scared to be, about how cautious to be. The schools really started responding. Any adult who lived in this region had to wonder, how do I keep my kids safe even in school and it was knowledge that they were willing to invade even what are considered to be some of our safest spaces.
Tony Harris: 34:19 Even President George W. Bush weighed in about the shooting of Iran Brown a few days later.
Speaker 35: 34:25 The President, number one, has wanted to make sure that all the resources of the federal government have been made available through the ATF, through the FBI, through other agencies in the federal government as well to help the local law enforcement community and that’s been done. The President urges people to take all reasonable and prudent cautions that the law enforcement community indicates that should be taken.
Speaker 6: 34:46 First of all, I’m just sick to my stomach to think that there is a cold-blooded killer at home taking innocent life. I weep for those who have lost their loved ones. The idea of moms taking their kids to school and sheltering them from a potential sniper attack is not the America I know. Sniper attacks, it is a form of terrorism, but in terms of the terrorism that we think of, we have no evidence one way or the other obviously, but any time anybody is randomly shooting, randomly killing, randomly taking life, it’s a cold-blooded murder. It’s a sick mind.
Tony Harris: 35:19 For investigators, the manhunt was about to get personal. A tragic turn of events would flip the investigation on its head. In the sniper’s scope, was an FBI agent.
Tony Harris: 35:37 Next time on Monster: DC Sniper.
Speaker 36: 35:40 I was absolutely sure that we were going to get a shooting.
Speaker 37: 35:44 I got a call from a source saying, “You need to get out to Manassas. There’s been another one.”
Speaker 38: 35:51 And the next thing I see are police officers running with their guns drawn to an apartment complex across the street where there is white vehicle that looks sort of like a box truck.
Speaker 39: 36:00 People process a lot less information than we think. They get this sense that they are seeing everything when in fact they are seeing very little.
Speaker 40: 36:09 We had a pretty good game plan, but the problem was we weren’t being provided good intelligence and suspect information from the look out. That hurt us.
Speaker 41: 36:21 So now the real focus is, what do I do when I’m pumping gas? I have to get gasoline for my car. There are gas stations that are starting to put up barricades or tarps to block you.
Speaker 42: 36:31 It showed that if somebody wants to go after someone who they have no connection to, randomly, in a metropolitan area that has millions of people, what’s stopping them.
Speaker 1: 36:45 Monster: DC Sniper is a 15-episode podcast hosted by Tony Harris and produced by iHeartRadio and Tenderfoot TV. Matt Fredrick and Alex Williams are executive producers on behalf of iHeartRadio alongside producers, Trevor Young, Ben Keibert and Josh Spain. Payne Lindsey and Donald Albright are executive producers on behalf of Tenderfoot TV alongside producers Meredith Stedman and Christina Dana. Original music is by Makeup and Vanity Set. Special thanks to WAMU, American University Radio for usage of clips originally broadcast on October 7, 2002 on the Kojo Nnamdi show. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the first two seasons, Atlanta Monster and Monster: The Zodiac Killer. If you have questions or comments, email us at Monster@iHeartMedia.com or you can call us at 1-833-285-6667.
Speaker 1: 37:43 Thanks for listening.