Report From Members: Living In Sniper's "Killing Zone"

JANUARY 2003
- As fear enveloped the Washington, D.C. area this October, profilers
and pundits speculated about the serial sniper who claimed the lives of
10 people and seriously maimed 3 others.

Montgomery
County, MD Police Chief Charles Moose headed up a sniper task force
that included over a dozen local, state and federal law enforcement
agencies with one united goal - catch or kill the sniper. Moose became
a spokesman whom the nation watched on TV as he gave daily and
sometimes hourly reports on the task force's progress.

After
the sniper duo were apprehended, a sense of relief was felt among the
three-million residents of the Maryland and Virginia perimeter
"sniper-zone." Among those residents were hundreds of our members who
had settled in that area after retiring from Massachusetts.

We
have since contacted a few of these members to get their reactions and
feelings about the three-weeks of hell in October and a sniper who
would randomly select total strangers for death.

Helen
Kieval and her husband Phil are both retired Newton teachers who have
lived in Rockville, Maryland for the past twelve years. "We moved here
to be near our children and love the area," said Helen.

Were
the Kievals' frightened living in the epicenter of the 13 shootings?
"Not really," said Helen. "We didn't curtail our activities, but were
very careful to avoid wooded areas when we walked or parked our car.
I'm glad it's over, especially for the parents of children, including
my grandchildren."

Everyone it
seemed had a theory. Helen confessed that her theory was that the
sniper was a very clever terrorist. "I guess its because I'm Jewish and
I identify with the situation in Israel. I had nothing to base my
theory on, it was just a gut feeling that it was the work of a
terrorist."

Oscar Kogan is an
87-year-old retiree, who worked for Belchertown State Hospital. He and
his 77-year-old wife have lived in the Rockville area for 3 years. They
moved there to be near their children.

"We
rarely went out, except to shop, for the 3 weeks that the shootings
occurred," said Oscar. "We knew that we were in the center of the
sniper's killing zone.

"I didn't
have any theories, except that someone who would shoot and kill total
strangers and children must be mad. It was a great relief when the
arrest was made and life returned to normal."

Alan Cornwall is a retired Charlestown High teacher, who moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia 1 1/2 years ago.

He
lives about 4 miles from the shooting in Spotsylvania. "My wife and I
were constantly looking over our shoulders and rarely went out for the
3 weeks that the sniper was at large. I thought it was the work of
terrorists," said Alan.

"My son
works for the Dept. of Defense in a building one mile from one of the
shootings, and as a result the people in his building worked with the
shades drawn."

Verna Dwyer is a
retired nurse from Worcester Memorial Hospital, whose husband Gordon
retired as Assistant Chief Probation Officer of Worcester District
Court. "We have lived in Fredericksburg for 12 years and would shop
several times a week at the mall where one of the victims was shot in
Spotsylvania," said Verna. "However, my husband and I were only out
twice during the period of the shootings. I really thought it could be
terrorists. Now I know how people in Israel feel."

Helen
Lee retired from Belchertown State Hospital in 1995. When her husband
died, she returned to her native Manassas, Virginia. "One of the
shootings was 1/2 mile from my home," she said. "I patronized the
Sunoco Gas Station, where Dean Myers was shot and killed. I also
frequently dined at the Shoney's and Pargo Restaurants next door. I
often think that it could have been me that was shot. I am much
relieved that the snipers have been caught."

Although
he doesn't live in "sniper territory", Gerry Coughlin, our
Association's Treasurer was returning to a Marriott Hotel, less than a
mile from the Ponderosa Restaurant in Ashland, Virginia when the sniper
ambushed another victim.

"My wife
Pat and I were returning to the hotel from a wedding reception when we
ran into road blocks. We were stuck for two hours while vehicles were
being carefully scrutinized. We heard about the shooting at the
Ponderosa on the car radio and I can remember remarking to Pat about
how many times we've eaten at a Ponderosa Restaurant," said Gerry.
"Thank goodness we had already eaten at the reception and weren't
hungry."

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