A Look Back at The D.C. Sniper Attacks

The Beginnings of a National Tragedy

On October 2nd, 2002, a series of bloody shootings would begin, lasting for three weeks and encompassing several different cities. Around 5:20 PM on that evening, the first victim was shot at through the glass windows of a Michaels Craft store. Luckily, the bullet barely missed its intended target. Only an hour later, however, another person was fatally shot in the parking lot of a grocery store in a nearby city. What seemed like random acts of violence would soon be revealed to be a horrific plot that was only just beginning to unfold.

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VIRGINIA BEACH, VA – OCTOBER 27: Prince William County prosecutor Paul Ebert holds a map as witness Ingrid M. Shaw points to her apartment during her testimony in the trial of sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad in Courtroom 10 at the Virginia Beach Circuit Court October 27, 2003 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. (Photo by Davis Turner-Pool/Getty Images)

The next morning, four new victims were shot within a few hours of each other, with another following that same evening. It was around this time that the police (and the press) began to notice the pattern, sending ripples of chaos and fear through the community. Schools went into lockdown for days, and the population feared what was to come. Over the next several weeks, more innocent people would become victims of the vicious attacks, and the area where they were carried out widened considerably.

The bloody, senseless shootings would continue in earnest until the evening of October 24th, when two suspects were arrested on federal weapons charges at a rest stop off of Interstate 70 in Maryland. A total of 17 innocent civilians had lost their lives up to this point, with multiple in critical condition.