Sniper attacks 10 years later: Interview with former Montgomery County Police Chief

It was a month that is still seared into the consciousness of those who endured it.

Some still have fresh memories 10 years after the D.C. sniper killing spree. For one man in particular, the decade has passed in the blink of an eye.

Charles Moose was Montgomery County Chief of Police in the fall of 2002. He was the public face of the massive task force assembled to catch the snipers. Now, retired and living in Florida, he has returned to the D.C. area now to look back.

“The fact that there wasn't a target group made everyone potential target and that increased the fear,” Moose says.

Moose admits that as the death toll rose to 10 in 15 separate shootings, investigators never even considered the killers could be shooting from a car. He now says modern technology, especially police tag readers linked to computers, would have caught John Allen Mohammed and Lee Boyd Malvo in their modified Chevy Caprice much sooner.

“The fact that we would have been able to see tags would have come up with plate of interest sooner,” he says.

Even so, 10 years removed, he is proud of the work his team did.

“I can’t believe we got it solved so quickly even though there was pressure and people upset we didn't solve it much quicker,” Moose adds.

Tuesday night, Moose, survivors of the shooting and other investigators spoke at a panel discussion.

"As soon as I shut the door, BOOM, the window exploded, and the shots came in," Paul LaRuffa recalled of what he thought was a random armed robbery.

At the time, he had no idea the five bullets pumped into his body were the beginning of the shooting spree.

"Between Sept. 5 and when they were caught, I was fearful just like everybody else," LaRuffa said. "I didn't realize I had already been shot by them."

Leaving LaRuffa in a pool of blood, convicted killers Lee Boyd Malvo and John Allen Mohammed took off with $3,500. They used the money days later to buy the infamous blue Chevrolet Caprice.

Transforming the car into their own mobile murdering machine, the duo shot 16 people throughout D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

At the panel discussion, those leading the investigation discussed the unprecedented way multiple agencies worked together to track down the killers.

In the end, it took 22 days to catch the snipers. Mohammed was executed in 2009. Malvo is serving six consecutive life terms.

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