Man shot, killed at gas station

Thursday, October 10, 2002

BALTIMORE -- A man was shot dead while pumping gas in Virginia on Wednesday night, and police were trying to determine whether he was the latest victim of the sniper who has terrorized the Washington area for a week. Meanwhile, a tarot card with the words "Dear policeman, I am God" emerged as a potential clue.

Virginia State Police said two males were seen driving away in a white vehicle after the shooting at the station in Prince William County, near Manassas, 30 miles west of the nation's capital.

Prince William County police spokeswoman Sgt. Kim Chinn said one man was killed, but she few other details. She said police did not know where the shots came from, or how many shots were fired.

Police had blocked off several streets around the gas station, and they were interviewing people at the scene.

"We are still very preliminarily beginning this investigation," Chinn said. "We have been in contact with the officials from Maryland and the task force there, so we are sharing any information we have."

The tarot card was found near a shell casing outside a middle school in Bowie, where a 13-year-old boy was critically wounded by a gunman Monday, a source familiar with the investigation said on condition of anonymity.

Similar shell

Authorities said the shell was .223-caliber, the same kind of bullet used to kill six people and wound another in Washington and its Maryland and Virginia suburbs in the last week. The casing is believed to be the first one recovered since the slayings began.

Michael Bouchard, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, would not say whether authorities had linked the casing to the attacks.

Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose also wouldn't comment when asked about the tarot card, and angrily suggested unapproved information had been leaked.

"I need to make sure I don't do anything to hinder our ability to bring this person or these people into custody," Moose said.

A police spokesman in Maryland said that investigators were going to Manassas to see if Wednesday's slaying was tied to the sniper shootings. A Maryland witness told police he saw two men in a white truck or van leaving the scene of a shooting outside a post office.

The message left on the tarot card called the Death card was first reported by WUSA-TV and then by The Washington Post. Police sources told the newspaper the items were found 150 yards from the school in a wooded area on matted grass, suggesting the gunman had lain in wait.

Tarot cards, used mainly for fortunetelling, are believed to have been introduced into western Europe by Gypsies in the 15th century. Many tarot enthusiasts say the Death card usually does not connote physical death, but instead portrays a symbolic change or transformation.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: