Profiler's clues on Maryland killer
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In the manhunt for whoever was responsible for gunning down five people within 16 hours in the suburbs of the nation's capital, police are not sure who or how many suspects they are looking for.
Authorities have narrowed down the vehicle that may be involved. A white, box-type vehicle, possibly an Isuzu or a Mitsubishi with a damaged rear lift, that was seen speeding away from a post office where one victim was killed Thursday morning. A witness told police two people were in the van.
CNN anchor Connie Chung talked with profiler Pat Brown about what type of person could commit the string of killers. Brown is the lead investigator and profiler with the Sexual Homicide Exchange, which works to aid law enforcement and families of victims in solving cases.
CHUNG: Now, Pat, you call this killer someone who is on a shooting spree, as opposed to a mass killer. Can you explain the distinction?
BROWN: Well, in this particular case, it is almost a little confusing.
It is definitely not a serial killer, because that kind of person does things very quietly and sneakily, and then he'll have his down times and maybe not do anything for a month or two or even a year.
But in a case of a mass murderer, usually mass murderers shoot a whole bunch of people in one place and go out. They know the police are coming. They know they are going to be shot to death. And they go out with a blaze of glory.
Spree killers usually have some time in between their killings. And they're moving from one killing to another. What makes this most interesting is that the killings are so close together. So it almost is a mix between a mass murderer and a spree killer.
CHUNG: And in broad daylight as well.
BROWN: And in broad daylight. So I think probably the No. 1 reason there is to get good aim. This way, the person probably doesn't have any night vision going there. He can get a good shot. Apparently, he's very proud of his shooting skills. And he has a right to be, because he's doing a pretty darn fine job with one shot, so he is a skilled shooter.
CHUNG: Well, that's what police say. They say that he is experienced, skilled. He's calculating.
Knowing that, I think some people would assume -- and I would as well -- that this person might have a military background or a police background. Is that a false assumption?
BROWN: Well, it is certainly one area to look at, one avenue to go down, because the person does have a skill, but that doesn't necessarily mean that anybody who -- this could be a deer hunter as well.
If the truck is large enough, the person could be -- I also agree with the police that it might well be two people: one driving, one perhaps kneeling down with perhaps a rifle. We don't know yet that it is a rifle, so it could be some other weapon. But they definitely have practiced enough. So we are looking for somebody who either hunts a lot, who has military experience, who has spent a lot of time at gun ranges.
This is a person who has stacks of "Guns & Ammo" magazines in his home. This is someone who really likes weaponry.
CHUNG: Any clues as to a psychological profile?
BROWN: Well, obviously, you have got somebody pretty angry at the world. And if you have two people, you have them encouraging each other on and saying: "Yes, we ought to get people. We ought to do this. Here's the time. Look, we can get away with it or we can make a hit," or whatever.
Somebody is obviously very angry. And if you're going to look at who this is, what is very interesting about the pattern here is that, if you actually look at where all the crimes occurred, it is almost like a star. It is like crisscrossing across Wheaton and Aspen Hill in Maryland.
So that leads one to believe that it's possible that the perpetrator or perpetrators in this crime are sort of localized in that area and are working out from their area, going one way and then going the other direction, just seeing what they can get away with, perhaps going into hiding right after they do it, and then going on for the next one and seeing how many they can add up.
CHUNG: Now, early reports said that there was a wide diversity in those who were killed: a white person, a black person, Latino, men, women. Does that tell you anything?
BROWN: Well, it tells us that, probably, we're not looking at somebody who has got a particular issue with any one group. We just have a person who wants to have victims.
And what is interesting about them is, most of them are stationary. So I think this guy doesn't want any one particular victim, except one that is not moving, where he can nail them with one shot. So I think the only advice I have to people right now is, move around a lot. Don't be a good target for this person at the moment.
CHUNG: So what do you think police will be looking at to try and solve it? Is it the ballistics information that would help?
BROWN: Well, the ballistics is going to be very important. They are going to want to find out what kind of gun we're looking at here. They're going to want to see who in the community has these kinds of guns or who has had these guns stolen recently.
For example, we have had a gun shop in the area, right over in P.G. [Prince Georges] County across the border there, that had a robbery. I believe it was last week. And 12 guns were stolen from that gun shop. We want to find out: Is it a stolen gun? We want to find out who in the neighborhood has been talking a lot about guns. These kind of people don't stay real quiet.
So we're going to have somebody who has been probably shooting off his mouth in the recent past about his grudges against people, and he could wish he could take care of them all. Something like that, we're going to be looking to the community for that information.
CHUNG: So, basically what you're saying is that this person is committing these crimes with warning. He is signaling someone. It's just that those individuals have to come forward and recognize it.
This kind of person doesn't -- it's not like everybody says, "Oh, we had no idea." There has got to be some issues going on in this guy's life. And he's got to have a tremendous interest in weaponry. He might have a stockpile of weapons in his room. If it's a younger person -- and I don't believe this is a teenager. I believe we're looking into the 20s, maybe early 30s.
This is somebody who may have a lot of interest in any kinds of things like -- I said "Guns & Ammo" magazine, or, what's the one, for going overseas and shooting people down, that kind of military stuff, any kind of thing which shows a desire for power, that he would like to be that, maybe that military guy that can do that sniper-type of work.
CHUNG: All right, Pat Brown, thank you very much. Appreciate your being with us.