Man killed at suburban D.C. gas station
Virginia police probe sniper link
MANASSAS, Virginia (CNN) -- A man was shot to death Wednesday night while pumping gas at a service station here, and authorities are investigating whether the incident is connected to the string of sniper shootings that has already claimed six lives in the Washington area.
Dennis Mangan, a detective with the Prince William County Police Department, said the shooting happened at a Sunoco gas station about 8:15 p.m. ET.
Asked whether it was linked to the sniper shootings, Mangan said: "It's too early to tell. We can't really rule it out."
Video of the crime scene showed the victim slumped between a gas pump and his car. Prince William County police spokeswoman Sgt. Kim Chinn said investigators had not established the man's identity.
Dozens of police were on the scene, which was sealed off by yellow crime scene tape.
Jeff Hintosh, a 19-year-old waiter at a nearby Shoney's, said he and his co-workers heard a single shot and did not see a fleeing vehicle or anything else. All the sniper victims so far have been hit with a single shot.
Manassas is a suburb of about 35,000 people, southwest of the nation's capital.
Wednesday night's killing came exactly one week after the first shooting was reported in Montgomery County, Maryland.
The Montgomery County Police Department, which is leading the sniper investigation, said it was sending a team of investigators to the scene.
Two of the Maryland victims were killed at gas stations. (Victims' profiles)
School shooting evidence analyzed
Earlier Wednesday, law enforcement sources said investigators had found new evidence near the middle school in Bowie, Maryland, where a 13-year-old boy was shot Monday -- including a shell casing and a tarot card inscribed with the message, "Dear Policeman: I am God."
The evidence was taken to an FBI lab for fingerprint and DNA tests as well as analyses of the handwriting, spelling and the card's origins.
Monday's shooting was the most recent one that has been conclusively linked to the string of sniper shootings.
Sources said it was unclear whether the tarot card was related to the shootings.
The card was the one depicting death in the fortune-telling deck. The death card, which often shows a skeletal figure on a horse, represents endings, transitions, eliminations and the experiencing of inexorable forces.
Authorities said the card could have been left by a prankster.
Police angered by leak
Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose said Wednesday he was upset about the leak of the tarot card information to reporters.
"It is inappropriate to comment on this card," he said. "There are a lot of things that have the potential to hurt the investigation."
Moose also criticized statements from retired law enforcement personnel who are news analysts for TV networks and stations. Moose said it was insulting to hear commentary from "talking heads" who have not been briefed, seen evidence or talked to investigators.
Earlier, police in Prince George's County conducted an aerial search of woods near two schools in Fort Washington, Maryland, after a witness reported seeing a man carrying a long, dark bag. (Area of investigation)
The bag's description was similar to what residents said they have seen surveyors carry in the area, a Prince George's police spokeswoman said. The surveyors carry tripods in such bags, police said.
Police in Kensington, Maryland, arrested a man Wednesday who allegedly was shooting a weapon inside his home. He was taken into custody after police received a 911 call from his mother.
By late in the day, authorities had made no connection between the two incidents and the sniper.
Boy critical but stable
The shootings began October 2 when someone fired a shot through a window of a Michaels crafts store in Wheaton, but no one was hit.
Five people were shot and killed in Montgomery County during a 16-hour period from October 2 into the next morning. A sixth victim was shot dead Thursday night on a Washington street.
A seventh person was wounded Friday in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She was released Tuesday afternoon from Inova Fairfax Hospital, a spokeswoman said. (Trail of the sniper)
The boy who was shot Monday remained in critical but stable condition at Children's National Medical Center in Washington. He was shot just after his aunt dropped him off at school.
Authorities were trying to determine whether the shell casing found near the school can help them determine the type of weapon used in the shooting. (Tracing the bullets)
Forensics evidence, including ballistics tests on the bullets, have linked the eight shootings. Authorities said each victim was hit once with a .223-caliber bullet fired from a rifle from a relatively long distance.
Investigators were reconsidering a September 14 shooting outside a Silver Spring, Maryland, liquor store, trying to determine whether the same culprit might be responsible.
A man was wounded there but survived. Michael Bouchard, a special agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said the ballistics evidence from the crime scene was inconclusive.
Authorities also were looking into a fire at a Michaels crafts store near the middle school in Bowie. The crafts store burned down, and the case remains open. Several of the shootings have taken place near Michaels crafts stores.
Montgomery County schools were closed Wednesday for a previously scheduled teacher workday. A heavy police presence monitored schools in Prince George's County.
Investigators -- about 100 from Montgomery County and 95 from other agencies -- were sifting through 1,600 tips and leads deemed credible. They continued to search for a suspicious white van seen by a witness near the scene of one of the shootings.
Reward fund growing
Authorities have not identified a suspect, but they said they hope a growing reward fund may help persuade anyone who knows anything about the killings to come forward.
Late Tuesday, the reward stood at nearly $305,000 for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the person responsible for the killings. The fund includes $100,000 from the state of Maryland, $50,000 from Montgomery County and $10,000 from a victims' rights foundation.
Donations also have been coming in from across the country, said Donna Bigler of the Montgomery County executive's office, which is managing the fund. The county has set up a telephone number for people to call to donate money using credit cards.
"We've had donations from a local law firm, a crime solvers' group in Wisconsin, a couple from Virginia and a businessman in California, giving from $100 to $50,000," Bigler said.