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Death strikes another D.C. suburb

Joy Zucker said people at the Falls Church, Virginia, shopping center were
Joy Zucker said people at the Falls Church, Virginia, shopping center were "just shocked" after the shooting.

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Police in Falls Church, Virginia, are investigating the ninth fatal sniper attack this month, a woman slain by a single gunshot. CNN's Eric Philips reports.
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Two witnesses describe what they saw in Falls Church, Virginia.
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Inside the mind and motives of a serial killer.
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• Interactive: The death penalty
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• Story: D.C. area victims

FALLS CHURCH, Virginia (CNN) -- The killing of a woman at a strip mall in this Washington suburb hit home for people at the scene who heard the shot, saw the suspicious cream-colored van or got caught up in the ensuing panic after the slaying occurred.

Police said Tuesday that ballistics evidence had conclusively linked the shooting to the Washington-area sniper. The victim -- the ninth person killed by the sniper -- was identified as Linda Franklin, 47, of Arlington. (Full story)

Franklin had finished shopping at the Home Depot at the Seven Corners Shopping Center on U.S. Highway 50 and was at her vehicle on the ground level of a two-story parking garage outside the store, police said.

People in the area "really didn't think it was going to come this close to their neighborhood," said Joy Zucker, who was at the shopping center at the time of the shooting, around 9:15 p.m. EDT Monday.

There was immediate panic after the shot, with many people running into stores trying to escape from harm's way.

Zucker said she saw 25 to 30 customers and employees lined up at the front entrance of the Home Depot and these "individuals were just shocked."

She said she saw "an incredibly significant fear and calm over these individuals, very well aware that a crime -- whether it was the sniper or not -- had come to their home in Falls Church. These people were very affected."

"These individuals knew they had seen a crime, and they were waiting to talk to officials," Zucker said.

She said if the shooter was anywhere in the parking lot, "I don't think they would have waited a second for the police, they would have taken matters into their own hands."

Raymond Massis, a witness, said he heard a shot as he approached the front of the Home Depot.

"People started panicking -- I was one of them," Massis said. "A few seconds later people started running. We heard the sirens. I looked back toward Route 50, which is about 20 to 30 yards away from me and saw the body laying down."

Employees from the shopping center said customers ran into their stores saying they heard a single shot. The one-bullet attacks have been a hallmark of the sniper case so far.

"One customer did tell us that they heard a loud bang," said Liz Cui, an employee at a Starbucks coffee shop. She said the parking lot soon filled with police and police cruisers.

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