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Sniper witnesses describe man in van

Military to aid sniper hunt

Linda Franklin in her 1992 wedding photo.
Linda Franklin in her 1992 wedding photo.

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SPECIAL REPORT
• Interactive: The death penalty
• Interactive: Police close in
• Interactive: Suspects' trail
• Story: D.C. area victims
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SUSPECT INFORMATION:
Tip line:
888-324-9800
$500,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of people involved in the shootings.
Write-in tips:
P.O. Box 7875
Gaithersburg, MD
20898-7875
Reward contribution line:
240-777-8970

Suspect vehicles:
White Chevrolet Astro-type minivan with a ladder rack on its roof; Ford Econovan with a ladder rack on its roof; white box-type truck

FALLS CHURCH, Virginia (CNN) -- Three witnesses in the vicinity of two of the Washington area sniper shootings saw an olive-skinned man in a white van, law enforcement sources said Tuesday.

The accounts -- including one in which a witness saw two men in the van -- were being used by investigators to develop a composite sketch of a sniper suspect.

They marked the first time law enforcement has described a suspicious person in the case.

One of the witness accounts came from the site of Monday night's fatal shooting of 47-year-old Linda Franklin, an FBI intelligence analyst from Arlington, Virginia, outside a Home Depot in nearby Falls Church. (About Franklin's life)

It was unclear when the sketch would be made public, if at all. Police also said they were working with witnesses on another angle in the latest shooting.

"We received license plate information from several witnesses -- different information on different tags," said Fairfax County Police Chief Tom Manger. "We're following up on all that information. We are not ready to release any tag information about a suspect vehicle."

The shooting spree began October 2 when the sniper missed his intended target. Since then, the sniper has killed nine people and wounded two others, including a 13-year-old boy. Each victim was shot with a single .223-caliber bullet. (More on victims)

Among other developments Tuesday, the FBI asked satellite operators to turn over available images of the places the shootings took place. Investigators want the weather and intelligence pictures so they can look for a possible common denominator among the sites.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld agreed to a law enforcement request to use military reconnaissance and surveillance equipment in the hunt for the sniper. (Full story)

Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening said he would sign an executive order Wednesday temporarily banning outdoor recreational gunfire, including hunting, in metropolitan Washington counties until the sniper incidents are over.

The order, which will affect Montgomery, Prince George's, Anne Arundel and Howard counties, came at the request of county officials who said police already busy with sniper investigations are being swamped with calls about gunfire.

'Jog people's memory'

The police agency coordinating the manhunt released new composite graphics Tuesday of vehicles spotted at the scene of Friday's fatal shooting at a gas station near Fredericksburg, Virginia -- a Ford Econoline van and white Chevrolet Astro, both with roof ladder racks. (Suspect vehicles)

"These are graphics. These are not exact photos," said Montgomery County, Maryland, Police Chief Charles Moose, who is spearheading the investigation. "We want to use this to jog people's memory."

Authorities urged citizens who know about such vehicles to call the investigation's 800 number, and people who drive such vehicles and were near the scene of Friday's shooting were asked to contact authorities.

Moose said witnesses do not usually have photographic memories and often see things differently. But he did not rule out that more than one vehicle was involved.

"We don't want to speculate, but certainly it's not beyond any reality that the person or persons involved in this would have numerous vehicles that they could be using," Moose said. (What is known about the sniper)

Victim had been shopping with husband

The victim of Monday's shooting, Linda Franklin, was slain by a single gunshot to the head on the ground level of a two-story parking garage outside a Home Depot store in nearby Falls Church after shopping with her husband. She was dead at the scene. (Witness accounts)

Police said ballistic evidence conclusively linked the shooting to the others.

The shooting made Fairfax County the sixth locale in and around Washington in which the sniper has struck. Other shootings took place in Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland, in Spotsylvania and Prince William counties in Virginia, and in Washington. (Living in fear)

Manger said investigators were still looking for the origin of the shot in Monday's attack at the Seven Corners Center on U.S. Highway 50 in Falls Church. He would not say whether it appeared the shot was fired from a distance, as has been the case with the other shootings.

In the same shopping center as the Home Depot is a Michaels craft store. The sniper began his shooting spree on October 2 at a Michaels in Aspen Hill, Maryland, but missed his intended target. The sniper wounded a woman at a Michaels two days later in Fredericksburg.



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