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Source: Caprice was 'killing machine'

From Kelli Arena and Jeanne Meserve

The 1990 Chevrolet Caprice was converted into a shooting platform, law enforcement officials say.
The 1990 Chevrolet Caprice was converted into a shooting platform, law enforcement officials say.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Chevrolet Caprice used by the sniper suspects was a "killing machine" with two holes in the trunk, one for the rifle, the other for the scope, a senior law enforcement official told CNN Thursday.

The two holes were there so that shots could be fired without opening the trunk, a source said, adding that the back seat could fold down, enabling a potential shooter to stretch out in the back without stepping foot outside.

The source called it a "perfect place" for a shooting platform.

A tip led authorities to a rest stop in Maryland overnight where they arrested John Allen Muhammad, 41, a Gulf War Army veteran recognized as an expert marksman, and 17-year-old John Lee Malvo, a Jamaican citizen.

Authorities examining the suspects' dark blue 1990 Chevrolet Caprice discovered a Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle, a scope and a tripod, sources said.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has confirmed the gun is the murder weapon.

Wednesday night, authorities put out a lookout for a blue or burgundy 1990 Chevrolet Caprice with New Jersey license plate NDA-21Z.

A few hours later, a truck driver spotted the car at a highway rest stop along Interstate 70, northwest of Washington, D.C. and he called 911. Sniper task force members found the two suspects sleeping in their car and arrested them without incident.

A source said the U.S. Marshals Service had been able to connect Muhammad with the car and license plate through information filed by officers from an October 8 traffic stop in Baltimore, Maryland. Muhammad was sleeping in his car at the time. The officers were concerned that his driver's license was from Washington state and the vehicle tag was from New Jersey.

Earlier in the investigation, authorities asked the public for help in finding a white box truck or white van that witnesses had seen at the scene of some of the shootings. But they also had continued to search for a car described as a burgundy Chevrolet Caprice that was spotted leaving the scene of the only shooting in Washington, D.C., on the night of October 3.

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