Skip to main content
CNN Europe CNN Asia
On CNN TV Transcripts Headline News CNN International About Preferences
powered by Yahoo!

Sniper suspects eyed in Tacoma slaying

Keenya Cook, shown here with her baby, was shot to death February 16.
Keenya Cook, shown here with her baby, was shot to death February 16.

   Story Tools

more video VIDEO
Police named the two men jailed in the D.C.-area sniper shootings as suspects in a killing in Tacoma, Washington, earlier this year. KCPQ's Cameron Wong reports (October 29)
premium content

CNN's Kelli Arena says prosecutors from seven jurisdictions where the sniper attacks took place are in a messy fight over who gets to go to court first (October 28)
premium content

CNNfn's Tim O'Brien says seemingly random killings like the recent sniper slayings are the most difficult to solve (October 28)
premium content
• Interactive: The death penalty
• Interactive: Police close in
• Interactive: Suspects' trail
• Story: D.C. area victims

TACOMA, Washington (CNN) -- Tacoma police Monday named the two suspects in the D.C.-area sniper shootings as suspects in a killing in Tacoma earlier this year and said a weapon that may have been used by one of the men was involved in the vandalism of a local synagogue.

John Allen Muhammad, 41, and John Lee Malvo, 17, are in federal custody on the East Coast after being arrested last week. Both are suspected of the string of 14 sniper shootings in and around Washington, D.C., as well as an armed robbery in Alabama in which one woman was killed.

After the media coverage of the pair last week, and news they had both been in Washington state earlier this year, a Tacoma resident informed police he had hosted Muhammad and Malvo at his home between February and July, said Tacoma Police Chief David Brame.

The three were friends based on their mutual interest in firearms, Brame said. While Muhammad and Malvo were at the home they also expressed interest in the man's weapons, which included three handguns and a rifle.

"Significantly, those weapons included a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun that Muhammad borrowed on separate occasions, and also a .44 Magnum," Brame said. "The Washington State Crime Lab performed ballistics tests on both weapons. Those tests confirmed the use of both weapons in separate crimes."

The .45-caliber pistol was used in the February 16 shooting death of Keenya Cook, a 21-year-old mother in Tacoma. Cook's aunt found her in the open doorway of her home with a single gunshot wound to the head, her dinner burning on the stove and her 6-month-old baby unattended in a bedroom, police said.

"Although the suspects are in custody," Brame said, "we believe it is very important to bring closure to this case and to the Cook family."

Crime lab investigators also determined the .44-caliber Magnum was used in a vandalism incident at Temple Beth el, a Tacoma synagogue, Brame said. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has been investigating that crime since it happened in May.

"We do not know the motive on either of these crimes at this time," Brame said.

Although named as suspects in the two Tacoma cases, formal charges against Muhammad and Malvo in the cases have not yet been filed.

Tacoma Police spokesman Jim Mattheis said Cook's aunt, Isa Nichols, who owned the house where Cook was killed, called police last week after recognizing Muhammad's picture on the news.

Nichols said the aunt had sided with Muhammad's ex-wife at one point in a dispute, Mattheis said. "There was some supposed bad blood between Isa Nichols and Muhammad," he said.

Her report led police to begin investigating whether Muhammad was involved in Cook's death, he said.

In the case of the synagogue, two bullets were fired into the building sometime between May 1 and May 4, police said, but they initially went unnoticed.

Malvo, left, and Muhammad
Malvo, left, and Muhammad

"The actual initial hole in the wall was noticed by a custodian, and they thought the damage was caused by a door," Mattheis said.

Days later, someone at the synagogue realized there were holes in several adjoining rooms and discovered slugs on the floor. The ATF then began an investigation.

On the East Coast, three Virginia counties Monday joined one in Maryland in filing murder and attempted murder charges against Muhammad and Malvo, and the federal government may weigh in with its case as early as Tuesday. (Full story)

Story Tools

Top Stories
Father guilty of killing 9 of his children
Top Stories
CNN/Money: Security alert issued for 40 million credit cards
© 2004 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.