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WASHINGTON – It’s not gang-banging. Or spree-shooting. Or armed robbery. And it’s not a serial killer.
So what would motivate two assailants to randomly target five victims in a Maryland suburb, and possibly a sixth in D.C., killing each with a single shot from a high-velocity (.223-caliber round) rifle?
The calculated shootings, which took place Wednesday and Thursday, are like none that federal investigators have seen.
“If some sicko just wants to go out and essentially assassinate a bunch of random people – and he’s not a terrorist – it’s almost like a new category” of crime, said a veteran FBI agent.
The perpetrators aren’t spree shooters, FBI profilers have concluded.
Typically, spree shooters are loners who snap one day and fire away until police appear and they come to their own violent end.
They typically seek revenge on an employer, such as the post office, or fellow students at a school. They come to the scene loaded with weapons, and take a stand, spraying victims with bullets.
But in this case, two men in a white van or “box truck” did not spray bullets, but picked targets, trained a rifle, or rifles, on their victims and aimed to kill, like trained assassins.
“In a spree shooting, there are usually a lot of people wounded,” said one agent. “The shooter is not really taking time to aim.”
“This is much more cold and calculated than the typical spree shooting,” he said. “The victims were not wounded.”
What’s more, the sniper, or snipers, didn’t take a stand, but sped off to avoid capture.
“This is different – they’ve taken great steps to avoid being apprehended,” he added.
Authorities are said to have a description of the shooters but are not releasing it. They’ve reviewed video tapes from security cameras at some of the businesses where the shootings took place.
“The idea of terrorism is to spread fear,” said one law enforcement officer. “If that’s what they wanted to do, they’ve succeeded, because there’s a lot of fear in the Washington area right now.”