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WASHINGTON – Authorities say it may be just a bizarre
coincidence, but they’re not ready to rule it out as a
lead in the Beltway sniper case.

Nine of the 11 reported shootings in the last 10 days
have occurred at or near Michaels crafts stores, a
popular chain for holiday decorations. There are fewer
than 20 stores in the Beltway area.

  • The series of gunshots began Oct. 2 at around 5:20 p.m. when a single bullet pierced a window of a Michaels store in Aspen Hill, Md. It was the only miss of the 11 shots.

  • Over the next 17 hours, five people were gunned down by single shots in Aspen Hill and near Rockville, Md., where Michaels operates another store.

  • On Oct. 4, a woman was shot in the back outside a Michaels craft store in Fredericksburg, Va.

  • On Oct. 7, a 13-year-old boy was shot outside Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie, Md., which is not far from a Michaels store at Bowie Gateway Shopping Center. It’s the only Michaels location between Washington and Annapolis, Md.

  • Yesterday a man was shot and killed at a Sunoco gas station in Manassas, Va., not far from Michaels’ Manassas site.

A manager there dismissed any connection, estimating the gas station is nearly a mile away.

“It’s just a coincidence,” he said.

The fatal shooting this morning at an Exxon station in Fredericksburg was not near the Michaels where the woman was shot last week. A white cargo-like van was seen leaving the scene.

The Michaels chain does not use white delivery vehicles, says a manager of a Michaels store in Vienna, Va.

Click here for a map and list of addresses of Michaels stores in the Beltway area.

Previous stories:

Police weigh multiple killers, vehicles

FBI Terrorism Task Force on case

FBI: Maryland shootings fit no category

2 ‘Hispanics’ sought in D.C.-area sniper hunt

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