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ROCKVILLE, Md. – An eyewitness to the first Beltway
sniper shooting says a black police detective here was
skeptical about his description of two black men
fleeing the scene in a dark, older-model car.

But he says if police had taken his description more
seriously, more people might be alive today.

Steve Cribbin, an Army veteran, says he is convinced
he spotted the Beltway snipers on the first day of
their bloody three-week rampage.

“I saw the criminals before anybody,” he told
WorldNetDaily in an exclusive interview.

The snipers were able to elude police who mistakenly
searched for a white man in a white truck or van.

At around 5:20 p.m. on Oct. 2, 2002, Cribbin was
startled by what he told police at the time was the
distinct sound of a rifle shot. He was in his car in
the parking lot outside the Papa John’s Pizza in Aspen
Hill, Md., where he works delivering pizzas. He says
he was resting there before his shift started. Papa
John’s is two doors down from the Michaels crafts
store where the snipers shot out a window.

He didn’t know it at the time, he says, but the two
short-haired black men he saw speed off in a dark,
older-model sedan were the snipers.

After the snipers shot and killed a man at a nearby
grocery store parking lot about 45 minutes later, a
Montgomery County police detective canvassed witnesses
at the Michaels shopping center and took a statement
from Cribbin.

“I told a cop I was in my car waiting to go to work,
just resting, and I heard a gunshot, and being I was
in the military, I knew it was a rifle. It didn’t
sound like a backfire,” Cribbin, 37, said. “And I
looked around and said, ‘Man, where in the hell did
that come from?’ The next thing I know I see a car
driving out, and it was, like, a dark blue Thunderbird
or an old cop car, with a couple of black guys giving
high-fives and driving away.

“I said, ‘What the hell is that?’ And I didn’t think
nothing of it, and next thing I know, a guy tells me
that there was a shot at the Michaels,” Cribbin added.
“Turns out they went down the street and shot a guy at
Shoppers Food.”

He says he learned later that police “were looking for
a white guy in a white truck.”

Only after a lucky break in the nation’s largest
manhunt, John Allen Muhammad, 42, and Lee Boyd Malvo,
18, both black, were arrested Oct. 24 in the shooting
spree while they slept at a Maryland rest area in a
dark blue 1990 Chevrolet Caprice.

WorldNetDaily has learned that the detective who took
Cribbin’s statement was Montgomery County Det. Chris
Homrock. Homrock did not return repeated phone calls.

According to department sources, Homrock filed his
statement with headquarters, the command post for the
multi-agency sniper task force headed by Montgomery
County Police Chief Charles Moose.

A couple of days after the Michaels shooting and after
the snipers shot and killed several more people,
headquarters sent a homicide detective to conduct a
field interrogation of Cribbin.

He says the detective seemed to try to talk him out of
his original description of the suspects.

“It was a black cop who interviewed me the second
time, but I guess he didn’t like that when I said
black people,” Cribbin said. “He kept asking me, ‘How
do you know it’s black people?’”

Cribbin, who at the time also worked full-time as an
Alamo car rental agent, says he wasn’t sure about the
model of the car, but he was sure about the race of
the drivers. He says it was still light out when he
saw them.

“I said two black guys,” he said. “Turns out I was
right, and they were wrong.”

Cribbin added: “I feel bad for the families of the
victims who were killed.”

Moose during the investigation refused to release a
physical description of the suspects until the last
minute. At one point he said he didn’t want to “paint
some group.”

Some of his officers say his sensitivity to race led
him to withhold critical look-out information from
them, as well as from the public, which could have led to
the capture of the snipers sooner.

Since a 2000 agreement Moose struck with the Clinton
administration, Montgomery County has been under
federal order not to profile black suspects.

“Moose didn’t want his officers stopping every black
in Montgomery County,” said one officer who worked on
the investigation. “Of course, it was OK to stop every
white in a white box truck.”

Both Moose and his lawyer declined comment.

Previous stories:

Cops knew snipers black from Day 1

Secret sniper stake-out puts lie to Moose claim

Cops: Chief withheld look-out on sniper suspects

Moose denies blocking police pay raise

Beltway sniper likely foreign

Related column:

Race-conscious chief may have cost lives

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