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Pentagon Joins Hunt For Washington-Area Sniper

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 16, 2002 – The Pentagon has been enlisted to support efforts to catch a deadly sniper who has preyed on metro Washington residents since Oct. 2.

The FBI, the lead government law enforcement agency in the case, recently asked DoD for help in stopping the elusive shooter, who has killed nine persons and wounded two, DoD spokesman Marine Corps Maj. Ben Owens said today.

The latest victim, an FBI employee, was shot the night of Oct. 14 in a shopping center parking lot in suburban Falls Church, Va.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld yesterday approved the FBI's request for support, which involves the use of aerial platforms, Owens noted.

The major said the FBI and other law enforcement agencies involved in the case know what they can and should discuss regarding the case, and they're being careful not to tip off the sniper by saying too much.

He stressed DoD has gone "to great lengths" to comply with all the laws in providing support to capture the shooter. The laws include the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which prohibits the military from conducting civilian law enforcement, he added.

Owens noted the law permits DoD to give training, equipment and some other types of support to law enforcement agencies, when requested. Justice Department and DoD lawyers are working the support issue "to ensure that we're going to do this right," he said.

The major said civilian law enforcement authorities are essentially asking to use something in DoD's inventory that would help them to get the sniper. "We provide help when we have some sort of unique capability that they don't have and it wouldn't really be feasible for them to get overnight," he concluded.

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