Sniper keeps D.C. area on alert
BOWIE, Maryland (CNN) -- The greater Washington area was on edge Tuesday as authorities continued an intense manhunt for the sniper who killed six people with a high-powered rifle and wounded two others, but police reported no progress in identifying a suspect.
In response to Monday's shooting of a 13-year-old boy outside a middle school here in Prince George's County, schools throughout the metropolitan area kept children inside.
Even the popular Starbucks coffee shop chain, known for its casual atmosphere, suspended outdoor seating at its 143 stores in Washington and the Maryland and Virginia suburbs.
Jittery parents walked or drove their children to school as state and local police patrolled, looking for anything suspicious.
Schools in Prince George's County and adjacent Montgomery County were open but under a "code blue" lockdown, meaning all outdoor activities and field trips were canceled. Overall school attendance was low, but not abnormally so, officials said.
Attendance at the school where the boy was shot Monday was down 34 percent, according to a school official. The victim's name has not been made public.
Montgomery County schools will be closed Wednesday for an already-scheduled professional development day for teachers and staff, said County Executive Doug Duncan.
In Washington, Capitol Police alerted members of Congress that unspecified "added precautionary measures" were being implemented by local law enforcement.
"There is no indication that a threat is directed toward the Capitol or members of Congress," the House sergeant-at-arms said in a memo to lawmakers and their staffs. "However, we are asking everyone to exercise an abundance of caution at work."
The memo also asked that "any suspicious or curious activity" be reported to Capitol Police.
The White House called the outbreak of violence "traumatic" and "scary." (Full story)
Investigators -- about 100 from Montgomery County and 95 from other agencies -- sifted through hundreds of tips and leads and continued searching for a suspicious white van seen near one of the shootings.
Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose said no incidents were reported Tuesday.
Moose said he felt "positive" about the progress in the case, "but I understand that it is a complex case, and I don't want to build any false hope." He said 1,400 leads have been developed from more than 7,500 phone calls.
"Our investigation continues full speed ahead," said Moose, who balked at framing theories, discussing profiles and speculating on motives, indicating he wants potential tipsters to keep open minds about the crimes. (Read interview)
Five people were shot and killed in Montgomery County during a 16-hour period from Wednesday night into Thursday morning.
A sixth victim was shot dead Thursday night on a Washington street. A seventh person was wounded Friday in Virginia. She was released from Inova Fairfax hospital Tuesday afternoon, a spokeswoman said. (Trail of the sniper)
The 13-year-old, who was shot once in the chest after he got out of a car outside Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie, was in critical but stable condition Tuesday. He was on a ventilator after more than two hours of surgery in which doctors removed his spleen and parts of his stomach and pancreas.
Dr. Martin Eichelberger, the boy's surgeon, said he is "guardedly optimistic" the boy will continue to improve. "We feel quite fortunate and humbled by the fact that he's still with us today."
Each of the victims was shot once with a .223-caliber bullet, and police said the victims appeared to have been picked at random. (Tracing the bullets)
Authorities were also looking into the possibility that a man who survived a September 14 shooting outside of a Montgomery County beer and wine store was the sniper's first victim.
Authorities said the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer or killers has risen to $237,000 -- $100,000 from the state, $50,000 from Montgomery County and another $10,000 from a victims' rights foundation. The remainder of the money came from private contributions, including a $50,000 donation from a California businessman.
The California businessman, Tim Blixseth of Blixseth Group, Inc., said in a letter with his donation that while he didn't know any of the victims, he wanted to help stop the "random senseless killing of innocent citizens."
"I felt the person who pulled that trigger really raised the ante by shooting a child, and somebody has to raise the ante in his face," Blixseth said in a telephone interview. "Somebody knows that guy, somebody sold him gas or shells."