On October 2, 2002 a sniper shot and killed James D. Martin in the parking lot of Shoppers Food Warehouse in Wheaton, Maryland. Martin was fifty-five and lived in the middle-class suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland. There were no witnesses or suspects and nothing to suggest a motive for the crime. Over the next three weeks, the sniper struck thirteen more times. The victims were ordinary people from the Washington area, middle class for the most part, male and female, white, black, Hispanic, and Asian.

The sniper attacks traumatized Washington. A few weeks before, we had observed the first anniversary of September 11. The anthrax investigation was ongoing and many Washingtonians expected another terrorist attack. We read stories of how chemical and nuclear weapons could be smuggled into the United States and set off near a federal building. Some of us thought that the sniper was a Moslem fanatic—and it turned out we were right.

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