Sniper Task Force Briefing Cancelled After Two Arrests

July 7, 2008 - 7:20 PM

Capitol Hill (CNSNews.com) - Officials in charge of the Beltway Sniper task force cancelled their daily scheduled press briefing Monday, fueling speculation that two arrests made in Henrico County, Va., are connected to the string of murders.

"At this time, we are not prepared to present a scheduled press briefing," said Lucille Baur, public information officer for Montgomery County, Md., government.

Authorities had originally scheduled their regular midday briefing for noon (ET), but pushed it back one hour after police impounded a white Plymouth Voyager van and arrested its driver and another person about 30 miles north of Ashland, Va., where the latest shooting occurred.

"The two people that we have in custody are being questioned in regards to the sniper shootings," said Hanover County Sheriff Stuart Cook.

Cook also revealed that "the ballistics evidence recovered during our investigation has been matched with the other shooting cases."

Baur said she was limited in what information she could release.

"I know that you are interested in having something that you can use for your broadcasts," she said. "I am just the messenger to say no scheduled briefing today."

A few reporters challenged Baur, asking why Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose could speak through the media to deliver messages to the sniper, but not to reporters to answer their questions.

"I hope that everyone will appreciate that we are at a very sensitive stage of this investigation and, therefore, it is critical that we determine when it is appropriate to speak, who speaks, and what they say," she continued, adding that "this situation evolves by the minutes."

Moose addressed television cameras Monday morning, delivering a brief message, presumably to the shooter.

"We are going to respond to a message that we have received," Moose said. "We will respond later. We are preparing our response at this time."

One law enforcement source said Moose appeared to be stalling, not wanting the intended recipient of his comments to become angry that authorities had not yet responded to a note reportedly left for police at the scene of Saturday night's shooting.

It was the second time in as many days that Moose reached out to the murderer though the media.

"To the person who left us a message at the Ponderosa (restaurant) last night, you gave us a telephone number," Moose said Sunday night. "We do want to talk to you. Call us at the number you provided."

Asked if officials were hopeful that the arrests in Henrico County marked the close to the sniper's killing spree, Baur responded with a smile.

"We've remained hopeful from the very beginning," she said, "and we continue to remain hopeful."

E-mail a news tip to Jeff Johnson.

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