Published October 04, 2002
NEW YORK – Many who heard the horrible news of the Montgomery County, Md., killing spree this week were all left asking the same question: What kind of person or people could commit such a heinous act?
Officials on Friday announced they were working quickly to answer that question and said a profile of the killer would be available by day's end. At the same time, officials also noted such descriptions could hardly be considered 100 percent accurate.
"A profile is not DNA," former FBI profiler Clinton Van Zandt told Fox News. "A profile is this living, breathing character of the shooter and the more information that develops, the better the profiler will be able to refine their profile."
The facts that are known suggest the killer picked his targets from a distance, and may have been an expert marksman.
"Someone knows their weaponry -- one can say that safely," said criminal profiler Pat Brown. "It’s unlikely his hobby is checkers and he just happens to have a gun in his closet … the people around this guy will know this guy had a pretty good obsession with weapons."
Experts say it is possible the killer was once in the military, or wanted to be, and may be obsessed with the military. Brown said the killer may also have Soldier of Fortune or other military-type magazines in his possession.
"He’s going to have a pretty darn strong interest in that," she said.
Van Zandt agreed that someone with military experience or a "military wannabe" may be worth looking at, particularly if more than one of the victims was shot in the head.
"That starts to suggest more in the military and law enforcement vein than the deer hunter type of vein," Van Zandt said. "That, in turn, would suggest an older person than the Columbine type of age group."
Because the killer was probably shooting from a distance, chances are more likely he may have acted alone, got out of the car, positioned himself and the gun, then took the shot. Crimes like this are usually committed by a slightly middle-aged loner who is trying, in his mind, to get rid of what he may consider "a problem," Brown said.
"Because they’re looking for someone who’s a darn fine shot, obviously, you’re not looking for a 17-year-old kid who bought a gun yesterday," she said.
Whatever the identity of the person or persons involved, experts said, they feared the spree of five killings would not be the last.
"Because they shot one person, disappeared for 12 hours, came back and did it all over again, there’s nothing that stops them from repeating that activity again," Van Zandt said. "This is chaos, it’s random, and we have to find the order in the chaos."