Families Mark Anniversary of Sniper Killings

The death of James Martin (search) in a supermarket parking lot two years ago marked the beginning of a series of sniper shootings that would terrorize the Washington area for three weeks.

On Friday, in public gardens not far from the place Martin died on Oct. 2, 2002, relatives of the 10 people killed in the sniper shootings gathered to dedicate a memorial to them.

At the memorial in Brookside Gardens (search), the names of those who died are etched into a large upright stone that forms a focal point of a ring of stones called "Reflection Terrace." Stones of different sizes sit around a flagstone terrace, punctuated by fragrant plants meant to attract butterflies and birds.

As a child, Andrea Walekar played on the lawns of the gardens with her father, Prem Kumar Walekar, who was killed Oct. 3, 2002, at gas station in Rockville, Md.

She said she and her family have buoyed themselves over the past two years with memories of him.

"His smile, laughter and the quiet moments have helped us push away the pain and bring back the smiles again," said Andrea Walekar.

Planning began on the $50,000 memorial a year ago. Designers intended to make it a peaceful place where people can meditate, not a reminder of the shootings and the terror they sowed.

"This memorial is one of the jewels of Montgomery County," said Larry Meyers, brother of victim Dean Meyers.

The sniper killings ended with the arrest of John Allen Muhammad (search) and Lee Boyd Malvo (search). Muhammad, 43, has been convicted and sentenced to death in Virginia in one of the killings, although prosecutors suffered a defeat Friday when a judge there threw out murder charges in one of the cases. Malvo was convicted last year in another and sentenced to life in prison.

Montgomery County Executive Douglas Duncan said the effects of the seemingly unexplainable shootings still resonate two years later.

"We didn't just lose 10 people to random violence, we lost a sense of who we are as a community," he said. "We lost a sense of trust."

James Martin's sister, Ola Martin-Border, recalled how her brother would meet her at the airport whenever she arrived in Washington on trips from her home in Missouri.

When she first came to the area after his death, Martin-Border said in a letter she read aloud Friday that she instinctively scanned the crowd waiting for the plane, hoping that "by some miracle I would glance your face."