NEW ORLEANS – A Louisiana man shot by Lee Boyd Malvo before the criminal spree that terrorized the Washington, D.C., area in 2002 has received a letter of apology from the convicted sniper.
John C. Gaeta, 58, of Albany, said Thursday that he's glad Malvo wrote him but remains skeptical about Malvo's intentions.
"I'm glad he wrote the letter," Gaeta said. "I do wonder, though, if he's truly sorry or if this is a part of him trying to get his sentence reduced. He knows that he should express remorse, so I question whether it is genuine and from the heart."
Gaeta was shot in the neck Aug. 1, 2002, outside a mall near Baton Rouge, La. He has said that two men approached him as he tried to change a tire. When he leaned down to pull out his spare, he noticed a shadow near the front of the truck.
Last month, Malvo confessed to Louisiana detectives that he shot Gaeta, but said he thought the man had died. The shooting was part of a spree by Malvo and John Allen Muhammad that left 10 people dead.
Muhammad was executed in Virginia in November for killing a man at a gas station. Malvo was sentenced to life in prison for one of the killings.
The short, brief letter Gaeta received was dated Feb. 21. Malvo wrote: "I am truly sorry for the pain I caused you and your loved ones. I was relieved to hear that you suffered no paralyzing injuries and that you are alive." Malvo then printed and signed his name.
Gaeta said he never got a good look at his assailants' faces.
"I said, 'What are you doing?' He lifted up the gun and shot me. Once I saw the weapon, my concentration was on that. And on dying. I thought, 'Is this how it's going to end?' I dropped to the ground and played dead. I didn't wiggle around and I didn't fight, because I thought if I did he might shoot me again," Gaeta recalled.
Gaeta said his faith has helped him get through the ordeal.
"Absolutely," he said. "Otherwise, I'd still be angry and bitter. You have to go on living and it has been almost eight years."