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3-Hour 911 Call Led to Sniper Suspects

November 04, 2003|From Associated Press

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The man who led police to sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad after spotting his car at a Maryland rest stop said Monday he stayed on the line with 911 dispatchers for nearly three hours, giving them updates as officers moved into position.

Whitney Donahue, a refrigeration mechanic from Greencastle, Pa., testified at Muhammad's trial that he saw the blue Chevrolet Caprice on Oct. 24, 2002, and thought he saw two people inside.

He said he remained on the line from 12:47 to 3:30 a.m., even though he worried about getting shot.

At one point, 911 dispatchers asked him to double-check the tags. He said he enlisted another driver to check them while driving out.

FBI agent Charles Pierce, who led the team that arrested Muhammad and fellow suspect Lee Boyd Malvo that morning, said his team initially waited for signs of movement because they were not sure anybody was in the car.

Pierce said he went in anyway to seize them because the rest area's perimeter had not been fully secured and Donahue remained in danger.

About five agents rushed the vehicle from a tree line about 20 yards away, smashed the windows open and arrested Muhammad and Malvo without incident.

Muhammad, 42, and Malvo, 18, who goes on trial Nov. 10 in connection with another sniper shooting, had been sleeping in the Caprice that authorities say was adapted so someone concealed inside the car could fire a rifle through a hole in the trunk.

The third week of testimony began Monday in Muhammad's trial on charges of shooting Dean Harold Meyers at a Virginia gas station Oct. 9, 2002.

Prosecutors are introducing evidence in 16 shootings in Maryland, Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana and the District of Columbia in an effort to show that Muhammad had a role in multiple slayings and terrorized the community -- necessary conditions for the two death penalty charges against him.

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