STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
Investigators are looking into a mystery in Virginia. They're looking for the person who's been shooting at the Pentagon and other military locations. Five incidents in the past few weeks, all traced to the same weapon. NPR's Carrie Johnson reports on how the FBI is approaching the case.
CARRIE JOHNSON: Last week, a group of law-enforcement officers called a press conference to ask for help. They want to find the person responsible for shootings at the Pentagon, the Marine Corps Museum and recruiting sites, all in Virginia. John Perren leads the FBI's Washington office.
M: We believe the suspect has a grievance surrounding the U.S. Marine Corps. It may be that he feels he's been wronged by the corps in his professional and/or personal life.
JOHNSON: And at times, Perren seemed to have only one listener in mind: the shooter himself.
M: We'd like to know what this grievance is, and what we can do to try help resolve it. We're willing to listen to him and hear his side of the story.
JOHNSON: So far, the shooter has attacked at night or in the early morning hours, when buildings are mostly empty. And no one's been hurt. The FBI wants to make sure it stays that way.
M: We do not believe it is an intention to harm innocent citizens or Marines. Acting out in this way, however, can eventually lead to disastrous and tragic consequences that we all wish to avoid.
JOHNSON: For many in the D.C.-area law-enforcement community, this round of shootings brings up bad memories. Eight years ago, a pair of snipers killed 10 people in the area. Then-Police Chief Charles Moose sometimes got criticized for talking too much about the investigation. Here's Moose, fighting through tears on a day in 2002, when the snipers shot and wounded a young boy as he arrived at school.
INSKEEP: Because here in the Washington metropolitan area, we have a level of fear that we're not used to. But today, it went down to the children. Now, all of our victims have been innocent, have been defenseless. But now, we're stepping over the line because our children don't deserve this.
M: And even during the sniper case, when we went back, there was, you know, a lot of different opinions among the law-enforcement officials as to what information should go out, and what kind of person they were looking for.
JOHNSON: That's Chuck Wexler. He advises police departments in big cities, and he studied the sniper investigation. He says the FBI task force is now balancing the need to share information with the public against the need to keep some details secret to protect the investigation.
M: Because the public can be incredibly important in knowing what to look for, and identifying who's responsible.
JOHNSON: Carrie Johnson, NPR News, Washington.
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