Woman Shot Dead Outside Fairfax Store

By Martin Weil and Petula Dvorak
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, October 15, 2002

A woman was shot dead last night outside a Home Depot store in Fairfax County in an attack that appeared similar to a series of sniper shootings that have killed eight people and spread fear across the Washington region for nearly two weeks.

The shooting in the Falls Church area occurred about 9:15 p.m. at the Seven Corners Shopping Center, which is bounded by major Northern Virginia traffic arteries, and it prompted police to set up checkpoints on principal roads for miles around. Traffic came to a standstill.

The attack occurred on a day when President Bush spoke about the series of killings, which have curbed school activities, raised apprehension across the area and prompted many people to rethink daily routines.

Last night's killing, about six miles from the District, occurred much closer to the core of the metropolitan area than three shootings last week that took place in less densely populated Bowie, Spotsylvania County and Prince William County. The previous week, five people were slain in Montgomery County and one in Northwest Washington, and a woman was wounded in Spotsylvania.

Last night, Raymond Massis, 42, of Falls Church said he was at his car in the parking lot when he heard a loud crack.

"It sounded like a shotgun. I've worked security; I know what guns sound like. It wasn't a pistol; it was a big gun," Massis said.

A salesman at the Home Depot said his store went into lockdown mode.

"People were crying. Everyone was crying," said the salesman, who was reached by telephone.

A teenager looking out from his apartment heard a noise like a loud bang and ducked at the sound.

"As soon as I heard it, I knew what had happened. I knew somebody was shot. I knew it all day that something was going to happen," said Rodolfo Zeba, 13.

Rodolfo said he turned off his bedroom lights and crawled into his younger sister's bedroom to tell her to stay put.

Last night's attack apparently involved a single shot, as did the shootings that authorities have linked through ballistic evidence to the sniper.

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