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Malvo Claims 4 Other Shootings, Source Says

The fourth claim made by Malvo matches the shooting of John C. Gaeta, 54, in Hammond, La.

On Aug. 1, 2002, Gaeta walked out of a Sears store at a mall in Hammond. He arrived roughly 20 minutes before 9 p.m. -- closing time -- and walked back to his 2001 Chevrolet pickup truck only to find that one of his tires had been slashed. As he began to change the tire, two black men approached him, Gaeta said in a recent interview.

"One of them said, 'What time does the mall close?' or something to that effect," Gaeta said. "Then he said, 'Looks like you have a flat tire,' and he kind of laughed about it."

The men offered to help him, but Gaeta, suspicious of their demeanor, declined. Minutes later, the younger and shorter of the two returned. Their eyes locked for an instant. Then Gaeta saw the man, standing a few feet away, point a handgun to his head.

"I just figured I was going to be dead," Gaeta said. "You see a gun pointed to your head, and you say this is it. You think about family, religion, a whole bunch of things. You can't believe this is happening to you. When you see a gun pointed to your head, you think you're never going to wake up again."

The shot sliced into the right side of his neck, tore through layers of muscle and exited about 1 1/2 inches from his spinal cord. Gaeta said he jumped to the ground and pretended to be dead. The shooter took his wallet out of his pants. He had $40 on him.

Months after being shot, Gaeta got an unexpected visit from detectives from Fairfax County. He was shown a photograph of Malvo. He said he told them that Malvo resembled the shooter but that he couldn't say so conclusively.

"It was dark, and it happened so fast," Gaeta said.

Hammond police could not be reached late yesterday.

Malvo did not describe these shootings during his testimony, but there were indications that his testimony was being strictly limited. Montgomery Circuit Court Judge James L. Ryan noted at one point that Malvo did not "intend to voluntarily testify about any other potential charges" beyond the shootings in October 2002. And attorney Brennan said Malvo would assert his right to remain silent "on all questions" outside of the shootings in Maryland and Virginia.

As she questioned Malvo in court May 24, Deputy State's Attorney Katherine Winfree alluded to "other matters" that he had discussed with authorities during meetings in recent weeks, matters she said he did not testify about.

"And in fact, that was a lot of the time we spent, wasn't it?" she said.

"Yes."

Muhammad mentioned Denton during his closing argument, saying investigators in the sniper case reviewed ballistics evidence from that shooting. Muhammad twice misstated the date of the shooting in a confused effort to suggest that the sniper attacks continued after he and Malvo were arrested Oct. 24, 2002.

"Denton Texas -- that particular shooting was May 27, '03. Why would people in Texas -- people they got some smart people in Texas -- why would people in Texas send around to this area pertaining to a shooting that happened . . ?"

"Your honor, he's misstating the evidence," Winfree interrupted.

The objection was sustained, but Muhammad continued on the same topic moments later. "Denton, Texas -- that was November 18, that was after Muhammad was arrested," he said.

"Your honor, he's mixing dates of reports with dates of incidents," Winfree said, leading the judge to tell Muhammad to move on.


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