For Lillie Williams, it was a [WORD ILLEGIBLE] long nightmare that won't end" - the shotgun kilings of her son, Maurice, a WHUR-FM radio reporter, when Hanafi Muslims seized the District Building Wednesday.
"I still don't know why, I can't find any ansers," the grieving mother said in an interview Thursday, the day after the killing. While hundreds of family members were still waiting for release of their captive relatives that day, the Williams family's suspense was over.
Word of Maurice's death came in brutal and bizarre ways to his parents and one of his three brothers, largely because of the broader drama that absorbed the city Wednesday - a drama in which only Maurice Williams died.
Summoned by one of Maurice's WHUR coworkers, Maurice's father, Otto, waited at the District Building for fours for some word of his osn during the terrorist takeover, until an unknowing television newsman blurted out the news of Maurice's death.
"It's too harsh," the father said as reporters tried to question him. "I had four sons, but if this news is correct I have three now." He left to find his wife, serving on a Superior Court jury, before anyone else informed her.
But court had closed early that day because of the terrorist activity and Lillie Williams was already aboard a Metrobus headed for home, knowing only that an unnamed reporter had been shot at the District building.
"It was the longest, quitetest ride of my life," Lillie Williams said of the bus trip to the Silver Spring apartment where the family is now living after suffering another misfortune, the burning of their Northwest home last December.
When she arrived home, a neighbor informed her that Maurice was dead.
A car radio announcement informed Maurice's younger brother, Michael, that Maurice was dead, as Michael drove home from L'Enfant Plaza where he works for Amtrak.
"I kept waiting for them to come back on and say there was a mistake," the brother said. "I just couldn't believe it." Two younger brothers, Marvin and Marion, were informed of the death later.
Otto and Lillie Williams, both employees of the Commerce Department, prepared for Maurice's burial yesterday. WHUR sought funds for a memorial scholarship in the name of the slain 24-year-old journalist.
"I wouldn't have thought a reporter would have gotten killed this way," said Stephen Colter, a reporter for the Washington Afro-American, who was with Williams when he stepped off a District building elevator and into the fatal shotgun blast. "Usually we get there after the action, instead of being involved in the violence."
"Maurice was a member of our family here," said WHUR station manager Catherine Liggins, who is heading the scholarship drive to train a native Washington in broadcast news at Howard University. Yesterday the first six hours of a weekend radiothon for the drive received more than $2,000 and pledges of another $2,600, Liggins said.
Friends and colleagues portrayed Maurice Williams as a dedicated and promising newsman, with 18 months as a full time professional, who was committed to serious and sensitive reporting.
"A fine addition to the new corps of black journalists in this country, and a distinct credit to the Howard University School of Communications," Wallce Terry, a journalism instructor wrote of his former student in 1975.
Howard students see Williams as a "symbol of achievement" and have expressed a "deep sense of loss," according to student body president Luther Brown.
Born in Washington, Williams grew up in Northwest and graduated from Coolidge High School in 1970. He held various government and media jobs while in college, before joining WHUR as an intern in 1975.
"It's not possible to replace him . . . We're trying to bring something positive out of a useless death," Liggins said.