Bystanders could only think that it was kids, setting off firecrackers.
After all, this was the unincorporated town of Marshall, and on any other warm and lazy Monday summer evening, the pace on Main Street runs about as fast as feed corn grows.
"We didn't think nothing of it. Then my friend said, 'Those aren't firecrackers. Those are gunshots,' and we started running," said Tina Kearnes, who had been sitting at a picnic table in her yard when Monday night's shooting rampage began in the IGA parking lot next door.
When it was over, three local men--including the suspect, shot by a sheriff's deputy--were hospitalized. With her two young children, Kearnes stood in the parking lot Tuesday and echoed the sentiments of other Marshall residents: "This kind of stuff doesn't happen here," she said.
Sheriff's deputies identified the suspect as Casey Lee Russell, 21, of Marshall, who was treated at Fauquier Hospital for gunshot wounds in the upper body and released Tuesday into the sheriff's custody.
The victims were identified as Sammy B. Lambert, 33, of Marshall, who was listed in stable condition yesterday at Fauquier Hospital with gunshot wounds to his legs, and Andre L. Ross, 26, of The Plains. Hospital officials said Ross was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he was listed in fair condition yesterday with wounds to his legs and pelvis.
Authorities said the gunman fired at Lambert and Ross as they talked in the parking lot, then drove away in his pickup, firing into homes and businesses on Main Street and the McDonald's on Route 17, where a few people were eating.
Authorities said Russell eluded arrest for 90 minutes before being spotted returning to town on Route 55. After a high-speed chase through town, authorities said, he rammed a squad car and was shot by a sheriff's deputy.
Russell is a Paris kitchen worker who lives with his father and sister in a town house on Harrison Court in Marshall, and he was not known to be violent, according to several Marshall residents who said they knew him.
"He was never like that before," said Jermaine Robertson, 15, Lambert's nephew. Robertson said he was in the parking lot with his uncle, Ross and another friend Monday night when the shooting began. "I used to ride bikes with him at his granddad's farm . . . He was out of his mind or something."
Robertson said the group was talking when Russell's sister drove up and stopped to join the conversation. "Then [Russell] pulled up and told her to go home, and she didn't," Robertson said.
Russell's father, Perry, said Tuesday that police told him Russell became angry at that point and went home to retrieve a 9mm handgun. "There were some boys talking to his sister," said Perry Russell, who drives a garbage truck.
Robertson and other bystanders allege that Casey Russell returned about 9:40 p.m. with a weapon and began firing into the air. "Before he left, he said that 'I've got something for y'all,' " Robertson said. "I told everyone that we should leave because I knew he had something."
Robertson said he ran after the first shots rang out, but Lambert and Ross were struck as they tried to duck. According to police, Russell then drove east down Main Street, before pulling onto Route 17, where they say he shot into the combination McDonald's and Amoco gas station.
On Tuesday, the McDonald's manager, Paul Ruwe, pointed to glass on the storefront where two bullets entered the restaurant. No injuries were reported there.
The incident was the talk of Marshall the next day.
"I was just out walking, and you don't usually think about [gunshots] when you're walking in Marshall," said Linda Cunningham, who works at the Old Salem Restaurant on Main Street. "I mean, this place is very safe."
Fauquier County Sheriff Joe Higgs said Russell eluded police for about 90 minutes by traveling down Interstate 66 to Gainesville. However, Higgs said, he was spotted by police when he tried to return to town along Route 55.
After a chase through Marshall, Russell tried to turn his pickup onto Route 721 to get to Interstate 66 when Sgt. Jerry Wayne Appfel ran him off the road, Higgs said. After ignoring a command to put his hands up, Russell then rammed the vehicle of another sheriff's deputy, before turning and brandishing a weapon, Higgs said. At that point, Higgs said, Appfel fired two rounds, striking Russell in the upper body.
Russell is charged with two counts of aggravated malicious wounding, one count of attempted murder of a police officer and two counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony. He is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 5.