This community just survived an extremely trying period during which routine tasks such as pumping gas, shopping and going to school took on new significance. As we grieved for the victims of the random shootings, many of us feared for our safety and the safety of those we love.

Now that two suspects are behind bars, and we are beginning to recover from the horror of the past few weeks, I want to express my thanks to the residents of this community for their patience, generosity, acts of kindness and tips they offered leading to an arrest. They generously contributed a half-million dollars to a reward fund and set up and contributed to funds for the victims. They supported the victims' families with kindnesses large and small.

Parents supervised the arrival of children at schools, and volunteers and businesses assisted motorists by pumping gas. Thousands of citizens from around our nation also deserve our gratitude for providing tips that helped us put an end to our region's nightmare.

I especially want to thank Chief Charles Moose, FBI Special Agent in Charge Gary Bald, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Special Agent in Charge Michael Bouchard and all of the law enforcement officers who worked on this case. They made an exceptional effort to balance the constitutional rights of our citizens with the need to investigate a staggering number of leads. The cooperation among agencies and jurisdictions was outstanding.

Few people expected to experience such a horrible ordeal so soon after Sept. 11, 2001, but the residents of this community have proved that determination, resolve, faith and hope always triumph over darkness and despair.

DOUGLAS M. DUNCAN

Montgomery County Executive

Rockville