Seattle's police chief today tried to calm residents gripped by fear by the fatal shootings at a shipyard Wednesday, saying the gunman who evaded a massive, door-to-door dragnet was a calculating killer--not a random shooter--and posed no danger to the public.
Police Chief Norm Stamper said that while "it's understandable people are frightened," the shootings that left two men dead and two more wounded were a "deliberate, calculated act."
"We are very confident that this was not a random act," Stamper said at news conference. "We believe that the general citizenry is not in danger."
Stamper declined to release any information about a motive, saying only that detectives had not yet identified a suspect and were relying on "old-fashioned police work" to track him.
Police remained near the scene of the shooting at Northlake Shipyard, but Stamper acknowledged that the gunman had "every opportunity" to slip past officers.
"There are any number of possibilities, including flight," he said.
Detectives were sifting through hundreds of reports from people who thought they saw someone matching the vague description of the suspect.
The gunman, who wore camouflage clothing, a dark trench coat and sunglasses, burst into the shipyard offices yesterday morning and opened fire with a 9mm handgun, hitting all four men in the room.
Peter Giles, 27, a bookkeeper and nephew of the company's owners, was pronounced dead at the scene. Russell Brisendine, 43, a marine engineer and father of four, died in surgery about two hours later. The wounded were in serious and satisfactory condition today.
The attack took place just a day after seven people were shot to death in a Honolulu workplace and was the latest in a wave of shootings in schools and workplaces nationwide. The shootings once again spurred politicians and activists to debate gun control.
National Rifle Association President Charlton Heston told a subcommittee of the House Government Reform committee that more gun laws were not the answer. "Why does the president ask for more federal gun laws if he's not going to enforce the ones we have?" he asked.
At her weekly news briefing, Attorney General Janet Reno again urged Congress to approve gun control measures before they recess for the year, which could be next week.