October 4, 2002
0923 IST

 US city pages

  - Atlanta
  - Boston
  - Chicago
  - DC Area
  - Houston
  - Jersey Area
  - Los Angeles
  - New York
  - SF Bay Area

 US yellow pages


 - Earlier editions 


 - Astrology 
 - Cricket
 - Money
 - Movies
 - Women 
 - India News
 - US News

 India Abroad
Weekly Newspaper

  In-depth news

  Community Focus

  16 Page Magazine
For 4 free issues
Click here!

 Search the Internet
E-Mail this report to a friend
Print this page Best Printed on  HP Laserjets

Police hunt for 'skilled shooter' in Maryland

Suleman Din in New York

Police across the state of Maryland are hunting for a suspect described as a 'skilled shooter' who randomly shot and killed five different people in a wealthy Washington suburb within 16 hours on Thursday.

Among the victims was Premkumar Walekar (54) a part-time taxi driver who was the third victim in the daylight rampage.

One victim was shot as he mowed a lawn, another while cleaning her car at a gas station, a third outside a post office.

Authorities said the victims were likely not related. None appeared to have been robbed, and came from various ethnic backgrounds, including two white men, a white woman, a Hispanic woman and Walekar, who immigrated from Pune to the United States in the late 1970s.

Premkumar WalekarPolice said they were searching for a white cargo van with black lettering, possibly with damage to the lift in the back, after witnesses said they had seen such a van speeding away from the murder scenes.

Attesting to the possible skill of the killer, police said, was the fact that he had felled all of his victims with a single bullet.

The shootings caused panic across Montgomery County, which is north of the nation's capital, and neighbouring areas, as schools were quickly shut down and stores deserted.

"These individuals had not done anything," Montgomery County Police chief Charles Moose said during a news conference. "We need to figure out some way to stop this... We strongly feel that all of these are connected," Moose said.

Walekar, of Olney, Md, was shot Thursday around 8:10 am, as he pumped gas at a Mobil gas station in Aspen Hill, Md. He was not usually up that early, but had gone out because of the good weather, relatives explained.

The owner of the gas station where Walekar stopped told The Washington Post that Walekar began pumping gas, went inside to buy a lottery ticket and use the restroom, and then went outside.

Walekar's niece, 20-year-old Sarika Walekar, told that when her uncle returned to the pump, the shooter fired a bullet from a side angle, hitting him in the ribcage.

Walekar then fell onto a minivan, covering it with blood. "He said call an ambulance and fell down, so I called an ambulance and tried to help him," the owner of the minivan told the Post.

The family did not know what happened until Walekar's daughter, 24-year-old Andrea, turned on the television to watch the news, and recognised her father's taxicab on the screen.

Sarika said Andrea then woke up her mother, Margaret, and went down to the scene.

Sarika said the family 'is devastated, especially his wife'.

"[Margaret] can't take it, they were very close," Sarika said. "She was very much in love with him."

Most of the family has gathered at Walekar's house to mourn, she said. Some of the family was trying to determine when to arrange for his funeral, possibly for Sunday.

Sarika said, "I hope the police catch the killer," admitting she was afraid to go out because her uncle's killer was still on the loose.

"I drive down that street all the time, and have passed that gas station so many times," she said.

Sarika described Walekar as a shy, quiet man dedicated to supporting his family. "He was the moneymaker for the family," she said. "He was a very hard worker. He would only sleep for a few hours, then go back to work."

Sarika said her uncle faced the dangers of driving a taxi without fear. On September 11, she said, her father stopped Walekar from working because they felt he might become a target of a racial backlash.

Still, she said that her uncle was a peaceful man. "This is so random, no one could have thought this was going to be his end."

Walekar's son, 23-year-old Andrew, said, "I know [my father] is in heaven for a fact because he never hurt anyone."

    Timeline of shootings:
  • James Martin, 55, of Silver Spring, Md. Killed about 6:04 pm Wednesday, in the parking lot of Shoppers Food Warehouse grocery store in Wheaton.
  • James L 'Sonny' Buchanan, 39, of Arlington, Va. Killed about 7:41 am Thursday, while riding a lawnmower at Fitzgerald Auto Mall in White Flint. Buchanan's company provided landscaping services for the dealership.
  • Premkumar Walekar, 54, of Olney, Md. Killed about 8:12 am Thursday, at a Mobil gas station, Aspen Hill Road and Connecticut Avenue in the Aspen Hill area
  • Sarah Ramos, 34, of Silver Spring, Md. Killed about 8:37 am. Thursday, outside a post office at 3802 International Boulevard in Silver Spring.
  • Laurie Ann Lewis-Rivera, 25, of Silver Spring, Md. Killed about 9:58 am Thursday at a Shell gas station at Knowles and Connecticut avenues in Kensington.

Back to top

Tell us what you think of this report