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Teenage Boy Shot in Maryland Following 7 Attacks Last Week

By Serge F. Kovaleski and Michael E. Ruane
THE WASHINGTON POST -- A 13-year-old boy was critically wounded outside a Prince George’s County, Md., school Monday in a shooting that authorities linked to a spate of sniper attacks that have now killed six people and wounded two others in the Washington area since Wednesday.

The youth, an eighth-grader at Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie, was struck in the chest by a high-powered rifle bullet as he was being dropped off in front of the school by an aunt about 8 a.m., authorities said. An investigator said police found a spent shell casing in woods about 140 yards from the school, in a spot with a clear sightline to where the boy crumpled to the ground, bleeding.

“We have a level of fear that we’re not used to,” Montgomery County, Md., Police Chief Charles A. Moose said Monday when it became apparent that Prince George’s had joined the list of Washington area jurisdictions where sniper attacks have occurred. The others are Montgomery, the District of Columbia and Spotsylvania County, Va.

Speaking to reporters in Rockville, his eyes moist and his voice quivering with anger, Moose said: “Today it went down to the children. ... Someone is so mean-spirited that they shot a child. ... Now we’re stepping over the line. Shooting a kid. I guess it’s getting to be really, really personal now.”

The boy, hospitalized Monday night in critical but stable condition after about 2 1/2 hours of surgery, is the youngest of eight sniper victims. The first, a 55-year-old man, was slain Wednesday in Montgomery. Four people, ages 25 to 54, were killed Thursday morning in Montgomery, a 72-year-old man was fatally shot Thursday night in the District and a 43-year-old woman was wounded in Spotsylvania Friday.

All the victims were in public places going about ordinary activities -- mowing a lawn, filling a gas tank, entering a supermarket. But the shooting of a teenager in front of his school jolted parents and school systems across the region and raised an already intensive police investigation to a new level of urgency.