Beltway Snipers police chief: An eye for an eye

Former Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose. (WTOP/Paul D. Shinkman)
Charles Moose

wtopstaff | November 14, 2014 12:46 pm

Neal Augenstein, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – The public face of the search for the Beltway Snipers, who terrorized the nation’s capital in October 2002, weighed in for the first time Tuesday on the Maryland plea bargain of Lee Boyd Malvo and the execution of John Allen Muhammad in Virginia.

“If there is an eye for an eye we saw a little bit of it that night,” when Muhammad died from lethal injection in Jarratt, Va., in Nov. 2009, says former Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose, in a WTOP interview.

Moose headed the multi-agency task force searching for the persons shooting strangers from afar with a Bushmaster XM-15 semiautomatic .223 caliber rifle.

On Oct. 3, 2002, four people were shot and killed within two hours in Montgomery County. That evening a man was killed in Washington, D.C.

Ten people were killed and three others wounded in Maryland, Virginia, and D.C., before Muhammad and Malvo were captured Oct. 24.

Moose resigned from the Montgomery County police department in June 2003, after a disagreement over a policy barring him from writing a book. He briefly worked at the Honolulu, Hawaii police department.

Moose was not called to testify in Muhammad’s or Malvo’s Virginia trials. Muhammad, the elder sniper, was sentenced to death. Malvo, who was 17 at the time of the killings, was sentenced to life in prison.

Moose says he was glad Malvo agreed to plead guilty to six Maryland murders and testify against Muhammad.

“Trials cost money. Trials always have some potential of going in a different way than you expect,” Moose says.

Malvo eventually told jurors previously unknown details of the spree.

“Anytime you can get information about how things were working in the criminal mind, that’s good,” says Moose.

Moose has largely avoided publicity since the 2002 rampage, and retired from police work several years ago.

Muhammad was eventually convicted of six murders in Montgomery County, and sentenced to six life sentences on top of his Virginia death sentence.

Moose was relieved when Muhammad’s execution by lethal injection worked without complications in the drugs’ administration.

“There’s that potential, and then that’s, in some ways, more violence,” Moose says.

“It’s good we didn’t spend millions and millions of dollars in appeals. We saved a lot of money, we saved some trials, we saved some appeals, and some people hopefully were able to move on,” he says.

Moose believes Muhammad’s punishment fit the crimes.

“That’s a little callous, that’s a little hard core, but I think in today’s world it’s part of the reality,” says Moose.

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