20 Years Ago This Week the DC Snipers Began Their Rampage


The DC Sniper case was considered non-traditional hostage taking. While the shootings had many elements of a traditional hostage taking, the DC Snipers did not have a static stronghold and were not confined to one building. Federal law-enforcement officials were among the first to recognize this type of hostage-taking. In the wake of the shootings, law-enforcement officials began looking into the case.

In all, 20 people were shot during the snipers’ rampage and 3 were killed. John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were responsible for the massacre. The incidents caused a great deal of panic among Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia residents. The DC snipers’ unprovoked attacks triggered national media coverage, but the events caused fear in many people and changed their daily lives.

Malvo, a convicted sniper, was sentenced to life without parole. He was only 17 years old when he committed his crime. In March of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Malvo’s appeal. Despite being convicted of murder and other crimes of domestic terrorism, Malvo has remained hopeful of being free someday.  Malvo was ultimately denied parole.

The DC snipers were the subject of a national obsession. The two were eventually captured after a chance encounter. In many ways, the case is a mystery. In spite of the fact that Malvo had ties with the Nation of Islam, many Americans incorrectly assumed that the murders were motivated by religious extremism.

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