Special Reports

Investigators probe possible sniper link to Alabama shooting

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A man seen fleeing a deadly liquor store shooting last month has “some very good similarities” to one of two men named in the Washington-area sniper investigation, authorities said Thursday.

Mayor Bobby Bright said a caller to the sniper investigation tip line apparently claimed responsibility for both the sniper shootings and the Sept. 21 shooting outside a state liquor store in Montgomery that left one woman employee dead and another seriously wounded.

The tip-line caller told authorities to contact Montgomery officials if they didn’t believe he was responsible for the sniper shootings, which began Oct. 2, Bright said.

Police issued an arrest warrant Wednesday for John Allen Muhammad on a federal weapons charge and said they wanted to question him about the sniper shootings. Montgomery County, Md., Police Chief Charles Moose said Muhammad may be traveling with a juvenile, identified by a law enforcement source as 17-year-old John Lee Malvo.

Bright said a publication found at the scene of the Alabama shooting — a magazine about weapons — bore a fingerprint of Malvo’s. Police then traced Malvo to a home in Tacoma, Wash., that was searched Wednesday by authorities looking into the sniper shootings. Malvo had been living in the home with Muhammad, a source told the AP.

Montgomery police Chief John Wilson said his department was cooperating with the sniper task force.

He stressed that a different caliber gun was used in the liquor store shootings, and authorities had not concluded the shooting was related to the sniper killings.

But he said an officer chased a man fleeing the liquor store shootings, at one point coming within a couple of feet of him, and helped provide a composite sketch. Asked if the person resembled Malvo, he said there were “some very good similarities, yes.”

Bright said sniper investigators asked for files on the shooting and evidence, including a bullet found at the scene, and local authorities complied.

“We are fully cooperating, but we have no verification that anything here is related to the crimes in Montgomery County, Md.,” Bright said.

Claudine Parker, 52, and Kellie Adams, 24, were locking up the liquor store for the night when they were shot. Parker was killed.

Adams said her back was to the street when a single shot struck her just below the base of her skull. She said the gunman had not approached them.

“I never saw a face. I never saw him, period,” Adams told the Montgomery newspaper, adding that police contacted her late Wednesday about a possible connection to the shootings.

Wilson said an officer on patrol heard the shots that night and saw a man rifling through a victim’s purse. But the man ran away and the officer couldn’t catch him, Wilson said.