Police chief dealing with nonsense from media

By yesterday, at least, we were hearing about eyewitnesses to the latest murder, that of Linda Franklin, the 47-year-old FBI analyst shot outside a Home Depot in Fairfax County Monday night.

The eyewitnesses have reportedly given police conflicting descriptions of the shooter, which often happens in these cases.

But maybe it's a start. Maybe we'll even see a composite sketch of the guy soon.

Now, we're also learning that sophisticated military spy planes will soon join the hunt for the sniper. These are aircraft that will fly high over the area and use advanced electronic equipment and infra-red sensors that can detect the muzzle flash of a gun.

While they're at it, they ought to fly a couple of those planes up to Baltimore, where they would see muzzle flashes just about every five minutes in some neighborhoods.

Oh, yes, if you want to hear the crack of gunfire and watch bodies drop and see chalk outlines magically appear on the cold sidewalk, this is a marvelous town for that sort of thing.

But right now the planes are needed in the Washington area, where people are so terrified of the sniper that they hide in their homes and dial therapy hotlines and watch their lives put on hold.

As I drove past deserted gas stations and parks and shopping centers in Rockville, the sky gray and depressing, I tried to imagine what it must be like living with a serial killer on the loose.

It was hard to imagine such a thing.

It was hard to imagine you could be mowing a lawn or pumping gas or putting a shopping bag in the trunk of your car, only to have a bullet come out of the air and end your life, or the life of someone you love.

It was easier to hope they catch this guy soon.