Capital Gazette wins special Pulitzer Prize citation for coverage of newsroom shooting that killed five

Attacks may be tied to snipers


He was getting ready to tee off at the seventh hole of a Clearwater, Fla., golf course when he heard the bang.

"I thought I first got hit by a golf ball. Then we saw the blood gush out of my shirt, and we knew I got shot," Albert S. Michalczyk recalled about the May 18, 2002 shooting. The Tucson, Ariz., retiree had "no idea" why anyone would want to target him, he said in an interview yesterday.

But that shooting may be among four more attacks that admitted sniper Lee Boyd Malvo told police that he and convicted murderer John Allen Muhammad committed before their rampage in the Washington area that claimed 10 lives, according to The Washington Post.

The Post said two people close to the sniper cases, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Malvo told investigators this spring about shootings in Louisiana, Texas, California and Florida that previously had not been tied to the pair.

The newspaper said two of the four victims survived.

Montgomery County State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler, whose office successfully prosecuted Muhammad last month for six murders, declined to comment yesterday. Neither of Malvo's lawyers, who negotiated the terms of his interviews with police this spring and his recent courtroom testimony, returned telephone calls yesterday.

Malvo, 21, and Muhammad, 45, were arrested Oct. 24, 2002, at a Myersville rest stop on Interstate 70. Law enforcement agencies nationwide opened their files of recent unsolved shootings after their arrests.

Malvo was questioned repeatedly in March and April of this year, and last month testified against Muhammad, who stood trial for six sniper killings in Montgomery County. Already on death row in Virginia for a sniper slaying there, Muhammad was convicted and sentenced to six consecutive life terms without parole.

Malvo, serving multiple life sentences without parole for Virginia sniper shootings, has agreed to plead guilty to the six sniper killings in Montgomery County. His agreement to testify against Muhammad covered only the Washington-area and two Alabama shootings, and he reserved the right not to speak about others.

When the 13 Washington-region sniper shootings took place, Michalczyk, now 76, said he wondered if his shooting was connected. "That is what we thought at the outset," he said of the shooting, which took place during a family visit. "We have a chance that this can be put to rest now."

Clearwater police said yesterday that they will revisit Michalczyk's shooting. At the time, they compared notes with the sniper task force. "We never found any evidence whatsoever that either Malvo or Muhammad was involved," said police spokesman Wayne Shelor.

But, after being contacted by The Post, they expect to speak with the task force again.

Forensics indicated Michalczyk was shot with a small-caliber round - and evidence at Muhammad's two trials and Malvo's Virginia trial indicated that the pair used small-caliber weapons. But the retired contractor was shot through the chest, and no bullet or shell was recovered, Shelor said. Rechecking the area is unlikely - the golf course is now "a hole in the ground, it is part of a water management system," Shelor said.

"What we would like to know is, does Mr. Malvo have any particulars or any concrete specifics that would help us close this case," he said.

Also contacting Maryland law enforcement officials is the sheriff's department in Denton County, Texas, where landscaper Billy Gene Dillon, 37, was fatally shot May 27, 2002, while working. According to The Post, Malvo also implicated himself and Muhammad in that killing.

Dillon was shot in the head "probably from a quarter-mile off," said Tom Reedy, sheriff's department spokesman. Investigators ruled out an accidental shooting and found no reason why anyone would target him, Reedy said.

Five days after Malvo and Muhammad were arrested, the agency met with federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents and on Nov. 11, 2002, sent the bullet fragments to ATF "to see if they could put it with the snipers' rifle," Reedy said. But the pieces were too small for experts to conclude anything.

Investigators are treating The Post's report of Malvo's admission as "hypothetical" unless they receive information to confirm it, Reedy said.

The Post said that Malvo also told investigators that in February or March 2002, he and Muhammad killed a man in Los Angeles. Then came the Michalczyk and Dillon shootings. On Aug. 1, 2002, the newspaper said, they shot at close range, wounded and robbed John C. Gaeta outside a mall in Hammond, La.

Lt. Tommy Corkern, a Hammond, La., police spokesman, told the Associated Press the department was in touch yesterday with the FBI in New Orleans, trying to verify Malvo's statements.

The Associated Press anf Sun reporters Larry Carson and Matt Dolan contributed to this article.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad