Testimony that the alleged Washington-area snipers had plans to shoot and bomb school buses and other targets in Baltimore, had they not been caught, prompted a ripple of emotions around the area yesterday.
"When I heard the news, it was very alarming to me because we are all about safety," said Tony Bennett, who manages operations for two First Student Inc. lots from which school buses are dispatched to carry students in the city and Baltimore and Howard counties. "It's very troubling."
The murderous scheme, which would have planted explosives on the "soft spot" under three buses en route to school, was detailed by Lee Boyd Malvo in a Rockville courtroom Tuesday where his alleged accomplice, John Allen Muhammad, is on trial for six attacks in October 2002.
Both men have been convicted in Virginia for a killing there, and Malvo says he will plead guilty in Montgomery County, where Muhammad has pleaded not guilty.
In a statement released by his office, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley said: "The entire region is fortunate that law enforcement officials were able to end their reign of terror before more innocent lives were taken."
Malvo also testified that the pair planned to kill a Baltimore police officer and then set off explosives against the mourners at the funeral. Most city police officers and firefighters killed on duty are buried at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Timonium.
"It was sobering," said John Armiger Jr., the cemetery's president. "It brought me up short."