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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

FBI Links 2 Military Shootings, Probes 3rd

WASHINGTON -- The FBI has linked two recent shootings at military buildings in the Washington D.C. area and is investigating a possible connection to a third shooting that happened within the last 24 hours.

In the early morning hours of October 19 police and FBI investigators responded in force when six shots were fired into the south side of the Pentagon, leaving bullets embedded in two different windows. Just two days earlier, police in Quantico, Virginia responded to a similar attack on the Marine Corps Museum, where bullets were also fired at windows in the early morning hours.

The FBI announced Tuesday it determined those shootings were carried out with the same weapon, which police said at the time of the Pentagon shooting was believed to be a high-powered rifle. Ballistic testing is now also underway for a third shooting that occurred sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning at the Marine Corps recruiting station in Chantilly, Virginia.

So far the FBI has yet to identify any suspects. No one was injured in either attack. The section of the Pentagon that was hot was under construction and at the time no workers were there. $20,000 worth of glass panels were destroyed at the museum, but none of the museum's artifacts -- including a harrier jet hanging near the damaged windows -- were hit.

The shootings all occurred with 40 miles of each other, and in the case of the Pentagon and Museum shootings, circumstances suggest the shots may have come from major highways that run past the buildings. The Pentagon faces I-395 on its south side, while the Marine Corps Museum sits just off the northbound lanes of I-95. At one point the Pentagon police closed down portions of I-395 to search for shell casings. A cleaning crew at the museum in Quantico called police when they noticed the bullet holes in windows high up in a part of the building that faces Interstate 95. Meanwhile, the Marine Corps recruiting station sits just over 100 yards from route 50, a 6-lane road that connects Washington to Virginia's suburbs.

For the Pentagon it's the second incident of its kind this year. On March 4th a gunman opened fire at a security checkpoint into the Pentagon in a point-blank attack that wounded two police officers.

The shooter, identified as John Patrick Bedell, 36, of Hollister, Calif., was shot in the head by police moments after the attack began and died hours after being admitted to a hospital in critical condition. Authorities had no motive for the shooting, but there had been signs that Bedell may have harbored resentment for the military and had doubts about the facts behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

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