Vermont historian lends perspective to sniper shootings

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(Host) A Vermont historian has an unusual perspective on the sniper killings in Maryland and Virginia. Howard Coffin was staying in a Fredericksburg motel when a woman was killed by the sniper a few hundred yards away from his room.

Coffin has spent almost 40 years on Virginia’s back roads studying the civil war. He says the proximity of dense suburban development and open Virginia countryside creates a formidable challenge for law enforcement:

(Coffin) “You can very quickly move from that heavily congested area onto these, this web of back roads in Virginia that just go every where. Road leading onto road like a spider’s web. If you know your roads down there – and I suspect this individual really knows them – you could get away from that terribly congested area and onto that web of roads and go almost anywhere you want to in Virginia.”

(Host) Coffin is sympathetic to the people who live in the communities affected by the shootings. He says the tension in those towns was easy to sense as he traveled through Virginia:

(Coffin) “Along the way to Fredericksburg, I was coming up from the south, I stopped in Ashland to get gas right there where it happened. And then I came up into Fredericksburg and let me tell you, after I found out there’d been a shooting right nearby, when I got gas the next time I was very uneasy. And I noticed people all around me were too. It’s scary.”

(Host) After the most recent sniper incident Tuesday morning, police again attempted to create a dragnet across the neighborhood where the shooting took place. So far, no one is in custody for the string of shootings.

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