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Time: 11:34:48 PM
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Updated Thurs. Oct. 31 2002 10:39 PM ET
Sniper suspects charged in Louisiana murder
CTV Newsnet: ABC News releases taped phone call reported to be John Lee Malvo 0:50
INTERACTIVE: Path of the Sniper
U.S. debates where to hold sniper trial first
U.S. files federal charges in sniper case
Sniper suspects linked to Tacoma, Wa. shooting
CTV News StaffAuthorities in Louisiana charged sniper suspects John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo with murder Thursday, after ballistics tests linked a rifle used in the Washington-area shootings with a Baton Rouge killing. Muhammad, 41, and Malvo, 17, have been charged by state and federal authorities for a month-long series of killings in five states. The two are also suspects in a killing last February in Tacoma, Washington.Murder warrants were issued Thursday by Baton Rouge police Chief Pat Englade after ballistics tests conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms confirmed the same Bushmaster .223-calibre rifle used in the Washington-area shootings was linked to a murder in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.Hong Im Ballenger, a 45-year-old beauty supply worker, died from a single gunshot to the head during a robbery in Baton Rouge on Sept. 23. The warrant said police believe Muhammad shot the woman and Malvo stole her purse before fleeing.The official speaking on condition of anonymity told The Associated Press the rifle could be linked to a second shooting in Baton Rouge.The rifle was recovered from a 1990 Chevrolet Caprice, where Muhammad and Malvo were found sleeping and arrested. The car had a hole in the trunk, leading investigators to believe that is where a shot could be fired without being detected. The weapon has already been linked to 11 of 13 shootings in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., in a shooting rampage that left 10 dead and three injured.Earlier Thursday, the rifle was linked to a shooting at an Alabama liquor store on Sept. 21, in which a store employee was killed and a co-worker was wounded as they were leaving work. Muhammad and Malvo have already been charged with capital murder in the crime.The Washington Post reported Thursday that police originally thought a .22-calibre handgun was used in the robbery at the liquor store in Montgomery, Alabama.Montgomery police Chief John Wilson said witnesses reported seeing Muhammad holding a handgun and Malvo holding a magazine. That led him to believe a third person could have fired the rifle used in the sniper shootings. "It's frustrating. Just at the time you figure it out, it grows another leg," Wilson told The Post.Also Thursday, Muhammad and Malvo were charged with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder by officials in Prince Georges County, Md., where a 13-year-old boy was wounded outside his school.U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said they will not jump to any conclusions about the possibility that other people may have been involved."The facts...will determine the final outcome and we intend to follow the facts wherever they may lead."911 callABC News has obtained a copy of one of the recorded calls believed to have been made by one of the sniper suspects to 911 in Maryland. The person attempted to negotiate an end to the attacks. Sources told ABC News they believe the caller was Malvo, because the person had a Jamaican accent. Malvo is a citizen of Jamaica."Good morning ... Don't say anything, just listen," the caller said. "We are the people that are causing the killing in your area. Look on the tarot card. It says, 'Call me God'. Do not release the threat."The caller goes on to say they have called three time trying to set up negotiations with police. "We've gotten no response. People have died."The police operator in Rockville County, Md., cuts him off and does not try to negotiate with the caller. Instead, she asks him if he'd like the Montgomery County police hotline, where officials were investigating the crime.
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