By Dan Merica
Vermont-born Charles Moose, a police chief credited with leading the Washington, DC, region’s response to the sniper attacks in October 2002, has died. He was 68.
Moose died Sunday after being hospitalized in Maryland, according to Sgt. Nicole Meola, a spokeswoman for Prince George’s County police.
Moose entered law enforcement in 1974, after graduating from The Catholic University of America. He joined the Prince George’s County Police Department in 1978.
In 2002, when a team of snipers began indiscriminately firing at people on the streets of the District, state and local law enforcement together launched what authorities called “Operation Terrorizer,” deploying more than 1,300 officers and 22 canine units to the area.
The attack came just months after the Columbine High School shootings and prompted a US presidential commission to assess the nation’s ability to respond to acts of violence.
The teams first went to Centreville, some 15 miles from the capital, where investigators had identified five “persons of interest” in the shootings.
A school administrator alerted them to Moose’s presence at the school, according to an account by then-DC police chief Charles Ramsey.
Moose was wearing a police uniform but was not carrying a gun.
The reaction by investigators was swift and coordinated. They bombarded each of the suspect’s four remaining homes with hundreds of thousands of bullet casings and made repeated false alarms.
The attacks ended on 3 October when one of the snipers shot himself in the head.
Two other snipers were captured months later, including John Allen Muhammad, who eventually took a plea deal for the deaths of Dean Meyers and Mary McCarthy.
Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were sentenced to death for the attacks, which cost the lives of 10 people.
Officials say Moose is credited with building relationships with community members, as well as police officers.
“The supervisor really did coordinate this thing – and did not get credit for it,” former Prince George’s County Police Chief Mark Magaw told the Washington Post in 2014.
Moose was awarded the Purple Heart in 1976 after injuring himself while attempting to subdue a suspect during a violent struggle.
He retired in December 2004, after serving as chief for 10 years.
Moose is survived by his wife of more than 35 years, a son and daughter.
Officials identified the cause of Moose’s death as complications from a blood clot.
“On behalf of the entire Prince George’s County Police Department and public safety community, our sincerest condolences go out to Chief Moose’s family and friends,” Ramsey said in a statement.
News of Moose’s death was met with dismay on social media by law enforcement agencies, who offered condolences to his family.