Just As I Thought

Our own terrorists

In 2001, when a jet careened over my neighborhood and smashed into the Pentagon a mile or so away, I knew it signaled a change in the world — and in DC, it resulted in the battening down of every hatch, the closing of public buildings which I had always felt free to wander around in, and the placement of big guns on street corners.
But still, it didn’t have nearly as much impact on my daily life as the events that happened a year later. At first it seemed like a freak thing, a man was shot by an unknown assailant. Then it happened again, a sniper shot someone. The next thing I knew, I got a phone call at work (I was the president of my homeowners association) saying that I could expect CNN to be waiting for me when I got home. The next victim of the sniper was a neighbor who lived behind me, while she was shopping at the Home Depot I haunted.
This was real terrorism, one or two unknown people quietly circling the DC area shooting people from across the street or behind cover. The population of the DC area were collectively skittish and, well, terrified. I remember staking out the area and peering around me as I pumped gas, trying to keep the pumps between me and a potential shooter; we all jumped when we saw white panel trucks, and we hurried into the house after parking our cars. 13 people were killed, including my neighbor.
I’ve never worried about an al Qaeda terrorist jumping out like the boogey man, but five years ago this month, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo had us all sheltering in place.


  • Wow, five years already. When the news first broke I was at work (in Bethesda) and remember being wary when I would venture out to lunch or to the Metro, anything outside. It was a scary time.

  • I never knew that your neighbor was the woman killed at the Home Depot. I was on my way back from visiting my dad in the hospital in Richmond that day, and had planned to stop at that Home Depot before going home. I was so tired, though, that I decided I’d wait until the next day to do the shopping, and then got home to the news that another victim had just been claimed there.

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