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Votes

Being Watchful

Sheriff's Office, residents respond to sniper attacks.

Laura Forrester's mother tells her, "Run Laura. Laura, keep moving."

Since the sniper has been attacking the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area, the Park View High School senior said she has been "so scared." "It scares me the cops can't find him with all the training they have," Laura said. "I don't get gas. My dad gets it for me."

Belmont Green resident Ed Burton is the one who buys gas for his wife. "I think about it. I look over my shoulder," said Burton, a sales manager at Jerry's Chevrolet Oldsmobile in Leesburg. "You have to realize Loudoun County is a target just as Fairfax. It's almost like you're waiting."

Hamilton resident Jim Christian, who is retired, keeps his back to the building when he buys his gas, "so nobody can come up behind me," he said.

The Loudoun residents are reacting to a series of attacks by an unseen sniper. The sniper's latest strike was at a Home Depot store in Falls Church at about 9:15 p.m. Monday. The killing was the ninth for the sniper, who attacked 12 people since Oct. 2. Though none of the attacks occurred in Loudoun County, the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office has implemented several safety precautions and measures.

"We can't talk too much about what we are doing at this point," said Kraig Troxell, public information officer.

THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE is in daily contact with law enforcement agencies from the surrounding jurisdictions, police departments in the county and a task force that was established in the region following the sniper attacks.

"We are sharing information with them, and they are giving us descriptions of the vehicle," Troxell said. "We've had a number of suspicious vehicle calls related and not related to these incidents, and we are beginning to check these out."

"We are doing the best we can with what we have to prepare ourselves," said Sheriff Stephen Simpson, adding that he refused to comment on the details of the Sheriff's Office's response to the attacks.

Sheriff's deputies are patrolling Loudoun schools for one hour in the morning with the start of school and one hour in the afternoons. "It's being done as a precautionary measure at each of our schools," Troxell said.

The School District has not held outside activities since Oct. 8, but allows scheduled practices to be held inside school buildings. The outside cancellations, which will continue until Oct. 16, apply to practices, games and field trips to outdoor activities.

"This is a region-wide decision. Obviously, we want to eliminate exposures as much as we can," said Wayde Byard, school press officer.

Seventeen-year-old Billy Fuller is not happy with the School District's decision. "It's stupid to cancel our events," he said. "We're worrying about it too much. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen."

"My attitude is, go on with life and catch this sorry ...," said Stu Shatz, housing choice voucher team leader for Loudoun County Housing Services.

Seventeen-year-old Megan Todd, a student at Park View High School, said she is more cautious since the sniper attacks. "I try not to go to places alone. I try to park in more populated areas," she said.

"I do have a sense of nervousness being out in public and stuff," said Andrea Smith, a ninth-grade teacher at Park View High School.