Right now, we here in the Washington DC area are being inundated with news stories about the upcoming execution tonight of one of the DC Snipers. For three weeks in October of 2002, Washington, DC, Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland were literally held hostage by random high-powered rifle shootings. It could happen any time of the day or night. People were shot doing the most mundane every day things...filling up your car at gas stations, mowing the grass, sitting at a bus stop, walking to school, or walking to your car in a Home Depot or Michaels Craft Store parking lot.
I really can't explain how terrifying this was to everyone. Gas stations along major roads put up large white sheets blocking the view of the pumps from the road. Schools were in constant lock down mode with all evening and weekend activities canceled. I remember sitting in my car at my grocery store early on a Saturday morning, straining to see if I could spot anything past the parking lot into a little stretch of woods, then saying a little prayer and making a dash to the store. On a week day I was getting ready to go sign papers for the refinancing of my house. I had my dog Jiminy back then and she would spend the day with my neighbor two houses up from me. I walked out of my house around 9:45 and the street was completely empty, not a soul was out. Normally, I wouldn't think anything of it, but it was very disconcerting to say the least. My heart was racing as I clapped my hands for my dog as she took off running to my neighbor's with me not far behind. Another time I was late getting home from work. After I arrived home, I would go to pick up my dog from my neighbors. That night my neighbor whipped open the door in a panic thinking something had happened to me. One Saturday night a friend and I were going to have dinner at a local salvadorian restaurant. Since the restaurant is on a busy crowded street, I always parked across the street in a parking lot of a paint store. Well, there was a white paneled van parked in the lot and my friend refused to get out of the car (this was during the time when all white paneled vans were suspect). I was not too concerned but I could not budge my friend. We ended up going to a different restaurant. Wow, just remembering and typing all this is raising my blood pressure!
I have to say that even though I'm a big opponent to the death penalty, I'm just not feeling too much sympathy for this particular case.