Charles Moose, police chief at center of response to D.C. sniper attacks, dead at 68

By Jake Thomas
Charles Moose, police chief at center of response to D.C. sniper attacks, dead at 68
Montgomery County police Chief Charles Moose and other law enforcement officials announce the capture of two suspects in the sniper shootings during a press conference on October 24, 2002, in Rockville, Md. Moose died Thursday. File Photo by Roger L. Wollenberg UPI | License Photo

Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Charles Moose, who led the Montgomery County police as snipers terrorized the Washington, D.C., area in 2002, died on Thanksgiving Day, the department announced.

Moose, who led the force from 1999 to 2003, died at home at the age of 68, according to a Facebook post from Maryland's Montgomery County Police Department.


"We are extremely saddened by the news announcing the passing of former Chief Charles Moose," Chief Marcus Jones, said in the post. "He was a great leader and led our department through the D.C. Sniper investigation, one of the most difficult crime sprees in our country's history. We send condolences to his wife Sandy and all of his family and friends."

His wife, Sandy Moose, told WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C., he died "watching football and sitting in his recliner." She said he called her name before dying, She did not disclose a cause of death.

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For nearly a month in 2002, the District of Columbia and surrounding counties in Maryland and Virginia stood on edge as John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo randomly targeted people with sniper-style attacks. The attacks left 10 people dead, three wounded and triggered one of the region's largest manhunts.


The men were apprehended in late October. In 2004, Malvo, 19, was sentenced to life in prison. In 2009, Muhammad, 48, was executed in Virginia.

The incident drew headlines nationally as authorities struggled to piece together clues to stop the killings. The gunmen mocked law enforcement with cryptic messages, even leaving a tarot card as a clue.

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The two men attempted to extract a ransom from authorities to stop the shooting and complained of being unable to make contact. While the hunt involved many agencies, Moose was often the public face of the response and made appeals for the gunmen to reach out.

In 2003, Moose resigned from the department after the county said its ethics code prevented him from writing a book about the incident, Three Weeks in October: The Manhunt for the Serial Sniper.

Born in North Carolina, Moose became Portland, Ore.'s first Black police chief, leading the force through the 1990s.

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Current Portland police Chief Chuck Lovell, who is also Black, issued a statement saying Moose was a "large presence and had a servant's heart"

"I feel connected to Chief Moose as he was the first African American chief, a champion of community policing and led the Bureau during challenging times," Lovell said.


After leaving the Montgomery County police force, Moose worked for the U.S. Air Force, the Honolulu Police Department and helped with rescue efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, before retiring in Florida, according to The Oregonian.

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Notable deaths of 2021

Betty White attends the media preview for the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association's Beastly Ball fundraiser at the Los Angeles Zoo in Los Angeles on June 11, 2015. The actress died December 31. She was 99 years old. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

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