Chief Charles Moose was reassuring, urging people to carry on with their routines despite the sniper roaming the Washington area.
The new Moose offers no such comfort: "Your children are not safe, anywhere at any time," the Montgomery County police chief said Tuesday, quoting a note apparently written by the sniper as part of an increasingly public dialogue with a man suspected of killing at least nine people and wounding three.
The chilling words were left at the scene of Saturday night's shooting in Ashland, Va. The chief, leader of the multi-agency task force investigating the shootings, repeated them 11 hours after bus driver Conrad E. Johnson, 35, was shot to death in Aspen Hill while preparing to begin his morning route.
Authorities suspect Johnson is the sniper's 13th victim, although confirmation awaits ballistics tests. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was examining the bullet at its lab in Rockville.
Moose also issued a plea to the killer, urging him to continue a dialogue that began after Saturday's shooting.
"It is important that we do this without anyone else getting hurt," Moose told reporters Tuesday evening in comments directed at the sniper.