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DIPLOMAT’S SON DETAILS MOMENTS OF TERROR

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Shooter traced in online profile

WASHINGTON, April 26, (Agencies): Authorities continued to explore the mysterious past and motivations of a gunman who they said fired randomly at people, striking four, in Northwest Washington as new and frightening details began to emerge about the potential lethality of the attack. Officials said police have not developed a motive for Friday afternoon’s shootings in the Van Ness area, but it appeared the suspected gunman, 23-year-old Raymond Spencer of Fairfax County, Va., engaged with Wikipedia pages related to the recent subway attack in New York City and a 2018 school shooting in Florida.

Rashid and Rahaf Al-Amiri, son and daughter respectively of the Kuwaiti diplomat

Police on Saturday officially identified Spencer as the man they believe committed the attack, having previously said that authorities were searching for him as a person of interest before declaring a suspect was found dead. Authorities said he killed himself inside the fifth-floor story apartment where he fired more than 100 rounds near Van Ness Street and Connecticut Avenue. Multiple law enforcement officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive in vestigation, said Spencer’s only known tie to the District appears to be that sparsely furnished apartment at the AVA Van Ness, in which they found assault rifles, at least one handgun, a tripod stand for a firearm and a mattress on the floor.

The apartment that police are describing as a “sniper’s nest” overlooks Edmund Burke School in the 2900 block of Van Ness Street, which appears to have drawn the shooter’s attention at afternoon dismissal. D.C. Police Chief Robert J. Contee III said numerous buildings and vehicles may have been struck by gunfire, and police officials said they believe two shops and a vehicle in Cleveland Park, nearly a mile from the apartment building, were hit. “There are probably going to be a lot of bullet holes we’re going to find,” Contee said as the search for evidence expanded northward on Connecticut Avenue, one of the busiest corridors in the District, with restaurants, shops, apartments and foreign embassies. Bullets fired from weapons used in the shooting, the chief said, have “the capacity to travel for an extended distance.”

Police said four people were injured in the shooting, including a man in his 50s who is a parttime security guard at Edmund Burke, a woman in her 30s and another woman in her 60s who was grazed by a bullet as she waited in her vehicle to pick up a child. A 12-year-old girl also was shot. Authorities expressed amazement that more people were not struck or even killed, and said it will take police many days to collect evidence and fully document the damage over a vast number of city blocks. Efforts to reach Spencer’s relatives over the past two days have been unsuccessful, and residents of the AVA Van Ness complex described only fleeting encounters with him. Shelby Magid, who lives on the fifth floor, said Spencer would have blended in at the building that is home to many young people.

Magid, 28, recalled seeing him once or twice while on the way to the elevator but said she had never interacted with him. “It’s a quiet hall,” said Magid, who wasn’t home when the shootings occurred. Another fifth-floor resident, Diana Camosy, 34, took cover on the bedroom floor next to her husband most of Friday afternoon, refreshing Twitter for updates. Camosy, who was using headphones, and her husband, who had been on a work Zoom call, heard the gunshots but dismissed them as noise from construction. On Friday night, the Fairfax County police SWAT team and D.C. police searched Spencer’s apartment at the Julian at Fair Lakes and said they had only one prior contact with the man. A county police spokesman described the call as a noise complaint and said Spencer had complied with officers. In a text message, Camosy said she looked out her window and saw students with backpacks running down an alley.

“Once we heard sirens we knew something was terribly wrong,” she said. As the afternoon went on, she heard police in her hallway and checked the front door peephole and saw “cops with rifles.” Camosy said she heard them talking about getting to certain units on the floor. “We were flabbergasted when we learned that Spencer lived, fired from and died on the same floor as us and our friends,” Camosy said. Representatives for the apartment complex and the developer, Avalon Communities, did not respond to interview requests.

One message sent to residents said the company understood “how unsettling this has been for all of us and are so thankful for all that law enforcement has done to resolve this very unfortunate situation.” Spencer’s biographical history remained murky, but public records indicate he spent some time in Montgomery County. In 2016, the Montgomery County Recreation Department posted a photo detailing the lifesaving rescue of one of its lifeguards at the Wheaton-Glenmont pool. “In a dramatic scene, lifeguard Raymond Spencer had finished his shift, decided to swim some laps and became disoriented after getting out of the water,” a Facebook post said. “He fell back into the pool.” The post said that he was rescued by other lifeguards and a firefighter who performed CPR to help him regain consciousness. After being asked about the Facebook post and whether Spencer worked with the Montgomery recreation department, a county spokesman confirmed Spencer had worked with the agency. Spencer’s later years also have not yet come into public focus.

Police said they are compiling his Internet postings and interactions on several social media platforms, including 4chan, and Wikipedia, on which authorities believe he made edits to several pages in the days leading up to the shooting. Those edits were made on pages that include David Hogg, who survived a deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Fla., and has become an outspoken advocate for gun control. There are also searches on Wikipedia pages for Wheaton High School, in Montgomery County; Md., the recent attack on a New York subway; Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia; and the “Glenmont station.” The significance of those topics could not be determined later. A Wikipedia page for the Edmund Burke School was searched several times and edited, including a line added about an hour after police said the shooting started when Spencer wrote: “A gunman shot at the school on April 22, 2022. The suspect is still at large.”

On a separate online forum, called 4chan, a user identifying as Raymond Spencer posted four minutes after the reported shooting started, “Dear God please forgive me.” The following post seemed to taunt police: “They’re in the wrong part of the building right now searching XD.” Later the user wrote: “Waiting for police to catch up with me.” Police also said a graphic video posted online Friday showing what appears to be the shooting is authentic, though it is unclear when it was posted. The video shows the Burke school’s glass walkway covered in posters from its recent financial aid auction, themed after the game Clue. The sound of gunfire erupts, and one of the glass panels shatters. Meanwhile, student Rashid Al- Amiri and his sister Rahaf lived through the horrific moments of their father, Counselor at the Kuwaiti Embassy in Washington, Mohammed Rashid Al-Amiri, after a sniper shot at his car. The horror story, as Al-Rai published new details, began at half past three in the afternoon on Friday (US time), while Kuwaiti diplomat Al- Amiri was looking out the window of his car at the school gate near the Kuwaiti embassy in Washington with a number of parents waiting to hear the bell sounding for their children to leave until the sniper started shooting indiscriminately.

Bu Rashid’s car was shot at from all directions, and the intense shooting continued amid a state of great fear and thoughts that were running through Al-Amiri’s mind about the safety of his two children — Rashid and Rahaf. After the reunion with his children there were tears of joy mixed with fear and shock. The police and the media in Washington expressed their admiration for the courage of the diplomat, Muhammad Al-Amiri, who managed to drive his car towards a safe place despite the intensity of the shooting and for the student Rashid, who was not affected and tried to go towards his father’s car despite the difficult moments that everyone witnessed and the treacherous sniper bullets.

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