Brookside Gardens markers remember sniper victims

Brookside Gardens markers

I’d never been to Brookside Gardens until recently. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced me to find new places to visit away from the city and the free park adjacent to Wheaton Regional Park is a fine place to walk around flowers and ponds. You can spend a couple hours easily strolling the grounds without a taxing landscape. Currently, the welcome center is closed until the pandemic’s end.

I encountered two large granite stones. One has a list of names, the other a story of 10 people who were killed in 2002 around the Washington area by a sniper. A young girl read the marker to her mother as yet another person too young to remember those terrifying three weeks just one year after the 9/11 terrorist attack now knows the story.

It was definitely the scariest time of my life since at least the 1968 downtown riots following Martin Luther King’s assassination. Even more so than 9/11 because that was a singular event whereas this went on for weeks without any pattern. The two men shot people of all ages, sex and color at various places around town. It seemed no one was excluded from the random violence.

Eventually, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were arrested on Oct. 24, 2002. Both were convicted of murder in Virginia. Muhammad was executed by state officials while Malvo being a teenager was given a life sentence without parole.

Many years, 300,000 people visit Brookside and this memorial is surely seen by most being close to the entranceway. The memorial’s $50,000 cost was paid through donations.

It’s nice that people senselessly murdered have not been forgotten.

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