A day after: Dance of celebration and plans to resume a normal life

Signs appear expressing thanks to Chief Moose

Search For The Sniper

October 26, 2002|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

SILVER SPRING, Md. - The group of young mothers started going out to lunch several times a week two years ago when they met picking up their children from preschool, and stopped when the sniper started shooting three weeks ago.

Yesterday, they steered their strollers into Panera Bread here to talk in person for the first time in weeks. They wrote thank-you notes to Chief Charles A. Moose of Montgomery County, who led the investigation, then planned a Halloween party, where their children, too young to write, could draw thank you pictures instead.

"He's our hero," said Kelly Tveit. "He's an icon," agreed Kathleen Mahoney.

On the sides of roads in and around the Beltway, banners read, "Thanks Moose" and "Moose 4 Prez."

Moose was the target of ridicule and frustration for the three weeks that the sniper kept people living in fear and locked indoors. But with two suspects facing homicide charges, he was suddenly the object of gratitude and affection in a region getting gratefully back to normal.

"There's been this huge weight lifted off our shoulders," Tveit said. "All we want to do is be out, because we can be."

When she heard about the arrests Thursday, Tveit did a dance in celebration with her 3-year-old, then went to a park. The mothers planned lunch. At the restaurant, they found long lines - a manager said twice the usual number of lunch customers - and smiling faces.

"We said, `Let's wear bold, bright colors and walk slowly instead of sprinting,'" Mahoney said. "It's really, really liberating. I feel like I've been let out of a cage."

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