PINOLE — The former sister-in-law of one of the suspects arrested in connection with the sniper shootings in the Washington, D.C. area expressed sympathy for the victims and their families.
Charlene Jackson, of Pinole, would not comment extensively Thursday on the arrest of John Allen Muhammad, 41, who is suspected of terrorizing the Washington area for the past three weeks. Thirteen people were gunned down, 10 of whom died.
Muhammad, who previously went by the name John Allen Williams, reportedly lived in Jackson’s one-story home in Pinole 10 years ago. He was arrested early Thursday while sleeping in a car at a roadside rest stop near Frederick, Md., with John Lee Malvo, 17, a citizen of Jamaica.
“We are very sympathetic,” Jackson said. “We just can’t imagine what’s going on, because how can you relate to something like this?”
Jackson and her family stayed inside while reporters and neighbors congregated in front of the house in the middle-class neighborhood in the suburbs east of San Francisco.
But some visitors did enter the home, including family members and law enforcement. FBI officials would not say whether they had visited the home and declined to comment on Muhammad’s time in Pinole.
“It’s shocked me, it was that close,” said neighbor Walter Hughes, who did not know Muhammed.
Muhammad also lived farther south, at the Army’s Fort Ord in Monterey County. He enlisted in the Army in November 1985 and was posted to Fort Lewis in Washington state before transferring to Germany in 1990. He was sent to Fort Ord in 1992, then back to Fort Lewis the following year.
He was trained mainly as a combat engineer — his specialty in the 1991 Gulf War — and also as a metal worker and a water transport specialist.