ROCKVILLE, Md. -- Maryland prosecutors filed the first murder charges against two suspected snipers -- another signal a three-week terror spree has ended and that residents can safely venture outside without fear.
"I don't have to worry about walking outside and getting shot," said Ryan Burditt, an eighth-grader at Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie, Md., where a student was critically injured Oct. 7.
In filing six first-degree murder counts against John Allen Muhammad, 41, and John Lee Malvo, 17, Maryland authorities said Friday they would seek the death penalty against the older suspect.
Malvo will be tried as an adult, but the death penalty cannot be applied if his reported age of 17 is verified. Maryland law does not allow for the death penalty against people under age 18.
As the first charges in the case were announced, federal and state officials began wrangling over whose case would take precedence -- and new details emerged about the investigation of the shooting spree.
Justice Department officials are still deciding whether to bring their own charges.
Earlier Friday, Alabama law enforcement officials filed murder charges against the two suspects and said they would seek the death penalty in the fatal shooting of a woman outside a liquor store Sept. 21 in Montgomery, Ala. The police chief, John Wilson, said investigators believe Muhammad fired the shots.
Montgomery County State's Attorney Douglas Gansler announced the murder charges after a meeting with prosecutors from jurisdictions where the killings took place.
In all, 10 people were killed and three wounded in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
The men, who were arrested Thursday at a Maryland rest stop, could be prosecuted later in Virginia and other jurisdictions. Police linked a rifle in their car to 11 of the shootings that spanned a swath of suburban communities in the Washington area.
Authorities were tipped off last summer that Muhammad might be dangerous. Law enforcement officials said the FBI in Washington state interviewed a witness who claimed Muhammad was trying to obtain a silencer for his gun and spoke of killing police officers.
FBI agents and local police had concerns about some aspects of the witness' account and decided to treat the threat as a local issue of officer safety, the officials told The Associated Press.
The investigation also has shown how the suspects were hiding in plain sight during the three-week rampage.
According to the FBI, police in Baltimore approached Muhammad as he slept in his car Oct. 8. Muhammad told the officer he was traveling and police, looking for a white van, did not detain him. The New York Times reported Saturday there were two other times during the three-week terror spree the snipers' car was also pulled over -- and then released.
AP Staff Writers Gene Johnson and John Solomon in Washington contributed to this story.
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