Va. sniper survivor reflects on decade-old reign of terror

Posted at 12:17 AM, Oct 02, 2012
and last updated 2012-10-02 00:56:50-04

(WTVR)--Ten years ago Tuesday marks the beginning of three weeks of domestic terror that gripped the nation, one shooting at a time.

Over the past ten years the aftermath of the D.C. sniper case has seen Lee Boyd Malvo express remorse over the killings in  several prison-granted interviews, the execution of convicted mastermind John Allen Muhammad and victims who can recall the bloody and terrifying ordeal like it was yesterday.

“My first thought was, ‘I have children and please God, don't let me die,’” Caroline Seawell said.  She was shot outside the Fredericksburg Michael’s craft store in October of 2002. 

She spoke to CBS 6 from her South Carolina home Monday.

Of the DC snipers’ 13 targets, she was victim number seven, one of three that would survive.

“I was going to get decorations for Halloween,” Seawell said.  “I lifted the back latch of my minivan, I slammed the door and felt something hit me."

The sniper shot went through her back and shredded her liver before exiting her body.

Jeff Hopper, who survived an attack at the Ponderosa steakhouse in Ashland suffered a similar wound 15 days later.  Former Ashland Police Chief Rick Pleasants said that Ashland attack played a key role in the capture of the snipers John Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo.

“The Ashland shooting provided the real first piece of physical evidence that lead to the eventual capture.  The extortion note in the woods had finger prints on it," Pleasants said.

The first officer to arrive on scene for the Ponderosa shooting was Tim Meachum.  He said he knew instantly it was the work of the DC snipers

“A gut reaction, it was intuition,” Meachum said.  “It just never happens in Ashland."

Seawell said she reflects sometimes on the ”what-if's.”  What if she had died that day?  She said she would've missed her son getting married and the birth of her grandchild.

She also wonders who would've taken care of her husband, who has a disability.  She believes it just wasn't her time.