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Family's prayers answered after Spotsylvania attack
Sean Seawell was a Spotsylvania High School senior when a pair of snipers tried to take his mother's life

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Date published: 10/7/2012

"I was at home when we got the news.

I hadn't been home from school long.

I'd gotten off the bus, planned on doing normal activities.

My dad was there, too, that Friday afternoon. That wasn't unusual since as a commercial pilot he'd be gone for a few days and then at home for a few days.

My little brother, Ryan, was still at preschool.

I answered the door and a deputy was there.

It was kind of weird.

Almost simultaneously, a doctor called.

I said, 'Hey Dad, there's a deputy at the door and a doctor on the phone.'

I had no idea what was going on.

From then, it was kind of a blur."

--Sean Seawell


Sean Seawell was a senior at Spotsylvania High School when his mother became victim No. 7 in a string of shootings that stretched from Montgomery County, Md., to Hanover County over a three-week span in October 2002.

Caroline Seawell was also the first survivor.

Sean, then 17, had arrived at the family's home near Chancellorsville Battlefield shortly after 2:30 that Friday afternoon.

It looked to be a typical Friday until the Spotsylvania County sheriff's deputy spoke.

"I do distinctly remember the deputy saying: Mr. Seawell, I am Deputy so-and-so from the Sheriff's Department coming to tell you your wife has been shot.

"At the time, we were just dumbfounded," Sean said.

"I didn't think about the other sniper shootings. We didn't make the connection."

His father left for the hospital and Sean went to pick up Ryan from preschool.

Sean, now 27, said the reality of what happened didn't sink in until the next day, when he traveled to Inova Fairfax Hospital to see his mother.

"I didn't know what to expect going up to the hospital--if she was still going to be my same mom," he said.

Then he stepped into her room.

"When I saw her is when I really realized what could have happened.

"I could have lost her."


Seeing his mother in the hospital left the most indelible impression of the entire sniper shooting ordeal on Sean Seawell.

But the second-most vivid memory from a decade ago was seeing his father cry.

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OCT. 2, 2002, 6 p.m.--Fatal shooting of James Martin, 55, outside a Wheaton, Md., supermarket.

OCT. 3, 2002, 7:41 a.m.--Fatal shooting of James L. "Sonny" Buchanan, 39, as he pushed a lawnmower in Rockville, Md.

OCT. 3, 2002, 8:12 a.m.--Fatal shooting of Premkumar A. Walekar, 54, at an Aspen Hill, Md., gas station.

OCT. 3, 2002, 8:37 a.m.--Fatal shooting of Sarah Ramos, 34, outside a Silver Spring, Md. retirement center.

OCT. 3, 2002, 9:58 a.m.--Fatal shooting of Lori Lewis-Rivera, 25, outside a Kensington, Md., gas station.

OCT. 3, 2002, 9:15 p.m.--Fatal shooting of Pascal Charlot, 72, while crossing Georgia Avenue in Northwest Washington.

OCT. 4, 2002--Shooting of Caroline Seawell , 43, a Spotsylvania County mother of two, in the parking lot of a Michaels craft store outside Spotsylvania Mall.

OCT. 7, 2002--Shooting of Iran Brown, 13, as he arrived at Tasker Middle School in Bowie, Md.

OCT. 9, 2002--Fatal shooting of Dean Harold Meyers, 53, outside a Manassas-area gas station.

OCT. 11, 2002--Fatal shooting of Philadelphia businessman Kenneth Bridges, 53, outside the Four-Mile Fork Exxon in Spotsylvania.

OCT. 14, 2002--Fatal shooting of FBI analyst Linda Franklin, 47, outside a Falls Church-area Home Depot.

OCT. 19, 2002--Shooting of Jeffrey Hopper, 37, outside a Ponderosa restaurant in Ashland in Hanover County.

OCT. 22, 2002--Fatal shooting of bus driver Conrad Johnson, 35, in Silver Spring, Md.

OCT. 24, 2002, 3:19 a.m.--John Allen Muhammad, 41, and Lee Boyd Malvo, 17, are arrested at a rest stop near Myersville, Md.

NOVEMBER 17, 2003--John Allen Muhammad is convicted for the capital murder of Dean Harold Meyers in Prince William County. Four months later he was sentenced to death.

DEC. 23, 2003--A jury gives Malvo his first life sentence without parole for capital murder for the shooting death of Linda Franklin in Fairfax County. He is serving multiple life sentences in Virginia's Red Onion maximum security prison.

NOV. 10, 2009--Muhammad is executed in Virginia.