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Sean Seawell was a Spotsylvania High School senior when a pair of snipers tried to take his mother's life
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It happened when they were at home and his father listened to a message on the answering machine from one of their relatives.
"That made a distinct impact on me, on how different a situation it was," he said.
"He was my hero. He was a strong male role model I had never seen any weakness from. It definitely drove home how serious the situation actually was."
NOT LIVING IN TERROR
Sean Seawell was aware of the news buzzing all around him in October 2002--of people afraid to pump gas into their cars, of restricted activities at schools, of a suspicious white box truck seen near some of the shootings, and of a region living in fear of doing everyday activities like mowing grass and shopping.
His mother had just loaded a scarecrow into the back of the family's minivan in the parking lot of Michaels crafts store near Spotsylvania Mall when she was hit by a sniper's bullet around the time school let out on Oct. 4, 2002.
When Sean returned to school days later, he was met with a reminder.
"The next day in school, I remember seeing a white box truck being pulled over in front of Spotsylvania High School," he said. "Obviously, there was that level of suspicion."
But he said he and his family weren't consumed by the paranoia that gripped people from the Washington suburbs to Richmond.
Their attention was elsewhere.
"We were focused on her," Sean said.
They were encouraged when Caroline Seawell, then 43, came home after just four days in the hospital.
But they knew of the dangers.
Deputies had been posted outside their home.
A guard had stood watch over his mother's hospital room.
And she had been registered under an alias while there, unimaginatively as "Jane Doe."
"I really wasn't too worried about it," Sean said of the snipers' reign of terror.
His parents had told him to get on with his daily life.
"Maybe it was them trying to protect me," he says now.
'SHE'S PRETTY TOUGH'
Three years later, the Seawells moved to South Carolina, back to Caroline's hometown of Columbia. She needed to be there to care for her mother, who had cancer.
By then, Caroline Seawell had helped convict John Allen Muhammad and his teenage accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo.
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.