Sniper's truck resembles those of DC HME's

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Thursday, October 31, 2002

WASHINGTON - The sniper whose ten killings and white van began to terrorize Washington is taking a particularly tough toll on Capitol area HME providers.

"It's no fun for us because all our vans are white," said

Dale Barrett, owner of Mobility Solutions in Rockville, Md., near where many of the shootings have taken place.

Indeed, one of Barrett's rehab techs, driving a white Chevy or Dodge van, was pulled over one day last month on the VW Parkway by police with guns drawn. The driver had just returned from delivering a repaired wheelchair.

On Capitol Hill, Grubbs Medical Equipment and Pharmacy's vans are colored, but the fear is no less palpable.

"Everybody is on edge," said Jeanette Bartilla, Grubb's owner. "A lot of people have said I am really considering moving away from here. It's unfortunate that it's happening to us. It could happen anywhere."

Bartilla said the store traffic in her pharmacy was down. But her employees were still coming in to work.

"I think they feel just as safe here as they do in their own homes."

Service stations are another matter. When Barrett gassed up this morning, he hurriedly put the nozzle in his fill-tank and retreated back inside his car to look around. "It's really just duck and cover," he said. HME

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