Former Montgomery County Police Chief, who led the investigation for the D.C. Sniper case, Charles Moose, dead at 68. (Courtesy Photo)

By Aysia Morton
Special to the AFRO

While he broke barriers as Portland’s first Black Police Chief, the D.M.V remembers Charles Moose as the Montgomery County Police Chief who was a calming, constant source of information in 2002 during the era of the D.C. Beltway Sniper.  On Nov. 25, Thanksgiving Day, Chief Moose died at age 68, leaving behind an incredible legacy. During his career in law enforcement, he was the police chief for Portland, Oregon and Montgomery County, Maryland.

Moose’s wife, Sandy, confirmed her husband’s death on Facebook.  He died “while watching football and sitting in his recliner,” his wife said. 

“He called my name, and I came running, but it was too late. His body was shutting down. It seems so trite to give first notice this way. Right now, I can’t think much beyond, ‘I need a plan to celebrate this man: my best friend since 1982.’ He meant so much to so many, I’m at a loss … Godspeed Charles,” the widow continued.

Moose was a North Carolina native and joined the Portland Police Bureau in 1975 after attending undergrad at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. From 1993 to 1999, he led the Portland Police Bureau as Police Chief.

“We are extremely saddened by the news announcing the passing of former Chief Charles Moose,” current Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones said in a statement. “He was a great leader and led our Department through the D.C. Sniper investigation, one of the most difficult crime sprees in our country’s history. We send condolences to his wife Sandy and all of his family and friends.”

Moose left Portland Police Department in 1999 and became the second Black police chief in Montgomery County, Maryland’s largest County. In 2002, he became the face of an investigation that terrified the county and its surrounding areas. A sniper, known as the “D.C. Sniper” or the “Beltway Sniper”, killed 10 people and wounded three other people over a span of 23 days in a series of random attacks. Under Moose’s leadership, John Allen Muhammad and a teenager named Lee Boyd Malvo were arrested.

Moose later signed a movie and book deal detailing his experience leading the D.C. Sniper case, but the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors decided that it was against their rules and ethics for an officer to profit privately from his position, so Moose departed from his job at the Montgomery County Police Department and went to Honolulu, Hawaii to serve as a patrolman before retiring.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Erlich paid his respects to Moose and reflected on his leadership during the sniper investigation in a statement.  

“For 23 days, Chief Moose provided a calming presence in the midst of the terror and fear that consumed our county and the Washington region and was nationally recognized for his efforts. We are forever grateful for his contributions to public safety during his tenure,” Erlich said.

Charles Moose can be seen leading his police department in Vice’s new documentary, I, Sniper. In the trailer, Moose can be heard addressing a televised press conference saying, “your children are not safe anywhere, at any time.” The documentary also  features interviews from Lee Boyd Malvo, shooting survivors, and the loved ones of those whose lives were taken.

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