Charles Moose, a former police chief in Maryland who led a mass search for the metro Washington, D.C.-area snipers in the early 2000s, died at his home on Nov. 25. He was 68 years old.
“We are extremely saddened by the news announcing the passing of former Chief Charles Moose,” said Marcus Jones the current chief of the Montgomery County Police Department where Moose served as chief from 1999-2003.
“He was a great leader and led our department through the DC 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,” Jones continued.
Moose, a New York City native, grew up in Lexington, N.C., according to The Washington Post. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1975 and decided to pursue a career in law enforcement instead of going to law school as he originally intended.
He moved to Oregon and joined the Portland Police Department, where he climbed the ranks from patrolman to become the department’s first Black police chief.
Moose stepped onto the national stage as the lead investigator in the manhunt for snipers who killed 10 people and terrorized the Washington metro area in October 2002. The seemingly random shootings included victims who were doing ordinary things like pumping gas or loading packages into their vehicles.
With assistance from federal agencies, Moose’s weekslong search ended with the Oct. 24 arrest of Lee Boyd Malvo, 19, and his mentor John Allen Muhammad, 41.
The pair used a 1990 Chevy Caprice, with the backseat removed so the shooter could access the trunk from inside the car. Authorities recovered a Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle and scope inside the vehicle. After their convictions, Muhammad was executed in 2009 by lethal injection in Virginia, but Malvo is currently serving four life sentences for his role in the shooting.
Later, Moose’s career took a turn. He resigned as police chief in June 2003 over backlash from his memoir. While still serving as head of the police department, Moose wrote about the manhunt and reportedly receive $170,000 for the book, as well as more than $4,000 in consulting fees for a movie project. A county ethics commission had ruled that it was inappropriate for Moose to profit from his police work.
In the preface of his memoir, Moose set the record straight about the aim of his book.
“It is the story of how a rookie police recruit with no plans to become a police officer became the head of the largest single manhunt in American police history. It is the story of how I went from being lionized for helping bring the snipers to justice to being vilified for writing a book about it,” Moose wrote, according to CBS Baltimore.
In 2006, Moose relocated to Honolulu, Hawaii and joined the police department there as a recruit, according to CBS Baltimore. At age 53, Moose was required to go through training as an officer and lost his high rank because the department didn’t allow lateral transfers at the time.
Part of his legacy as police chief in Portland and Montgomery County is improving police relations with communities of color, the Post reported. He instructed his officers to use community policing methods while enforcing the law.