Pat Collins, Bill Hennessy
A survivor testified against the Shotgun Stalker's request for a day pass. (Courtroom sketches by Bill Hennessy.)
A woman who survived being shot in the eye by the "serial stalker" said Wednesday that it was a very traumatic event that continues to haunt her.
"Just last month with the shooting of the congresswoman, it brings it back up for me," she told NBC Washington's Pat Collins.
The woman was in court Wednesday to testify against James E. Swann Jr., who killed four people and injured five others, maiming three, in shotgun attacks he carried out in the Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights neighborhoods in the winter and spring of 1993. Swann is asking for 12-hours release from St. Elizabeths Hospital so he can spend a day with his dad.
"Nothing that I heard in there leads me to believe that he's ready," the survivor said. "And I do not want what happened to me to happen to anybody else."
In 14 attacks, Swann slowly approached victims and then shot at them at close range with a 20-gauge shotgun. He said that he was goaded to commit the killings by "evil spirits" in retaliation for the shooting of Malcolm X. In his videotaped confession, Swann said, "The spirits threatened me and my family so that I would do what the spirits told me to do."
In 1994, a D.C. Supreme Court judge found Swann not guilty of the 32 weapons and homicide charges brought against him by reason of insanity. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said in her decision that the defendant "lacked the capacity to ascertain the correctness of his actions for the most part, even though he did take precautions to conceal his identity and elude capture by authorities."
The court ordered Swann committed to the psychiatric treatment facility at St. Elizabeths Hospital in southeast D.C.
Also in court Wednesday, the psychiatrist who examined Swann, Dr. Raymond Patterson, detailed the shotgun stalker's ritual. He'd drive from New York to D.C., look for someone alone on the street, shoot the victim, drive home, get some fried chicken, hire a prostitute, get some sleep and do it all over again, Collins reported.
Patterson said that Swann began abusing alcohol at 8 years old, that he used to beat dogs and threw a cat off the roof of a building, that he used to picnic alone, and that he thought he could talk to birds and would chirp back at them.