Alert trucker crucial in sniper arrest

| 10/25/2002

A Kentucky trucker whose 9-1-1 call was instrumental in ending the manhunt for the Washington area sniper suspects says he's no hero and if he happens to get any of the reward money, it would "go right back" to the families of the victims. As Ron Lantz, and another truckdriver helped use their trucks as road blocks, the suspects were arrested at a Maryland rest area in the pre-dawn hours Thursday.

Lantz, known as "Sugar Shack" on the CB radio, began his day in Wilmington, DE, where he hauls weekly from Monroe, OH, for Bass Transportation. His only previous capacity aiding law enforcement had been pointing out drunks on the road.

Lantz, a resident of Ludlow, KY, said he heard a description of the suspects' car on WLW-700 in Cincinnati. Lantz had been listening to Truckin' Bozo radio show shortly after midnight Thursday. About an hour later, he pulled into the tree-lined rest area atop Stone Mountain and spotted what appeared to be the vehicle described by police.

Lantz said he saw the car under the lights as he pulled into the rest stop off I-70 in Frederick County, MD, 50 miles northwest of Washington, DC. Lantz said a CFI driver was there, too, and after a brief discussion, Lantz was back in his truck and dialing 9-1-1.

"(The police) told us (truckdrivers) to pull our trucks up and block the road. Me and another trucker put our two 18-wheelers side by side to block the exit of the car. If they (the car occupants) had been looking, they would have seen what we were doing. I don't think they knew anything about it," Lantz said.

Another caller to police was identified as a Maryland man driving a white van.

Just three weeks from retirement, Lantz, 61, and a 31-year trucking vet, said he is not very interested in the $500,000 reward money. "If I had the money, I'd probably take it and give it back to the people who were shot," he said.

John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo were found sleeping inside the car and offered no resistance. Muhammed is currently being held under federal firearms charges. Malvo is being held as a material witness. According to authorities, a gun, a scope and a tripod were found in the car, as well as two holes that apparently were drilled in the trunk of the car, one for the rifle, one for the scope.

The shootings began about three weeks ago and have left 10 people dead and three injured.

Authorities in three states and the District of Columbia conferred Friday about who should prosecute the two suspects.
-- Keith Goble, staff writer