While Reichenbaugh sped toward the rest area, and the civilian watched the car from a distance, Wojcik was notifying others of the find. Two troopers from the Frederick barracks and one from Hagerstown were responding there as well to make sure the area was secured.
Over the next few hours, a massive coordinated effort unfolded in the dark of night.
“It was imperative we had the element of surprise. At that point, we didn’t know if the car was occupied, if they were sleeping or if they were lying in wait,” Reichenbaugh said.
The lieutenant, who said he always enjoyed being a road trooper, maintained his composure to command the multi-agency incident. But, he was quick to add that the outcome was successful because the officers set aside their jurisdictional issues.
“I was really worried that news helicopters would show up. So, I called the Secret Service, and they immediately restricted the air space.”
SWAT officers from various federal, state and local agencies were flown in from directions they couldn’t be heard.
Reichenbaugh said a million things were running through his head as the night went on. “I couldn’t believe it. Officers, federal agents, everyone was showing up in shorts, t-shirts, jeans or whatever was beside their beds. I contacted Johnny Hughes, a U.S. Marshal, and told him how dangerous it was, and that they could be shot. We didn’t know who was who. It was dark. Johnny put a stop to it real quick. No one not in uniform was allowed in the area.”
The interstate was shut down, and K-9 teams were in the median. Tractor-trailer drivers were asked to block the entrance and exit of the rest area. “The last thing I wanted was for them to attempt to drive out and have a shootout along I-70."
As the troops were assembling, the national media also was gathering nearby.
Once the plan was established and SWAT teams were in place, a flash bang was set off near the car. The two were taken into custody without incident.
The element of surprise was successful.
Malvo and Muhammad were transported to Montgomery County by state police troopers.
There was no weapon in plain sight, so Reichenbaugh ordered officers to back off until a search warrant was obtained.
It was daylight by the time the officers found the weapon. It was seized, and sent to the ATF lab for testing.
While things were adding up, both veteran troopers said they knew a ballistics test was the only way to confirm it – to tie the weapon to the random shootings.
Wojcik headed for the rest area, and helped coordinate the ongoing investigation. The car was placed in an enclosed trailer and taken back to Montgomery County where an extensive search was conducted.
Following a debriefing at the joint ops center, Reichenbaugh and others headed to the lab. “I watched them do the test firing." It didn’t take long for them to get the results.
The weapon had been used in the random shootings.
The reign of terror was over.
Reichenbaugh said he learned through follow-up investigation that the two were seen picking up cans near the Myersville Elementary School earlier in the day. He suspects they may have been planning to shoot someone there.
Both troopers say while there were bumps and bruises along the way, the snipers were stopped in the end because of shared intelligence.
Reichenbaugh says he supported the execution of Muhammad. “If there was ever a case, this was it. I think justice was served, definitely.”
Malvo, who has been speaking out to media in the past few weeks, is being held on six sentences of life without parole.
Reichenbaugh said he would have sentenced him to death as well.
Although it’s been 10 years, he still thinks about the victims’ families.