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Perhaps, finally, a return to outdoors

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Is it really over?

Washingtonians aren't ready yet to exhale, following news that two men are in custody in connection with the region's spree of sniper shootings. But residents were hopeful yesterday that the three long weeks of lockdown, shattered routines, and free-floating anxiety may be coming to an end.

"I'm guardedly optimistic that this is the guy," says Ken Tighe, father of two school-age children in suburban Montgomery County, out jogging with his German shepherd. "But I want the kids inside until we have more conclusive evidence. It's been horrific. The kids have been scared."

Sallie Holdrich, a mother of four, also in Montgomery County, Md., where several of the shootings have taken place, says her eighth-grader went right to the Internet yesterday morning for details of the arrests.

"Emma wanted to read the news articles to have more control over it," says Ms. Holdrich, whose kids peppered her with questions first thing Thursday: What are their names? Where did they get them?

Hoping for an end

Indeed, one name that springs to mind after such a massive search for a killer is Richard Jewell, the security guard arrested for setting off a bomb at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. Then, as now, police were under intense pressure to arrest someone – anyone, it seemed – and Mr. Jewell was later proved innocent.

Washingtonians also note that the two men in custody now, even if guilty, may not be the only people involved in the random shootings that have killed 10 people and wounded three others.

So it remains unclear when area school authorities will decide that life truly can return to normal, with soccer games, field trips to the pumpkin patch, and outdoor recess. Children themselves will need time to decompress from what one mother called "the cocoon" of isolation imposed on them. And there are ways parents can help their kids process the drama.

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