By Chris L. Jenkins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 14, 2002; Page B02
Irina Hans came to Washington five weeks ago for a Smithsonian Institution internship, family members said, an experience she hoped would help in her mission to someday become a museum curator.
On Saturday night, the 26-year-old attended a concert in the city and was walking home from the Branch Avenue Metro station in Suitland when she was killed by a single gunshot to the head, police said.
Immediately, nearly 100 local and federal authorities swarmed the area just outside the Capital Beltway, police said, blocking off several highway ramps and nearby streets, responding to the possibility that the sniper who has killed eight people and wounded two others had struck again.
But after scouring the crime scene near Route 5, authorities concluded that the woman was not a victim of the sniper, said Cpl. Robert Clark, a Prince George's County police spokesman. Another law enforcement official said there were few similarities to the sniper shootings: The bullet was not of the caliber the sniper has used, the shooting occurred at short range, and the setting was unlike those of the 10 shootings attributed to the sniper.
County authorities said yesterday that they have not identified any suspects and could not determine a motive. Family members said that Hans's purse and jewelry were left near her body.
Hans's husband and her in-laws in Oklahoma and Missouri mourned the Odessa, Ukraine, native who had lived in the United States for about a decade.
In September, she arrived in the Washington area for an eight-month internship with the Smithsonian. Her husband, Jason Hans, 28, had helped her find an apartment on Appleleaf Way in Suitland.
"She was just so excited to be able to pursue her dream" with the internship, said Angela Hans, Jason Hans's grandmother. "She was so full of life and wanted nothing more [than] to get her career started."
The shooting was reminiscent of the death of Katie Lynn Hill, the Seattle woman who was killed while walking from the Takoma Park Metro station to a relative's home Aug. 9, raising concerns about safety around Metro stops. Hill, 36, had been visiting Washington for the first time to attend a convention for pen collectors.
Angela Hans said that Irina Hans had just obtained her master's degree in art history at the University of Missouri at Columbia, where she also received her undergraduate degree.
A woman who had been a graduate student with Hans at Missouri recalled that she was "very, very excited" about going to work at the Smithsonian.
She said that Hans's specialty at Missouri had been contemporary art. During the last academic year, Hans was listed as co-president of the university's Art History and Archaeology Graduate Student Association.
Smithsonian officials familiar with Hans's internship could not be reached for comment last night.
Hans met her husband at Missouri and they had been married for several years, Angela Hans said. Irina Hans's parents, who still live in Ukraine, were preparing to come to the United States, the relative said.
"The whole family is devastated," Angela Hans said. "She was just getting started with her life."