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Geraldo Rivera has a knack for getting to the bottom of a story.
The larger-than-life Fox News reporter swooped into Fredericksburg and spent the weekend to file reports following Friday's sniper shooting at the Four-Mile Fork Exxon.
He arrived at the scene at midday Friday, strutting around in a black leather jacket and blue jeans.
By 6 p.m. on the day of the shooting, Rivera was autographing the seats of Fredericksburg Hooters waitresses' skimpy orange shorts--while the women were in them.
The Hooters restaurant is located only about 50 yards away from the crime scene.
"He was posing for pictures with the Hooters Girls and signing their [rear ends]," said Geoff Leach, a Caroline County resident who was at the restaurant late Friday afternoon.
"I thought it was pretty tasteless, considering the timing and the proximity to the scene of the killing," Leach said. "It was a circus atmosphere."
A spokesman for Fox News Channel in New York said the Hooters autograph session was only part of a wider Rivera autograph spree.
"He was all over the place," said FNC spokesman Robert Zimmerman. "He was giving autographs at the Waffle House next to the gas station, he was giving autographs to Spotsylvania sheriff's deputies, he was giving autographs to truck drivers."
Zimmerman made it clear that neither he nor Fox was defending Rivera's actions.
Rivera declined to talk directly to a reporter, but relayed a comment through Zimmerman.
"He said he was honoring the requests of his adoring fans," Zimmerman said.
Asked if that was inappropriate under the circumstances, Zimmerman said, "That's personal opinion. I wasn't there. I don't know."
Zimmerman also said Rivera wasn't really covering a murder story, but a story on the sniper.
Management at the Fredericksburg Hooters declined to comment on Rivera's actions there, but one of the waitresses involved confirmed the details.
Hooters has a corporate policy forbidding waitresses from being quoted in the media, but one said: "I got his autograph. I don't like him, but I got it for my mother."
The waitress said all work and no play would make Geraldo a big bore.
"That's his job," she said, glancing toward the crime scene. "He has to have fun in his personal life."
Staff writer Betty Hayden Snider contributed to this report.