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In Ohio, Former Police Officer at Center of Standoff

Aired August 2, 2002 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Also happening right now in Ohio, a Columbus police officer who recently lost his job is the center of a standoff at a rest stop on interstate 71 near Ashland. Hernando Cliff Harton allegedly shot his wife to death last night after he was served with divorce papers. Harton was stopped by deputies at a gas station, shots were fired, And Harton then escaped in a stolen police vehicle. Ohio police say that Harton called an ex-wife in California, told her what happened, and asked her to take care of his three small children.

Sergeant Rick Zwayer (ph) of the Ohio highway patrol joins us on the phone right now.

Sergeant, good morning. Thanks for joining us.

SGT. RICK ZWAYER (ph), OHIO HIGHWAY PATROL: Good morning.

KAGAN: What is the latest on the status of the standoff right now, sir.

ZWAYER (ph): Well, as you stated, there was an incident that occurred at a truck stop rest area on state route 95 near interstate 71 in Morrow County, Ohio, and the suspect and one of the attendants at the fuel station called 911, and deputies from the Morrow County sheriff's office responded, and engaged the suspect, and the suspect fired shots, and there was an exchange of gunfire. The suspect stole a Morrow County sheriff's cruiser, and proceeded northbound on Interstate 71.

The Morrow County sheriff's office requested our assistance. And our troopers from the Ohio State patrol responded to the scene and used stop-stick deflation devices on the stolen cruiser to get it stopped where it is now in a barricade situation.

KAGAN: And who is in that car exactly, do you believe?

ZWAYER (ph): We don't have a confirmation on the name, only some rumors as to who it may be. Since we don't have confirmation on it, we can't give any information as to what who it might be.

KAGAN: But you think there is only one man, that there is no one else?

ZWAYER (ph): We believe there is only occupant in the stolen cruiser at the this time. And of the latest, we have seen movement in the cruiser, and we've tried make contact with that person.

KAGAN: So right now, there is no talking, going back and forth, like, with a cell phone or something.

ZWAYER (ph): No, there is not. There has been attempts on two- way radio and on public address systems within the cruiser to make contact, verbal contact with that person. And we have not made verbal contact with him.

KAGAN: So you are able to tell us about this situation. Can you tell us anything about Cliff Harton?

ZWAYER (ph): I cannot give out information about Cliff Harton. I don't even know who the subject is.

KAGAN: But with the situation that is happening right now, I imagine it is creating quite a traffic nightmare for folks.

ZWAYER (ph): It is blocking interstate 71 northbound. We do have some alternate routes set up to alleviate some of the traffic congestion in the area, and so the traffic is being diverted around the scene for the safety of the people in the motoring public.

KAGAN: And can you just tell us what department policy is on this, about how long you allow this to go on?

ZWAYER (ph): Well, we will certainly do what is needed to try to insure that this comes to a safe outcome, to minimize the risk, certainly to the officers on scene, and to the suspect. And hopefully, the suspect in best hopes will give up and will come to safe resolution.

KAGAN: And then finally, with the sheriff's deputy, are you aware of what kind of weapons and things he would have, given that he has stolen a police vehicle.

ZWAYER (ph): Indications are that witnesses at the truck stop observed two handguns at the time, and those handguns were used to engage those deputies at the rest stop in the gun battle.

KAGAN: And what about right where it is stopped right now on the highway?

ZWAYER (ph): There is indication that he is still armed.

KAGAN: That he is still armed. All right,a very dangerous situation, tense situation there in Ohio. Sergeant Rick Zwayer, with the Ohio state highway patrol, thank you, sir.

ZWAYER (ph): You're welcome.

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