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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Montgomery Police Make Statement

Aired October 3, 2002 - 11:19   ET

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

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: We want to follow up on that breaking story we are following out of Montgomery County, Maryland, where five reported fatal shootings have taken place in the past 15 or so hours.
Let's listen in now to Montgomery County Police Department.

CHIEF CHARLES MOOSE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE: ... these are simply victims, and we need to figure out a way to stop this. We have several strategies that we're implementing at this time. My preference at this point is to not share those because certainly, I think, the suspects are certainly out there also being very calculating.

We're discussing different strategies, different resources, with our neighboring agencies, MPD, Maryland State Police, Rockville City, Gaithersburg City. We're in contact with all of these individuals, seeing what they can bring to the table, seeing what ideas they have, and we will utilize all and any available resources.

But at this point, again, you have all the information that we have, encourage people to still call in, but again, we don't have the resources to respond to every white van, but we will make those priority decisions. Please understand that our 911 center is being inundated at this time, so if there is a delayed response, we ask people to please understand, but we are there. We're working this issue, and at some point we may change the number. But at this point we still want people that may think they see the suspect vehicle to use that facility. That is the quickest way to get a hold of us. That is the quickest way for us to expedite the situation at this time.

I want to talk briefly about the public schools in Montgomery County. At this point, they are locked down. School is still in session. You just can't walk up to the school and walk in. We've been in constant with Dr. Weast and his staff. They're continuing to educate the young people. We ask the parents, please, let the day continue to unfold. We have no information that this has anything to do with the schools. None of the victims have been of anything close to school age. None of the locations are close to the schools. So please, continue with that day. I think the school kids are safe. They're being educated. They will be released under normal schedule. We won't create a situation of panic, of traffic, tie-up in the county, that at this point the police department is not capable of handling. So, if we all just methodically let that occur the way it occurs, that will be the best thing for this situation. Again, we don't need panic. We're trying to get our arms around it. We're putting every available resource from the police department and our neighboring agencies. But please, encourage people to not panic, to let us work through this, to let us process this, but let's not make a rush on our schools. Our schools are safe. Our children are safe at this point. So please, if the media, if you can help me get that message out.

Now certainly, I can't arrest a parent that insists on going to the school to get their kid. But please, don't do it. It doesn't help the situation at this point. If I get any information that that is a strategy we need to implement as a community, I will be the first to tell you and put that out through the media. At this point, that will not help the situation.

Again, as I said earlier, that is all the information that I have. We are setting our command center down by the church. We're encouraging you to come down, kind of establish yourselves. Those that are going to stick around for a period of time, we're going to give updates every hour. We'll give you the information. If we get any emergency information, we'll call a hasty press conference, but we understand people want to know about this, we understand that you are going to be able to help us find this person or these individuals, so we want to work cooperatively with you.

At this point, I am not going to take any questions. You have the information that we have available. We're not discussing any strategies because, again, we don't know who we're dealing with, and we think that they might be certainly watching this, developing their strategy, and at this point I don't want to do anything to compromise what my investigators are doing.

We're waiting for some kind of initial response from our forensic investigators, but at this point, we have very little hard evidence to deal with, and so where we may seem a little unspecific about strategies, about things that people need to do, that's just where we are at this point in terms of the investigation.

QUESTION: Could you even offer us the weaponry, what kind of weapon was used?

MOOSE: No, sir.

QUESTION: You said it was a van. We had earlier reports it was a truck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. The chief...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chief Charles Moose making a couple of important points...

WHITFIELD: You've been listening to Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose talk about a lockdown at Montgomery County Public Schools just outside of Washington, D.C. in Maryland. He's talking about the lockdown at the schools because there now, police are now looking for a suspect they believe who is involved in a string of fatal shootings taking place as early as 7:00 p.m. last night in the Montgomery County area through this morning, 10:00 a.m.

Five people in all, fatally shot, all in different locations. One person on Rockville Pike just outside of Rockville, who was shot while mowing his lawn, and then another man -- or person outside of a post office, and so police say they really don't have a whole lot of information now about who they're looking for, but they have a vague description about the vehicle, a white box-like vehicle.

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