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Montgomery County Police Hold Afternoon Press Conference

Aired October 4, 2002 - 14:08   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We are going to take you live now to Montgomery County, Maryland. Police chief stepping up to the mike to talk about progress, hopefully, with regard to the sniper on the loose, someone that left already five people dead, possibly a sixth.

CHARLES MOOSE, POLICE CHIEF, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND: ... cover a number of different topics. First, return to the issue of the shooting last night in the District.

At this point, we just got off the phone with MPD, indicating that the material that they have now is going to their ballistics lab. They were actually hand carrying it to the ballistic lab as we speak, so obviously, again, that work is ongoing, but it is not complete.

There is an ongoing rumor that somehow we have a person in custody with regards to this situation. That is not the case. It's very unfortunate, but it is not the case. We do not have anyone in custody, but that seems to be a fairly strong rumor.

Earlier, I talked about our desire to have a psychological profile by the end of business today in consultation with the FBI. They've done everything that they can, but information continues to come in, and they tell us that that work just will not be complete today. They are working on it. But they want more time, they want more information. So again, maybe I misspoke. We're not going to have that by the end of business today. But they are aggressively working on getting that for us.

In addition, we have contacted, through our partners with the ATF, they will be dispatching a geological profiler. Should be here at headquarters sometime between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. This person deals with location and physical boundaries to determine patterns. And they're going to be working with us, studying the geography, looking at the map, doing that work and seeing how they can assist us.

So two different profiles: a geo-profile and a psychological profile. But again, work is being done. No real timeframe when that information will be available. They're working as expeditiously as possible.

In terms of the medical examiner's work, that work is at this point complete. What that means to us is that one, the families can have their loved ones released to them. So any arrangements that they have made, they can follow through on those arrangements and have those released from the medical examiner. What that means to us as a police department is that now we are waiting the reports. So the work is done, but the reports are not done. And certainly, maybe they don't always do it that way, but out of respect to the families, they have released the remains, because certainly, we've been informed that at least one of the families wants to move quickly and have services as early as Sunday. And so, with that in mind, the medical examiner wanted to be responsive to that, but the actual reports, the work, the documents, that is not complete.

Calls continue to come in to our tip line: 240-777-2600. Still good information coming in. We appreciative of that. As we may all guess, after the demonstration by ATF -- the weapons, the ammunition -- obviously, we saw a spike in our calls to our tip line.

I'd also like to give kudos to our personnel at our 911 center. I just left there, talking to the staff, thanking them for their tremendous response to this spike in activity. I just want to share with you on Wednesday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 we had 680 911 calls into our center. On Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., we had 2,020 calls for service, 911 calls into our center. So the staff handled that. They handled it with the same amount of staffing. It was tremendous work on their part, and certainly, I just wanted to publicly thank them and let them know how much additional work they actually took on that day.

At this point, we will take questions. At this point, we also plan to brief, again, at 4:00 p.m.

QUESTION: Last night, when the shooting happened on Georgia Avenue, we spoke, and very quickly, you said, Well, we don't think it's connected. Was there something encouraging -- not encouraging, excuse me -- was there something to lead to believe that there was a connection: you recovered a slug, a cursory look would tell you whether or not it was of this sort or another?

MOOSE: Again, you know, I'm not denying that we have extreme interest, but we're going to wait for the science. I wish it would move a little faster, but it's moving at the pace that it's moving. Once we nail that down, we will have that discussion.

QUESTION: You arrested someone last night in connection with that shooting. Do you have that person in custody?

MOOSE: We arrested someone last night. We thought the person that we arrested was connected to the shooting. They were not. They needed arresting; they were arrested. But they didn't do the shooting. They were in the area of the shooting, but what they were arrested for turns out to be other issues.

QUESTION: The shooting is connected. He's still on the loose?

MOOSE: Yes, exactly. And it was -- if -- if they are connected, we do not have the shooter in custody.

QUESTION: Chief Moose, in your five murders out here, where are you at in terms of two suspects or one?

MOOSE: We're remaining very open minded, so I would probably say that the best answer is that we're still focusing on two.

QUESTION: One witness who saw the white box truck is also the one and only witness who believes they saw two perpetrators.

MOOSE: Well, certainly, the two perpetrators comes from the information on the truck, the box truck. But again, I'm not willing to say that when you use the term "one and only," our investigators are talking to people right now. They have been talking to a number of people. I have not asked for all of the details of their interviews, and so I am hesitant to say one and only.

But certainly, we did get information that they saw two people in the truck. We're still focused on the truck. And therefore, we're still focused on two.

QUESTION: And do you believe there are -- as one weapon or possibly two?

MOOSE: Certainly, at this point, I have no indicator of two weapons. And my experience would say that you got a driver, you got a shooter.

QUESTION: Are you still looking for the white box truck with the lettering on the side. And if that turns out to be a mistake, then you kind of are chasing a ghost, are you not?

MOOSE: OK. In terms of whether or not that turns out to be a mistake, I want to say that no lead is a mistake. We will search down all leads. If we find the truck that we're convinced the truck that we're looking for and it turns out to not be involved, then that is the case. But we are, police officers, investigators, we chase a lot of clues all the time. That's what you pay us for. So I don't feel bad about that.

We have recently updated that description to our officers out on the street. It is in a little more detail. At this point, I am not quite sure when we're going to release the specific new detail to the media. It hasn't changed anything. It just is a little more descriptive. It kind of updates things for a patrol officer, just a few more details for them to look for so that they don't perhaps stop every white truck. .

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) two Hispanic men in the truck?

MOOSE: At this point, we're really not focused down on any race with regards to the people in the truck. We're really just keeping it real general. Two people. And certainly, comfortable saying it appeared to be two males. But we can't do any race call at this point.

QUESTION: Can you characterize the tips that you've been getting? Are these people who are in the area who didn't know before that a crime had been committed there? What kinds of calls are you getting?

MOOSE: I really cannot characterize the tips. We're getting a lot of tips on a lot of information. And I really haven't gone down to that level of detail. I apologize for that, but I think that really would be inappropriate for me. We've got staff, investigators, working on that. For me then to get in there would just kind of slow them down.

QUESTION: Based on what you have already said about perhaps two people -- one driver, one shooter -- would you please outline what investigators believe actually took place in each of these cases?

MOOSE: Sir, I will not outline what the investigators believe took place. Again, we try our best to not engage in speculation. They want to continue to interview people, get the facts, and we want to deal in those facts. Again, the speculation may put...

PHILLIPS: Police Chief Charles Moose, out of Montgomery County, Maryland, there, with the latest information in the search for a sniper that has left five people dead within a 16-hour period.

We are told that the sixth shooting, that happened last night, he's not saying there is a connection to the other deaths in the area, but that evidence is now going to the ballistics lab, and they will bring us the latest information on this latest shooting that happened last night.

Also, still no one in custody. However, a psychological profile is coming out of the FBI. It wont be ready today. Hopefully, tomorrow.


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