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Sniper on the Loose: Search for a Killer

Aired October 12, 2002 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. From the CNN Center in Atlanta, I'm Anderson Cooper. This is a special edition of CNN SATURDAY. Tonight, we take an in-depth look at the killing spree that is terrorizing the metropolitan Washington area.
First, a news alert.


COOPER: Whoever is behind the Washington area's sniper shooting still is one step ahead of investigator tonight, who have very few clues in this very frustrating case.

Tonight, there is a new clue. Police released this composite picture of a truck connecting to the killing spree. This is not a photograph. It is a composite based on eyewitness accounts. They're hoping it will lead to the break they desperately need.

As we said, the picture's based on a truck witnesses say they say at several of the shootings in Maryland. So far, the sniper has shot 10 people in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Only two of the victims have survived.

I'm joined now by Bill Hemmer, who's standing by in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Bill, as you well know, the compilation -- the picture that was released today is of the -- one of the trucks. It's not of the Astro van that people saw in yesterday's shooting.

BILL HEMMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, very interesting, Anderson. I think it's just as interesting the information they put out tonight. And it's equally as interesting as what they did not contain in the information they released.

Still, no license plate number, no tag number issued. They say there is writing or some sort of printing on the side of this truck, but yet none of the witnesses could say whether or not what they read could be repeated and verified. And that's why they have actually letters on the side of that van, if you look at the composite picture once again, that say "words unknown." Two lines of words, in fact.

But what they say, what they indicate is still a wide open question. Nonetheless, though, a number of characteristics given and released. And the police chief talked about that about four hours ago. Here's Chief Moose.


CHARLES MOOSE, CHIEF OF POLICE, MONTGOMERY CO., MARYLAND: It has been modified, it has been retouched and it is very close to what the witnesses tell us from their memory.

But again, it is a composite, it is not a photograph. It does have a roll-up door in the rear. And the damage to the rear bumper is very difficult to see in the composite, but it is indented.


HEMMER: Again, Chief Moose from earlier tonight. A couple things to clarify here. They're saying this is a composite, drawn from a number of witnesses who say they spotted trucks similar to this one. They took all the information, compiled it, put it together, and this is the product they have produced.

You heard a few things the chief mentioned there. Let's go over them again. A rolled up door in the rear, they say. A bumper indented, damage to the right rear bumper. They talk about the paint, oxidized paint, not sheen or glean, but oxidized. Perhaps, they say, an indication of an older truck, or maybe even a truck or vehicle that has been exposed to a great length of sun exposure. Large lettering on the side is what I mentioned again, but again, unknown words on the side of that truck.

They're trying to jar the memory of anyone who might live in this area, who might be able to offer more clues as to the location and the whereabouts of that truck.

Let's talk more about it now with Kathleen Koch, who was with us here earlier in the evening and joins us once again. And I think that it's very interesting the characteristics they released, but there were a few other tidbits that did come out today that weren't necessarily released at the briefing, that witnesses have reported that relate to that truck. And those are what?

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the chief -- they also passed out the sheet of paper that goes into different items. One, obviously besides witnesses seeing this truck, they heard the truck. And apparently one witness said that they heard a loud motor, a very consistent with an older vehicle. I guess the motor running rough.

Other things that points out is that damage on the right rear bumper. It says damage that looks like a -- the truck backed up into something, and struck something. So that's sort of indentation, if you can imagine that. But again, very interesting, because they gave us very precise descriptions of this truck a week ago yesterday, Friday, October 4.

But clearly, they have determined that just putting the word out, describing it was not enough. And again, that's the, you know, picture with a thousand words. They're just hoping that by showing this, people will say, "I was -- yes, I saw it -- just like it." And there was this kind of person or that person driving in it. And it was driving erratically.

So they're hoping this may be something that will jog someone's memory.

HEMMER: Let's talk about the similarities now in these cases. We've seen some deviation, not a great deal. But as we size up the 10 incidents, which has taken eight lives and wounded two others, where can we draw the parallel between similarities in these cases?

KOCH: I think it's interesting, Bill, because initially people said, you know, random shootings. But as you look at the various cases, they are less and less random. First of all, every single victim was alone. Every single victim was shot once from a distance in the upper body, the upper torso. Nine of the victims were shot in very busy commercial areas. The only exception being the young boy, who was shot Monday at the school.

Seven of them were shot during rush hour, again, just three exceptions to that. And then, four of them, as we become painfully aware, especially in the more recent shootings, were shot at gas stations. Obviously, something that's striking fear into the hearts of people throughout this, you know, metropolitan Washington, D.C. area, an area where some five million people live, drive cars, and have to eventually buy gasoline, as terrified as many of them are to do it right now.

HEMMER: To say it's confounding would be a bit of an understatement.

Anderson, I believe you have a question as well. Go ahead, my friend.

COOPER: Yes, both to Bill and Kathleen, I'm curious as to why do you think it has taken so long to get this composite released?


COOPER: I mean, this is a truck which, you know, is alleged to have taken part or been seen from shootings several days ago, and we still don't have a composite of the van that was supposedly seen yesterday at the shooting that occurred then. What -- why do you think it's taken so long?

HEMMER: Yes, I tell you a couple of things here. Let's talk about the Astro van in a second, because they are very specific, Anderson, that they believe they're working with two different vehicles here.

What I find interesting is that the eyewitnesses that have given the description for this truck have only been here in Montgomery County. So the only details the cases here, that go back well over a week. And I think the last case we've had in this county was a week ago, yesterday.

KOCH: Thursday.

HEMMER: Which would have been at least eight days. So why did it not come out earlier? I think the only assumption we can draw from this is that they wanted to be absolutely sure the witnesses' stories that they compiled paralleled each other. And even before they put out the composite, Kathleen, they went back to the witness and said, now is this what you meant? Is this what you were talking about, because this is what we're going to give to the public.

KOCH: Exactly. And they're being very protective of these witnesses.

Anderson, I don't know if you've noticed this, but at the press conference today, the chief was warning the media don't try to follow our investigators. Don't try to stick your noses in too deeply in this case because you could endanger the witnesses. People will perhaps become more reluctant to speak out, to share what they have learned. And also, people will be frightened about losing their anonymity. And clearly with the sniper on the loose, any potential witness to one of these cases might clearly believe that their life is at risk.

HEMMER: Yes, with regard to the Astro, just quickly, Anderson, to let you know they're still on the hunt for that. An eyewitness down in Fredericksburg, Virginia yesterday insists that there is this white Chevrolet Astro van that left the scene in a hurry. And they're still looking for it. Indeed, they stress there are two vehicles that right now that they are more concerned with.

KOCH: And Anderson, they've said that they are going to get us out a composite of that Astro van, but they have a lot of witnesses now to this shooting in Fredericksburg. Because with each shooting, people are more and more aware and they're paying more attention.


KOCH: So they have more witnesses to really take their composite, too, and say does this work? Was this what you saw? They want to make sure everyone is satisfied with it.

COOPER: I understand law enforcement in Spotsylvania canceled leaves. And the police there are working 16 hour shifts. Give us a sense of the scope of this investigation at this point. Do you know how many detectives, how many police are working on it?

And any sense of how many leads, how many tips have actually come in? I've heard various quotes in the, you know, several thousand, several hundred. What do you know?

KOCH: Well, we -- they announced to us late last week, I think the count at that point was 100 detectives here in Montgomery County working on this case. Some 95 federal investigators working on the case. And they have -- since then, they have brought in even more and more...

HEMMER: That's right. KOCH: ...members of the ATF, the FBI, and the Secret Service is working on the case. And they need all the people they can get because the last tabulation that I heard was that what they are considering credible tips, credible leads have hit 1700. And that's in Montgomery County alone. I think they've gotten I believe in -- just in Virginia with the shooting...


KOCH: ...which occurred yesterday.

HEMMER: I can tell you on Wednesday, the 1700 credible leads. But of the 1700, it was widely reported that about 500 of the 1700 were considered -- to have the potential to take them in a direction where they thought they could go. They have now 60 phone lines set up 24 hours a day.

On Friday with the shooting down in Fredericksburg on Friday morning, they were taking in something like 40 -- I want to get this right now -- 1,000 calls an hour that were coming to these phone lines. In addition to that, Anderson, they said a number of people called the 911 line, which was a flat out mistake, because they overloaded the lines.

And listen, everybody wants to know. You know, everybody wants the facts, everybody wants the information, everybody has their own theory and their own story for what's happening here, but at this point, the facts are so few and far between.

COOPER: Well, yes, as you mentioned, people should not be calling the 911 line. There is a tip line. It's 1-888-324-9800.

HEMMER: Indeed.

COOPER: All right, thanks very much, Bill, Kathleen. We will check in with you in just a few minutes.


HEMMER: Welcome back to Rockville, Maryland. As we sit here on a Saturday night, the rain continues to come down here. The weather's been rather inclement four days running now in the Washington, D.C. area.

It is Saturday evening. We are halfway through the weekend. What does that mean with regard to the serial sniper? Very difficult to say at this point. Last weekend, there were no shootings related to these cases on Saturday or Sunday. Does that mean the sniper takes weekends off? Too much of a hunch for us to go on right now. Again, we're only halfway through.

Let's talk more about that and the psychology behind it. Dr. Bob Gordon joins us live from Houston, Texas tonight.

Dr. Gordon's a forensic psychologist, who's worked on a number of high profile cases, the Susan Smith matter in South Carolina about seven years ago, and also the Timothy McVeigh case, working on behalf of the prosecution.

Doctor, good evening to you.


HEMMER: How does this case end? Doctor, are you there?

GORDON: Yes, please repeat the question? I didn't hear it.

HEMMER: Yes, what I'm curious to know, and I know you've studied this stuff, how does this case end?

GORDON: It ends with the apprehension and killing or trial of the tarot card murderer. And it ends, as it must, and we are able as a society to apprehend him. He will make a critical mistake. He will do something careless, because he has a compulsion to confess. He has a desire to be caught.

At the same time, the community which he is creating tremendous anxiety and stress, particularly along young people, are frustrated, becoming angry as well as fearful. And there's so much that we are going to put up with, before we become hypervigilant and apprehensive.

HEMMER: And then we also have to wonder how much longer does it go on before indeed this person is caught? As you point out, he wants to be caught. Many people surmise that he wants the attention ultimately.

Answer this, if you can. If you go back 10 days ago, why is there a series of shootings over a 16 hour period, that takes the lives of five different people? And then we go into this pattern where it's every day and a half, every 18 hours, every 36 hours. Why does that strategy change from the sniper's viewpoint?

GORDON: Psychologically, time moves different from chronological time. And so, he may have his own calendar, which is meaningful emotionally to him. It would not be to us or to the victims.

At the same time, as well as killing strangers, which is the characteristic of a serial killer, those that he does not know and who are completely innocent, he is also systematically trying in a deviant emotional and sexual way to create trauma for all those in the community, not unlike a terrorist.

HEMMER: How confident is he right now? If you think about the case yesterday morning, 9:30 a.m., the sun was well up, broad daylight one could argue, police officer -- a state trooper just about 50 years away?

GORDON: He's absolutely not competent in the sense that he is -- has a delusional system. There's a psychopathy, where he lacks the conscience that most people do in terms of the values of the community. But beneath there are delusions of grandeur and a schizophrenia, where he clearly doesn't think right.

Unfortunately, he's very bright. He's very compulsive. And he is systematically killing innocent people.

HEMMER: And what do you see here as a motive? A very difficult question to answer.

GORDON: This...

HEMMER: And perhaps the only answer comes from the sniper himself or herself, whoever he or she might be. As you look at this, what is the motivation behind it? What's the rationale?

GORDON: In my view, the motivation goes back to the childhood of the individual who I do believe to be a man. And you know, Bill, so often we find people like this could be detected earlier because they've tormented animals, or they've killed or hurt brothers or sisters.

There is a battered child syndrome, but there is also a battering child syndrome, those children who are cruel, who are isolated, who can't make meaningful attachments. And tragically, many of them are also abused physically and sexually. And so, they are acting out this kind of lack of value which they have. And some of it has sexual content as well.

HEMMER: If that is the case, then what does it say about the mentality of an individual? Who is a sniper who essentially is 100 yards or greater away from his victim? A very clean way of killing a lot of people (UNINTELLIGIBLE), what does that tell us?

GORDON: It tells us that he is cold and methodical, that he does not have a sense of feeling, empathy, or attachment, that he is more interested in dominance and control and sadism. And in particular, that this is how he interfaces with people.

The problem is that such individuals are often attractive. They often have good word skill. And they often can camouflage themselves in their daily life in office buildings, in shopping centers, and even within their own home.

HEMMER: Thank you, Dr. Gordon. I much appreciate it.

GORDON: Thank you.

HEMMER: Down in Houston, Texas, forensic psychologist, Dr. Bob Gordon, his thoughts on what may or may not be the case here with the serial sniper. More in a minute live in Rockville, but for now, Anderson, back to you at the CNN Center.

COOPER: Bill, thanks very much. Very chilling stuff.

The sniper shootings have become a lesson in caution for thousands of students. School districts throughout the area have canceled trips, events and outdoor activities.

Jason Bellini takes us to one school on the edge for a look at some very tight security.


JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): High tension, high alert. School's already out for the day, but one security guard at Wooton High School in Rockville, Maryland has athletes and lingering students to worry about.

Lock down the school, what does that mean?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Close all the doors, make sure they're all locked.

BELLINI: What's going on, it turns out, is a false alarm, not another sniper incident. And most everyone left on campus was already inside, including the athletes that for more than a week now have been trying to practice outdoor sports in indoor confines.

(on camera): To this outsider, it seemed like not such a big deal. Okay, so students aren't allowed to practice outside. So they have to wait inside for their parents to pick them up. But as their principal pointed out to me, this is their world, and the disruption is a serious one.

REBECCA NEWMAN, HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL: This is their life. I mean, your job is your world of work. Your job are your friends. And they come here to see their friends. They come here as their world of work. This is their world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pay attention, this is a serious matter. Run it right, okay?

BELLINI (voice-over): School athletics is something serious, something significant to many high school students. And the games they've trained for all summer for now are canceled.

How big a deal is that?

JUSTIN WAYNE, WOOTON HIGH SCHOOL: It's actually a really big deal because this game was our biggest rival. It was our favorite game, the biggest game of the year for us.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually, our game was today. And it's an important game to us. Last home game of the season for seniors.

BELLINI: The reality of the situation that there is no certain end to this is starting to set in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What will happen is the regular season, we'll just make that short.

BELLINI: Around the Washington, D.C. area, homecoming dances, weekend SAT tests are off. An overreaction? Perhaps that's not for an outsider to judge.

Yes, I mean it'd be such an off chance that an event would happen here.

NEWMAN: But if it's a chance, one in a million, we don't want to take that chance. I mean, my primary focus right now, on a daily basis -- normally it's instruction. Today and for the last seven days, it's been safety primarily. And it's my job to make sure that students are safe.

BELLINI: It's getting crazy, huh?

It may sound like an exaggeration when the security guard says...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our freedom has been taken from us.

BELLINI: But for many in America, safety, security and football are part of what it means to be free. And here for now, they're restricted.

Jason Bellini, CNN, Rockville, Maryland.


COOPER: Well, as one Washington, D.C. area resident puts it, "People feel hunted." Tonight, our next guest says the sniper attacks also had people feeling helpless and traumatized. Psychotherapist Joyce Divinyi joins us now with some ways to cope.

Thanks very much for being with us. That is the word you hear so much, helpless. I feel helpless. And it's exacerbated by the fact that this seems so out of people's control.


COOPER: It's not something you can really prevent against?

DIVINYI: Well, it goes to the level of trauma by definition in that one of the hallmarks of trauma are extreme fear and extreme powerlessness. And this brings both of those together in the most acute sense, in that people are in fact out of control. They are powerless. And it can -- it appears even at times that everyone's powerless.

I mean, we all hope -- we are confident this person will eventually be caught, but in the interim, in the meantime, when they're on the loose, then people are pretty powerless to protect themselves from such a bizarre assault.

COOPER: There are people who may say, look, let's not blow this out of proportion. This is just one guy. The chance of getting hit by this person is very small, or you know, one or two guys depending. But you're saying it has an impact far beyond just individuals who would actually see it?

DIVINYI: Oh, yes. Well, just like the kids in the schools who've canceled all their activities, and their homecoming dances, and all of that, that's had a real impact on their life. That -- so it isn't just this particular man who may actually hit them with a bullet. It's what it's done to the whole community in terms of the ripple effect. And I think we're -- rather than overstating it, lots of times, people get in trouble with the long term negative effects of trauma by understating what it does to folks.

COOPER: And what does it do?

DIVINYI: Well, it can have a major impact on people's ability to sleep, on people's ability to handle other kinds of emotions.

I mean, if you stay traumatized long enough, your brain receives almost like an insult to the brain. And it has a long term effect. It can have a long term effect if people aren't dealing with the emotions of it.

COOPER: So what is the best way to deal with it, talking about it?

DIVINYI: Talking about it, talking about the feelings involved, not dismissing the feelings like they're not relevant. Recognizing that anger is almost a given, once people feel powerless enough. People will become more cranky with one another, more irritable, more jumpy.

COOPER: And how do you deal with kids? I mean, they probably react in a different way?

DIVINYI: Kids react in a different way because their brains are not as developed. And so, the more terrified they are, the more likely they are to be emotional.

Adults will eventually get emotional, you know, and many are emotional. The longer this goes, the more emotional people become. And our fear is a natural defense. We want to have that fear system that protects us, but when it goes too long, it can really cause us to not be able to think well, not to get from the think -- feeling part of our brain into thinking part of our brain.

COOPER: So the bottom line is talk to your friends about it, talk to your counselors, your loved ones.

DIVINYI: Yes, yes. Talk about it and talk about the feelings as well as the thinking. One of the things that's the most crucial about this issue is it's senseless. And one of the things that helps people somehow make sense of trauma is figuring out some thing, even that I'm at fault, I'm not at fault, I'm not the -- you know, it wasn't my fault. But there's still such a senselessness about this that makes it harder for people. And just processing that through language and support is real important.

COOPER: All right, Joyce Divinyi, thanks very much.

DIVINYI: Thank you.

COOPER: Well, still ahead, we'll go back live to Montgomery County, Maryland, where investigators are still searching for the sniper responsible for the death of at least eight people. We'll be right back.


COOPER: A series of explosions have rocked the Indonesian island of Bali. One killing more than 100 people in a popular tourist area, and another near an American consular office. Authorities are investigating whether they are tied to terrorism.

CNN's Atika Shubert joins us now by phone from Bali with the latest.

Atika, what is the scene where you're at?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it's a pretty horrific scene here. Friends and family are wandering the hospital, just really trying to find their loved ones. But as you can imagine, identifying people here is nearly impossible at this time.

In addition to the large numbers of wounded, I'd say there's over 100 dead. And unfortunately, many of the bodies are charred, burned, twisted so much so that it's very difficult to identify now.

When I went to the morgue, orderlies told me the numbers are still likely to rise. From what I could see, most appear to be foreigners. However, at this point, only three people have been identified. So you can imagine how frustrating it is for families and friends.

COOPER: Atika, I should point out Reuters right now is saying there are about 158 dead. Do you have any sense of injured people? I mean, are you seeing a lot of people in the hospital who have injuries or are some not that lucky?

SHUBERT: I -- we're seeing people -- sure, we're seeing people walking around with injuries, those who have only been lightly injured with shards of glass. And in almost every single room of this hospital is packed with people with very serious burn injuries, broken bones, all kinds of trauma.

Doctors are here trying to help as much as they can, but they've actually had to ask help from other places. Volunteer doctors that just happen to be on the island are coming in to give what help they can -- Anderson.

COOPER: Well, as you know, it is a very small island. And I'm sure the hospital there is just overwhelmed, as you said. Do you have any sense from any witnesses? I mean, did people see anything? You know, there have been some reports about a possible car bomb. What do you know?

SHUBERT: That's right. What we -- what I've heard from police, who I just talked to just recently, they do believe it was a powerful bomb. They believe it was a car bomb, but they're not 100 percent sure on this yet.

From what witnesses have said, what they saw was a blinding explosion. And they don't remember what happened after that. I did talk to one person who's description of it was he just passed the site when he heard -- when he heard the -- felt this huge explosion. And then all of a sudden, just the sky raining dust upon him.

So for many people, this was just such a shocking experience, they can't really remember all the details very clearly.

But again, police saying it is most likely a car bomb. But interestingly, they're not saying that this is a terrorist attack yet. They're still saying this is a criminal attack -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Atika Shubert, thanks so much. And it's going to be a long night for you and a very grisly one. We appreciate you taking the time to speak with us tonight. We'll check in with you as the story develops. Thanks very much.

We are going to go back to Bill Hemmer right now in Montgomery County, Maryland, who's been following this story for several days. And all day, it's been a long day, Bill, but one with some new developments. The police releasing that composite of the truck.

HEMMER: Indeed, Anderson, exactly right. That's the new bit of information, and quite substantial too if you look back at the 10 day history here about the information that's come out from police headquarters in Montgomery County.

Quickly, to show our viewers once again, a composite put out. It's actually a photograph, but they stress it's a composite, taken together compiled by eyewitnesses who were in or around the shootings here in Montgomery County.

An important point to point out, this is only Montgomery County. It has nothing to do with Prince George's or Prince William or Washington, D.C. or the situation out in Spotsylvania County.

This is the information officials have put out about this truck with a dented right rear bumper, some sort of writing on the side, writing that is not known according to the witnesses or not determined anyway. And at this point, this is the jumping off point that the police have given the public to be on the look out for, trying to jog the memories of anyone who might have any information about this truck here.

Let's leave this and go to a different topic surrounding Rockville, Maryland right now. All right, and that's the issue of spirituality and the issue that tomorrow, Sunday, countless people will pour into churches throughout the area.

I want to bring back in my colleague, Kathleen Koch, and so too the Reverend Mansfield Kaseman from the Rockville United Church. It's about 10 minutes from our location here and in Rockville. Good evening, once again to both of you.

Your message tomorrow in church is what?

MANSFIELD KASEMAN, REVEREND, ROCKVILLE UNITED CHURCH: Well, we're going to begin with a special program at 9:30. We're running parents and other interested individuals to come together. I've invited in a licensed clinical psychologist, a chaplain with hospice, a pediatrician and myself. And we want to help them know how best to care for their children and for themselves in this stressful situation.

Then we'll be moving on for 20 minutes of silence. Not everybody is comfortable with solitude that way. So we're going to be providing some soft music and words for reflection. Actually, we've been doing that now every Sunday all fall. The church established peace as the theme for our program.

HEMMER: 20 minutes of silence, huh, interesting.


KOCH: Reverend Kaseman, the parents, and I know there are a lot of parents in your parish, how may advising them to try to explain this to their children, be they young children, be they teenagers? How do you explain this depth of evil...


KOCH: ...this level of evil to a child?

KASEMAN: Yes. Well, we're encouraging them to listen. Not to be speaking before they've listened very carefully to the child, and know where they are. And tomorrow, part of it, we want to do is to break down. You know, we have childhood. We have early childhood. We have the elementary years. We have the adolescent years.

And so, different messages are more appropriate for different years. Most of it, what happens in the news these days, that we don't think is appropriate for children. What we want for them is as much as normalcy as possible, and in particular, time, quality time with their parents, where they can be reassured.

HEMMER: Normalcy's a tough thing these days around here. I know Anderson has a question as well. Anderson, go ahead.

COOPER: Yes, Reverend, obviously at a time like this, so many people reach out to their communities of faith, to their churches, their synagogues or what have you. Do you fear though that people will be afraid to come to church tomorrow?

KASEMAN: I don't think so. People are talking about the courage it does take, though today, whether you're going to a Starbucks or a stretch at the filling station, but they're doing that. And I think for people of faith and perhaps some that haven't been that active in worship, I think tomorrow will be a time they'll want to come, because there's nothing like the community. And I was mentioning solitude earlier. Those that are used to that find real peace. You can move from that horizontal point into that vertical point and receive a peace that the world can't give.

But on our own, it's a lot more difficult. And I think people now feel a need to be part of a community.

HEMMER: You know, Anderson, one thing sitting here with Kathleen and the reverend before we came on the air, there seems to be a lot of comparisons with 9/11 in this area. And is that a fair comparison right now? And if so, what do you hear from people who...

KASEMAN: Well, I think that's in the background. That's in the background together with all of the talk of war. I mean, we live in the nation's capital. Our local news is national and international news. And so, yes, that's part of the conversation is that we're hearing every day. That's a very real concern.

But again, that's why I think it's important for people to be coming together and tapping in on that transcendent dimension of life, that can replace our fear and anxiety with a sense of trust and reassurance.

KOCH: Reverend Kaseman, I'm wondering though, eventually and police are assuring us here in throughout the area, they believe they will catch this killer or killers. And then, how would you deal with that? How do you deal with the anger, the desire for vengeance when the Lord says forgive the sinner?

KASEMAN: Yes, yes.

KOCH: And vengeance is mine?

KASEMAN: Well, tomorrow, our service of worship is going to be changed. It's going to be entirely on reassurance and hope. And I'm using the 23rd Psalm. And one of the versus that just surfaced in the context of all of these conversations deals with -- "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies." And there are many enemies.

And among those, of course, is the assailant, stalking innocent victims. But there's also that enemy of fear, and the enemy of vengeance, and the enemy of arrogance of power, and the enemy of "busyness" and the assumed responsibility that keeps us away from our children, keeps us thinking we don't have time for solitude, and estranges us one from another.

But when we're together, you see, especially together I think in the context of worship, there we understand how important it is that we are forgiven, and that we're able to be forgiving of others.

HEMMER: Interesting.

KASEMAN: Now that sin, we're not forgiving the sin. That sin lives on forever. But as we just heard a few moments ago, you had a therapist describing theoretically to be sure. But we know enough from experience that more than likely, this assailant has been a victim himself or herself, that this is a -- obviously a mentally ill, from my point of view, a person that's deeply troubled, a person in need.

And from God's perspective, a person deserving to be healed and forgiven.

COOPER: Well, Reverend...

KASEMAN: And we've already had services by the way of prayer for the victims and for the victimizer.

COOPER: Reverend, you know, we hear that it is possible the person who is perpetrating these crimes, person or persons, is probably watching a lot of the television coverage. What would you say to that person or persons tonight?

KASEMAN: That we care for you, that God cares for you. God cares for each of us as though we're God's only child. And God wants us to come to our self and wants us to be at peace. And so for you, what is most important is that you lay down your arms, and that you trust in God's love and grace.

COOPER: Thank you, Reverend.

HEMMER: Good luck tomorrow, all right?

KASEMAN: Thank you.

HEMMER: All right, more in a moment, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, we'll be back with you shortly.


COOPER: While police have been searching for the sniper, the public has been looking as well. The word sniper was apparently one of the most popular Internet searches last week.

Regina Lewis is the online adviser for our parent company, AOL. She joins us from Washington tonight with some interesting figures about the information people are looking for.

Thanks for being with us tonight, Regina.


COOPER: What kind of sites are there out there for people who are interested in this story?

LEWIS: Well, there's a wide range of sites. And this evening, there's particular activity, because people are looking for that composite photo, which the Montgomery County police released this evening.

In fact, their site crashed. They were not able to meet the traffic demands going there. But in the meantime, that composite photo is on the front screen of the ATF site. It's on the front screen of It is also rotating on America Online's welcome screen.

Importantly, if you really want to get after that composite photo, you can print it from your computer. So that might be useful to a lot of people.

COOPER: And you know, there's obviously a lot of fact on the web, but also a lot of fiction. I mean, how do you differentiate between the two? It's often a difficult thing to do out there on the web?

LEWIS: Well, it's a great point. Sources matter. There's two kinds of information. There's the kind of sourced information usually from credible news operations like CNN or the Associated Press, "Washington Post," "Time" magazine.

Then there's the information in community forums, like chat rooms and message boards. It's peer to peer communication. Consider it more like talk radio, where every caller gets on the air. And take it with a grain of salt, if you will. It can be very fascinating. It's a great way to exchange ideas, but it doesn't meet journalistic thresholds. It's not sourced. They don't have to meet any criteria like that.

So it's important to understand the difference.

COOPER: Now there was also an AOL poll out there. What'd you find?

LEWIS: Well, there's some interesting polls. Are the police getting any closer to capturing the sniper? A lot of people say, you know, he's more elusive than ever. It'll be interesting to see if the composite photo released changes that, but a lot of people this week are just saying, man, we can't seem to get this guy. And that's reflected in these poll results.

COOPER: Also, we're showing how do you alter your routing if this were happening near you?

LEWIS: Yet a lot of people said I'd only run necessary errands. And we're hearing that echoed from your reporting today from Rockville. People are staying home.

COOPER: Also, on chatrooms, I mean, what is the mood out there? What are people talking about?

LEWIS: Well, there's a wide range. And I think your question to the reverend was interesting. What would you say to the sniper? Online, people are actually writing directly to him or her with appeals. "Please stop the shooting. How could you do this to the children? My kids asked me to write you and say please stop." And they're making the assumption that he is in fact online, checking out the reaction, and possibly that's the case.

COOPER: We've got one of those messages right here. I'm just going to read it out while it's on the screen. It says, "To the Sniper...I guess you can say I am a nobody. I am a low-income person with lots of kids. My kids told me to ask you to please stop the killing. Please, the children all over the world have been hurt with the 9/11 ordeal...Now this? For all the children could you please stop?" LEWIS: Yes.

COOPER: Do you see a lot like that?

LEWIS: You see a lot like this, direct, personal appeals. And you also see a lot of condolences going out to the family, again, written directly to them

COOPER: Is there a lot of fear out there? I mean, we've heard from people in the area. You know, a lot of anxiety, a lot of fear. What about nationwide?

LEWIS: I think there's also a lot of demand for information. I mean, this is a perfect example of a story that's really complimented by online resources. So if you're trying to keep up on it, if you're trying to understand, hey wait a second, what's the difference between a serial and a spree killer again? All that information, historical information about other serial killers, maps. has a terrific map where you can see where the shootings took place. And if you click on the location, it'll tell you even more about the victims. So I think with the void of information and people really trying to fill in the blanks with this one, and a lot of background information's online.

COOPER: All right, Regina Lewis, AOL, thanks very much. It was very interesting.

LEWIS: Sure.


COOPER: And welcome back to this special report. It's about seven minutes before 11:00 here on the East Coast. I'm joined by Bill Hemmer, who is live in Montgomery County, Maryland, as he has been for several days and most of today.

Bill, I'm wondering from your perspective on the ground, how are all these different police agencies and organizations working together? I mean, you have federal, you have state, you have local law enforcement, multi jurisdictions? It's got to be very, very difficult?

HEMMER: I would say it was extremely difficult, especially when the killings, Anderson, moved out of Montgomery County, especially when that young boy, that eighth grader was shot on Monday morning east of here in Prince George's County.

And the other cases that we saw in Manassas and the two hits in Spotsylvania County. The case in D.C. When all of these jurisdictions started to get involved, I think it became extremely complicated for a short period of time.

What happened was, Anderson, to just point of fact, they had three different lines open up, where they were taking in tips and phone calls. And it was very bulky. It was difficult to process. It was very difficult for the callers to take the information and then feed it out to the appropriate investigative areas.

They clipped a lot of that off on Wednesday night and into Thursday morning when they opened that 888 number, 888-324-9800. And that helped.

The other thing, and we've talked about it a lot, you know, it was largely thought that at mid week, the FBI was going to come in here and essentially heavy hand the place, and take it away from the local jurisdictions. It hasn't happened.

I think part of the reason it hasn't happened is because they are communicating on a level where they can cooperate, get the information, and divvy it out to the investigative units that need it.

COOPER: Well, as you are well aware, a lot of law enforcement, I mean, just working around the clock. I've heard it in...


COOPER: ...Spotsylvania...

HEMMER: 16 hour shifts, Anderson.

COOPER: 16 hours, yes. Just unbelievable. And obviously, we wish them all the best.

HEMMER: Right.

COOPER: What -- how has this story changed for you? I mean, in the couple days that you've been there, what really stands out in your mind?

HEMMER: I think a couple things. I really find this confounding. How the Virginia law enforcement agencies got together on Thursday, they has this massive conference call on how they would respond if their state were hit again. And it happened 24 hours later.

Within seven minutes, Anderson, they had the freeways shut down, the on ramps, the exit ramps. They had numerous police officers respond at the scene, yet still, the sniper, the killer eluded them. I find that quite confounding because not only do you have every law enforcement agency in this entire D.C. area on the lookout, you have every citizen essentially on the lookout as well. The awareness is so heightened, and still yet they elude capture.

COOPER: Well...

HEMMER: I just think that is phenomenal still at this point.

COOPER: What's also interesting is so many of the experts in this area tell us that serial killers or spree killers, whatever you want to call them, don't really focus so much on trying to escape. And yet, this person or persons, escape seems to be a priority?

HEMMER: Yes, I agree with you on that. It is largely thought right now that the sniper is casing the area, wherever he or she is going. They look at the on ramps, the exit ramps.

You know, the last four shootings have all been within a quarter mile of the highway, a very easy escape route for anybody who's looking for a way out.

COOPER: All right, well Bill Hemmer, it has been a long day for you as well. We appreciate you joining us.

HEMMER: We'll see you bright and early tomorrow morning again, though.

COOPER: All right, no doubt. That of course...

HEMMER: Have a good evening.

COOPER: Good evening to you.

That is all for us now. Stay with CNN for continuing coverage of the search for a killer, and the latest breaking news in the case. Next up on CNN, "CAPITAL GANG."

Before we go, however, one final note: In all the talk of the search for the killer or killers, it is very easy to overlook the lives of the victims. Two have survived; eight others have not. Eight lives cut short. Eight lives we wanted to remember tonight.


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