CNN BREAKING NEWS
Sniper at Large
Aired October 20, 2002 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To the person who left us a message at the Ponderosa last night, you gave us a telephone number. We do want to talk to you. Call us at the number you provided.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shocking words in a shocking investigation. Is the sniper reaching out?
ANNOUNCER: Tonight, a sniper on the loose. Search for a killer. From the CNN Center in Atlanta, Anderson Cooper.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks for joining us in the special edition of CNN SUNDAY. We'll retrace the gunman's footsteps in Ashland, Virginia. We'll find out how the 37-year old victim's second surgery is going and tell you about a message that was found at the crime scene.
We've got reporters all over the map tonight, as we have in the last 24 hours of our coverage. We've got some interesting twists and turns as well, but first, let's get our up-to-date on some of the other major stories happening around the world.
It has been a busy day, to say the least, in the search for the Washington area sniper. Daryn Kagan is going to join us shortly, giving us an overview from Montgomery -- excuse me -- Montgomery County, Maryland, it's been a long day. Jason Carroll is at the hospital in Richmond, Virginia where the 37-year-old victim's been in surgery for the second time in 24 hours and Gary Tuchman is in Ashland, Virginia with a amazing view of the crime scene, from where the shooter may have been standing.
We are going to be joining all those people. We're going to go right now to Daryn Kagan for an update on the latest -- Daryn.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes Anderson, it has been a long and fascinating 26 hours since the last time we heard about this shooting in Ashland, Virginia, probably the most significant news of the night, on the status on the patient, on the man who's trying to survive, the latest victim. We'll have more on him in just a moment, but the other big development came right out of here in Montgomery County and that was an announcement, a very, very brief news conference with the police chief here -- Police Chief Charles Moose, who came out and said he had two things to say. He made it brief and he made it very clear he was taking no questions. Let's listen into what the police chief had to say earlier tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF CHARLES MOOSE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE: To the person who left us a message at the Ponderosa last night, you gave us a telephone number. We do want to talk to you. Call us at the number you provided. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAGAN: It was very quick, and it sounded a little bit to be somewhat confusing, talking about calling us at the number you provided. But after we pressed police officials, after that they just said it's very clear the person we are talking to will understand exactly what we are talking about. Now they have not been clear whether or not that was -- message was meant for the sniper or somebody else. But as you heard the chief say, the message was left last night at the sight of the shooting, at the Ponderosa Steak House in Ashland, Virginia, and that's where we find our Gary Tuchman on the scene tonight.
Gary, good evening.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, hello to you. We don't want to talk about any speculation at all right now. What we want to do is tell you what we do know and what we believe we know. And right now we are in the back of the Ponderosa. The Ponderosa Restaurant is the white building right behind us. This, where we're standing, is the back parking lot. This is where the shooting occurred. Yesterday when we arrived here, about two hours after the shooting, we were in front of the Ponderosa. We could not see where the shooting occurred.
Now, this is where we are, and what we know is the 37-year-old man and his wife shortly after 7:55 p.m. paid their check, walked out of a side door right over there, and started walking somewhere either in these parking spots or a parking spot near the dumpster over there. When they got to their car, a shot rang out. The wife thought it was a car backfiring.
Her husband had slumped to the ground, and she realized he was shot. The wife and witnesses say they heard the shot come from the woods behind the restaurant and right next to us are one to two acres of woodlands, and this is where we believe the person who fired the gun, we believe this is where he was standing.
It's very likely he was standing right here. This is where police, scores of policemen and policewomen did their work for a period of 16 hours. They wandered down this path and you can see it's heavily wooded here, but there is a path where you can clearly walk through and run through to get away, and you could still see some of the crime tape that is still up here.
And what they did is they meticulously combed through this area here, looking for evidence and indeed, we are told by authorities they did find forensic evidence in the woods here. That evidence is now at the laboratory. We are also told, as you know, that the -- a message was given to police authorities. We don't know if this was a message that was delivered by telephone, that was delivered by note, that came in these woods, that was found in the woods, that was carved in a tree.
We don't know anything about that right now, but as we stay here in the woods, it's certainly something we think about. And we want to give you the view of what this person, who had this gun, saw. So we're going to turn the camera around, and we're going to show you that what he most likely did, according to police, was come very close to this parking lot -- how close we don't know.
But they do know that he was in the woods. The shot came from the woods, and you can see it is pitch dark outside, but because of the lights in the parking lot, he would have a perfect view of people going to their car in this spot, and the people coming out of a restaurant would never even bother to look at the woods. Even if they wanted to look at the woods, if he was in dark clothes, it would have been impossible to see because there's no back light in this direction. It would have been completely dark for someone going into the parking lot, but an easy shot for the person who was here in the woods.
Daryn, back to you.
KAGAN: Gary Tuchman in Ashland, Virginia, thank you very much. A couple of late-breaking items on this story. We bring them to you as they come in. First of all on that message that we played for you, that Chief Moose read, at that point it was unclear who exactly he was talking to. But now I've been told that CNN indeed has confirmed that Chief Moose was talking directly to person they believe to be the sniper. So it is an attempt, CNN has learned, to communicate directly with the sniper. They want that person to call the number provided in the message left behind at the Ponderosa Steak House.
Also getting word, this is an issue for parents, four school districts in the Richmond, Virginia area are going to close tomorrow, rather than just go on lock-down. Apparently, the volume of concern and questions by parents is just overwhelming, and instead they have decided to go ahead and close the schools in four districts around Richmond, Virginia.
Speaking of Richmond, Virginia, that is where we go next because that is where the latest victim, the latest shooting victim, whether or not is related to the sniper, is fighting for his life tonight. He has undergone, as far as we know, at least two surgeries, and the hunt is still on, we believe, for the bullet that shot him last night.
Our Jason Carroll is standing by at the hospital in Richmond, Virginia where this man fights for his life tonight. Jason, good evening.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And good evening to you Daryn. That 37-year-old man is still undergoing surgery. As you say, this is his second surgery. He went to surgery just a little bit before 7:00, so at this point he's been in surgery for just about three hours. Doctors are going to go at a second attempt to try to repair most of the extensive internal damage that was done by that gunshot wound. This victim is in critical, but guarded condition, but it's definitely an encouraging sign that doctors were at least able to get him stable enough so they could get in there and perform a second surgery.
Doctors performed their first surgery on this victim last night. That one lasted for about three hours and once again, they were trying to repair all of that internal damage that was done by that single gunshot wound to the upper abdomen. Doctors say that the victim's stomach was literally torn apart by the shooting.
His pancreas was so badly damaged, the left side of it had to be removed. His spleen was destroyed, so that had to be taken out as well. The bullet also grazed his kidney before finally settling in his chest area. So what doctors are going to do during this second surgery is basically what's going to happen is they're going to get in there, try to repair the badly damaged internal injuries that are there, and then at that point, if possible, they will try and retrieve the bullet or the bullet fragment.
Doctors are also telling us that this 37-year-old man was extremely healthy before this shooting and so that's definitely going to play in his favor. In fact, at some point during the day he was conscious, Daryn. He opened and closed his eyes. He was not speaking, though, because he had a ventilator in, so he was unable to talk.
His wife is by his side, so that certainly is going to help in terms of the mental part of recovering from something like this. Doctors say because this man is relatively young and that he was in good health, he has a fair to good chance of surviving -- Daryn.
KAGAN: Jason, so they have made -- the doctors have made it clear as much as they would like to help out investigators, their battle right now is trying to save this man's life and so retrieving the bullet is not their first priority as you were saying.
CARROLL: Absolutely. I mean they've made it quite clear that their first priority, of course, is to get in there and repair the internal injuries. Second priority, to try to retrieve the bullet or the bullet fragment, but doctors have also noted that they've taken X- rays of what's in there. They would not elaborate anymore, but obviously they are able to get X-rays of these bullet -- this bullet or bullet fragments and that might be able to help investigators as well.
But at this point, the top priority is to get in there, get this man stabilized, and repair those massive internal injuries -- Daryn.
KAGAN: Jason Carroll in Richmond, Virginia, thank you so much and experts explaining earlier that perhaps with the X-ray, they could at least see if it's in the same ballpark, the same type caliber bullet, that .223 caliber bullet that was seen in the earlier sniper shootings.
There's still a lot more information to be gained from the bullet still inside this man tonight. Anderson, back to you.
COOPER: And Daryn, you mentioned just a few moments ago that CNN has learned that they -- the police were talking to the person they believe is the sniper from last night's shooting. We should be very careful, though, and point out that though police believe they were sending that message to and received a message from the person who was the sniper last night, they are not in any way confirming that the person who was the sniper last night is the sniper from previous incidences. So...
KAGAN: And that's true, but Anderson we continue to walk that line. You and I did it live last night for many hours, as we watched this story unfold. You have to kind of walk the line of looking at big clues, and certain situations are out there. But you're absolutely right, waiting until police confirm what they need to learn through ballistic evidence and other type of evidence...
COOPER: And whether or not it is the sniper, it is a scary situation because if it is not the sniper, who we have all been following these last couple of weeks, it means there is some sort of a copycat out there that is obviously another very scary situation for police and everyone else, to even keep in mind.
COOPER: ... we're going to check in back with you in just a minute. We're going to go for a -- I believe we have on the phone Joe Kuttenkuler, a spokesman with the MCV Hospital in Richmond, where the 37-year-old man has been undergoing a second round of surgery.
Mr. Kuttenkuler, are you there?
VOICE OF JOE KUTTENKULER, MCV HOSPITAL: Yes, good evening.
COOPER: Good evening. Thanks for joining us. What can you tell us about this man's condition?
KUTTENKULER: Well actually I do have some new news to report. About 20 minutes ago, a representative from the hospital's trauma team came and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that the surgery, this latest surgery had wrapped up and that the patient was still critical, that the surgeon (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to successfully retrieve the bullet, and it's now in the hands of law enforcement.
COOPER: That is a major development. It really cannot be emphasized enough. All along you, the hospital, and doctors were saying that obviously the first priority is the well-being, the health, the survival of this patient. If they could retrieve this bullet, that would be all the better.
Do you know if the bullet is intact? Do you know, was it fragmented?
KUTTENKULER: You know I don't know any specific details about the bullet itself. I can tell you that the surgery lasted about as long as last night's procedure. It was about three hours and they were able to, once the bullet was taken out, they were able to perform, you know, a few more -- a few more things before ending the procedure for tonight. But the patient will still have to -- still has a number of surgeries that he'll have to go through.
COOPER: And that bullet is, as you said, now in the hands of law enforcement?
KUTTENKULER: That's correct.
COOPER: How is the patient doing?
KUTTENKULER: Well the patient is still critical. The -- we were told that he's no worse now than he was when he went into the operating room, which is a good sign.
COOPER: And is he -- obviously he's still in Intensive Care, if he's still in critical condition...
KUTTENKULER: Yes he is.
COOPER: Is he conscious? Is he -- we had heard earlier in the day that he was conscious, though heavily medicated.
KUTTENKULER: Yes, I would say this soon after surgery, he is probably not conscious yet. So it'll probably -- he'll be in the ICU for quite a while.
COOPER: And his wife is still with him?
KUTTENKULER: Yes she is.
COOPER: All right, Daryn Kagan is standing by in Montgomery County, Joe. I know she wants to ask you a question -- Daryn.
KAGAN: Yes, I just wanted -- if you could just give a little bit more, and I know you're protecting this man's identity, but tell us a little bit more about exactly what is working in his favor, whether it's his good condition, whether it's his age.
KUTTENKULER: Well doctors have said that certainly his age, he's 37 years old, and that is a -- that is a very -- that's a plus in his case, given the extent of his injuries, and quite frankly, the fact that he was able to get to a facility, a level-one trauma center with the capability that we have here as quickly as he did, that was certainly a plus as well.
KAGAN: And you mentioned that he has a still number of surgeries ahead of him as he tries to fight back against this attack, or how many surgeries? How long of a road of recovery are we talking about here?
KUTTENKULER: Well the doctors have said that it's going to be quite a lengthy road to recovery. Abdominal injuries are very serious and they have to kind of take them one step at a time. So it's hard to say how many more procedures he'll face, but and I think, you know, people are -- the doctors are cautiously optimistic at this point, but we really don't know. I think it's safe to say that he's not out of the woods yet.
COOPER: Joe, we've been told by Jason Carroll that in the first round of surgery, this man had had his pancreas removed; apparently, his spleen was destroyed. The bullet grazed a kidney. Can you give us a sense of what this second surgery entailed? I know, obviously, you know the headline not only that the patient is still in critical condition and that the bullet was removed, but what did the surgery entail?
KUTTENKULER: Well I really haven't had a chance to debrief the surgeons on the latest procedure. All I know is that there -- because of the -- you know the extensive damage to some of the internal organs, they were going in and were continuing their repair efforts that they started last night.
KAGAN: And Joe, just real quickly, it had been reported up here when the 13-year-old was shot up here, almost two weeks ago at Tasker Middle School, when physicians and doctors were able to get the bullet out of him, it's been reported there was kind of a tug of war over which agency got the bullet. In the end, it was handed over to ATF. Can you tell us which agency you -- your hospital turned the bullet over to this evening?
KUTTENKULER: I really don't know. I was not -- I wasn't present when the -- when that transfer actually took place, so I honestly don't know.
KAGAN: All right, but the good important news, once again, that not only has this patient survived surgery and is still continuing to hang in there, but once again doctors were able to retrieve the bullet, and that can be a key piece of evidence for police, as they try to piece together what happened yesterday, not too far from your hospital.
KAGAN: Thank you so much.
KUTTENKULER: Thank you.
COOPER: Yes, that was Joe Kuttenkuler at the hospital in Richmond. A major headline and obviously that is yet again more breaking news this evening. We had learned last night that the ATF was standing by, ready that in case the bullet was fragmented, they were ready to fly those fragments to their headquarters, to analyze them, to try to compare them to bullets and bullet fragments found at other incidences. So obviously, we will be keeping you abreast of any developments in that case.
We go now to Ashland, Virginia where people in that region are understandably on edge today. The sniper has killed nine people so far. He has taken far more than that. Community after community has been literally held hostage.
Linwood Attkisson began calling Ashland, Virginia home in 1939. He's the city's former mayor, a good person to talk with, we thought, tonight about how the community is doing. Thanks very much for being with us. Your thoughts tonight, how is Ashland holding up?
LINWOOD ATTKISSON, FMR. MAYOR OF ASHLAND: I think under the conditions, things are beginning to calm down somewhat. Obviously there's been a great tragedy here for a small suburban town that we have here. I would first like to say that our hearts goes out to the gentleman who was shot last night and to his family. This is a small town of about 6500 people. It's a small college town of Randolph- Macon, and most of our people that work -- that live in the town, I would say a great percentage of them work in the city of Richmond.
COOPER: You know we, obviously this story has been in the news a lot in the last two weeks -- two plus weeks we should say. Did you ever think it could happen in the town of Ashland?
ATTKISSON: I would certainly think not. We have been watching this thing since, I think, October 2 when it started up in Maryland earlier and slowly watching it working on down to our area, and I guess probably when it hit in the Fredericksburg area, it was -- it made a lot of us down here think that could we be next, and unfortunately last night, it hit us and it hit us hard. Obviously, the town has been in great turmoil this day and we just hope things are going to settle down soon now.
COOPER: Well no doubt a lot of people at church services throughout the community are praying for this man, who we have just learned is out of surgery, still in critical condition tonight. Where do you go from here? I mean, you know, do you think this is going to affect the town long-term? How badly is this going to affect things?
ATTKISSON: Well I think it's going to be -- it's going to be long remembered, the longer term, it's going to take for us to regroup and to get back to normal living. It's not -- we're not sure at this time. I guess we settle down, we look around, and we hope that this person or people will not be striking again, certainly not close to us. But it's going to take a while for us to heal in this town, yes sir.
COOPER: Are you pleased -- the first person on the scene, the first law enforcement official on the scene is an Ashland police officer. Are you pleased with the police response in your community?
ATTKISSON: Absolutely. Yes sir. I thought we were -- I think we were here probably around two to two and a half minutes, from what I can understand from a town manager.
COOPER: I know Daryn Kagan, my colleague...
COOPER: I'm sorry, Daryn Kagan, my colleague is standing by in Montgomery County. She wanted to ask you some questions tonight as well -- Daryn.
ATTKISSON: All right.
KAGAN: ... Mr. Mayor, just one thing that I've got to remark on from last night, when this story was breaking, we were watching it live here on CNN. Listening to the sheriff of Hanover County and when he was asked the last time there was even a shooting in Ashland, he really had to rack his brain, and I think he came up with like last February and that to me...
ATTKISSON: That's correct.
KAGAN: ... really gave a portrait of what a peaceful community you live in.
ATTKISSON: That's correct. It's been -- I've been here since 1939, and I guess that was probably the second worst thing that has happened since I've been here. The first being the one and only hotel had burned in 1945, and so it has been a very peaceful suburban town since I've been here most of my life.
KAGAN: And just one more question for you. We're hearing a number of school districts in the Richmond area, Richmond, Virginia, have decided to cancel school for tomorrow. Have you heard anything about schools in the Ashland area?
ATTKISSON: I was just listening to CNN at home and it has been announced that all -- from what I can understand, that all the schools in the Richmond, the Chesterfield, Henrico and Hanover and Richmond school will be closed tomorrow, and they would take another look at the situation on Wednesday morning, I believe.
KAGAN: Well Mayor Linwood...
KAGAN: ... former -- I'm sorry, go ahead.
ATTKISSON: I think they're going to be closed. I may be mistaken there. I believe he said that they would have school, but it would be a one-entrance situation when they go in, then they would take another look at it on Wednesday morning.
KAGAN: Yes, well I'm sure we'll go ahead and get better information on that. Mr. Mayor, thank you for joining us tonight. I know it's a busy night and a disturbing night in your town, and we do appreciate your time.
Anderson, we've been hearing...
ATTKISSON: Well thank you. It's been a pleasure talking... KAGAN: Yes. Thank you so much. This issue of whether to close the schools, Anderson, or not, this is something that schools up here in the Washington, D.C. area have had to deal with over the last two or three weeks. Basically school officials really believe that the kids are better off if they're in school. It's a better place. It's a safe place for them, and supervision is not as much of an issue. But apparently in the Richmond area, they're flooded with calls of concerned parents and that's why those four school districts, as we understand it, that's why they've decided to go ahead and cancel school for tomorrow.
COOPER: Well when we announced that this decision had come through, we received a fax from the area about an hour ago at this time, and the fax really did say it's because of concern among parents. People have been calling in. It wasn't -- it didn't seem to be so much coming from the school district itself. It seemed to be more of a decision generated from concerned parents.
Daryn Kagan, thanks very much. We'll come back to you shortly.
Still ahead, take a look at the cryptic message for investigators. We will have all the latest on that when we come back.
COOPER: Welcome back. In this day of a lot of breaking news, we have another story to report out of Australia. Apparently, two people were shot to death and an unknown number injured at a university in Melbourne, Australia. This happened on Monday Australian time, just a few hours ago. A suspected gunman apparently was taken into custody. We do not know anything more about this apparent shooting. Beyond that, obviously CNN will be following the story and bring you any new information as is warranted.
We return now to the -- our continuing coverage of this ongoing breaking story here in the United States. The sniper shooting last night, the sniper shootings that have been going on for 18 days now.
Investigators have yet to link last night's Ponderosa Restaurant shooting to the other 11 sniper attacks, but they are working as if it is connected; better safe than sorry they say. Forensics tests on bullet fragments from the victim could yield crucial clues and we just heard, just a few moments ago, breaking news from the hospital, from the spokesman from the hospital says surgery ended for the 37-year-old man who was shot last night.
Surgery ended, oh about 40 minutes ago. Surgeons were successfully able to remove the bullet. We do not know if it's intact or if it's in fragments. But they were able to remove that. It is now in the hands of law enforcement; no doubt will be looked at very, very closely to see if it matches up with other evidence from other crime scenes.
We're going to bring in firearms expert and retired command Sergeant Major Eric Haney to talk more about the need for this kind of evidence. Also joining us from New York, Casey Jordan, criminologist, and on the phone Don Clark, former FBI investigator from Houston. Thank you all -- oh actually Don Clark, we're there, not just on the phone, nice to actually see you in person, and Don, I know you know Eric Haney, you go way back, and we appreciate you all being with us tonight.
Eric, let me start off with you. How big -- the news that we just learned that this bullet fragment was removed, it's a pretty big development.
SGT. MAJ. ERIC HANEY, FIREARMS EXPERT: Well if there's a subsistence of that bullet left, it can link it to the other shootings, then certainly it's a great thing.
COOPER: Don Clark, you were with the FBI for a long time, led their office in a lot of different parts in the United States. How significant is this? How do you link up this bullet to other bullets?
DON CLARK, FMR. FBI AGENT: I think this is very significant. As a matter of fact, any piece of evidence that they find now out there at that crime scene is very significant. But the bullet, first of all, if the bullet matches with the others that were fired, then you know at least that they're coming from the same person. And then the idea is that once the investigation progresses itself to a point that you can identify a weapon, then that's the link that you're looking for to really be able to make a case to ensure that you've got the person that's actually doing the shooting. So having that piece of physical evidence is unbelievable evidence. It's absolutely substantial.
COOPER: But you can't link this bullet to a gun without having that gun in custody, is that correct?
CLARK: Well that's right and you might recall, just recently they've been talking about this ballistic fingerprinting, and I know that that's not in as we speak. That's not a part of the investigative techniques that they have. But having that would perhaps give you the opportunity to link that to some -- a gun at some point. Now they're not -- still another link that would have to take place is linking that to the individual, but at least you would have a start point, in my opinion, to go to.
COOPER: OK, now in this night of breaking news, the other bit of breaking news that occurred before we heard from the hospital was that police released a statement at this press conference where they said, "We received a message from an individual last night". CNN has now learned -- CNN has confirmed that they believe they are talking to the person who was the sniper last night, not necessarily the sniper from past events, but definitely the sniper from last night, and they want to open some sort of communication, it would seem.
Casey Jordan, how important is this? How important is this in terms of moving this investigation along?
CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: Oh it's groundbreaking, in my book. It's the first huge step that I've seen towards communicating with the perpetuator and resolving this thing one way or the other. I find -- there's obviously some cryptic message being conveyed, which we the public are not really suppose to understand every aspect of, but there are two or three things that stand out about it to me, which show that it really is intended for a very specific person. They are trying to get him or them to communicate back with them and open the door to perhaps negotiating turning themselves in, perhaps trying to find out what is motivating this perpetuator, what this person wants, but it's an extremely good sign.
COOPER: Let me just read to you an account -- I don't know -- do we have the video we can actually play from the press conference? We are going to get that cued up, but what the press conference said, Chief Moose said -- he said "To the person who left us a message at the Ponderosa last night, you gave us a telephone number. We do want to talk to you. Call us at that number."
On the face of it, it may sound confusing to some people. Eric Haney, give us your thoughts on how logistically this might work. I mean it sounds confusing, if that person gave a number, why is it that they want that person to call that number?
HANEY: Well it seems to be a neutral number. It's at a spot or location or a cell phone, but some mechanism that doesn't provide the direct linkage back to whoever that person is, so it's neutral ground. They can approach it from each side, and whoever this person is, feels that that gives them some type of security here.
COOPER: Don Clark, from your past experience, I mean why play this kind of game? If you're the shooter, why leave a message?
CLARK: Well you know it's not uncommon that you get involved in criminal activities and there's an opportunity for the suspect to communicate with law enforcement. There are all types of things going on in the criminal's mind, and I've heard Casey talk, and she gives a great analogy of some of these things that's going on. And there may be a need, just for him to start to make contact with the law enforcement entities, and this may be the mechanism by which they go forth to do with.
And I'd just like to point out that when these things happen, that the law enforcement community, they are earnest brokers, and they are going to comply and get to the point where they can make sure that the public is being protected, which is their main objective there. So I hope that the person wouldn't expect a great deal of trickery from the law enforcement community.
COOPER: They want to open up that dialogue?
CLARK: Exactly. They want to open up that dialect with them, and I think that my experience has been that look, we're going to do the best for the public because public safety is primarily and not -- and trying to ensure that nothing like this happens again. And obviously the person who is the suspect or hopefully the suspect wants to, again, try to establish that communication because he or she wouldn't have left whatever information they did there. COOPER: All right, a lot of breaking news to cover, a lot more to talk about. We appreciate you all joining us. Stay with us. We will be right back after this short break.
COOPER: Well still to come, back live to the scene of the latest possible sniper shooting, where a message was left for the police we found out just a few hours ago. The question, did the shooter also leave a real clue behind?
We'll be right back.
COOPER: And we go now to Daryn Kagan, who is standing in Montgomery County Maryland -- Daryn.
KAGAN: Thank you Anderson. I want to look at some more legal aspects of this case, looking forward just a little bit to this point at when this person or people might be caught and the kind of prosecution that might be involved, and for that, we've tracked down our CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
He thought he could escape us by going to Miami, Florida, but not so lucky. We found you and Jeff, thanks for joining us on a Sunday night...
KAGAN: ... it's much appreciated.
KAGAN: We caught you. Have yet to catch the guy, but when they do, we're looking at so many police jurisdictions here, but when we look at the investigation, looking ahead to prosecution, you have two different states. You have Washington, D.C.; you have the feds. Do you foresee a tug of war over who would get their hands on this person or these people first?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Oh I sure do Daryn. I mean they -- the turf battles among prosecutors and police departments are legendary among people on the inside and this one might be the turf battle to end all turf battles. What makes this one especially compelling or the possibility of it compelling and just -- we do need to say that we don't want to be jumping the gun here because obviously there is -- there is no one caught -- is you have three very different jurisdictions here.
You have Washington, D.C., which is under federal law that has the death penalty, but hasn't used it for many, many years. You have Maryland, which currently has a death penalty on the books, but the Governor, Parris Glendening, has declared a moratorium on any death penalty prosecutions because of concerns about whether it's being administered fairly. Finally, you have Virginia, which has one of the most active death penalty uses in the country. Very -- there are a lot of people executed in Virginia. It's right up there with Florida and Texas. So the question of who gets the D.C. sniper first will have large implications on how he's punished.
KAGAN: Well and in fact, I had a chance to talk with Virginia's attorney general earlier tonight, Jerry Kilgore, and he basically said exactly that, Jeff, almost like possession is nine-tenths of the law. Who catches the guy first or the people first has first dibs.
TOOBIN: And the way the argument will be framed, I think, is which case is there the best evidence on, because after all, there is different evidence in each of these shootings. So the way prosecutors fight in this kind of area is they say well, you know, we have the best case. We have the surest conviction, so we should get him first.
Obviously, that will depend on what evidence has been developed, if and when the shooter is caught. But those are the arguments that are generally made. Also it is true where the person is caught will have a big impact as well, and I think that's probably what the attorney general was referring to.
KAGAN: Could this work somehow like Oklahoma City worked, where the feds get their hands on the person first and then he's passed off to the states or perhaps you go to one state, then another state, and then to the federal prosecutors?
TOOBIN: Well one of the rules about turf battles among prosecutors is that the feds usually win because the feds have the most resources, have the best labs, the most people they can throw at a big case. So they almost always go first. Here it's somewhat unusual because the murders have been so heavily concentrated in Virginia -- in Maryland. There's only the one case in D.C.
Also, usually when you're talking about it's the FBI when you mean a federal agent, not the D.C. Police. So here, I think, it may be more likely that the states would go first. But the -- those are the issues that will be played out if and when this fellow's caught.
KAGAN: Yes, if and when is the big thing. Well there is one guy behind bars tonight. It's a man by the name of Matthew Dowdy. He's been there since Friday, I think. The charge is giving bad information to police in connection with the shooting that took place almost a week ago at the Home Depot Store, or just outside the Home Depot Store in Falls Church, Virginia.
Jeff, this guy's facing a class two misdemeanor. He's been in jail since police picked him up and charged him. He's going to be arraigned tomorrow. Just how much trouble is this man in?
TOOBIN: Well he's in a lot of trouble because of course of the circumstances. You know a misdemeanor, I bet you know the number of people held without bail on a misdemeanor is probably just this fellow. I mean when you're charged with a misdemeanor, you're almost always allowed out on bail. But you know these laws are on the books everywhere. Filing a false police report is a crime in virtually every jurisdiction. It's almost never prosecuted because it's just simply not considered that major a case in most circumstances, but here I mean this is, of course, an absolutely perfect demonstration of why this kind of thing is illegal, and you know the tremendous diversion of resources, energy, and attention that was caused by this false police report makes it perfectly understandable, not only why they're prosecuting him, but why they're being very tough on bail.
KAGAN: Jeffrey Toobin, our legal analyst. As always, we appreciate your insight, even when we have to track you down in Miami, Florida. Thank you and go enjoy the rest of your evening.
TOOBIN: OK Daryn...
KAGAN: Appreciate it.
Well this has been a night of significant developments. There has been the statement by Chief Moose asking the person who left a message at the Ponderosa Steak House to contact police. Also we learned just a little bit ago that the bullet has been retrieved from the latest victim during surgery in Richmond, Virginia.
We're going to find out how that plays into the investigation. Mike Brooks joining us just ahead. Right now a quick break.
COOPER: Using the tools of a killer to try to catch a killer. Why the bullet the sniper uses may be the key to cracking the case. Authorities hope so. We'll be right back.
COOPER: And welcome back to our continuing coverage. We've just learned that another school district in the area of yesterday's shooting will be closed tomorrow, is the Goochland School District that will be closed; no classes tomorrow. That now joining Hanover County School District, Henrico County, Chesterfield County, as well as the Richmond City schools. All will be closed tomorrow. We do not know about Tuesday. That in response to a lot of calls, a lot of fear among parents not wanting their children to have to go to school tomorrow. So Goochland School District joining those other counties closing their schools tomorrow.
Questions about tonight, of course, about the message found at last night's crime scene, a message we just learned about several hours ago. But still little hard evidence in the sniper case frustratingly and that has fueled, perhaps, far too much speculation.
Here now to help us put things in perspective, CNN law enforcement analyst Mike Brooks. Mike, thanks for being with us.
MIKE BROOKS, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It's good to be with you tonight. COOPER: When you heard this press conference from Montgomery County, what went through your mind? I mean as you analyze the message, as you look at it, what stands out?
BROOKS: Right. You know you take a look at the message, in the last part of that message, we do want to talk to you. Call us at the number you provided. So what does that mean? There's been -- again, it's all speculation, but we do know -- in fact, CNN has confirmed that it was aimed at the shooter.
Now, is it the shooter? It's definitely the shooter in action? Now is it also the same shooter in Montgomery County, Virginia, D.C.? Is it all linked together?
BROOKS: We've -- some folks have already made that quantum leap that all of this is connected. We don't know that yet.
COOPER: Right. And that is a very important point to make. I mean -- and if it is not the shooter, that raises a whole other very scary proposition that there may be a copycat out there.
BROOKS: Absolutely. They're -- law enforcement is looking -- initially talking to some of my sources that are working on the case. Initially, they thought it was a copycat. Now some of them are saying well, now that we're looking at it, we're not sure if it's a copycat or not. But there are still apparently some of the pieces to this puzzle that just don't fit this particular shooting in Ashland with the other shootings that they're working on.
COOPER: We are still, of course, comfortable using the term sniper for the shooting last night because we know the shots came from the wooded area. It was a sniping type incident. In using that term, we don't want to confuse it -- we do not know for a fact whether or not it is the sniper from past...
BROOKS: Right. And -- but the bullet fragments or the round itself that was recovered from the victim, the latest victim, we should know tomorrow. It's being sent up to the ATF lab, and we should know tomorrow and if there was any other evidence that was left on the scene, which we don't know, it should also be able to say yes, it was from the same gun or no it was not.
COOPER: You're talking about the bullet. You brought it in, the .223 right here...
COOPER: What is so interesting about it, I mean it's such a small bullet and it causes such horror in its way.
BROOKS: Right, because of the velocity it travels -- 3,000 to 3,500 feet per second coming out of the barrel of that weapon.
COOPER: What -- now we know -- we just heard from the hospital a short while ago that they have retrieved the bullet. We don't know if it's fragmented...
COOPER: ... we don't know if it's not.
COOPER: What do you think is happening with that evidence right now? Is the -- the ATF probably has it?
BROOKS: Most likely the ATF has it. They're the ones that have worked on all of the other fragments and all the other evidence relating to the round itself or to the weapon for all the other cases. So they are going back because they already have the other things, the other rounds to compare -- to compare to. They'll line it up -- depending on how big apiece they have, they'll line it up on a comparison microscope.
The firearms examiners that they have working for ATF are extremely good. They're extremely experienced, and they'll be able to tell by looking at the two pieces, one from the actual shooting today and all the ones from the other shootings, whether or not this actually came from the exact rifle.
COOPER: Mike, you worked with D.C. law enforcement a lot of years. You were on FBI Task Force for many years. How do you think -- I mean realistically, how do you think this investigation is going? You've got all these different agencies. You've got local...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was my question.
COOPER: ... state, federal. How is it going?
BROOKS: Well it's a Task Force. It's a Task Force that's working it. I hear it's working pretty well. I heard there were some blips, you know some hiccups a little bit, and some of the information passing from the hot line. You had the hot line coming into Washington, D.C. field office of the FBI, then you had it go into FBI, then back to Montgomery County.
I think you did away with that middleman, if you will, and just getting information right to it. That -- you know, getting bogged down in some of the intelligence information, getting there, you know to send out the leads, that could have delayed things a little bit. I hear things are working well. Montgomery County, again, as a lead agency in this right now, but working together as a Task Force with the other agencies.
COOPER: I want to bring in Daryn Kagan, who's standing by in Montgomery County. Before I do, I just want to ask you one more question, which is the fact that this shooter has not -- that this information did not get out for 24 hours would seem to indicate -- is a positive sign in terms of the investigation. It means that they seem to have control over the evidence over information being released to the media... BROOKS: Right and I think this carefully worded statement that Chief Moose put out today, this evening, there's something to that. You know has this person, again, speculation, assuming that this is connected with the other shooter. Even if it's not, what is the meaning of this, but it's been carefully worded to make sure that this word does get out to the shooter, whether it's a separate shooter from Ashland, with all the others, or if there's a connection. It's very carefully worded and they want to definitely make contact with this person.
COOPER: Daryn, are you there?
KAGAN: Yes and actually you asked part of one of my questions, Anderson, because I wanted to pass on to Mike. I've got a lot of questions about the Task Force and how it works and people kind of intrigued and somewhat frustrated by how they perceive it to be working.
Another question I get, Mike, why hasn't the FBI just taken over this case? Why is Montgomery County, where I sit right now, why is it really still the lead investigative agency on this case?
BROOKS: Well that's a good question Daryn. Right now the FBI has opened up a serial killer case with -- on this -- on all the different shootings, but by law and by statute, the FBI can assist with their resources, their evidence resources, dogs, helicopters, forensics, anything at all. But any warrants or any, let's say Title III, wiretaps, all have to be requested by the local jurisdictions. That is done -- that is in the law and that's the way the law reads.
KAGAN: All right. Thank you.