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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Man Taken into Custody in Metro Sniper Shooting Case

Aired October 21, 2002 - 10:00   ET

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

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: R.E., can you see any investigators huddled around what is now being described as a man who's been taken into custody or do you think they somehow spirited him out of there. Can you tell?
OK, we're going to give R.E. a second to rejoin us on the cell phone.

I want to bring you back into discussion. Bill was mentioning a minute ago about the thousand or so investigators that have been assigned to this investigation. Where have -- how is it that they're able to arrive so quickly to something like this? Where have they been hiding?

J. KELLY MCCANN, CNN ANALYST: Well, that's the biggest indicator, Paula, that this was a pre-existing plan. I mean, look on the screen. There's a tactical van. There's emergency services vans, there are many jurisdictions or, at least state and Henrico vehicles.

Can you imagine, as this person came in, if this was a pre- coordinated takedown, which is what it appears to be, how they must have secreted, in order for him not to be alerted, as he went to the phone booth. Unless, perhaps, as Casey (ph) had suggested, if this is the sniper, he might have discussed his giving up, so very, very interesting stuff.

ZAHN: And a really impressive level of police work being done here, no matter what it is we're looking.

MCCANN: Unprecedented, in my book. I've never quite seen such a convergence on such short notice.

ZAHN: I wanted to quickly bring those of you who are just joining us on the West Coast into our coverage here this morning, you are looking at a live picture provided by WRIC. We go back and forth between taped pictures and live pictures from the scene.

You're looking at a gas station or perimeter area surrounding a gas station, in the Richmond, Virginia, area, which is about 15 miles south of where this latest shooting happened on Saturday night. This white Plymouth Voyager van, according to one eyewitness, has temporary license plates from Virginia. He said there doesn't appear to be any state inspection tags on it. It was his thought, by looking at this van, that it is being driven illegally. Anything about this picture, Casey, that strikes you?

CASEY JORDAN, CNN CRIMINOLOGIST: Well, it appears to be a luggage rack, a very simple frame, attached to the top of the minivan which is, again, not quite the same as a ladder rack, but it is a metal frame, appears to be silver or chrome, on the top, something you would be able to tie down luggage to, if you were overloaded, so that would be consistent with previous reports, too, even if they had the exact model and make of the white van incorrect.

ZAHN: And, once again, if you're confused why this is pulled up to a phone booth, we don't really understand why, as well. But apparently, within minutes, whoever this was in this van either getting on the phone or riding at this location, 30 or so police cars arrived.

And, Kelly, you also talked about what is sort of interesting, what has happened in the aftermath of this. We know a custody -- a suspect or a man, has been taken into custody. You talk about the importance of some of the videotaping that's being done by state authorities on the scene. What did you see?

KELLY: As you're seeing it right now Paula, now that they've got the vehicle, it looks like going to be rolled up on to the roll back. When you move a vehicle, obviously, you can't account for things shifting in its interior. They want to preserve a video record, exactly as it sits, as soon as they can. So it looked to me as if the Virginia State Trooper was videotaping that state inside the vehicle, prior to manhandling this vehicle and getting it on to where it can go take it to another location and do an in-depth search and record of it.

ZAHN: And that, Kelly, looks like what we're witnessing right now...

KELLY: Exactly.

ZAHN: ... they've got the back of the trailer ready to go. I think you're going to see the car, obviously, put on this rack here momentarily.

Let's bring Leon Harris into all this. He joins us from Atlanta this morning, as we dip into his hour. Leon, anything that strikes you about what we're looking at now?

LEON HARRIS, ANCHOR: Well, the same exact things that we've been hearing you all talk about this morning, as well, particularly what we heard you discuss with Kelly McCann there of a bureau in D.C., the idea that, perhaps, we're looking here at the evidence of some sort of pre-coordinated convergence here of all the authorities on the scene. And, again, we're getting back to this live picture that we're getting out of Richmond, Virginia. You see now that authorities there prepared to move that vehicle that has been the center of attention for the past few minutes or so here.

I'm joined here on the set by a Sergeant Major Eric Haney. He's been talking quite a bit about this procedure, and this investigation. And I want to know what you think, as we've been sitting here, chatting behind the scenes before the cameras got turned on here. What do you make of this -- the quick convergence we saw here of the authorities and this particular van being in this particular spot, at this particular time?

SERGEANT MAJOR ERIC HANEY: Well, there's preparation made, obviously, on each side to make this happen. And it seems that it has evolved from the message that Chief Moose spoke about yesterday evening. Obviously, the police forces were nearby in place. This person felt comfortable enough, if it is the shooter, to have pulled up into a public spot, made his communication and then sat there and waited for the police forces to arrive.

HARRIS: Well, we were talking before and we talked last week, as leading -- going into this thing, you said to me last week, you were thinking that there could be more than one person involved. And we could be looking at a team effort. Do you think the same thing this morning, after what we've seen happen this weekend, then with the communique that was sent to police and now this convergence this morning?

HANEY: May not have been. May just be one. May be another one out there still. You know, I'm not hung up on being right or wrong about all of this sort of thing. I hope it is. I hope this is the resolution about that. Whoever's been committing that -- these terrible acts, are now in custody.

HARRIS: Well, one thing that has happened, for sure, is that we do know that there's some -- there was communication from them, some sort of communication that was left behind at the Ponderosa scene over the weekend.

What does that tell you?

HANEY: Well, one thing...

HARRIS: The very fact that communication was actually made and it was initiated by the shooter in this case?

HANEY: Sure. Well, it was time to give up. I never felt that whoever was doing it wanted a shootout. They weren't going to die in this effort, if they could avoid it. They wanted to go into the next phase. This is has all been for public consumption. You know, we're the audience in all of this, so they wanted to give up eventually, eventually, but on their own terms.

And also, I'm sure whoever it is, they're exhausted. There's no way you can keep up that tempo of operation (inaudible) just in combat. You can't do it.

HARRIS: We're looking now, as you talk now, we're watching the van. It is now being loaded on to the tow truck that is going to be taking it away. You can see that process well underway.

Exhaustion.

HANEY: sure.

HARRIS: What makes you think that? HANEY: You can't do these things. All the planning, all the operations, the preparation, the fleeing after the act. I'm sure in the last several instances in these shootings, the police were so close, that they probably just met one another on the roadway a time or two. The person has demonstrated sufficient intelligence and cleverness to know they would eventually be apprehended.

HARRIS: We're looking at close-up shots now of that phone booth. And you can see, the phone booth has been sealed to protect whatever information, forensic information that might be in there, namely, fingerprints.

I have to ask you about the van itself. And once again, we can see the van. It is there just to the left of the screen and it does not look anything at all like the vans we have been talking about for the past two weeks now. We've been talking about a panel van, we've been talking about a box truck, we've been talking about some vehicle with no windows on the side and we've been talking specifically in the past about Astro vans.

HANEY: Sure.

HARRIS: We have none of that happening right here.

HANEY: Oh, we do. We have a white van. And that's good enough. Eyewitness reports are very unreliable, as we all know. And then the reports that have been coming in, have just been so been so spotty. So the fact that it's a white van, it's a white van. That's sufficient.

HARRIS: All right now, we don't want to jump to any conclusions here, folks. We're just watching this, as you are now, for the first time. And we just mentioned here moments ago here, talking about eyewitness accounts, we have some eye witness accounts of what happened this morning right here on tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: What did you hear? Did you witness this?

WITNESS: Yes. I just happened to be walking up in front of our dealership on Broad here and noticed that there was a bunch of cops, undercover, Henrico County, they were all parked in front of our dealership on our property and some of them had the doors open. They were looking through binoculars and they kept staring up at the Exxon station. So I actually glanced out the door to see what they were looking at, and one of the police officers said, you know, please get back inside. So I just -- I backed off a little bit and watched and more showed up, Henrico County, some more undercover cops.

REPORTER: Let me ask you, did you see the man? There was a man in that van right there, behind you?

WITNESS: Yes. He had pulled up, right like you see it. He had pulled up right real close to that telephone booth, and the car was running. You could see the exhaust. But as far as actually seeing any -- seeing him, the windows are pretty well tinted, so I couldn't see the guy inside.

REPORTER: Let me ask you, what exactly did this man do? What was his expression, when police moved in on him?

WITNESS: I know that the police -- the police officer's expression was...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: We want to interrupt this tape and take you now to Montgomery County Chief Moose, beginning to speak.

CHARLES MOOSE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE CHIEF: ... as occurred last night, a brief statement, not taking any questions. Just want to ask the indulgence of the media that the message that needs to be delivered is that we are going to respond to a message that we have received. We will respond later. We are preparing our response at this time.

HARRIS: Chief Moose there, coming out with a very short and terse statement now, saying that they are going to be responding to a message later, not at this particular time. We were just able to catch that comment from Chief Moose. He just delivered that message here, saying that the message he wants to put out to the public today, perhaps to the one set of ears out there, that there will be a response coming from the investigation team here, and it will be coming later today.

Coming back to you, Mr. Haney, what do you make of that?

ERIC HANEY: Maybe there is more to this. Maybe a second shoe is going to drop in. Had there been two people involved in this? maybe it's one at a time? We don't know. It's all conjecture and speculation. Something continues to evolve here.

HARRIS: I believe we caught the chief saying that a communication or some statement from them was expected, and was requested.

HANEY: We just don't know yet. We'll just have to wait and see.

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