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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Sniper on Loose: Sniper Investigation Roundtable

Aired October 21, 2002 - 12:23   ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF CHARLES MOOSE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE: We are going to respond to a message that we have received. We will respond later. We are preparing our response at this time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The Montgomery County police chief, Charles Moose, with another terse, cryptic statement, a statement apparently intended to go toward the sniper or snipers involved in this case.

We're following some dramatic developments in Richmond, Virginia. An individual was picked up at a phone booth at an Exxon station. Another individual was picked up as well. We're expecting a news conference at the top of the hour with some explanation of what is going on.

But let's bring in some experts on this sniper case to talk about it, CNN security analyst J. Kelly McCann. He's here in Washington. Also, CNN criminologist Casey Jordan. She's in New York. We'll also be speaking and bringing back the former New York police investigator, Lou Palumbo as well.

First of all, Casey Jordan, let me pick it up with you. What is your make, what is your take on these late-breaking developments, your overall assessment?

CASEY JORDAN, CNN CRIMINOLOGIST: Well, amazingly, steam-rolling almost, the momentum that has occurred since Saturday night and especially since last night's briefing by Chief Moose in which they confirmed they received a message at the site of Saturday night's shooting, and that they wanted the leaver of that message to call them.

On the heels of that, the very, very next morning, we have late- breaking events, of course, where we have taken -- the police have taken two people into custody. A lot of questions raised there as to whether this was a negotiated surrender, whether these are even the snipers, whether or not in the face of optimism one might have turned against the other.

But what has me confused right now, Wolf, is that he made this statement that said, "We are preparing a response to your message," after they had already taken the first person into custody at the Exxon station. So, to whom he was addressing that message, we're not clear. Perhaps it was the second person, later taken into custody; perhaps it's an entirely different entity that we don't even have knowledge of at this point.

BLITZER: And it could theoretically be, although unlikely, the left hand of this investigation doesn't know what the right hand knows. That would be unlikely given the coordination that we've seen throughout.

But you're absolutely right. The fact that Chief Moose came out and made that second very terse statement after these individuals were detained, were picked up for questioning or for whatever, raises all sorts of questions.

Let me bring in Kelly McCann. He's here with me in the CNN Washington bureau.

What do you make of the timing of Chief Moose's second statement this morning and the earlier detention of these individuals?

J. KELLY MCCANN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: If it was a tactic, it may have been used to fix and place the second person. In other words, the real wording of it was carefully controlled, and he said, you know, "We are preparing our response," which might mean, stand by where you are and we'll be with you in a second or a couple of hours or whatever, which might serve to fix him in place. But that's all conjecture. You know, because of the closeness of the timing, no one knows.

BLITZER: Kelly, if in fact these are people involved in this sniper killing, the police have an enormously complicated mission right now to not screw things up, if you will. Talk a little bit about that.

MCCANN: Absolutely. If you watched the raid as it went down, it was very, very carefully organized, very, very carefully executed. They used the appropriate amount of force given the dangerousness of the suspect, etcetera. So, there were probably no problems there. They read him his rights. I'm sure, they are going to observe all of those rights.

But now, we go to the physical evidence part. They want to make sure that they catalogue all pieces of evidence; that they've got total control and chains of custody established. I mean, in the admin., a lot of times, is where the devil is. So, they're being very careful.

BLITZER: Casey, you spoke earlier about the possibility -- and obviously this is just a possibility at this point -- that there could be some sort of negotiated surrender on the part of these suspects. Talk about the history of these kinds of situations over your experience as a criminologist.

JORDAN: Wolf, it would be highly, highly unusual, downright rare in my experience. The only one I can think of off the top of my head -- and there are probably others, but this one was televised -- was, of course, the surrender of Angel Resendez-Ramirez at the Mexico-Texas border probably about three years ago now. Negotiations that took place through family members, probably because Resendez-Ramirez had fled to Mexico and was very afraid that relatives would cash in on the reward money and turn him in since they seemed to know about his whereabouts. It seemed appropriate for him to do that.

But that was an entirely different type of killer than we have seen here. Somebody apparently very hedonistic, not driven by a thrill, not on a mission and not trying to really send a message.

So, we have occasionally seen people turn themselves in. Far more common, we see serial killers who subconsciously set themselves on a downward spiral, and rather subconsciously end up turning themselves in by setting themselves up for capture, either escalating their killing pattern or leaving such ridiculous clues in their wake, their capture is imminent..

But a conscious turning yourself in or surrender, extremely rare.

BLITZER: We have an e-mail for you, Casey -- I want to read it -- from Meyer in Delray Beach, Florida. It says this: "There have been many motivations attributed to the sniper, but one that I haven't heard is a sexual motivation. There are sadists who get sexual stimulation and gratification from inflicting pain."

What can you say about that?

JORDAN: The reason I, and I think others, have discounted the sexual angle of this is because most sex crimes, certainly that we've studied, are very associated with one-on-one contact between the killer and the victim. Yes, there are absolutely people out there who get sexual excitement from inflicting pain, but they need to experience that pain by seeing it and by experiencing it.

The distance between the sniper -- the shooter and the victims shows that there couldn't be any actual witnessing of any suffering on their part. There is no indication that they stuck around to watch any suffering. There certainly are power control killers. Son of Sam probably being the most famous, who did later have a sexual connotation with the power of the thrill of the kill. But that was usually after the fact, and not motivating the actual kill.

BLITZER: We have another e-mail for you, Casey, from Dorian in Clearwater, Florida.

When I was a boy, the bad guys on TV always went through a soul searching, agonizing analysis of their actions. Society wanted it that way. The criminal, especially killer, would eventually kill themselves or turn themselves in.

I guess that's one theory. What do you say to Doran?

JORDAN: Well, we certainly see that sort of thing go on far more likely with mass murderers or spree killers who end up in a standoff with police, who were driven to a very impulsive act by a feeling of loss of control over their lives, a series of events that made them feel tremendous anxiety and frustration. Yes, they tend to go through tremendous angst, feel a whole array of emotions.

And that is why about 50 percent of your mass murderers who end up in police standoffs very often do take their own lives, or allow police to take their lives. But the other half do in fact turn themselves in, almost relieved that the agony is over. And we have even seen that with some serial killers. I think people might remember that Jeffrey Dahmer and Joel Rifkin (ph), when the gig was up, as we proverbially say, they were completely cooperative, put out their wrists to be handcuffed, went voluntarily with the police and said, thank you, I'm so glad the nightmare's over.

So we do we do see it in all types of different killings.

BLITZER: All right, Casey Jordan, thanks. Stand by. We're going to be coming back to you as well.

I want to bring back Kelly McCann, CNN security analyst.

Kelly, there's an element that I've read about over the years in covering these kinds of crimes, of suicide by police.

MCCANN: Exactly, and that's...

BLITZER: What exactly -- tell our viewers what that means?

MCCANN: It goes to what Casey was just saying. She said, you know, allow the police to kill them. Sometimes it's force the police to kill them. In other words, you create a barricade situation that tactically just can't be overcome easily. SO they basically make that an event. What you saw in the raid environment here earlier today was simple, overwhelming.

All raids are designed so that no violence has to be used. They cam from a blank angle, they walked up in a ready-to-fire position, using the combat glides, stabilizing the weapon, and quickly, suddenly they appeared, which basically goes to the mentality of a person seeing that there is no reason to try to use force, because you're simply overwhelmed. Two muzzles through the side window at him, a third one just averted for a second while the door was opened. They grabbed him, maintained total control, put him on the ground, he's done. Textbook.

BLITZER: All right, I'm going to show our viewers, Kelly, some new video that we're getting in right now from that Exxon station in Richmond earlier today, the scene of that detention. I don't know if we can call it an arrest at this point. The pay phone outside that Exxon station, an individual is getting ready to make a phone call. Within a matter of a few seconds, swat teams, police authorities were there.

Actually, this video that we're seeing right now is at a nearby Citgo station, right down the street from that Exxon station where the detention was taking place. As we take a look at this video, and I want you to watch it relatively careful to see if you pick up something interesting in this Citgo station.

If there were stake-outs, law enforcement stake-outs, at both the Exxon station as well as the Citgo station, and they were monitoring a few different, let's say, pay phone booths out there, what does that say to you -- Kelly.

MCCANN: That there were several potential attack ready sites. In other words, the tactical area of operations was several individual sites, and they might not have known which one would actually be actionable. Think about the raid. As this person moved into these areas, they had to be secreted, so that it didn't scare them off, because it may not have been a relinquishing his own freedom. They may have taken both of these guys down.

We have an e-mail for you, Kelly, I want to read it, from Jimmy in Alabama, who says this, A sniper is a trained, highly skilled marksman. I think calling this coward a sniper only inflates his ego. I think the media should start calling him what he really is, a killer, a murderer, a coward.

MCCANN: Hey, Jimmy, I agree. I mean, the bottom line is a sniper is a professional who is responsible for his action. He's school trained, he knows how to use data manipulation to make his weapon work, and stalking skills, observing skills, reporting skills, so I couldn't agree more, this guy is a murderer.

BLITZER: Linda from New Jersey has this question for you.

I was just wondering if anyone had thought that the sniper might be waiting for a van to pull up to the scene to throw police off, then he shoots and takes off on a motorcycle or car, making his getaway. Is it possible there's no van or truck at all?

MCCANN: Yes. In fact, if you think about it, no eyewitness account put a shooter driving up, getting out of a white truck, shooting, getting back into his truck, drive away, shooting from the vehicle, etcetera. That link was made because there were white vehicles present when these shootings take place, but very astute Linda, very good.

BLITZER: The overall assessment, your assessment, of how law enforcement, local, state, federal are doing? It's almost three weeks now since these killings began October 2. How do you rate this investigation?

MCCANN: I think that they have done phenomenally well. The multi-jurisdiction capabilities they had to bring together, and there's always warts on a quick coalition like that, these men have worked countless hours.

BLITZER: And women, too.

MCCANN: And women, excuse me, to bring this to a successful conclusion. The other night they closed down a major artery in seven minutes.

BLITZER: When you say seven minutes, but that seven minutes, within that seven minutes, a killer could get away.

MCCANN: Of course. But, you know, if it was a narcotics or any other ordinary police situation, it would have been ample time. The trouble is, with an individual, isolated shooter who has total mobility, it's almost like you cannot do it fast enough. So they went to investigation, and there you go.

BLITZER: I want to bring in I think Lou Palumbo, if he's got back with us, in New York.

Lou, are you there?

LOU PALUMBO, THE ELITE GROUP LTD: Yes, I am, sir.

BLITZER: When you see the speculation that all of us are doing, as part of our jobs, are we overly compromising this investigation?

PALUMBO: I don't really believe that you are at this point, Wolf. I think the thing that would overly compromise this investigation would be information and detail resulting from sweep of crime scenes and interviews of people, canvassing of areas, so on and so forth. I think that opening forum for a number of possible scenarios is, you know, somewhat harmless for the most part. I was a little more concerned with the discussion of the aircraft that was being used for surveillance purposes and other discussions concerning interrogation techniques that were used down in Guantanamo Bay. Excuse me. I was a little concerned then.

BLITZER: Let me pick up the point -- let me pick up the point on the surveillance aircraft, the high-flying, high-tech equipment that the Pentagon was bringing in to try to help out in this investigation. Why was that a source of concern to you that that became public information?

PALUMBO: A, because we were using it, we were tipping him off to the fact that we might be using a piece of advanced technological equipment that could help us track him. And we also mentioned its limitation of use during daytime and I don't think that was prudent.

BLITZER: And the whole issue of the Guantanamo Bay, sending law enforcement authorities down to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba where al Qaeda detainees are being held and to question them about the possibility or al Qaeda or organized terrorism being behind the sniper attacks, why was that a point of concern to you?

PALUMBO: Well, because at some point in time, we decided to reveal that after interrogations or interviews are done in these rooms, sometimes we place listening devices, leave the room, and we end up having a little bit more fruition from their incidental conversation than from the direct interview or interrogation. And these are things that were mentioned that should not be discussed or disclosed. They could harm your ability to obtain information, Wolf. It's really kind of simple.

BLITZER: Well, you know, it's amazing -- I think textbooks will be written on this particular sniper investigation. Not even three weeks yet, but we may be on the verge of conclusion. We don't know. We're standing by for a news conference at the top of the hour from Richmond. We'll get much more information we hope at that point and later in the day from the task force headquarters in Rockville, Maryland.

Kelly McCann, Casey Jordan, Lou Palumbo, thanks for your expertise.

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