CNN AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN
First Time Sniper Has Struck on Weekend
Aired October 21, 2002 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's get the very latest on the sniper case.
Bill Hemmer reporting from the sniper investigation command center in Rockville, Maryland this morning -- good morning, Bill.
I guess the news of this text is pretty interesting. What have we got?
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, very, very interesting. Very perplexing. What's contained in it, we have no idea at this point, Paula. We want to stress that. But a note with what's being considered significant text found at the scene Saturday night down in Ashland, Virginia. Again, that's about 80 miles south of Washington, D.C.
It's the first time the sniper has struck now on a weekend. It also broke a string of five days where there was complete silence and quiet around the Washington, D.C. area.
Look at that map, Paula, I-95 extending almost into Richmond. Ashland just north of it, about 15 miles. The scene, 8:00 Eastern time on Saturday night. Investigators hoping right now this lead to direct contact with the Washington area sniper may come to pass. Authorities believe a 37-year-old man leaving a restaurant in Ashland now is the sniper's 12th victim. Not conclusive based on ballistic testing, but, again, that is the strong hunch by every member of law enforcement here throughout the area.
Jason Carroll is standing by at the hospital in Richmond. That's where that 37-year-old man was taken. We'll go to him in a minute live.
But first, Ed Lavandera is working the scene at the police command post in Ashland with the latest on what they're picking up there -- Ed, good morning.
What do we know?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Bill.
I was just going to pick up on the point you were making that this hasn't officially been connected yet, but probably throughout the course of this day that might come to be a moot point, that all the evidence seems to suggest and everything that, as you've been saying, we're hearing that this appears likely to be the 12th shooting victim of the D.C. area sniper. And they will continue to work the evidence here in Ashland. They were working the scene of the shooting most of the day on Sunday, picking up evidence, examining the wooded area directly behind the Ponderosa restaurant where apparently authorities have a strong suspicion that perhaps the shot was fired from that area.
So they're looking through that area and at some point in this area is where this message was left. And exactly where isn't exactly clear at this point, but the authorities here, we saw them leaving with several bags of evidence yesterday and although they wouldn't comment as to what, at the time they wouldn't comment specifically what kind of evidence they were taking away, they did say they were -- did have forensic evidence that needed to be checked up on -- Bill.
HEMMER: Ed, back in that woods, if, indeed, that's where the shot came from, if that's where this significant note, this note of significance text was found on Saturday night, how does the shooter get away back there? I understand there's a dirt road, but I'm not quite sure what else is back there? Do you know?
LAVANDERA: Well, there is that dirt road and then I think further back or farther back there is actually a paved road. But for the way it was described to me by several law enforcement officers who are familiar with that area, they say it's a very tough walk in many cases. But perhaps someone who's determined to get through there can easily do that. But that kind of gives you a little bit of the lay of the land as to what exactly is behind there in that wooded area.
HEMMER: And if you cased the place before the shooting took place, you could probably find a way out in the darkness, too.
Ed Lavandera, again, working the scene there in Ashland.
Further south now in Richmond, let's get to the hospital.
And Jason Carroll tracking the progress of that 37-year-old man -- Jason, hello.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And good morning to you, Bill.
That 37-year-old man is doing well. That according to this doctors. He has been partially conscious, at times communicating with his wife by opening and closing his eyes. He was in surgery last night for three hours. He is still in critical but guarded condition. The doctor that performed his surgery said he was able to remove the bullet. He said it was removed mostly intact.
They still have to deal with a lot of internal damage. Even so, the hospital is cautiously optimistic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. RAO IVATURY, MEDICAL COLLEGE OF VIRGINIA: My best hope is that he'll be OK. But it's going to be a bumpy road, a long process. It's not going to be sudden and swift, unfortunately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: This is the second surgery that this man has had to undergo and doctors have been commenting about how strong he is. But this morning they also talked about how strong his wife is. She has been by his side throughout this entire ordeal, holding his hand throughout this entire ordeal. She released a statement through the hospital basically saying that she wanted people to pray for her family. But she also said to pray for the attacker and pray that he does not attack again -- Bill.
HEMMER: Jason, thank you.
Jason Carroll on the scene at the hospital in Richmond.
One other note here, later today, 47-year-old Linda Franklin will be laid to rest in Arlington, Virginia. She was the women shot last week while exiting the Home Depot in Falls Church, Virginia.
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