CNN AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN
Montgomery County Executive Discusses Letter, Spree
Aired October 21, 2002 - 9:08 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Classes are canceled today at schools here in the Richmond, Virginia, area. Ashland, the site of Saturday's shooting. Officials citing an extraordinary level of concern for safety. Also people here in Montgomery County, Maryland, and the surrounding areas know just how they feel. For almost three weeks running now, they have been virtually held hostage by a sniper's killing spree.
Doug Duncan, Montgomery County executive, knows this all too well. He has been nonstop now, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on the story and is with us now. Good morning.
DOUG DUNCAN, MONTGOMERY COUNTY EXECUTIVE: Good morning.
HEMMER: First of all, let's talk about this letter in Ashland on Saturday night. What more can you add about what the contents of the letter are?
DUNCAN: I can't add anything more than what the chief said -- that someone left a message with a number and we're asking that person to call the number that they left.
HEMMER: There was a report, two hours ago, that has been essentially debunked at this point -- that Tarot cards were found there. Was that true or not?
DUNCAN: I can't comment on that. I would leave that to the chief at the noon briefing today.
HEMMER: Is there a concern from the investigative standpoint, and yourself as well, if you go back two weeks ago when the news leaked of a Tarot card being found at a school -- two weeks ago today, in fact. Is there concern that reports like these getting out to the media and to the public could hinder the investigation?
DUNCAN: Clearly, the investigators have a lot of information they are working with. And they are making their best decisions on what to share with the public -- when to ask the public for help. The public has responded tremendously. We have got the white box truck, the Astrovan, the Econoline van.
And now we've put out a message to whoever left this message for us to give us a call. So they are sharing as much information as they can, trying to get the public involved. But last night's message was directly to one person.
HEMMER: Let me ask you a very pointed question then: Has the sniper made that telephone call?
DUNCAN: I can't comment on what's happening with the investigation. So they are working very hard. It's a tremendous task force -- unprecedented task force -- of people working together on this. And now the Hanover County and the Ashland, Virginia, police are involved, as well.
HEMMER: Let's talk about the community, and let's talk about the people right now. There are those who believe this could be the worst-case scenario -- where the sniper does not go out and kill every day or every other day but actually lays back for the period of five days we saw last week, thus extending this period of uncertainty and fear. Is that your thought, as well?
DUNCAN: Clearly, there is high levels of anxiety, high levels of fear in our community that is now spreading sort of beyond the Washington community down to the Richmond area. But, having said that, there is still a lot of determination, resolve, and strength from the people in this community. People are sending children to school. They're going to work, We still have traffic jams here every morning, which means that daily business is being conducted.
So as we deal with our fear, we are still moving forward with our daily business. I think that's very, very important that we continue to do that. It shows that we're not intimidated. It shows that we're going to get on with our lives as best we can in the middle of all this uncertainty and anxiety.
HEMMER: You went to two funerals on Saturday. Is that right?
DUNCAN: I went to the funeral of Mr. Meyers, in Pennsylvania, and to a reception for Mr. Charlot with his family after his funeral. And very faith-filled people. Mr. Meyers -- great love of the outdoors, canoeing, photography -- just a wonderful person with a wonderful family and wonderful church surrounding him.
Mr. Charlot, a real pioneer in the Haitian community in Washington, D.C. So there was a tremendous outpouring of support from the Haitian community, as well. People are turning to their families, their friends. And I think the families of the victims are particularly turning to their friends now to help them get through these very, very difficult times.
HEMMER: Another one today -- Linda Franklin?
DUNCAN: That's right. This morning in Arlington County. I will be there, as well.
HEMMER: Good luck to you. OK. Thanks. Doug Duncan, Montgomery County executive here. Again, his message going out to the people in his community to make sure that they are aware right now that they're doing everything possible right now to end this shooting spree.
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