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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Bus Driver Shot and Killed in Silver Spring, Maryland

Aired October 22, 2002 - 14:42   ET

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

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Police have not confirmed yet the bus driver killed in Silver Spring, Maryland, is the work of the sniper, but they are operating under that assumption. They're working that crime scene very carefully right now.
CNN's Daryn Kagan is watching things from her post in Montgomery County, Maryland where the task force is headquartered.

Daryn, what's the latest from there?

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: I just have to remark, I was so moved by Maria Hinojosa's piece, to hear one mother be empowered, to be here covering a story where so many people feel powerless in this search for this killer. So hats off to Maria for a good piece and to that mother who did not give up the fight.

As Miles mentioned, the search does go on here for the killer or killers. We're coming up on nine hours since the last shooting. And as Miles mentioned, they have yet to confirm whether or not, but they are operating on the presumption that it is. It feels like -- kind of like we're right back where we started from, because today's shooting, walking distance from the first shooting back on October 2. This one taking place in Aspen Hill and Montgomery County.

Thirty-five-year-old Conrad Johnson, getting his bus ready for the day's work, 6:00 a.m., when he was shot at the top of the steps of his bus.

The search for his killer goes on. Want to bring in our CNN security analyst Kelly McCann who is in our Washington D.C. bureau to get his impression on the latest shooting. And as we said, we'll have to wait for ballistic and forensic tests to make that confirmation.

But Kelly, in your gut, do think this is a match?

KELLY MCCANN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: It's got all the pieces, Daryn, with one interesting new element that could indicate a higher level of planning. If you...

KAGAN: What's that?

MCCANN: Well, if you look at it mechanically and you think about it like we believe this person is looking at it, it has all the elements of a treeline or a concealed and covered position, final firing position. It's got a method of egress in the road running parallel to where the victim was engaged. And then if you think about the previous targets, in military terms it's called a target-rich environment.

In other words, parking lots. You know that in parking lots, sooner or later someone is going to show up. I mean, if you're anywhere there within a vantage point you'll see somebody show up. But this is different. And it's different because this is a morning stop, used by county employees, to clean their buses, to prepare the bus for the next route, to fill out their route log book, et cetera. It's only through observation that anybody would be able to determine and put those pieces together there, that there was an area for egress, that there was a covered and concealed position. That wasn't a casual observant. That also wasn't a target of opportunity. This guy wasn't, or person wasn't riding around in his vehicle and then just saw it and seized an opportunity.

So this indicates to me, if it is the same person, a fair degree of planning. I mean a very sophisticated level of planning.

KAGAN: Well, and on that note, I was thinking today, Kelly, do you think -- and you mention, is this somebody driving around just finding some place? This could be somebody or people who have been planning this for years and have a long list of sites that they've already selected.

MCCANN: You're absolutely right. Now, again, you know, I don't think either one of us wants to jump into the conjecture game or the opinion game, but if you look at just the facts. The facts would indicate that you are exactly right, that this was carefully planned out. And that would establish how disciplined and how likely cool this person is, to leave. Because there may have been dry runs. There may have been morning runs through these areas to see if he would be observed or she would be observed or they would be observed.

I mean, really and truly there's not been a car accident, there's not been a horn blast, he hasn't bumped into any shopping carts, hit anybody, made his tires squeal or screech. That's pretty disciplined or determined. And if we're on track factwise, this would indicate something slightly different.

KAGAN: I thought Eric Haney had a good point earlier today when he said, You know, people think that no one has seen the sniper, but, in fact, many people have seen the sniper or snipers after these shootings have taken place we just don't realize what it is that we're seeing.

MCCANN: Well, not only that, but you know, they, he, she, whoever, are among us. We see them every day. We see their behavior. And on the fringe of their behavior, there must be some level of aberrance. It's just not put together in pieces that a casual observer understands yet.

KAGAN: One thing that we do know that this person or these people do not discriminate. And we heard Police Chief Moose talk about that earlier today, that this person has the ability and the willingness to kill people of all different ages, different genders, different races.

MCCANN: That's a statement about some omnipotence. You know, I mean, it's a statement about total control. Yes, that's true. Do you know, we've used the word force multiplier a lot in other things like when we were dealing with al Qaeda and we talked about the citizenry becoming the eyes and ears and being a force multiplier. In truth, in military operations, a sniper is an incredible force multiplier. A sniper, in a tactically advantageous position, can hold in place many hundreds of people overcome by indirect fire, artillery fire, mortar fire, none of which is available to the police officers obviously, in a public area.

So, I mean, there's a lot of thought that's been put into this.

KAGAN: Kelly, Chief Moose was posed with a very delicate question during today's news briefing, and that was if there was a specific threat to a specific person or a group, would that be passed along.

He kind of danced around the answer. But what do you do in that case? You don't want to jeopardize the investigation, but you can't leave someone out there as just a sitting duck with no warning.

MCCANN: Right. And I'm sure that legally, you know, for instance the FBI, for instance, is legally bound to inform a person if they, let's say, have a wiretap on a subject, a Mafia subject, and it comes up in another unrelated wiretap that he is the target, they have to inform that person. They have a legal obligation to do that.

I don't know if that extends to municipalities or states. I would imagine it does. But it goes to the general group. You know, I mean, it's very difficult legal questions. The other thing is, people have been critical of this investigation. There was no standard operating procedures for a rolling and multiple jurisdiction thing like this.

So it's easy to sit back and be critical. But this is a test case. Casey Jordan has said it many times. There was no model. I mean, this is new stuff.

KAGAN: Right. And when it's all said and done, hopefully that will be sooner rather than later, they'll be able to sit back and quarterback -- Monday morning quarterback that. But so far what do you think the lessons learned are?

MCCANN: Well, I think the media has learned some lessons. I think the police have learned some lessons. I think that the care with which potentially inflammatory commentary or the release of information is evident now.

I think there's going to be a lot of huddled people in back rooms after this is all over to say, How do we do this better if this ever happens again?

KAGAN: And let's hope that they never have the opportunity to have to figure that out. MCCANN: Amen on that.

KAGAN: Yes. Kelly McCann, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.

Miles, we'll toss it back to you in Atlanta.

O'BRIEN: All right. Thanks very much, Daryn.

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