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Search Under Way for Suspect in Shooting of Two Sheriff's Deputies; California Wildfires
Aired September 28, 2006 - 13:58 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Three developing and breaking stories for you right now. If you see there at the stop of the screen, our affiliate WTVT, deputies, police, SWAT teams, K-9, even helos on the search for a gunman right now in a crowded, wooded area near a high school that's now on lockdown, after getting into a shoot-out with deputies. Those deputies now in the hospital. The suspect, we believe, still on the lam, trying to find him. Authorities in full force.
Then you can see on the other side of the top of your screen, out of Oak Park, Michigan, police looking for a suspect involved in a purse snatching. Schools in that area are on lockdown in the Hazel Park School area. It was a car chase that turned into an accident.
And now on the bottom, live pictures out of -- from KCAL. Los Padres National Forest, those wild fires raging out of control. As you remember, this started just a couple of weeks ago. Still firefighters are struggling to contain those fires. A lot of structures, homes still threatened in the southern California area.
Now more to the Lakeland, Florida, story. We can tell you the update is that the deputies, Mike Brooks, are in the hospital. We still are trying to piece it all together, but it looks like the deputies stopped the suspect, he got out. Somehow a gun fight ensued and then he ran into the wooded area. And that's when the deputies were injured and called in.
MIKE BROOKS, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT EXPERT: That's what it sounds like, what we're hearing from Pete McNally and from everything we're able to piece together. They got out, went on a chase. Chased them through the very, very heavily wooded area. A shoot-out ensued and two of the deputies were down. Both gunshot wounds, we don't know how serious the deputies are right now. But both of them have been transported to the hospital and are being treated.
But they're still looking for the gunman, and that's a very, very tough area, Kyra, to search. Heavily, heavily wooded. But the one thing I see that's positive, they've got a bloodhound in there. And they got a bloodhound and a German Shepherd to pick up a track, there's a good likelihood that they'll find this guy.
PHILLIPS: Well, that fact they were able to get right to the deputies, obviously that was probably easy, because they were able to use their radios. But with regard to the suspect, and it looked like a couple times that they went in, it looked like they had a pretty strong scent, but that might have been going towards the deputies. In a situation like this, in this area, I mean he could be hiding anywhere, he could have already fled the area.
BROOKS: He could. You know, they got the two deputies out, that's the most important thing. And they had some air assets, helicopters, up in the air right now. And they'll keep looking for him, though. And even after nightfall, it'll be even easier to find him in that heavily wooded area because there won't be any other heat signatures for using infrared that the helicopters will be able to use. So as it cools down in that area, they'll be able to use the infrared a little more effectively.
PHILLIPS: We're seeing horses around some of the emergency vehicles. I don't know if that's just a driver that pulled over. But they've actually taken them out, and it could be because that area is in lockdown, they are not letting people in and out at this moment. But would horses, possibly the mounted unit, be used in a situation like this to get through an area this wide?
BROOKS: Absolutely, that wide and that density populated, horses would be -- would be a good -- a good tool to be used in here. And we talked about the schools on lockdown. The Kathleen High School and McKeel Academy are both on lockdown right now, Pete McNally said, and there are deputies assigned to those schools. So the children there seem to be pretty safe right now, but you never know with someone on the loose. Kathleen High School is very close to this area that they are searching.
PHILLIPS: And Pete McNally, of Polk County Emergency Management, we just talked to him a few minutes ago, trying to get an update on the situation, he was trying to get plugged in.
Actually, let's take a look at the SWAT team. Oh, look at this. They might have him -- let's take a look at these live pictures now once again from our affiliate, WTVT.
Mike, can you see these OK?
PHILLIPS: And it looks like the SWAT team has come -- come up to an area where possibly the suspect might be hiding, in this shed. It looks like they feel pretty good that someone might be in there. They are coordinating.
You know, you're former SWAT, so let's kind of talk about what they are doing. They are organizing obviously, on how they're going to execute this, right?
BROOKS: Well, you see them beginning to -- covering on both sides, and we see a couple of the officers down behind ballistic shields. It sounds like they are trying to motion someone to come their way.
You know, so this is maybe somebody who is just in the area. We see the K-9 officers there also.
PHILLIPS: We got off it, because, Mike, if indeed he's in there and they open fire...
BROOKS: We don't want -- that's exactly right.
PHILLIPS: ... we don't want it be live.
BROOKS: Exactly right, yes.
PHILLIPS: So -- but go ahead and continue. This is tape from previous...
BROOKS: This is from the search a little bit earlier when they were initially going through the woods. We see officers there with automatic submachine guns and ballistic shields. Those are -- those great tools to use, especially when you're the first one in the pack.
PHILLIPS: Now they're going to bring the dogs in around that shed that they are searching now? Obviously, they've got to clear that area and clear those buildings, but that might -- obviously they were led there for a reason.
BROOKS: Right, maybe the dog picked up a scent. They were -- the dog was going in that one little shed, saw one of the handlers with a German Shepherd there. So maybe on a scent, or maybe a just a systematic search of any buildings in that area where he could be hiding.
PHILLIPS: Actually, I did see on the back side -- we can't show it live, because we don't know what they're going to come across. But one of the officers with the K-9 was clearing the left side of that shed.
So, once again, we want to let you know we're not showing you those live pictures, because if indeed that suspect is in that building where the SWAT team is, it could -- the threat level could increase and they could get into another gunfight. We already know this suspect shot two deputies after -- after a routine vehicle stop and a chase into this wooed area.
It's in Lakeland, Florida, if you're just tuning in, by the way. Those deputies injured, taken to the hospital. That gunman now on the loose.
And as we know, just looking -- this is previous -- video that was shot previously, the SWAT team moved in. Now they've come upon -- it looks like a barn, a storage shed that that they are working on clearing right now.
OK. OK, now we've got the tape of that. Great.
So while we're looking at the tape, we're also following it live in the control room to let you know if anything happens. OK.
And I'm actually going to watch it, Mike. And then we'll make that decision if we want to take it live.
BROOKS: Absolutely. PHILLIPS: There it is.
So as we monitor the tape, we're also -- we're looking at it off camera live.
Just kind of take us through to what the SWAT team is doing right now.
BROOKS: Well, it looks like they are just trying to regroup right now. It doesn't look like they are in a defensive posture. They may be trying to figure out exactly what -- what their next move is going to be and, you know, what brought them to this edge right here.
But you still see some of the officers going -- covering -- covering the flanks on the right and left, just in case someone did pop out of those woods, because this guy has shown he definitely has a propensity towards violence and was not afraid to shoot a police officer. And when you know that, you're going after somebody like that, you're going to take every precaution. And you are going to use every one of your senses to make sure that you're not shot also.
PHILLIPS: Now, they are still gathered in the group. If they really thought that he was in this shed, wouldn't they start building a perimeter and start working themselves around the building? I mean, they seem to stay -- they are staying in one spot.
BROOKS: Well, it looked like that K-9 officer had gone ahead and cleared that shed, and they probably already cleared that. So maybe there's a possibility they are using this as some cover for the other side of the wooded area there.
It's hard to tell, because the shot would need to be pulled out a little bit more for us to really get a better look at it. But it looks like they are kind of regrouping, putting together exactly what they're -- what they're going to do.
There are probably other teams that are searching this area also, because there were quite a few officers, Kyra, that were there initially that we saw in some of the older footage, when they were going through the woods. There are quite a number of law enforcement agencies here.
We know the Polk County sheriff, their fire department, EMS, and Lakeland Police Department, mutual aid -- are both involved in the search.
PHILLIPS: And I'm told we've got Donna Wood with the Polk County Sheriff's Department on the line right now.
Donna, we've been just trying to piece together what initially happened. Before we go back, can you just tell me right now, we're seeing on a live picture the SWAT team has gathered around a shed.
DONNA WOOD, POLK COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: And yes, ma'am, and quite frankly, I'd like to interrupt you right there and ask for your camera not to be in that area right now so that those deputies can concentrate on their work.
PHILLIPS: Well, Donna, just let me tell you -- let me tell you, it's not our camera. It's the affiliate there in Florida. It's WTVT, and we are not showing it live, just so you know, because we don't want to put any of those officers at risk.
And who knows that suspect could be watching it on television.
PHILLIPS: So just so you know, we are not taking it live.
WOOD: OK. We understand, and we do appreciate. We're asking for everybody to (INAUDIBLE) because we are trying to clear the public out of the area so that the deputies can conduct their investigations.
All that we can confirm is that we have had two deputies that have been shot. They've been transported to local hospital, which is our Lakeland Regional Medical Center, for their injuries. And, of course, the perimeter has been set in the area, and we are looking for a suspect.
PHILLIPS: All right. Now, are the deputies OK? Were these life-threatening wounds? Can you tell us where they were shot?
WOOD: I can't confirm any of that information right now. I just don't have an update on any kind of injury information.
PHILLIPS: All right. So you have no idea if they are -- I mean, can you tell us if they are still alive?
WOOD: Yes, ma'am. They were transported for their injuries. That's the last word that I have.
PHILLIPS: OK, great. And so now the search for the suspect, do you know anything about this suspect? Have you run his plates? Do you know anything about his background, who he is?
WOOD: No, ma'am. We are still trying to conduct the investigation. It's ongoing, we're in the middle of this, and it's going to be quite some time before we can answer any of those questions.
PHILLIPS: Donna, while you are searching for the suspect, the schools that are on lockdown, have you sent deputies or police officers to any of these schools to add to the protection?
We're actually seeing a live picture...
WOOD: We have -- we have a number of law enforcement in the area trying to clear the area and secure everybody's safety. So we're certainly busy trying to take care of all of that.
PHILLIPS: Now, is this entire area on lockdown? Are you asking people not to drive in this area? WOOD: We are asking the public to stay clear of the area so that the deputies can conduct their investigations, and obviously as soon as we have information we can share -- we know there is some curiosity, and we understand that there is some concern for the community -- we're going to give you those answers just as quickly as we have them.
PHILLIPS: All right. And just take us back -- take us back, if you don't mind, Donna, just quickly, for our viewers. Routine traffic stop. Why did they stop the suspect? Is it something with the plates, the car? And then how did this all go down?
WOOD: I can't -- unfortunately, I don't have that information right now. I'm just on the scene trying to respond and take care of some of these local media questions here. So I appreciate the interest. Obviously, we'll try to get all those answers for you as quickly as possible.
PHILLIPS: And you may want to share your concerns of WTVT is there. You may want to share your concerns about live pictures on the SWAT team.
WOOD: Yes. Thanks a lot. We'll take care of that.
PHILLIPS: All right. Donna Wood -- Donna Wood, Polk County Sheriff's Department, we'll stay in touch with you as you start working information.
This is what we can tell you so far. Within about -- within 45 minutes or so, we got word of a routine traffic stop that escalated into a shooting with two sheriff's deputies here in Lakeland, Florida, Polk County sheriff's deputies. The suspect got out of the car. We're not quite sure if that gunfight started there on the road or if it took place as they were chasing the suspect into that wooded area.
Those two deputies were shot. They've been taken to the hospital. We are told they are still alive, but can't get any information on the injuries that those deputies have suffered.
But the suspect right now on the loose. The SWAT team's there. They've got local police. They've got sheriff's deputies. They also have K-9, and they've got helicopters airborne trying to find the suspect in this wooded area.
We'll continue to follow this and bring you more information as we get it -- Don.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: A lot happening, as we said, here in the NEWSROOM today.
We have some other breaking news, developing news happening. This out of Detroit, Oak Park, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit.
Schools on lockdown there, and we have some pictures that are from WDIV. It's our affiliate in Michigan, Oak Park, Michigan. You can see police officers on the scene there as well with the dog there looking.
Now, here's what we're being told happened.
Apparently, earlier today there was an attempted purse snatching at a grocery store. And from that, a chase ensued which caused a rollover crash on one of the busy interstates there, and they had to close down part of that interstate. Part of it is still closed down, and a ramp leading to another major interstate.
Now, police are searching for a man. They are telling us he's between 25 and 35 years old, wearing certain types of clothes which may only be important to the people who are in that area, a green sweatshirt, black sweatpants, baseball cap. And several schools, just as in Florida, and yesterday, several schools there in Hazel Park, the Hazel Park school district, are in lockdown as police look for this suspect, and they suggested that lockdown of these schools, Webb, Jardin Elementary School (ph), a special education school, Webster Elementary, Roosevelt, Early Childhood Center, which is a nursery school, young kids there in Edison Max (ph) special education school.
So, again, you see pictures from WDIV, our affiliate in the Detroit area, Oak Park, Michigan, that suburb there. A suspect, police looking for a suspect who was involved in an attempted purse snatching which then led to a rollover crash. Not sure about the injuries in that crash, which had to close down the interstate, two interstates there.
I want to bring in Carol Lin now. I don't you know if Carol can tell us anything about this story, but she's also checking on the wildfires that are happening out in California.
What can you tell us, Carol?
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Don, these fires have been burning since Labor Day. I mean, it's been almost three weeks since firefighters have been battling the beginnings of this blaze. Now 4,200 firefighters on the lines.
Today, the headline out of the Day Fire -- this is north of Los Angeles, in the Ventura County area -- the headline is that the winds are so erratic that firefighters are gearing up for yet another fierce fight. A hundred sixty thousand acres, in excess of that, are burning right now.
Reynolds Wolf, watching the weather conditions out there.
LIN: Don, out in California, this is the season. You know, fire season starts in June, but this is the time when it really heats up, when you've got these Santa Ana conditions.
It is so dry. What these firefighters need is a little bit of humidity, a little bit of break, you know, because this fire -- this fire has jumped fire lines several times. So, it's been a real, real frustrating fight. LEMON: Yes. As you mentioned, you said these fires have been burning since Labor Day. This blaze is one of the longest-burning wildfires in the state history.
Forty-one percent they said contained as of late yesterday, but today that may all change. Four thousand firefighters on this, and so far it's cost about $53 million in damages there. And also with the people trying to help out.
We've got a bunch of developing stories. We've got Reynolds Wolf talking about the weather conditions for the fire there. We've got Carol Lin, who is on these fires, checking every detail.
Up in the top left corner of your screen, you see that is Lakeland, Florida, where two sheriff's deputies have been taken to the hospital, and police, SWAT teams searching for a suspect in the heavy woods.
To the right, you see Oak Park, Michigan, where police there are searching for a suspect who was involved in a possible purse snatching and then a rollover accident on the interstate.
On the bottom of your screen, we are checking in on wildfires happening in California.
All of this today happening right in the NEWSROOM.
LEMON: A story that unfolded yesterday in the NEWSROOM about Terrell Owens, receiver for the Dallas Cowboys. We're getting word in now -- this is some video of him practicing. He is practicing. But we're getting word in that coach Bill Parcells of the Dallas Cowboy will hold a press conference at 2:30.
He does have a press -- a daily press conference, where he briefs the media about the happenings of his team, but it is believed today that he may announce whether Terrell Owens, Terrell Owens, will play on Sunday's game, Dallas at Tennessee. It's a noon game.
We're being told, at least from WFAA -- this is video -- that Terrell Owens is practicing. As you might remember, yesterday there were reports that Terrell Owens had attempted suicide. He, of course, denied, saying it was rumors, that he had mixed some medications, some painkillers with some natural herb supplements, and said that's what caused an allergic reaction and that's what caused his publicist, Kim Etheredge (ph), to call paramedics.
But, again, we're going to hear at 2:30 Eastern from the coach of the Dallas Cowboys -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right. We continue to follow that developing story out of Lakeland, Florida. Police still looking for a shooting suspect.
This is what happened, as we look at these live pictures via our affiliate, WTVT.
Two deputies came upon a car, just a regular routine traffic stop. And at some point, gunfire was exchanged with the man driving the car and the two deputies.
They took off into this wooded area in Lakeland, and the deputies were both shot. But they've been taken to the hospital, recovering from their wounds. We are told they are OK but continue to -- OK, we're -- this is actually live pictures here, where you just saw members of the SWAT team move back into that wooded area.
Earlier -- and you can actually see it right here -- they gathered -- they've already actually cleared this area. We're going to get out of that live picture, just in case the suspect's in there and they might engage in some type of shootout.
But they cleared that one shed with the K-9. Don't know if the suspect is hiding in the additional building that's next to it, but you can see the SWAT -- SWAT -- members of the SWAT team are still there, also, in that area as they look for that suspect that is still hiding out.
Two schools on lockdown. This one of them.
Mike Brooks, you're a former member of a SWAT team and been engaged in situations like this all the time. And because of this area, so close to a school, you've got a gunman on the loose, you've got to lock them down to add protection to the area. And also all the kids at the high school.
BROOKS: Absolutely. And as we heard earlier from one of the emergency management officials there in Polk County, the schools, Kathleen High School and McKeel Academy, do have deputies at these schools. So the kids are very well protected. We saw some of the buses...
PHILLIPS: So they already have security at those schools.
BROOKS: They do.
BROOKS: You know, some schools -- when we had the school shooting yesterday in Bailey, Colorado, and -- you know, where the gunman was able to walk right in. But the smart thing to do is, always err on the side of caution and go ahead and lock these schools down and protect the kids.
PHILLIPS: And look, he already fired upon two deputies, he injured two deputies. What's going to keep him from getting into a school and gets more attention?
BROOKS: Absolutely. And, you know, he's definitely shown he's not afraid to shoot at police, that's for sure. So that's the best thing to do, is go ahead and lock those schools down, especially in light of everything that's been going on. PHILLIPS: Now, the SWAT team has been rallying around this shed for quite some time now. I mean, if you think about it in police terms, 10 minutes is a long time.
Do you think that they have him in that shedded area? Dou you think that's sort of a rallying post, trying to figure out what move is next?
BROOKS: I think they are just waiting there right now because they are not in any kind of defensive posture. You don't see them with guns up and shields up. So it doesn't look like they are right now.
And they probably just want to go ahead and stay in that area, because as we heard earlier, they thought they had at least cordoned off the area where they thought that the deputy -- they got the deputies out, took them to the hospital. And so the gunman, they thought, was still in one particular area, and that's probably what they are doing. They are probably just going ahead and holding the perimeter of that area where they think the gunman still is.
PHILLIPS: All of our affiliates helping us out in Florida right now. This live picture coming to us from Bay News 9, showing us exactly where this all began.
It starred with a traffic stop. The suspect got into a gunfight with deputies. They charged into this wooded area.
Those deputies were injured, they've been taken to a hospital. Now the suspect is still on the loose. Two schools on lockdown, Kathleen High, and McKeel Academy.
We can tell you that the K-9 is out there trying to track scents. You've got the SWAT team, you've got police officers and sheriff's deputies. It looks like they pretty much have that area contained. Now the best asset they've got going for them right now -- they can't locate him on the ground -- is the helicopter, right?
BROOKS: Absolutely. And those helicopters in the sheriff's office there are equipped with an infrared flare device. But during the day time, Kyra, sometimes you can get some false readings, you know, because it goes off of heat signatures.
So when it's really hot in Florida and the rocks heat up sometimes, that can give off a heat signature. So, even if they don't catch him in -- during the daylight, as the sun starts to go down and things start to cool off, the heat from a human body will show up very, very vividly on a flare image after -- after things start to cool down.
And so if they don't get him now, they'll go ahead and get him later. And I want to -- you know, we talked about -- Donna Woods from the Polk County Sheriff's Department was concerned about the live -- showing everything live, but, you know, we're very careful here about doing that, because we definitely don't want to give someone in case they are inside one of these houses the tactical advantage of seeing the movements of the police officers, and we're very careful about not slowing that kind of thing live.
PHILLIPS: That's a great point, because there are a number of homes in that area, and it's very possible that suspect could have worked himself into one of those homes.
You know, you mentioned the flare capability, and I remember going out on a night raid with the LAPD, and they've got these incredible systems in the helicopters, and you can actually see, as soon as it gets dark, if that body is hiding under a car, in a tree. It's amazing. You can actually see the whole shape of that body through this system.
PHILLIPS: I mean, there's just no way to hide.
BROOKS: No, there isn't. And that's -- you know, that's just an unbelievable capability and is used quite often, you know, for missing children, looking for fugitives, those kind of things.
PHILLIPS: All right. We're going to stay on this story.
Mike Brooks, a former SWAT team member.
As we follow what's happening here out of Lakeland, Florida, police still looking for an armed gunman, two schools on lockdown. We're staying on top of it -- Don.
LEMON: A very busy day here.
Another developing story. We've just gotten word about another major consumer recall. Cheryl Casone joins us from the New York Stock Exchange to tell us who is affected and what they should do about it -- Cheryl.
LEMON: We've got a lot happening here today in the NEWSROOM.
We want tell you what's happening. A developing story out of Lakeland, Florida.
We have two sheriff's deputies who have been injured and taken to the hospital by a shooter stopped in a routine traffic accident. They are still on the ground, looking for that shooter. That's in the top left of your screen.
On the right, you've got Oak Park, Michigan. They are looking for a gunman there who was involved in attempted purse snatching and then caused a major accident on an interstate there, which closed down two major interstates in a suburb of Detroit.
And then we've got fires out of control in California, causing major damage, and millions of dollars in homes in jeopardy there.
You're in the NEWSROOM. We're back in a moment.
PHILLIPS: Monitoring a number of developing stories for you right now.
First of all, we want to let you know that Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells is expected to speak sometime this hour, and we hope to take that live, if he addresses what happened to his receiver, Terrell Owens. As you know, the police report, if you've been following the situation, said that he had overdosed on nutritional supplements and painkillers.
Owens came forward and said he denied that it was suicide. He has said he's not depressed. We don't know exactly what's going to come out of the news conference, but we're hoping to hear from the coach and possibly Terrell Owens himself.
Also, out of Lakeland, Florida, following a developing story right now, as deputies and police still searching for a shooter after he opened fire on two deputies and caused injuries. They've been taken to the hospital.
Here's what happened.
These affiliate pictures coming to us live from WFTS in Lakeland, Florida. You can see the deputy -- the sheriff's deputies in the helo, there, airborne, across the -- actually, that is not the sheriff's helicopter. It looks like they've brought in another airborne asset there to help in this search for this suspect. But basically it was a routine traffic stop. The suspect got out, engaged in gunfire with those two deputies. The deputies were injured, and now the suspect is on the loose.
Two schools on lockdown: Kathleen High, McKeel Academy. You're seeing here now one of the live pictures via our other affiliate, Bay News 9 there in Florida, of one of the schools on lockdown.
But it's a very wide area. The SWAT team has moved in, they've set up a pretty tight perimeter, trying to locate exactly where this suspect is hiding. So we'll stay on top of that story, as well.
All right, Mike Brooks, former law enforcement, continues to follow this story with us. You know, it's a tense time. You've got two deputies that have already been shot, you've got two schools on lockdown. This wooded area bumps up right next to -- it's Kathleen High, right, that it's right next to?
MIKE BROOKS, SECURITY ANALYST: It's adjacent to Kathleen High.
PHILLIPS: And then McKeel Academy is not much farther away. There we go, we got a shot of some of the school buses there. If this guy has got the nerve to open fire on two deputies, what's going to keep him from hiding out in a school and taking hostages? So obviously they've got to respond quickly to contain the area. BROOKS: Absolutely. You've got to lock it down. And we were told that they do have deputies at these schools, they're assigned to the schools, so that's also a good thing and provide security there, especially after we saw what happened yesterday in Bailey, people are going to take extra precaution now, especially with a gunman, who is not afraid to shoot on the police, on the loose.
PHILLIPS: The good news is, they were able to get to those deputies -- obviously they were able to call on their radios, which hopefully means their injuries weren't too bad. But both of them shot from this gunman. And we saw actually, the variety of forces that moved in with the medics to get right to them. That would obviously be a main priority, but then we also saw another set of officers, namely SWAT team, moving in and clearing sheds, other buildings in that area.
And now they've been rallying around, trying to decide the next move. This is actually the videotape of when they cleared that first shed with the K-9.
BROOKS: They definitely brought in lot of officers right in the beginning, and -- I mean, that was really, tough, tough terrain and tough area where the deputies were, after the chase ensued and then followed by the shoot-out and the two deputies wounded. But they were able to get Polk County Sheriff's Office, Lakeland Police, there, who also have a mutual aid agreement with Polk County, to get enough units in the area to go ahead and -- they think that they do, right now, have that area cordoned off and that's what they are trying to, you know, we're told they are searching that one area, because they do feel they have that area surrounded and it will be just a matter of time, hopefully, before they are able to apprehend this shooter.
PHILLIPS: And as you know, we talked about the two schools on lockdown, there -- Kathleen High and also McKeel Academy. Lee (SIC) Lauderdale on the phone with us now, from Polk County Public Schools.
Lee, I think a lot of parents are wondering, Are my kids safe, are they okay? Or, Leah, I apologize. Can you just give us an update on the status of the children in both of those schools?
LEAH LAUDERDALE, POLK COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Thank you. We actually are talking about three schools right now. We presently have three schools in lockdown, and that is at the direction of law enforcement agencies in the area, who, of course, is who we take our direction from. That is Kathleen High School, McKeel Academy and Winston Elementary School. We take our direction from them, and the students will remain on campus until we get the all-clear from the law enforcement agencies.
PHILLIPS: When does school let out, Leah?
LAUDERDALE: Well, for those three schools, it's a different dismissal time. But, the dismissal time for the elementary school is not yet in place. At Kathleen, we have delayed that dismissal time. Again, we are just sitting tight. And the students and the staff at the school, I'm sure, are sitting secure, and we -- PHILLIPS: We were told that there deputies that actually work at those schools. Do they have on-site officers for security at those schools?
LAUDERDALE: We do. We have school resource officers. And we have -- and, again, we take our lead from law enforcement agencies.
PHILLIPS: What is a school resource officer? Is that a trained police officer?
LAUDERDALE: Yes, they are.
PHILLIPS: Okay. And they are armed?
LAUDERDALE: They are actually at the school, and we -- we want to thank you for allowing to us get the message out to parents that we are in touch with law enforcement agencies. And staff at our schools knows what to do, in terms of lockdown, and so we will -- we're just going to remain in lockdown mode until we get further indication.
PHILLIPS: Good. So those school resource officers -- I just wanted to make sure -- they are trained police officers. Are they armed and can they respond if, indeed, this gunman works his way into one of those campuses? I know you're probably getting drilled on what you can say, Leah, and the you what can't say, so I don't want to make you feel uncomfortable. Can you answer that question for me? Okay, she hung up.
That's a -- that's not an easy interview to do, obviously when you're under this kind of pressure. You've probably got a lot of really concerned parents, they are probably calling in, wanting to know if their kids are okay.
Mike, maybe you can talk to me about school resource officers. I remember, a number of the schools I went to, we had armed officers on the campus, they knew exactly what to do if, indeed, a situation with a student or someone else came on campus. They operate like any other police officer. Do you, by chance, know -- because I've never heard an officer referred to as a school resource officer. So explain to me what that means.
BROOKS: That's what they are called now, the ones who are assigned to each one of these schools -- they're called school resource officers. They are there for the students; if the student has any problems, they can go to the police officer about it. He's -- and it's a great idea, because they get to know the students that are in the school and then they'll know who is supposed to be there and who isn't supposed to be there. And they also keep up with what's going on and the crime around the area. They all have radios so they can monitor the traffic in the area, so they know what's going on around them, and they are not just on like a little island by themselves and don't know what's happening in the world.
But they go ahead and monitor what's going on, so they can respond effectively. PHILLIPS: Now, can they communicate to each other? For example, the school resource officer at Winston Elementary and Kathleen High and McKeel Academy, can they all -- can they talk -- can they all communicate together?
BROOKS: Most places have radio. All those officers will have radios where they do have a common channel and they can switch and talk to each other should something happen. At one school they'll go ahead and let the officers know at the other. They also have pagers and those kind of things that are given to them, so the communication is pretty good.
PHILLIPS: This is great about the communication process, because obviously if any one of the officers or deputies from the helicopters picks up an unusual sighting or they think they see the suspect, they can immediately alert those school resource officers, Look, we think we see the suspect, might be close to the schoolyard, might be entering this area. I mean, I can just imagine all the communications taking place from the ground to the air to those resource officers in those schools.
BROOKS: Yes, I tell you, they are a great asset, Kyra. And most school districts have them now, and they are invaluable when it comes down to problems in the school. And they are there to be proactive, to try to head off problems in the school before things do become a problem.
PHILLIPS: All right, we're going to stay on that story out of Lakeland, Florida.
We've got another developing story -- Don?
LEMON: We're hearing that there is going to be a press conference with this, with the Polk County Sheriff's Department -- you can see the representative there, apparently preparing for this. Let's take a listen in and see what he's doing.
SHERIFF GRADY JUDD, POLK COUNTY POLICE: ... law enforcement routine. Today at about 11:45, one of our deputies was stopping a car simply for speeding. He was working radar. He stopped the car about 11:45 on Wabash Avenue, just north of Tenth Street. The man exited the vehicle, produced a false identification. Subsequent to producing a false identification, there was communication where the deputy attempted to identify who he was and what the problems were.
It appears at this time -- and all this information, certainly, is subject to update, and may, in fact, be less than accurate. But at some point in the conversation, he asked the deputy, Am I going to be arrested, and the deputy responded, I don't know if you're going to be arrested at this time. Subsequently -- subsequent to that communication -- subsequent to that communication, this individual, who is a black male, described as wearing a white t-shirt, with dreadlocks, ran west into a wooded area. He was apparently pursued by our deputy.
The backup deputy in this particular instance was a K-9 deputy. The K-9 deputy at some point in time entered the woods, behind the original deputy, while they searched for the suspect. At about 12:30, shots were fired -- numerous shots were fired. As a result of that incident, two of our deputies have been shot, the K-9's been shot, and the suspect's still at large.
Upon calling for assistance, we were assisted by the Lakeland Police Department. They arrived momentarily. We're checking out a house, just north of the stopped location, trying to notify people that there may be suspects in the area.
It's reported to us are that, once again, the black male suspect with dreadlocks came from behind the house, shot two times at the Lakeland Police officers. They returned fire. The subject then ran, once again, into the woods.
We've had numerous alleged sightings in the area. Our deputies, Lakeland police, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Hillsborough Sheriff's Office, and every other agency in the area, are working with us on this manhunt.
Listen to me, folks -- we will find him. We will bring him to justice. The sooner the better. We'll release more information in a little while. Quite frankly, at this time, we're doing everything we can to notify all of the families of the deputies involved, the two deputies involved.
As you can imagine, this has already been on the television and on the news, and we've got an entire agency wondering if it was their loved one involved in this incident. But it would be premature for me to give the names until the next of kin's been notified. And, quite frankly, that should have happened by this time, but we're going to wait a little while longer before we release that information.
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) condition, then, sheriff?
GRADY: I'm not going to release their conditions at this time.
QUESTION: You said next of kin. Is there a fatality involved here?
GRADY: I'm not -- the next of kin are those that are kin to the people involved in the shooting, and I'm not going to say anything else now. You'll know plenty in a little while, OK?
QUESTION: Is there a reason to believe that he's been hit?
LEMON: That was a representative from the Polk County Sheriff's Department saying, Kyra, that, apparently there was a shooting -- a routine stop, rather, 11:45 this morning. Sheriff's deputies working regular radar, stopped the suspect, asked for his I.D., he produced a false I.D. then sort of exhibited some erratic behavior. Got out of the car, asked if he was going to be arrested. They said they didn't know if he was going to be arrested. And then apparently ran into the woods.
One of the officers, one of the sheriff's deputies, pursued that suspect into the woods. The other one, a K-9 officer, then went into the woods. Several shots fired, and then both officers ended up being injured. And then, of course, Lakeland County Police Department came in to help out. The suspect was then cornered into a house, they said, just north of the scene. He then looked out, fired several more shots at those officers, and then ran into the woods.
And according to that representative from the sheriff's department there, the suspect then ran into the woods. There have been several sightings of him and now people are searching for him.
Kyra and Mike, quite an unusual situation. And, of course, the deputy there saying, we will find this person and we will bring him to justice. But also reiterating that this person is very dangerous, because they're in -- on the scene in the area there, telling people to look out for this person and to stay in their homes.
BROOKS: I think saying he's armed and extremely dangerous is an understatement in this particular case. He twice shot at officers, and he's shot at the K-9 dog, also.
LEMON: Yes, that's right.
PHILLIPS: And we finally got a description, too. We probably should reiterate that. Black male, dreadlocks, white t-shirt. I mean, that's the only description we've got of this man so far. He took a hit at the canine.
And here's what's interesting, that the sheriff didn't want to disclose the condition of the deputies. So that leads me to be a bit concerned about what might have happened to them. They got directly to the hospital, but we still don't know. I mean, they could have been in close combat there, and received intense injuries.
BROOKS: We could, but, you know, that's normal notification. They'll go ahead and want to notify the family of the deputies before they give it out to the public, because, you know, you want them to be the first to know what's going on.
And one of the other things, Kyra and Don, is I'm curious to know if maybe there was an onboard camera in the deputy's car, where they were able to get a picture of this person. And, you know, as the day progresses, hopefully, if they did have an onboard camera, we can get some kind of image of this guy, and get it out to the public. So, you know, the more eyes and -- that's looking for this person, the better it is for the deputies.
LEMON: Mike -- sorry.
PHILLIPS: That's OK, go ahead.
LEMON: I want to ask you what usually what happens in this situation, when you have a hostage situation like this in a residential neighborhood? What's the next step? What, do they cordon it off and how do they...
BROOKS: Yes, what you want to do is you want to try to get -- let everybody in the area know -- you know, we heard Donna Woods (ph) earlier trying to let everyone know that, you know, stay in your homes, kind of shelter in place, if you will. Because you don't want, when you've got a gunman on the loose like him -- he's not afraid to shoot.
And, you know, it's a concern for the public. And that's why they've delayed the release of the children from the one school. And that's why they have the buses there. So when they do decide to go ahead and let the kids out, that they'll be able to get them on the bus and get them out of the neighborhood. But, I mean, just a very volatile situation and a very fluid situation going on right now.
PHILLIPS: Just to bring our viewers up to date, right now the police there in Polk County, deputies and police searching for an armed gunman after opening fire on two deputies, injuring them. Three schools, we're told, on lockdown now: Winston Elementary, Kathleen High, McKeel Academy. They've got helicopters in the air, SWAT on the ground. Police, deputies, K-9, searching for this suspect.
We'll continue to follow this story, bring you more information as we get it. Straight from CNN NEWSROOM. We're taking a quick break. We'll be right back.
PHILLIPS: Working a number of stories for you, but our top one right now is the search for that armed gunman in Lakeland, Florida. What had happened was, it was a routine traffic stop, he was speeding. Deputies got out, the suspect said, are you going to arrest me? The deputy said, I'm not sure at this point.
And then finally, we're getting a description of this suspect. We're told it's a black male with dreadlocks and a white t-shirt. Took off into this wooded area here in Lakeland. The deputies pursued him. One was a K-9 deputy. That's when the suspect opened fire, hitting the canine, also the two deputies. They've been taken to the hospital. At that point, the suspect was on the loose.
Police, also the deputies, also helicopter assets, responded to the scene. Right now, still trying to find that suspect. Three schools on lockdown: Winston Elementary, Kathleen High, McKeel Academy. We are told that each one of those schools have school resource officers on campus. In they are trained police officers. So that's the good news. So they are in communication with all law enforcement agencies on how to proceed as this man remains on the loose.
The suspects also found hiding behind a house, and that's when he cornered police officers, once again separate from those deputies. He opened fire on those police officers, took off again. So obviously this man still with plenty of ammunition. Not quite sure how long that will last, in addition to his energy level, as police are in full force trying to track him down. This right here -- we're not going to show you live pictures, because we don't want to give away where the SWAT team is and how they are planning to try and find this suspect. But this is earlier on. They're discussing how to come in this area and contain it and continue their search for this suspect that's on the loose.
So, once again, we're following this. We'll bring you more details. We're working to get a reporter for you from Bay News 9, one of the affiliates there, to bring you up to date on the wounded deputies, the search for this gunman and also the condition of the three schools that are still in lockdown.
LEMON: Two deputies injured in that. (INAUDIBLE) shot twice at police officers, first at the two deputies and then that Lakeland County police officer.
We're also working on a developing story happening in Michigan. This is out of Oak Park, Michigan, where a suspect involved in an attempted purse snatching and then ran from police there and started an accident, caused an accident, a rollover crash on a major interstate there, shut that interstate down, and then also the on-ramp to another major interstate. So I imagine there's some traffic problems happening there in Michigan now. But police are still searching for this suspect in this. And joining us now on the phone David Niedermeier, who is a Hazel Park, Michigan -- with the Hazel Park, Michigan police department.
Have you gotten wind of this suspect anywhere, Mr. Niedermeier?
CHIEF DAVID NIEDERMEIER, HAZEL PARK, MICHIGAN POLICE: Yes, sir. We had a good track on him early on. We had witness confirmation that confirmed our track. Since then, the track has gone cold. We've backtracked and started up a couple different locations. We have retrieved some information, some evidence, along the track. But as of right now, he is still at loose.
LEMON: We're looking now at a canine, a police dog rather, a canine officer and a police dog on the scene here. Tell us about what you have working this scene, about the police officers and how much apparatus, how many workers you have on this?
NIEDERMEIER: Well, initially the -- the initial crime started in Oak Park, which is two communities over. A pursuit was a result, came eastbound, caused an accident on the interchange between I-696 and I- 75.
LEMON: Anybody injured in that?
NIEDERMEIER: Yes, there were two people taken to the hospital. One was in more serious condition than the other. Their exact condition at this point, I do not know.
LEMON: OK, so one is serious and you do not know the other one.
NIEDERMEIER: Right. After that collision, the suspect vehicle continued on, actually went over a small hill, or, actually, a large hill that has some radio equipment on it, and jumped an embankment, about a five-foot drop onto I-75. Then continued southbound about a quarter mile, went up an embankment, crashed into a fence, and at the surface level then fled on foot, which is where our officers and other pursuing officers began to pursue him.
LEMON: Is this -- he didn't steal this car. Was this his car that he jumped in?
NIEDERMEIER: At this point in time the car is not reported as stolen.
LEMON: The car is not reported as stolen. Take us back to the beginning of this. Apparently this happened at what's called a Farmer Jack grocery store in Oak Park, Michigan, this morning. Take us back to the time it started and tell us what you know.
NIEDERMEIER: Unfortunately, I don't have too many intimate details about the initial crime. Our police agency is on the receiving end of this. We're trying to coordinate the recovery of this suspect, after he fled the initial community. So, it's my understanding it was some type of a property crime. Possibly forcibly taken from another individual. I'm not aware of any weapons being involved per se.
NIEDERMEIER: When our -- when the initial foot pursuit started, we had the Hazel Park Police Department, the Ferndale Police Department, Michigan State Police, Oakland County Sheriff, which is providing air support --
LEMON: So you've got a lot of people looking for the suspect.
NIEDERMEIER: We have a lot of resources.
LEMON: So, again, you said you had him, you tracked him and then the trail went cold, but apparently this person went on a chase, police were chasing him, and then caused an accident on the interstate there, two people injured, rollover crash, and then he went across the hill, went down an embankment and jumped another embankment and crashed into some radio equipment and then into a fence there as well and then got out of his car and then fled on foot, and that's as far as you know right there.
NIEDERMEIER: And at this point in time, the area he fled into is in a school district that we have about four schools there, and those schools are currently in lockdown.
NIEDERMEIER: And they are restricting the dismissal of students that would be going home to the area that we have cordoned off for our search.
LEMON: All right, thank you very much Hazel Park, Michigan, police chief. That is David Niedermeier. He is the police chief there.
We'll keep you updated on this story. We have more breaking news, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Well from Michigan to Florida, schools there on lockdown as well. We got an update on three schools now, Winston Elementary, Kathleen High, Mckeel Academy, all in Lakeland, Florida, because there's still a gunman on the loose. Here's what happened. We finally heard from the sheriff and he updated us on the details. Evidently the suspect was speeding, two deputies pulled him over. He showed a false I.D. and then asked the deputy, when the deputy was trying to talk to him, am I going to be arrested? The Deputy said, I don't know at this point.
That's when the suspect, now being described as a black male, dreadlocks, white t-shirt, took off into this wooded area. We are seeing tape from earlier on, when they went searching for him. Once he took off in that wooded area, the canine deputy, the other deputy, went after him, tried to find him. At that point, the suspect opened fire. A lot of shots we are told, fired, exchanged, in that gunfight. The deputies were hit. The canine was hit.
The suspect's still at large. The two wounded deputies called for assistance and now you can see all the assets that are there, from the S.W.A.T. team, sheriff's deputies, police department, helicopters. This is from earlier on when the S.W.A.T. team was gathered at a shed that they had cleared. They had believed he was in this area. The suspect actually moved behind another house. That's when police officers moved in on him. He opened fire at them, ran back into the wooded area. So, the manhunt continues. According to authorities, there have been sightings of him in the area.
We don't know if that's come from residents that is close to this perimeter or if it's coming from the helicopters. But we're continuing to get more information as that hunt for the suspect continues. Once again, three schools on lockdown, Winston Elementary, Kathleen High, Mckeel Academy. We're told that officers are there at those schools, so parents are told not to worry at this point, and they'll let them know the status of when those kids will be able to get out. We're going to keep getting more details in, bring you more straight from THE NEWSROOM right after a quick break.
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SHERIFF GRADY JUDD, POLK COUNTY POLICE: Listen to me folks, we will find him. We will bring him to justice.
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