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Nancy Grace

Gunman Shoots One and Self at NASA Johnson Space Center

Aired April 20, 2007 - 20:00   ET


NANCY GRACE, HOST: Breaking news tonight, a man with a gun enters NASA, opens fire, forcing evacuation of the country`s elite space program, two dead, and reportedly authorities say the gunman is a NASA employee, this on the heels of another NASA astronaut facing claims of attempted murder.
And tonight, a minister`s wife removes a 12-gauge from the closet, aims at her highly popular preacher husband and pulls the trigger. She then rips the phone cord from the wall, leaves him for dead and heads off for a seaside vacation, preacher Matthew Winkler shot in the back as he sleeps, found dead inside that Tennessee church parsonage. Now a stunning and twisted verdict, Winkler walking free on bond. Did Mary Winkler get away with murder?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the eyes of the jury of 10 women and 2 men, Mary Winkler was not the cold-blooded killer prosecutors made her out to be, but instead an abused woman who snapped after years of abuse and shot her husband in the back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you intentionally, purposefully kill your husband?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her defense lawyer said it was testimony like this from Winkler herself that helped turn the tide in her favor.

WINKLER: He knocked something over and I bent down to pick it up, and he kicked me when he was just inches away from my nose. Whatever he was upset about, it was my fault. Don`t do it again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What were you asked to look at?

WINKLER: Pornography.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he ever ask you to engage in any type of sex that you felt was unnatural?

WINKLER: Yes, sir.


GRACE: Man, that`s some shoe. Good evening. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us tonight.

First, breaking news, a gunman barricades himself inside NASA`s elite space center and opens fire.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When police officers arrived from the Houston Police Department, they were told by Johnson Space Center security that shots had been fired inside the building around 1:40 PM.

A number of SWAT team officers are now rushing down here with lights and sirens. This is building number 44, NASA`s communications and tracking development laboratory. Not a soul is seen moving around this building. It`s a ghost town, for good reason because they have evacuated building number 44.

This is the parking lot of all the engineers and all the other employees who were working in building number 44, and they had to run out of this building and get away, leaving their cars behind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shortly before 2:00 o`clock this afternoon, we received a call in the Houston Police Department regarding possible shots fired here in the NASA complex. We have one suspect, a white male, approximately 50 to 60 years old, with one weapon, that being a handgun.

There were two shots fired, according to one employee here at NASA. He indicated that he heard two shots and actually saw the gun and the suspect.


GRACE: Just how does an armed gunman walk into NASA? How does that happen? Well, however it happened, we now have two dead bodies at NASA. We are waiting to take you live to a NASA press conference. In the meantime, to Laurie Johnson with KUHF there on location. Laurie, what happened?

LAURIE JOHNSON, KUHF: Well, Nancy, it`s been a tense day here at Johnson Space Center. HPD got a call at about 1:40 this afternoon Central Time saying they believed shots had been fired inside a building here on the campus of Johnson Space Center. They immediately responded to that call. And it ended up being a hostage situation. They were outside the building for about four hours, trying to communicate with a suspect inside the building. They could not establish communication.

It ended up being sort of a standoff. The suspect had barricaded himself inside what`s believed to be a conference room. As the SWAT team was called out, they attempted to talk to him. He wouldn`t respond. And then they began to bring equipment out to try different methods of communication, but it was all to no avail. And the situation just escalated from there, got worse and worse. And again, they heard multiple shots from within the building.

GRACE: With us, Laurie Johnson, there on location with KUHF. Laurie, how did the guy just walk into NASA space center armed?

JOHNSON: Well, that`s still unknown. Security is very tight here at Johnson Space Center.

GRACE: Well, I don`t think so. I don`t think so.

JOHNSON: Well, it`s one of those situations where they`re not sure how he got a weapon on campus. There are credentials required to get on campus. Security does random searches of vehicles and people. And there are procedures for how you enter and exit the campus and different buildings. Certain passcodes are required in some buildings. So they`re really unsure at this point how he managed to get a gun on site. And that`s what they say they`ll be investigating, and NASA officials have said they may be rethinking their security measures here at Johnson Center.

GRACE: Well, you know what? You know what, Laurie? That`s a day late and a dollar short! We just saw the biggest shooting in U.S. history on a college campus, and now NASA is rethinking their security? They can tell the family of the murder victim how they`re going to beef up security now. Laurie, what can you tell me about this building? I`m wondering, did he target this building? What significance is this building to the shooter?

JOHNSON: It was building number 44. It`s sort of central to the campus. And they`re not really sure why that building, at this point. It was actually an engineering and communications building. Not a whole lot goes on there except for some office work. Very few employees actually work in that building, probably less than 50 in that building at any given time. And so at this point, they`re trying to find out why he did go to that building, if he perhaps worked in that building, if he was maybe a contractor for one of the companies here at the Johnson Space Center, or if he perhaps had a relationship there with someone that works in that building. But all of that is unknown at this point while the investigation`s ongoing.

GRACE: Right now, we are live at NASA space center. As you know by now, a man with a gun enters NASA, opens fire, forcing evacuation of the country`s elite space program. As we go to air, bodies still inside the building, the investigation continuing.

Take a listen to what police had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our negotiators were trying to establish communication. While they were trying to establish communication, they did hear one additional gunshot. Believing that the suspect may have shot himself, the decision was made to make entry. As our SWAT team members made entry, they did indeed determine that the suspect shot himself one time to the head. He appears to be deceased at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The report to us was that there were two shots, and that`s what caused us to respond to this scene. And we`re believing that one of the hostages, the male, who`s deceased, was shot during that particular moment because from that point forward, we only have the other shot that was heard by our SWAT team members, and we believe that to be the suspect shooting himself.


GRACE: Back to KUHF`s Laurie Johnson there on location. Laurie, what can you tell me about the weapon?

JOHNSON: The weapon is a single handgun. They believe it was a revolver, a short, two-inch barrel, what`s referred to as a snub-nose type gun. They`re not really sure what caliber. It may be a .357, but that`s still being determined. But just one handgun, that`s all he had on him. That`s all he used, with a few shots fired, and as you heard, it was fatal.

GRACE: As you know, we`re waiting to take you live to a NASA presser. Just how does an armed gunman walk into NASA`s elite space program? Out to Aaron Cohen, trained Houston PD SWAT team. Aaron, what can you tell us about this situation and how did the hostage negotiations break down?

AARON COHEN, TRAINED HOUSTON PD SWAT TEAM: Well, what happened was the SWAT team -- first of all, let me just put my hat down to the SWAT team. These guys operated on what we call a tier one level. They showed up, they had the gear. This is a full-time SWAT team. They got to the scenario. They applied the containment process properly, and they staged themselves for a tactical assault, which is initially what they ended up having to do because they couldn`t establish contact with the suspect inside.

As far as how this gunman got onto the property, obviously, the investigation will turn it up. We do know that the security is pretty tight at these facilities typically. However, due to the fact that this guy was a contractor, I`m going to assume that he`s been there before. He`s seen the system. He`s been through the access process. He knows where the weaknesses are. What you`ve got is a guy who went to a specific place for a specific reason, and as we saw with the VTech shooting, it really doesn`t take much to be able to do damage.

And I think these guys did the right thing. They went in when they heard those shots. They found the guy dead. And you know what? I think these guys would have definitely saved lives. They didn`t hesitate.

GRACE: You`re seeing a live shot there at the lefthand side of your TV camera. We`re waiting to go live to that presser to hear what NASA has to say about the deadly shooting today at NASA`s elite space program.

I want to go to a special guest joining us tonight. With us is Norm Thagard. He is a former mission specialist astronaut who used to work in the Johnson Space Center. Welcome, Norm. What can you tell us about this location?

NORM THAGARD, FORMER ASTRONAUT, WORKED AT JOHNSON SPACE CENTER: The location is at one side of the complex, and as I remember, there`s communications test field right adjacent to it. But as you heard earlier, it`s just an engineering building. There`s nothing special about it. And both civil servants work in there, and I`m sure contractors either work or visit there frequently.

GRACE: Tell me about the security.

THAGARD: The security, when I first got to NASA, was fairly loose. In fact, I had worked my way up through the years to a pretty good parking space, and people would come on, just visitors from out of town, and park in my reserved spot. But after 9/11, they really tightened up. And not only do you have to have a badge and you have to have a car pass to get through, but there are checkpoints inside where they will stop vehicles and look at personal badges to be sure that you`re entitled to be where you are.

GRACE: You know, at a certain point, when you`re dealing with a government facility like this, supposedly the pinnacle of U.S. military, our space program -- at a certain point, you look around to determine liability.

Let`s unleash the lawyers. Joining us, Eleanor Dixon and Randy Zelin. To you, Randy Zelin -- liability, two dead people, liability on NASA. You just heard a former astronaut state security is lax.

RANDY ZELIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, the question is going to become two-fold. One, did NASA know or have reason to know that this person may have had some kind of violent propensity? And number two, did they have reasonable security measures? We haven`t heard anything about metal detectors.

GRACE: And what about it, Eleanor?

ELEANOR DIXON, PROSECUTOR: Well, I think they could be liable. You make a good point about the metal detectors. They should have put some security measures in place, especially, as you said, after 9/11. If anybody can just go up and park in the good spaces and walk in, that`s not safe. There may be some liability.

GRACE: Take a listen to what NASA spokespeople had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s one of our smaller office buildings on site, and I don`t have an exact number of those people in that building. I can tell you they evacuated the building, so you know, all of the employees that we had evacuated are out and they`ve been taken away from the building and actually told they can disperse to wherever they want to go at this point.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the initial communications that went out, we advised them to shelter in place until we had a firm understanding of the situation. We sent e-mail out through a variety of mechanisms that we have. In addition, our human resource representatives called all of our major directorate offices to ensure that they would get the word out to their employees. We sent out a second e-mail telling our employees that there was no need for them to shelter in place, that the situation was confined to this one area, and told them that they were free to go home at their normal quitting time or any time that they desired to do that.


GRACE: Incredible! To you, Vito Colucci. What, have they been living in a cave? That`s exactly what they did at Virginia Tech! They sent out an e-mail when there`s a shooter, a gunman on the premises?

VITO COLUCCI, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: It`s amazing, Nancy, just listening to that. You know, if it wasn`t so sad, it`d be funny. You know, you could stay, stay if you want, or leave if you want, you know? I mean, what kind of direction is that? You know, that is so ridiculous. You know, lawsuits galore on this. And what your guest said before, you`ve got a badge or a car pass, you`re in there, Nancy. Something`s got to be changed. This is NASA here.

GRACE: Let`s go out to the lines. Eleanor in Canada. Hi, Eleanor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. We love your show. We never miss you, dear.

GRACE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`d like to know, do they not have good security at NASA or what?

GRACE: You know what, Eleanor? You`d think, wouldn`t you, that at NASA, of all places, it would be very, very difficult to get in. And I`m also wondering -- back to you, Norm Thagard, a retired astronaut, who worked in the Johnson Space Center -- what is the ratio with civil or contract workers, and are they as tightly controlled as government employees?

THAGARD: When I was there, there were more contractor personnel than civil servants. I think in its heyday, NASA had maybe 3,600 civil servants at Johnson Space Center. There`re probably fewer now, but there were always more contractors. But the contractors have to be a badged and have to go through security checks, just like civil service employees do.

GRACE: Out to Bethany Marshall, psychoanalyst and author. Bethany, we just saw this huge massacre go down at Virginia Tech. They send out an e-mail. Now a gunman on the loose at NASA. What do they do? They send out an e-mail.

BETHANY MARSHALL, PSYCHOANALYST: You know, it`s so hard to believe. I will say that a part of good mental health is living with an illusion of safety in the world. However, at this point, you do have to prepare for the worst. And what they may be doing is reacting against the feeling that we have to sanitize the workplace and get rid of everyone who could potentially be homicidal because there`s simply no way to do that. But if you really understand domestic homicide, murder-suicide, stalking typologies, these people are everywhere. They`re in every workplace, and so they have to be prepared for it on some level, that this could happen in your particular place of business.

GRACE: You know, we keep seeing the "gunman on the loose" stories, and I`m wondering if there`s a copycat effect. I don`t think so. I do not think that the media makes the monster.

MARSHALL: I think there could be a copycat effect, in that a lot of times, these criminals or these perpetrators have a very grandiose substructure. So just like stalkers, sometimes they stalk celebrities because they want to be affiliated with a celebrity, these people considering homicide may do it at a time when people who commit homicide find themselves, you know, pictured in the media because they want to feel that there`s something grandiose and special about what they`re doing. It could be their moment of fame or infamy.

GRACE: Quick break.

To tonight`s "Case Alert." A national day of mourning for the victims of the deadliest shooting in U.S. history, 33 dead in the early morning hours at Virginia Tech campus, memorials taking place across the country.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our negotiators were trying to establish communication. While they were trying to establish communication, they did hear one additional gunshot. Believing that the suspect may have shot himself, the decision was made to make entry. As our SWAT team members made entry, they did indeed determine that the suspect shot himself one time to the head. He appears to be deceased at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would believe that our security and our senior leadership is going to take a very close look at this incident and see if there was anything that we should have done or could have done differently.


GRACE: Right! Take a close look. A gunman walks unapprehended onto NASA`s premises and unloads after barricading himself inside one of the space buildings there at the Johnson Space Center.

Back to Laurie Johnson, on location there with KUHF. What do we know about the shooter?

JOHNSON: Right now, all we know is that he was a white male suspect, 50 to 60 years old, and he had a single handgun, made it into building 44, an engineering building on the campus of Johnson Space Center. And that`s all we know so far about his identity. They haven`t released his name, his employment status, if he was a contractor here or a NASA employee. We`re not sure. Not sure of any motive, if he knew the people that he took hostage inside that building.

GRACE: But we do know, Laurie, that he did work there in some capacity?

JOHNSON: That hasn`t been confirmed. There has been talk that he may have been a contractor for a NASA contract company, but it has not been confirmed yet by NASA officials or the Houston Police Department, so we`re still waiting for that information. They will be having a press conference here in a few moments, and we`re hoping we might find out more about his identity then.

GRACE: Out to the lines. Linda in Massachusetts. Hi, Linda.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. How are you? We love you in Boston.

GRACE: Hello to all my friends in Boston. What`s your question, dear?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. As a former prosecutor, do you feel that the shooter in Houston was influenced by all the media coverage with Virginia Tech?

GRACE: You know what, Linda? I`ve been asked that question a lot, and I really believe that people that go into facilities like this and unload with a weapon, the media does not create them. They are a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. It may have pushed him over the edge today, as opposed to next week or next month, but this guy was going to unload that weapon. And knowing, Linda, that he worked there, or we believe he worked there in some capacity, suggests to me that this was targeted. Like Cho went to school -- I`m sorry. Seung Cho went to school at Virginia Tech, apparently a deep-seated animosity over time. I`m wondering what this guy`s motivation is.

Out to you -- joining us right now, Kimmery Rayhill McDonald (ph), also a veteran trial lawyer. Kimmery, I`m just wondering, if this guy did work there in some capacity, what liability NASA has as to background checks and checking out people that come in and out of its facilities?

KIMMERY RAYHILL MCDONALD, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I have to tell you, Nancy, I`m scared. You would think that NASA employees and/or contractors are subject to a higher psychological screening or scrutiny. And here we have a gentleman coming in with a gun, wreaking havoc.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was one other hostage that was shot -- we believe that may have occurred in the early minutes of this whole ordeal -- and another hostage that was unharmed -- taped but unharmed and being looked at by our paramedics.


GRACE: We are waiting to take you live to a NASA press conference after an armed man goes into NASA unapprehended and opens fire, causing evacuation after barricading himself inside the building. We can now confirm that the shooter worked for a contractor there at NASA, Jacobs Engineering.

Back out to Laurie Johnson with KUHF. What do we know about Jacobs Engineering? What is that?

JOHNSON: Well, Nancy, it`s a company that contracts engineering services for the international space station, the space shuttle and other spacecraft for NASA. We know that they were awarded a contract with NASA back in 2005 of up to $1.1 billion for those engineering services, especially for the international space station.

GRACE: To Norm Thagard, former specialist astronaut there at Nasa. He used to work in this space center. So contractors just come and go at will?

THAGARD: Well, they have to be able to come and go at will because you have a job that you have to do and it requires frequent interface between astronauts, engineers and trainers.



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: About two hours or so ago, 1:40 p.m. Central time, 2:40 Eastern, Houston police, NASA security responded after getting a report that a person with a gun was barricaded inside one of the buildings on the Johnson Space Center campus, Houston police saying that the police had received a report of gunfire. One of our affiliates saying five or six or seven shots were fired. We do not have independent confirmation of that.


GRACE: Today, a man walks unapprehended into NASA space station and opens fire, there at our elite astronaut program. How did this happen? Out to Lawrence Kobilinsky, forensic scientist. Dr. Kobilinsky, you`ve analyzed so many, many cases. We know that one of the victims was duct taped, apparently, to a chair or duct taped up. The other was shot dead. Why not the woman?

LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC SCIENTIST: That`s a good question. I mean, we have to find out more about the motivation, what triggered all of this. We need to do a thorough investigation to find out what was in the history. Was he a disgruntled employee? Was he shooting these people randomly? Was the shooting focused on these individuals? I think there are a lot of unanswered questions at this point, Nancy.

GRACE: There`s no way that this is random, to go to an obscure building at NASA space station there at Johnson Space Center, duct tapes people up, and kills.

To Laurie Johnson with WUHF, how did it unfold? And tell me about the taping up of the victims.

LAURIE JOHNSON, REPORTER: Well, it started, as you heard before, about 1:40 Central time. There was a call from inside the building to Houston Police Department that shots had been fired inside the building. The Houston police immediately responded, along with the Johnson Space Center security team, and they determined that there was a suspect barricaded inside. At that point, they didn`t realize that there may have been other people in the building along with him. It was unclear who all was inside. They had evacuated as many people as possible.

It then became a sort of standoff situation for about four hours, with the SWAT team standing outside the perimeter of the building, attempting to establish communications with the suspect inside. They were unable to do so. The suspect was not responding.

And then, finally, they heard a shot fired inside the building. That`s when they decided to move in and see what was going on, assess the situation, and that`s when they found one hostage dead. They found the suspect dead. And they found a female hostage bound at the wrists and at the ankles with duct tape. She was otherwise unharmed, and she had been taken hostage inside that building for about four hours.

GRACE: Out to you, Aaron Cohen, trained Houston P.D. SWAT team member, what does that signify to you? Did he actually go in with not only a gun, but with duct tape, as well?

AARON COHEN, TRAINED HOUSTON P.D. SWAT TEAM: I mean, this guy went in there to do a real deal. I mean, you know, when that SWAT team -- you know, when that SWAT team went in there, after they heard that shot, they didn`t go in to check things out. They went in there to go directly to the threat in a very dynamic, tactical, aggressive nature, because at that point right there, you know, for every second you`re wasting, another innocent person can be killed.

So they knew the best they could what they were dealing with. I think they had a hard time getting as much information as they would have liked. But when they heard that shot, they went directly to that room for the purposes of neutralizing this guy, you know.

GRACE: To you, Laurie Johnson. How did they realize the guy was in there to start with?

JOHNSON: We`re unclear on all the details exactly how that happened. I do know that a witness saw the suspect inside the building. That`s how we know what the suspect looked like, that he was a white male, 50 to 60 years old, that he had a handgun. A witness did see that, saw him with a gun, heard a couple of shots fired, and then saw him go upstairs into one of the conference rooms. And then, at that point, police believed that he was barricaded inside that conference room, because there was really nowhere else for him to go.

GRACE: Out to the lines, Terri in Texas. Hi, Terri.


GRACE: How are you, dear?

CALLER: I`m fine, thank you.

GRACE: What`s your question tonight?

CALLER: I wonder what my legal rights were as an employee and a student to make sure that I am safe in the workplace and on campus?

GRACE: Good question. Let`s unleash the lawyers, Eleanor Dixon, Randy Zelin, and Kimarie Rahill McDonald. What about it, Kimarie? What are your rights? Don`t you have some right to reasonable security and protection?

KIMARIE RAHILL MCDONALD, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You certainly do. And the schools, universities have to look into that more seriously, as well as other public entities, such as NASA and amusement parks. It goes all the way down the line. And it`s evident that some of these people aren`t doing their job in protecting the people that are coming to visit those campuses and other venues.

GRACE: We are waiting to take you live to a NASA press conference. All the mikes are set up to hear what NASA has to say about this. There we see -- that means they`re about to approach the Mike.

Out to you, Randy Zelin, on the other hand, how can a corporation, say McDonald`s, say NASA, say Virginia Tech, anticipate -- well, we know Virginia Tech could, because they had six warning signals that I personally know of -- but how could you be held accountable for someone else`s criminal act, Randy?

RANDY ZELIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It`s a question of reasonableness and foreseeability. Based on what you`re doing, NASA, again, heightened scrutiny. You`ve got to know what you`re looking at, the people that you`re dealing with. It`s all going to depend on the situation and who`s doing what. You can`t say across the board that there`s one set way to do it. But, again, with NASA, you`ve got to have a higher level of scrutiny.

GRACE: And to you, Eleanor Dixon, agree or disagree?

ELEANOR DIXON, PROSECUTOR: I agree. And I think that a place like NASA, which deals with some of the things that they handle in that facility, they have a higher duty and a higher burden to provide security to their employees. It`s not like the McDonald`s. There are people who perhaps will come to NASA, disgruntled employees and people who are upset with the space program, as well, so they have a hard duty.

GRACE: OK, the presser now set to start in about two minutes. I want to hear -- I`m very interested in what NASA has to say about this.

Out to you, Vito Colucci, let`s get real. How much does a metal detector cost, with all the millions, trillions of dollars just poured into NASA? They can`t put a metal detector at the door?

VITO COLUCCI, PRIVATE DETECTIVE: They should have a metal detector at any door, Nancy, you have on this. See, don`t forget now, too, depending on what kind of revolver this man had, he left three or four shots in there, OK? He only did two shots. One, we know he killed himself. So he had to be targeting this one individual. He left a lady unharmed. So that`s going to be a good answer to hear, why did he leave three or four shots?

GRACE: Let`s see what`s happening at the presser, very quickly, Rosie. I want to see if they`re about ready to start. OK, they are ready. I`m hearing in my ear. Let`s go quickly to break so we don`t miss any of that NASA presser.

As we go to break, it`s simple Trial 101, motive. Was this guy a disgruntled employee? So far, we don`t know yet, but the state doesn`t have to prove motive at this juncture. It really doesn`t even matter.



MICHAEL COATS, JOHNSON SPACE CENTER REPRESENTATIVE: ... threat, if you will, when it became obvious that this was contained to a single office in Building 44, we sent out another e-mail message to all employees saying that they were free to leave as necessary. What has happened, apparently, is that one of our employees -- and I think you`ve already heard, Bill Phillips, apparently shot another employee by the name of David Beverly (ph), and the families have been notified. Both were engineers, working in our electronics laboratory, or electronics building over here, Building 44.

The third employee that was held hostage was tied up with duct tape for a period of about three hours, but was not harmed during this period. Her name is Fran Crenshaw (ph). And, again, she has been released, and checked out, and sent home.

We`ll probably get a lot of questions about security here at the Johnson Space Center. We do have security, as I`m sure all of you know. We have to have badges to get on the site here. Guns are not permitted onsite, and we have random checks of automobiles for all employees. So we do have security procedures here at the Johnson Space Center.

Right now, we`re trying to understand why this happened, how this happened. Earlier in the week, we, in fact, had reviewed, as a result of the Virginia Tech shootings, had reviewed our own procedures here at the Johnson Space Center, security procedures, and response procedures, and so forth.

But, of course, we never believed this could happen here to our family and our situation. This is incredibly sad for all of us, and our hearts and minds go out to the families of these individuals. We have counselors available for all of the Johnson Space Center employees that need assistance in this area. So with that, I`d like to turn it over to Chief Hurtt -- Chief?

CHIEF HAROLD HURTT, Houston Police: The Houston Police Department was called between 1:45 and 2:00 and immediately responded. The field operations personnel responded first. Then they summoned SWAT and negotiators, as well as the canines and bomb squad. Once the officers were in place, the SWAT team and the negotiators took over.

The negotiators tried to establish communication with the individual that was holding the hostage and had killed the other individual. They were unable to do so, and they did not take any other action until they heard the last shot. At the time that they heard the last shot, they went to the door, announced that they were going to come in, and they made entry. Once they made entry, of course, they found two white males that had expired, and the hostage.

After securing the scene here, members of the Houston Police Department went to the suspect`s home. Before going to the home, they searched the individual`s vehicle. We knew that the individual was an engineer. We didn`t know what type of engineer at the time, so we searched his vehicle for any possible weapons or explosives.

Then we went to his home to check to see if there were any other victims or whether we need to further search or secure that home to further our investigation. So we didn`t want first responders walking around without the home being swept for explosives. And, of course, we had checked for other victims of what happened here today.

As far as the investigation of the homicide, the Houston Police Department homicide division, after consulting with FBI -- this is federal property -- the Houston homicide division will conduct the investigation and continue to consult with the FBI. And at the conclusion, we will then brief the member of this center on what occurred and all that was discovered during the investigation.

Any questions?


HURTT: I don`t know if she`s been interviewed yet. She was taken to the hospital from here. I understand she has been released from the hospital and was transported to 1200 Travis. That`s police headquarters.


HURTT: No, we don`t, other than apparently that was some type of dispute between the suspect and the victim, and Fran, or the female that was involved in the situation, was also an employee in the general area, and she was taken hostage, presumably after the shooting of the first gentleman.


HURTT: No injuries that was obvious to us. She was duct taped, her hands, and her arms, her mouth. And she was able to remove the duct tape and call the emergency number here at Johnson Space Center. They then alerted the administration, and the administration alerted the other employees as to what had occurred.


HURTT: As I understand the chain of events, she was very courageous, a calming influence in this whole issue, and apparently was a very positive relationship between her and the suspect, because he at no time that we know of threatened to do injury to her.


HURTT: To what we know, she was just randomly there.


HURTT: The investigation is still going on. We have not had an opportunity to talk to people that worked with these two engineers, so maybe tomorrow we`ll be able to brief you, if we get other information in reference what the motive was behind this.


HURTT: The gun was apparently bought in by the suspect. I don`t know where he had it concealed, whether he had it in his car or on his person. It was a weapon that was bought here, I think, on March the 18th at a local gun shop. And that was the weapon that -- the one that he bought on March the 18th apparently was the one that he used today.


COATS: David Beverly (ph, who was killed, is a NASA civil servant. And Bill Phillips, who we think was the shooter, was the Jacobs employee, contractor-employee. Fran Crenshaw is also a contractor-employee, I believe for MRI (ph).


COATS: I`m not aware of that. I hadn`t heard that. We had asked about that. And it`s not clear to us. We hadn`t heard that. I can`t confirm that right now.


COATS: Up until recently, he`s been a good employee. He`s been here about 12, 13 years, so we`re still trying to find out the details.



COATS: Earlier today, we have had a tragedy here at Johnson Space Center that has left two of our NASA family members dead. A third member of our family was held hostage for about three hours. Fortunately, she has been safely released.


GRACE: What we have learned from the NASA press conference, they just stated that the shooter, he barricaded himself inside the NASA center, the home of the elite U.S. space program, name William Phillips. Occupation, had worked there as a contractor between 12 and 15 years, believed to be between 50 and 60 years old.

We also learned, Dr. Bethany Marshall, that he apparently created a, quote, "positive relationship with the female hostage." How do you do that with a gun shoved at your nose?

BETHANY MARSHALL, PSYCHOANALYST: Well, you know, it`s so confusing to know what happened, but if he created a positive relationship with her, I wonder if, in fantasy, he had an attachment to her and there was a part of a stalking incident. Or sometimes victims become so grateful at their hostage -- at the person who takes them hostage for not killing them that they feel enormous gratitude. And that can create the illusion of an attachment. So maybe that`s what this person who was taken hostage is talking about, is her enormous gratitude towards him for not killing her.

GRACE: And very quickly to the Houston P.D. SWAT team member, Aaron Cohen, the fact that she could get out of her bonds from duct tape, bound at the hand and the ankle, what does that suggest to you, that she could free herself?

COHEN: It means that she wasn`t tied up very good.

GRACE: OK. We now know that a rapport was created between Fran Crenshaw, employee, and the shooter. She escaped with her life. We`re on the story, shooting at NASA`s elite space program. A gunman walks into the center and opens fire.

Let`s stop for one moment to remember tonight Army Captain Jonathan Grassbaugh, 26, East Hampton, New Hampshire, killed, Iraq. Grassbaugh, an Army ranger, second tour of duty, awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. An honor student, a grad of Phillips Exeter and Johns Hopkins, loved electronics and navigating maps. Had a big heart, even flying pizza to Iraq for fellow troops on Thanksgiving. A newlywed, he leaves behind widow Jenna, parents Mark and Patricia, brother, Jason, also an Army captain. Jonathan Grassbaugh, American hero.

Thanks to our guests, but especially to you for inviting us into your homes. A special goodnight from the New York control room. Good night, Rosie, Chris. Until tomorrow night, good night, friend.