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Breaking News

Shooting at McDonald's in Suburban Pittsburgh

Aired March 1, 2000 - 1:18 p.m. ET


NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Our breaking news is from Wilkinsburg outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Five people in critical condition after being shot in the head by a gunman who is now holed up in an office building, that building surrounded by police. And CNN has been told the gunman may be holding five hostages. The people were shot at this McDonald's, a nearby apartment building and near a Burger King.

On the phone with us now is Jeff Killeen with the FBI. Mr. Killeen can help us learn what might be the next step.

Mr. Killeen, so the SWAT team has surrounded the building. Where does this go from here?

JEFF KILLEEN, FBI: Well, right now, there is a number of police agencies on the scene to include Wilkinsburg Police, Pittsburgh Police and state police. There does not appear to be any federal crime involved. Accordingly, the FBI does not have jurisdiction in this case as of this time. But, nonetheless, we have dispatched FBI personnel to the scene to include SWAT personnel, hostage negotiators and supervisory personnel, and we stand ready to assist in this event.

ALLEN: Do you know if they have made contact with this gunman? Are they 100 percent certain he's in this building?

KILLEEN: Right now, details are very sketchy. The local agencies on the scene probably have a better feel for it as of this time. Again, the FBI's role here is just to monitor the situation and to render assistance when necessary.

ALLEN: In a situation like this, Mr. Killeen, what will be the next step? I'm sure trying to contact the gunman will be vital. Will there be one person in charge of negotiations if they contact this gunman?

KILLEEN: Well, it depends on which agency is going to be handling the hostage negotiations. Again, it looks like, right now, it would be Wilkinsburg police or perhaps Pittsburgh police, and even the state police. The step now is to try to preserve life, and to assure that no further injuries are incurred by anybody to include the gunman, the hostages and law enforcement personnel. So that is, I'm sure, paramount on everyone's mind at this time.

ALLEN: But as far as you know, it's not certain whether these police units in charge of the scene right now know exactly where he is in this building?

KILLEEN: Well, right now, it's a very rapidly evolving situation. The only details that we can release at this time is that we do have personnel on the scene, from a number of agencies, and everyone is doing their best, I'm sure, especially with the Wilkinsburg police, and Pittsburgh police, and state police to contain the situation.

ALLEN: Mr. Killeen, thank you so much. We're seeing live pictures of children running from the building. And as we reported earlier, this building also holds a day care center, a doctor's office and county offices. It is called the Penn-West Office Building. So we'll rejoin our affiliate WPXI.

WPXI ANCHOR: Pittsburgh and, of course, for the entire nation to have to watch this again on television, as young children being evacuated from the scene where a man who is believed to have shot at least five people is holed up at this particular point.

Amy Masikowitz (ph) is on the ground at the McDonald's. Do you have -- we'll continue looking at the pictures of the people being evacuated.

Amy, do you have more for us?

WPXI REPORTER: I'm seeing what you are seeing. We're here on the ground and I hope you are seeing this, people being evacuated, just like you said, with young children in their arms walking away. This is the Penn-West Office Building. we are a couple of blocks from the scene.

I do want to tell you, inside the Penn-West Office Building, we've been told that it is a senior day care also, so a lot of senior citizens were also evacuated. I wasn't told that there was a day care inside, but as you are seeing, moms or employees carrying small children out of that building.

I talked with one of the employees that was in the Penn-West Office Building. He told me that he witnessed the suspect walk into the building. He said that the suspect told him: I have one more bullet left; then, other people left the building. He sat quietly. And then he told me that a doctor and an office manager still inside the Penn-West Office Building are missing, unaccounted for, and he believed that they are still inside that building, but that is information from an employee who got out of the Penn-West Office Building. Bob?

WPXI ANCHOR: And obviously, we want to caution you as far as jumping to any conclusions, that is from an employee inside the building, as far as whether or not that doctor and office manager are, in fact, unaccounted for at this particular point. We would want to wait until we hear from the police department to confirm that for you.

What we can confirm from Debbie Shuldman (ph), who obviously works in an office there. I didn't quite catch in our very short phone conversation which particular office inside the Penn-West Office Building that she worked in. But as she was on the phone with us, she told us that, in fact, she and her co-workers were being evacuated. I asked her point-blank if she had heard any shots or any noise whatever. And she heard -- said that she had heard at least three shots.

We want to caution you, as far as what that means, we're not really sure at this particular point. And we want to wait until we can find out from police and also the FBI, which is on the scene, exactly what is going. But obviously, a full-scale evacuation is under way in the building that you are looking at right now with police officers trying their best to get everyone out of the building. Whether or not they know the location of the shooter, where he is within that building, we have no idea at this particular point.

We were, of course, gladdened to see the children who were escaping down the side of the building, through a short alleyway next to the Penn-West Office Building. You are looking now, this is the McDonald's and this could, in fact, be the Wimco Building, I'm not really sure about that at this point, where they had taken some of the people who were inside the McDonald's building, and it appears to me, looking there it is it is the Wimco Meals Incorporated building, where apparently we had a report earlier that the people, a metals company I should say, where the people who were inside the McDonald's at the time of the shooting, the witnesses and the like, have been taken by police, and obviously are being held inside the building there.

Obviously, many counselors being brought to the scene, police counselors, as well, as we begin to find out more and more details of this breaking news story that started at 11:30 this morning, when a man apparently, and this is from Amy Marcincowitz (ph), who is live on the scene. She talked to the landlord of the man who lives at Garden Apartments. And evidently, he had called his landlord asking for a door to be fixed. This was a call from the suspect when two contractors came to the apartment to fix the door. The man evidently became upset and set his apartment on fire and then proceeded to leave the scene and began firing shots this morning at about 11:30.

And as we know right now, this is a sad scene to look at, at this particular point, because we know that there are people that are critically injured at this particular point.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We are, of course, in the early hours of this investigation going on. And we have yet to hear from Pittsburgh police who are, as you can imagine, quite tied up now with rounding up the alleged gunman in the shootings this morning in Pittsburgh. The story is about two hours old. Already, we are getting anecdotal evidence from eyewitnesses to the shooting, and WTAE, our affiliate in Pittsburgh, has some of that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was in the bedroom. My back door was open. I was getting ready to leave. He -- I walked out of my bedroom and this man was standing in my living room. And he told me to be quiet, be quiet, I started screaming, and he says I don't want to hurt you. Then he made me come into the kitchen, he locked my back door and he told me to sit down. And he asked me, um, was there anybody else in the apartment, I told him no, there wasn't anybody else in here. And he said, well, I'm not going to hurt any black people, I'm just out to kill all white people. That's exactly what he said. He asked me if I had weapons in the house, I said no, he asked me if I had kids. Then he told me, he said, well, I'll be leaving in about five minutes, I just want to get myself together. He said I'll be dead in 10 minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did he have a weapon with him?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, he had a gun, he had it out all the time.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What happened after he left your apartment? Where did he go?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: he walked across the parking lot and as he was crossing the parking lot and headed for the street he fired three shots, and then all of a sudden I saw all these police cars coming, he ran into the building over into the medical building over there.


WATERS: A witness to the tense moments that we're experiencing, still, in the suburb of Pittsburgh known as Wilkinsburg, which is on the southeast side along Interstate 376, if you are familiar with the area.

We have one alleged gunman holed up in a nearby professional office building, he is surrounded by Pittsburgh police, by Wilkinsburg police, state police and the FBI. We do not know if hostages are being held inside. We do not know that the situation is ongoing, simply put, the shooting took five victims to local hospitals, one at Mercy Hospital in critical condition, four at nearby University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. All in critical condition. We continue to cover the story.

CNN will be back after a short break.


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