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At Least Seven Reported Dead in Massachusetts Office Shooting

Aired December 26, 2000 - 1:45 p.m. ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to us here at CNN Center. We continue to track the story that is coming out of Wakefield, Massachusetts, very close to Boston: this shooting that, according to our affiliate, WHDH, has taken a number of lives. We are hearing also from the wires, Associated Press, that a -- one gunman is in custody and that SWAT teams are currently searching the building.

This is an old factory that has been converted into offices, a company called Edgewater Technology. We are going to go ahead and listen into our coverage from our affiliate, WHDH.

VICTORIA BLOCK, WHDH REPORTER: It's starting to come through. And I think that, once the state police and the police get through this building and they have much more information, they'll be able to tell us more. At this point, it would probably be very premature for them to kind of describe exactly what happened, if they really don't know yet. They are starting to piece it together now.

SWAT teams are going through to make sure that everybody is out of the building safe. We talked to some of the people earlier who could hear and see what was going on from the next building. And many of them stayed inside, and were told to stay inside, until they knew it was safe to come out. So right now, there is a lot of activity still at the scene -- at the building -- and also at St. Joseph's Church here in Wakefield.

JONATHAN HALL, WHDH ANCHOR: Any side of Martha Coakley, the Middlesex County D.A.?

BLOCK: I have not seen her yet, Jonathan. But she may be down at the scene, where they are entering the building. And we know that they're going to be having a news conference. And we have another crew down there, Mike Macklin, who is down there. So she may be down on that end. You know, we're on separate corners, and there are blocks and buildings in between, so it's kind of hard to see exactly who is where at this point.

HALL: We're are watching pictures now, Vicki, of SWAT teams entering the building. We want to make it clear to our viewers: Police apparently do not believe that there is -- necessarily is a second gunman. However, they are going in as a precaution, right?

BLOCK: This is what they would do, especially when you have a multi-shooting like this, when you have seven people dead. Sometimes, it's hard to imagine that one person could do -- create such devastation. But again, they may not be acting alone. So just as a precaution, they have to go through the building cubicle by cubicle, corner by corner and floor by floor. And that's how they do it with their SWAT teams, just to make sure that there is no person inside that may be harm -- could harm somebody or have a weapon.

And they're also going to be looking for weapons and any other kind of evidence. But at this point, they're just looking for people and making sure that everyone's out and nobody else is in there and armed.

HALL: The Edgewater Technology company is located on the first floor of an old mill building, which has been converted into office space. This is a three-story brick structure with the name Harvard Mill on the outside.

Edgewater Technology develops software, Vicki, is that right?

BLOCK: It's a software company. It's a fairly new company, we're told. It employs about 100 or 120 people. And it was doing great business, they say, that the company was really gung-ho right now. And I have to tell you -- just so you get a better sense of Wakefield and the location -- we are right next to the train station, which is right in town And we're just about a block or two from Main Street. It's a very busy, busy area here. And it's just -- to some of the people that live here and work here, it's just incredible that something like this would happen.

HALL: Do we know if the gunman was shot during the arrest or if there was any kind of confrontation with police?

BLOCK: Jonathan, I don't know that. I really don't know that. That may -- I am sure -- will come out in some of the information that the police start to put together: the picture of what happened here. And when they come out and start telling people exactly what happened and what they know happened, they will be able to give us a better sense of that right now. But I would imagine that if the gunman was injured, he might have been taken to a local hospital.

And where he's been taken into custody over at the police station, I would just have to assume that he is probably OK.

HALL: A bit earlier, Vicki Block spoke with a couple of witnesses who were outside of the building as the police stormed in. Let's hear from them now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we saw them evacuating the building on the side over there Foundry Street. And we saw the police cars blocking off the street. And we figured something was going on. So we came out. And...

BLOCK: You said you had windows. You had big windows.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, our office windows are facing the side of the building over there. And we saw people being evacuated. So we figured there was something going on. So we went over there and saw all of the ambulances and stuff. And we saw the policemen with their guns drawn. And then we back to our office building. And we locked up our building up.

BLOCK: Did everybody evacuate from your building?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not at all. No, we just locked it up.

BLOCK: What did you think when you saw police with their guns drawn?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely somebody over there -- we figured probably somebody that -- maybe a disgruntled employee or...

BLOCK: Did you hear anything?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We heard -- one of the people in the building came out and he said that he heard the noises. He thought it was the heating system, but then he found out that there was gun shots and so he just left the building, you know, abruptly.

BLOCK: What is your name.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tom Rodgers (ph).

BLOCK: Tom Rodgers. OK, and were you in the building also, with him?


BLOCK: And can you describe for me what you might have heard or what you had seen? What was the scene like when you looked out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was pretty controlled. They had police officers on every corner of the street here with their guns drawn, pointed up at the building. We knew it was down here in this corner of the building. It is all connected, but we knew it was happening down here. This is where -- all of the activity was centered in this area.

BLOCK: Did you ever feel like you were in danger?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was a little bit nervous, yes. I notified our maintenance manager and had him lock the buildings and notify the employees because there are many exits to that building. So, let everybody know to stay in the building for a little while until they get the situation under control.

BLOCK: What did you think when you saw those cops with their guns drawn?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was shocked. It's such a quiet area, here and I know that that's a very professional building. Very, very surprised. LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Just to recap now. Police sources at the scene tell 7 News that a gunman has burst into Edgewater Technology Company, a software development firm in Wakefield, some 20 miles north of Boston and has murdered seven employees or seven people that were inside of that firm. We have no confirmation on whether or not they were in fact employees and in fact we do have no official confirmation right now on the number of dead.

However, we do have highly-placed sources, a couple of them telling Mike Macklin that seven people have been killed and we're waiting for the Middlesex County D.A. Martha Coakley, who of course prosecuted the nanny in the case that was so well known nationwide, to speak on this case as well -- the Louise Woodward case.

Now, Victoria Block standing by once again. Vicky, what do you see out there now?

BLOCK: It's just -- there are just a lot of people that are lined up here and the entire street surrounding the building is blocked off with police cars. Nobody can get through here. A lot of people just -- you can see people running into St. Joseph's Church. Family members and people who know people who work here in this building trying to get some more information; 7's Christine McKinner (ph) is here on the scene and tells me that this company was started in 1992 and it just recently went public.

And so little bits of information are starting to come out now, but exactly what triggered this tragedy here is still very, very unclear and I think it could be a little while before we get some more information.

HALL: Yes, Vicky, why don't we switch gears right now? Mike Macklin has been working some police sources there in Wakefield and he gave us the information that seven people have been killed in this tragedy, just a day after Christmas.

Mike, anything new from you.

MIKE MACKLIN, WHDH REPORTER: Jonathan, I had an opportunity just a few minutes ago to speak with an employee of the company, Edgewater Technology, an employee who was inside the building at the time of the shooting. That gentlemen told me that he was in the basement. He said that the company occupies the entire first floor here, as you can see through that main entrance there, and then they also have some offices in the basement of the building down at the far end.

He was in his office at the far end of the building at the basement and he said suddenly several people came running down the stairs into the basement yelling someone's shooting a gun, someone's shooting a gun. We have to get out. We have to get out. And he said it was very apparent from the looks on their faces that it was no joke, they weren't fooling, that it was very serious.

He said that they then stayed down in that part of the building and shortly after that, police arrived on the scene. The information that I've developed here at the scene indicates that seven people were shot, all apparently just inside this main entrance. When you go into the main entrance here in the building, you go up about five steps and then through a doorway and into the immediate vestibule or the lobby of Edgewater Technologies and apparently the shooting happened just inside there.

We're told that just inside that door, the offices and the desks of some of the top managers of the company here in Wakefield are located. But at this point. we have the nothing to indicate the identity of just who these victims are.

It was the day after Christmas. This employee told me that there are perhaps as many as 250 people working in this building here, and he said the company has offices in other parts of the country as well. But nothing to indicate how many people may have been here at the time of the shooting. We're told that Edgewater Technologies is a mid- level software company that develops software so that other businesses that operate on the Internet can do business.

One company, he said, that works with Edgewater Technologies type of software is, which is a grocery delivery business. He said it is companies like that that use the Edgewater Technology software to do their business. He said it's a company that's been up and running across the country, and he -- the person that I spoke with, this employee, said he did not know the identity of any of the victims. He didn't actually get up into this part of the building.

We can tell our viewers, though, that the search for what they thought could have been a second suspect, a second gunman has ended and apparently all indications are that there was only one gunman involved and that individual, we're told, a man believed to be perhaps in his 40s was taken into custody and is now in custody and what was happening in the immediate aftermath in the shooting is that heavily- armed members of the SWAT Team were taking no chances.

They went through this building systematically wearing body armor and carrying rifles themselves and systematically evacuated the building and searched every square inch of it to make sure that in fact there was no one else on the loose who was armed. We're told that they've completed that search. The building has been evacuated and everything is under control with respect...

WATERS: That's Boston's WHDH helping us follow along on this shooting story -- a late-morning shooting at the office complex in Wakefield, which is about 30 minutes north of Boston. The story is still ongoing and we have on the line a man who worked in the office above Edgewater Technologies where the shooting happened.

Tell us what you know, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just that a number of people in the office did hear a shooting. downstairs. Our office is below -- I mean, right above Edgewater Technologies. As a matter of fact, to get into our office, you have to go through their front doing and we asked everybody to gather in the boardroom -- the company boardroom and we waited there because we really didn't know what was going on. A couple of people were a little shaken up because they did hear the gunshots, and we waited and eventually the Wakefield police showed up and asked us to evacuate the building.

WATERS: So you were aware that it was a shooting when it happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, like I said, a couple of people in the company did hear gun shots.

WATERS: And you gathered in the conference room, the police showed up and then you were evacuated?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we had the whole company basically wait in the boardroom, wait until the police showed up and asked that everybody leave the building basically immediately as soon as they came up into our office.

WATERS: We know a number of people evacuated that complex to St. Joseph's Church, which is nearby. Is that where you went? Were you interviewed by police at all about any of this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, the people that heard something or saw something were asked to stay back for a short while by the police. Everybody else that did not hear or see anything was asked to leave immediately.

WATERS: And when you did leave, as you looked around the complex, what did you see?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I left about a half an hour after everybody else in the company, and so by the time I got out there, there was state police, local police, a number of news trucks, helicopters flying around the top of the building, and a lot of news, and a lot of media personnel.

WATERS: Did you notice SWAT police officers with bulletproof vests going through the complex like we've been hearing about?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I left, no, I didn't see anything like that.

WATERS: Did you know anybody at Edgewater Technologies?


WATERS: Do you know anything about the company? We've heard that it was a middle level software company that was doing quite well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it was a successful company from what I understand and they have been there for a couple of years, about as long as we have, and that was my understanding it's a very good company.

WATERS: Anything else? Can you think of anything else?


WATERS: OK, thank you very much. That was a man who preferred not to have his name mentioned on television, working in the office just above Edgewater Technology where we're getting the indication the shooting this morning happened. A number of people were shot and you just heard WHDH just a few moments ago saying even they have not been able to confirm whether or not what they're reporting, seven dead, is indeed accurate.

We do know there have been a number of shooting victims. We don't know how many or how bad. We do know a suspect is in custody. We know the shooting take place late this morning at that office complex in Wakefield, Massachusetts. As soon as we know more, we'll pass it along.

KAGAN: And hopefully that'll be in about 15 minutes. That's when the Middlesex district attorney, we're getting word now, will hold a news conference so we should be able to get more facts and information there. Also, I understand that CNN's Bill Delaney on his way and we'll be talking to him by phone.

WATERS: OK, we'll take a break. We'll be back here with more news in just a moment.



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