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Middlesex County District Attorney Holds News Conference on Massachusetts Shooting Investigation

Aired December 27, 2000 - 11:11 a.m. ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: The news conference in Malden, Massachusetts is beginning. Let's listen to Martha Coakley, the district attorney of Middlesex County.



Again, to the family and friends and co-workers of the victims, all of our thoughts and prayers are with them today, as I'm sure those of the nation are.

The investigation into this matter proceeds. Crime processing will continue with state and local police to comb the Edgewater Technology site for any relevant evidence. That goes on as we speak. It continued last night and will continue until we are completed at that site. The company, obviously, is extremely cooperative. They have indicated they will open, at the earliest, after New Year's Day.

We continue with the preparation of autopsies for each individual victim. Necessary search warrants connected to this investigation have been executed at this time. And, as you know, Mr. McDermott is under arrest and held without bail.

Our office will continue to work with the Wakefield community, with the victims' families and co-workers as survivors of this. And we know that we need to provide the information to the families as we have that information. We will provide the resources for counseling that we believe anybody involved in this will need. We have contacted state and will contact national resources with those who have dealt with similar traumatic events to make sure we can provide that.

We are mindful of the toll that this takes, not just on the victims involved and their families, but those who are EMTs, the responders and, indeed, even those covering this, and as well as police. We ask people to seek assistance as they need it in talking about this either with families, friends or professionals.

We are also mindful of the anxieties and concerns that this has for everyone involved, and we ask that drawing parallels to other incidents may or may not be helpful. We particularly ask adults who discuss this with children, whether they are teachers or their parents, to be sensitive to their children's concerns and anxieties that may arise around a situation like this. And we stress that overgeneralizing or oversensationalization is not helpful in this case.

It is our goal to understand as much as possible about what happened in this tragic incident, to attain a just result as quickly as we can, and to work in a multidisciplinary fashion to, again, increase our information about this -- how this happened so that we can hopefully try and prevent it in the future.

QUESTION: Given the amount of hardware allegedly found in his office and at his home and maybe elsewhere, bomb detonating devices, has he been connected in any way to any other shooting, explosion, or are you looking into the possibility that he was involved in other incidents?

COAKLEY: We have no information relative to the first part of your question. And certainly at this time we are focusing on this incident. No reason to believe that there's any other...


QUESTION: Have you learned anything more about whether or not he had weapons permits and the history of the guns that were used in this case?

COAKLEY: At this time, the information we released last night is the same information we have, that there were no applicable permits.

QUESTION: Could you clarify...


COAKLEY: That's under -- we will pursue that. And if that's an appropriate charge, we will bring that.

QUESTION: Do you know where he got the weapons?

QUESTION: Did he have a gun permit under Rockland, Massachusetts...?

COAKLEY: Don't know.

QUESTION: Did he have a gun permit that had expired? Can you tell us...?

COAKLEY: I don't have that information at this time. That's part of the investigation, obviously. And I will indicate that that is of great concern to us. And we will proceed to determine the license status and where and how those weapons were obtained. We have contacted federal authorities. We're working with ATF and the FBI on these issues, but I have no further information at this time that I can comment on about that.

QUESTION: Martha, to the extent that... QUESTION: Clarify the initial shooting that occurred in the reception area. The second -- the first office that he entered, was that part of the accounting division of the area or human resources? Can you...?

COAKLEY: That section of the office was dedicated, as far as we believe, to those functions. He worked in separate area of the building. And where the shootings took place were where the accounting and the human resources sections were.

QUESTION: Martha, can you elaborate on the connection between the fact that he seemed to go to accounting and human resources, and the scenario that you outlined for us last night whereby you're working on a theory that this was revenge -- my word -- for what he perceived to be an action in concert with the IRS on the part of the company?

COAKLEY: We have no further information on that. The information we gave last night is what we have today, is that we believe and we are investigating that as the possible motive, but we have no further information.

QUESTION: What about his movements in connection with the human resources and accounting departments?

COAKLEY: Still under investigation, and no further comment on that.

QUESTION: What about the bomb-making material?

QUESTION: Can you talk about his mental condition and what type of medication he has been on?

COAKLEY: Can't. We do not have that information. If I had it, I wouldn't comment on it.


QUESTION: Did he receive any psychological evaluation overnight?

COAKLEY: No comment.

QUESTION: Was he hospitalized for mental illness at any time?

COAKLEY: No comment.

QUESTION: Do you have any information of him using the name "Mucko" over the Internet and giving advice on explosives?

COAKLEY: All I can say is that we are aware -- his friends and colleagues, co-workers were -- that that was a nickname that he commonly used. The other information is under investigation. We have nothing further to comment on about Web sites at this time.

QUESTION: Are you concerned about someone having so much firepower in their possession? QUESTION: Do you have any information on how he obtained the weapons and the bombing material?

QUESTION: I mean, it was at his house, it was at his office. What types of concerns do you have as the district attorney of this county that someone could have so much firepower and do so much damage so quickly?

COAKLEY: Obviously I and I think every law enforcement official would have enormous concern about that. It's part of this investigation. It's always part of our concern in terms of identifying and trying to prevent tragedies. Obviously these weapons can be and are available despite the fact that Massachusetts has incredibly strict gun laws. Other states do not. It's very easy to obtain weapons. This is part of this investigation and, indeed, should be part of the national discussion about how and why these weapons can be obtained.

QUESTION: But, Martha, in light of the fact that you have one of the toughest gun laws, restriction in the country, how do you explain how this man got a hold of an AK-47 shotgun, and also some of these bomb-making materials? Do you have any evidence at all in term of how he obtained this?

COAKLEY: We do not. It's obviously under investigation. But all I will say is that Massachusetts is one of 50 states. There's a variety of schemes under which people can and do purchase weapons. You can go to any surrounding states in Massachusetts. Anyone can obtain many of these materials for making bombs over the Web site, over the Internet. You can get formulas to put a pipe bomb together. It is a concern and should be, and it will be part of this investigation. I have no specific comment on that. At this time, we are investigating what happened on Dec. 26 at the Edgewater Technology site.


QUESTION: Martha, can you talk about the immensity of this case? This is the largest mass killing that we've had.

COAKLEY: In Middlesex County in terms of multiple victims, it is. That is why we are asking people and we are taking it one step at a time. We need to deal with the facts, we need to deal with the evidence we have. We are trying to understand that. I think that, as I indicated earlier, we cannot underestimate that this is incredibly concerning to everybody. We are asking people to keep common sense and to deal with us. We will give information to people as we can. We're working around the clock to try and get this under control. It is a very disturbing situation. I know people are concerned. We are working, as are the state, local police, federal authorities, to try and understand it. And to the extent that we can solve it, we will do that...

KAGAN: We've been listening to Martha Coakley. She is the district attorney for Middlesex County where that shooting took place yesterday, where seven people lost their lives at Edgewater Technology. More on the arraignment of Michael McDermott in just a bit.



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