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Special Event

Law Enforcement Officials Take Questions About Capture of Five Escapees

Aired February 1, 2001 - 11:23 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

STEPHEN FRAZIER, CNN ANCHOR: We'd like to take you now to comments by law enforcement officials about the capture of five of the six convicts who got out of an Alabama corrections facility yesterday.

These are officials from the FBI and U.S. Marshals -- let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

JIM CLEAVER, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: What I'd like to do here is we'll give you a brief overview of what transpired. But there's a few things I need to address with you. We're going to take some question and answer after the -- after we make our little presentations to you.

But in those questions and answers, there's going to be a couple of areas do we want to stay away that are basically off limits: That's budget issues, personnel issues, and any real details about the defense at the prison. Those will be addressed by the commissioner in the department of corrections at a later time, but not for the purposes of this press briefing -- OK?

As you all know...

QUESTION: Sir, could you step in front of the mikes, please? Thank you.

CLEAVER: As you all know about between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. on 1/30/2001, which was Tuesday evening, in St. Clair county at the St. Clair State Correctional Facility, they discovered a breach in their security, and a head count determined that there were six inmates missing over the next couple of hours. Also during this same time frame, on Tuesday afternoon-evening, there was a late-model Chrysler automobile stolen in the St. Clair county area.

By later that evening and early that morning, a combined force of several different agencies -- the department of corrections, St. Clair County Sheriff's Office, Alabama Bureau of Investigation, United States Marshall's Office and the FBI -- were all oin the scene as well as a number of other local agencies in this area immediately responded.

And we put together a task force to address these fugitives, and for the first day it was, of course, headquartered out of the correctional facility. At approximately 1:00 a.m. this morning, Thursday, the first of February, a Hickman county, Tennessee, sheriff's deputy spotted a suspicious vehicle along I40 just west of Nashville, Tennessee. Upon further inspection of that vehicle, he determined that it fit the description of a stolen vehicle that was reported stolen in St. Clair county. He ran the vehicle tag and of course, it came back to that stolen vehicle and further inquiry and looking at the vehicle resulted in several individuals exiting that vehicle.

And as all of you know now, five of the six fugitives from the St. Clair correctional facility have been apprehended in Tennessee, just west of Nashville, over the last few hours. Again, that's five out of six, and we are continuing to aggressively look for the remaining subject.

The task force here will stay intact until all six of them are apprehended and the matter is resolved. So, now...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As you know, when I addressed the issue yesterday afternoon, I mentioned that we were going to change the trust thrust of the whole process and move into a broader investigative mode in partnership with the FBI and the U.S. Marshal service, the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department, the St. Clair County District Attorney's Office and other law enforcement agencies. And as it turns out, experience has shown that was an appropriate decision, and we're very pleased to announce the results of that decision.

We are very, very pleased about the apprehension, of course, of these five inmates and we're waiting in anticipation now for news about the capture of the sixth, and we feel confident that he will be captured. We just don't know how soon -- and, of course, the sooner the better.

But it has been a very good experience. It's been somewhat of a unique experience. The fire department is a state agency in working so closely with the FBI and the U.S. Marshal Service in this partnership, and it's turned out to be a very, very good partnership and a model that I'm sure we will use if the need dictates.

Any questions?

QUESTION: Who is behind this? Is there any particular leader...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've not determined that at this point. We're still in the process of conducting our investigation. Of course, we've not had the opportunity to talk with the escapees yet, but once they return, we will certainly include interviews with them in our investigation.

QUESTION: What is the process from here? When will they be returned to Alabama?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, they will have to make an appearance before a judge in Tennessee. Once they make an appearance, then we'll seek an order for removal, and they will be removed as quickly as possible.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not at this time, no.

QUESTION: Where do you think the sixth one is -- do you think it's ion the immediate area where the other five were apprehended?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. I've not been as intimately involved in the search experience in Tennessee. Someone else might be able to answer that, Mr. Cleaver, better than I?

CLEAVER: We have no reason to believe that they're not. The early indications were that all six of them were in that vehicle when it was approached by the Tennessee deputy. But as we know, it will remain to be seen whether he is located or not.

As you probably know, there were a number of different sightings around the area -- northern Alabama, some in Georgia -- yesterday that -- that we've tracked down, so it's not inconceivable that one may have split from the others -- but right now were going into the premise that all six of them were together early this morning.

FRAZIER: That is FBI Special Agent Jim Cleaver, the lead speaker in a news conference, which is also -- where he is joined by officials from the Alabama Department of Corrections and the county district attorney from St. Clair county in Alabama -- also the U.S. Marshals. Again, telling us of their progress in attempting to recapture the six escapees from a maximum security facility prison in St. Clair, Alabama.

As we told you earlier today and have been all through the morning, five of the six have been recovered. And we're showing you those now. Of course, all of this has been capturing our attention because it is the second large group escape in just a few weeks, following the escape of seven men from a correctional facility in Texas.

And this is the man who's still at large at this hour: Gary Ray (ph) Scott. He is a convicted murderer and was doing life in jail and is considered extremely dangerous by authorities here in the -- what they hope will be the final hours of their manhunt for the last of six escapees from an Alabama corrections facility.

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