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One Person Shot in Chicago Standoff

Aired August 28, 2001 - 12:31   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to leave New York City and now take you to Chicago and join coverage from WLS, where there apparently is a barricade situation going on. It could also involve a police officer who has been shot.

So let's listen in to coverage from our affiliate WLS.

PAUL MEINCKE, WLS REPORTER: Sylvia, this is an ongoing hostage situation. Pat Camden, the spokesman for the Chicago Police Department, told us just a couple of moments ago, confirming for the first time that indeed someone has been shot. He could not identify who that person was.

The active presumption here -- and again, this has not confirmed -- but that a task force -- it's a combined task force of Chicago police and FBI agents -- were serving a bank robbery warrant on a resident in the building behind here that has the balconies.

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MEINCKE: ... conversation ensured. And then witnesses say shots were fired. "One officer down" was the call that went out. And heavily armed FBI agents, as well as Chicago police, have come into the area. They have established contact, are communicating with the person who allegedly fired the shots.

We do not know if the wounded officer has been removed from the building at this point in time. We don't necessarily believe that is the case.

Firas Ghantous lives directly next door to where the officers went into the building.

You're on the third floor. Why don't you tell me what happened. About what time did this begin?

FIRAS GHANTOUS, WITNESS: It was about 11:10, 11:15. I was sitting in my apartment working. And I heard some voices down the hallway, just kind of some stomping and some yelling, It didn't seem very violent screaming. And then I heard a bunch of bangs. I thought it was fireworks or firecrackers. And I thought that was strange. And then I kind of waited and listened a little bit. And then I heard people over the radio saying "FBI, FBI." They called "man down," wanted -- asked to get someone up here quick. And then at that point, I knew that something was happening.

I had opened the door and they told me to get back in and lock it.

MEINCKE: How many people were in the hallway?

GHANTOUS: From what I saw, it was well over five or six people.

MEINCKE: Uniformed or plainclothes?

GHANTOUS: They seemed to be plainclothes. But they had bulletproof vests on that had yellow FBI letters on the back. They -- his apartment is the last in the short hallway. So they had it all cordoned off. And...

MEINCKE: Did you see anybody down in the hallway?

GHANTOUS: No, I did not see anybody down. So I stayed in there and I heard them talking on the radio, saying: Hey, you know -- they're saying, "Dan, come out. Come out. It is not worth it."

And they called someone else's name. I don't know if that was his wife or not. There was no response. I don't know that he was speaking with them. And then they asked him -- they said: "Let the kids out, Dan. We are not going to hurt them. Let them out. It's not worth it."

Then they again asked him to come out.

MEINCKE: OK. You were telling me earlier that this person, presumed to be the subject, the target of their investigation, moved in only recently.


MEINCKE: What do you know of him?

GHANTOUS: I've only -- I met them when they first moved in. It seemed that he had a pretty big family that was helping him move in. He had two -- children helped him move in. I don't know if those are still living there -- and him and his wife.

MEINCKE: But if they say to him: It's not worth it. Give it up, let the children go...

These are young children?

GHANTOUS: Yes. They seemed to be like 6 and 8, something like that. I mean, they were not preteens or anything. They were -- or, I guess they are preteens. But they're very young.

MEINCKE: And you didn't hear him communicate with the police at all verbally?

GHANTOUS: Not at all. It was always the FBI speaking with him.

MEINCKE: And the communication you hear is loudspeaker or just voice in the hallway?

GHANTOUS: Voice, just voice.

MEINCKE: And then what happened? You were eventually evacuated?

GHANTOUS: Yes. Maybe 15 minutes later, they knocked on my door. I opened it up, and several officers came in and they said: "Get some pants on and just get out. Grab your stuff, get out." And they let me out through the hallway.

MEINCKE: So other people in the building were also evacuated at the same time?

GHANTOUS: Yes. Some of my neighbors are out here as well.

MEINCKE: Firas, thank you very much.

GHANTOUS: You're welcome.

MEINCKE: So, Pat Camden, when he came back up, earlier he said that he couldn't confirm whether anyone had been shot. But he just did tell us a couple of minutes ago that indeed someone has been shot.

We don't know who that person is. We don't know their condition. We don't know if they have been removed from the building. But, obviously, the paramedics aren't going to be sent into a situation that is unstable. And the negotiations have been continuing with this person who was the subject of the warrant issuance here earlier this morning.

Once again, we don't know for sure -- no one has confirmed directly that this is a bank robbery warrant that was about to be served. But, typically, what happens in those situations, there's a joint Chicago police, FBI bank robbery task force. And they do serve warrants like that. They crack cases and then they go arrest their people.

Who the subject in this is, what he might be charged with, we don't know. But the situation remains fluid. Once again, the building in question is directly behind us. It's the apartment building with the bank -- the balconies out in front. Police are around it. That ambulance has been situated there the entire time. So we presume at this point that whoever was wounded has not been moved from the building.

Linda, Sylvia, back to you.

WLS ANCHOR: All right, Paul, we thank you for that report. And we'll get back to you as more information develops.

But Paul was talking one of the residents on the same floor as the apartment where the shooter apparently is -- may be holding hostages. There is somebody else who lives on that third floor now. Yara is also a resident there. And Yara joins us on the telephone right now.

Did you hear shots fired about 11:10, 11:15 this morning?

YARA, WITNESS: No, I didn't hear anything fired.

WLS ANCHOR: How far are you from the apartment?

YARA: Down the hall.

WLS ANCHOR: A couple of units down the hall?

YARA: Yes.

WLS ANCHOR: So what did you hear? Or is the first you knew of it was the evacuation?

YARA: I was going downstairs to meet my cousin to bring in some things. And she had phoned upstairs saying that there was police all around and she couldn't get out. And so I walked outside to go meet her downstairs to see what was going on. And there was police and SWAT teams and FBI agents and paramedics all down the hallway.

And they just told me to stay inside the apartment.

WLS ANCHOR: So you are back in your apartment right now. They did not come and ask you to leave?


WLS ANCHOR: Now, how far are you from the -- oh, you said you were a couple of doors down.

YARA: About eight units down.

WLS ANCHOR: Eight units down from the other apartment.

Do you know the people who live in that apartment?

YARA: I think, but I'm not quite sure if it's exactly them.

WLS ANCHOR: The gentleman that Paul Meincke was talking to had mentioned that he thought that the people who live in that apartment had a couple of children. Do you know anything about that?

WLS ANCHOR: Six- and 8-year-old children.

YARA: No, I'm not quite sure. The people that I was thinking of have a new baby, probably a -- well, not a new baby -- about a year ago.


But you are still in your apartment? You have not been told to evacuate? YARA: No, they told me to stay inside.

WLS ANCHOR: Now, we are looking at the building right now. And it has balconies on the outside. When we had a shot that pulled further back, earlier, of this building, we saw that it is pretty deep. So is the apartment where the person is holed up right now all the way to the back...

YARA: Yes.

WLS ANCHOR: ... where there are no balconies, where there are not a lot of windows out onto the street? Is that correct?

YARA: I don't think they have a balcony.

WLS ANCHOR: Yara, can you tell us, what are you seeing from your vantage point? Our shot from the Sears Tower is showing a lot of police officers outside. Can you see what's going on outside from your windows?

YARA: No. I'm in the courtyard. They do have a balcony. They are facing the back towards the alley.

WLS ANCHOR: Oh, I see. And you face the inside courtyard.

YARA: Right.

WLS ANCHOR: All right, Yara, we thank you very for giving us that information.

Right now, we are going to go back to our newsroom.

WLS ANCHOR: Chuck Goudie joins us in the newsroom with the latest on what he has learned -- Chuck.

CHUCK GOUDIE, WLS REPORTER: Sylvia, she's on the third floor, obviously. But there are other residents who are still inside that building on all of the floors -- the police not wanting to move them out, not wanting to take the time to move them out and certainly don't want to put them in the line of fire, potentially, as they are leaving the building.

I'm being told that there are two elevator banks in that building. There are six floors worth of condominiums, many of them occupied, although I can tell you from calling phones inside that building, many people are at work.

We have spoken to some on other floors, however, who are there and are not being allowed to leave the building by the police, one of them Barzin Daragahi, who is on the sixth floor of the building.

Sir, do you hear me?


GOUDIE: I'm looking for Barzin Daragahi, sir, on the sixth floor. Are you with us?


GOUDIE: What's the situation right now on the sixth floor? Are you able to leave there if you want to?

DARAGAHI: No, they asked that I stay because they say there's an armed person in the building.

GOUDIE: But tell me what happened when you tried to leave the building a little while ago.

DARAGAHI: There's police officers in the building with shields in the elevator that were just in the elevator with shields going up and down, I think.

GOUDIE: So you called for the elevator on the sixth floor. And the doors opened and there were these officers?

DARAGAHI: Yes. Yes. And they told me to run back in.

GOUDIE: What did they tell you was going on and why should you stay inside?

DARAGAHI: They didn't say anything. They didn't tell me anything. I found out about it by calling emergency...

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DARAGAHI: ... a little frightening. You don't see that often.

GOUDIE: Well, you probably have never seen it there, have you?


GOUDIE: Do you know this family that apparently is involved in this down on the third floor?

DARAGAHI: No. No idea. If I knew, I would probably not accept them in the condo association.

GOUDIE: Are you are involved in the condo association, sir?


GOUDIE: Are you the president?



Are you aware of new residents on the third floor, apparently with young children?

DARAGAHI: There are families in this building, just like any other. But I don't know who comes in and out.

GOUDIE: OK. Well, we had a witness on a couple of minutes ago who said that the person -- he believed the person's name is Dan. Do you know -- does that ring a bell?

DARAGAHI: No. No. No, it doesn't. I know a Dan in the building, but it's certainly not that guy.

GOUDIE: I see.

Interior fire escapes in that building or are they on the outside?

DARAGAHI: They're interior -- the stairwell.

GOUDIE: All right.

And nobody has had any contact with you since that brief encounter in the elevator, is that correct?

DARAGAHI: Not police, no.

GOUDIE: What do you see out you balcony right now?

DARAGAHI: I see police officers all grouped up in a huddle looking at probably building schematics.

GOUDIE: You see them looking at blueprints?


GOUDIE: Is that the picture. Do you have Channel 7 on right now?



There's a picture of police officers huddled on the Wabash side of the building. Is that where you're looking?

DARAGAHI: Right. That's underneath the building. That's the building that is right in front of the door to get into the building.

GOUDIE: Well, another witness from the third floor said that the hostage situation, that apartment apparently looks out onto the ally.

KAGAN: If you're just joining us, we are monitoring a situation out of Chicago where we believe police have blocked off several areas of the city's South Loop neighborhood -- the information we are getting so far, apparently, a warrant for an arrest was being delivered, and there was some shooting that took place, and now a barricade situation.

With more coverage now, here is Leon. LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, we've been listening to what our friends at affiliate WLS in Chicago have been covering and finding out. Let's check and see what our friends at WBBM have been able to dig up.

We're joined now by Jim Acosta.

Jim, what have you learned?

JIM ACOSTA, WBBM REPORTER: ... through the spokeswoman for Mayor Daley's office that a Chicago police detective has been shot. We're being told by the Chicago police at this point that they cannot confirm that.

But they can say that at least two people, possibly more, have been shot, and that this man at this time is holing up inside of his apartment, perhaps with his wife and children. We're learning that from some of the people that you are talking to, those residents inside the apartment building.

One man that we talked to came down just a few moments ago and told us that he heard somebody saying -- or police officers saying outside that door, "Daniel, Daniel, it's not worth it." So, apparently, the police are trying to talk this man out of the situation. But right now, it appears it has been a violent incident, that perhaps a Chicago police detective has been shot, according to the mayor's office, even though Chicago police won't confirm that.

We're seeing armed FBI agents and Chicago police, hostage and barricade technicians on the scene. They are surrounding this apartment building at this time. And we're told they're even on top of the billing.

So right now, they're trying to lock down this block of Wabash in downtown Chicago and send the message to this man that he is surrounded and that he should give up -- Leon.

HARRIS: Jim, let me ask you quickly. You say that he may be holed up inside -- this gunman may be holed up inside with his wife and children. Do you know how many children?

ACOSTA: We don't know how many children. One resident told us it may be two children and a wife. But we just don't know the exact amount at this point. We're also trying to find out just who has been shot.

We've been told by the mayor's office, as I said, that it was a Chicago police detective. But at this point, we should underline that the Chicago Police Department have told us that they can't confirm that at this point. But they did tell us that they are trying to be as cautious with this situation as possible, that they are concerned about some 50 Chicago police officers who are involved in this situation, not to mention the FBI agents. And so their safety, at this point, is coming first, Leon.

HARRIS: Yes. I've got to tell you, Jim, we were eavesdropping when the police spokesman was telling you that information about not being able to confirm exactly who it was who was shot and the extent of the injuries.

But can you tell us, who is in charge there on the ground? Is it the FBI or is it the Chicago police?

ACOSTA: I think it is a joint operation at this point. The Chicago police and the FBI have a long history of working together on these kinds of operations. And so they know the drill, I should say.

At this point if you look down the street, there's about 50, maybe 100 Chicago police officers and FBI agents armed to the teeth, surrounding this building with fire trucks and ambulances all around the situation. At this point, it appears the news helicopters that were around the scene have moved out.

We understand from talking to the Chicago police that they have asked the FAA to move the news helicopters out of this situation for the safety of the officers. So I would say, at this point, this is a joint operation. If you are looking down the street where I'm looking right now, you are seeing armed FBI agents and police officers with shields and helmets and that sort of thing, moving into that area.

So we don't have any indication at this point whether or not they're close to some kind of conclusion. At this point, we are told that this is a waiting game, that they're trying to send a message to this man that he cannot come out of here after what's happened here, and that he needs to cooperate and surrender himself to the authorities here -- Leon.

HARRIS: Well, Jim, does anyone have any idea of how many other residents are in that building and whether or not any of them are going to be ushered out?

ACOSTA: Leon, yes.

Some people have been ushered out. The gentleman that we talked to a few moments ago was ushered out of the building quickly. But I can tell you by looking at this building that there are about five or six floors with these black, iron balconies shooting out from the windows. And we have seen residents on the top floor standing on their balcony as if they're checking out this beautiful weather that we are having today here in Chicago.

Obviously, that's not what they are doing. They're looking at this situation. But at this point, there are some residents still inside the building. Those people are being told to stay inside, don't come out of their homes, because there are armed law enforcement officials crawling all over this building. And they're trying the bring this situation to a close.

HARRIS: Yes, you've got to wonder what those folks are thinking. It may look like a movie set, but this is the real thing here. It's a whole different situation.

ACOSTA: That's right. HARRIS: What -- can you tell us any more information about the person that police have been tracking down to this particular point: who it is that is holed up inside there and what they suspect he's done?


We talked to the mayor's office about this. And Jackie Heard, a spokeswoman for Mayor Daley, told us that this man was a suspected bank robber, that Chicago police officers and FBI agents were coming to that home to serve a warrant for his arrest.

And when they knocked on the door, or when they made their presence known, this man started firing. We understand that there have been a couple of rifles involved in this shooting. So we don't know at this point what type of firearms -- we're hearing firearms -- or rifles, I should say -- and that this was a suspected bank robber, and that they were trying to bring him in for questioning.

And, at this point, we don't know anything more about his name, who he is, his family that is inside the home. But we can tell from this vantage point that he is one serious customer -- Leon.

HARRIS: You've been out there for a while. Have you had a chance to catch up with any of the, I guess, witnesses or bystanders who may have been there when the whole thing got started?

ACOSTA: Yes, sure.

We talked to a few bystanders out here. And many of them did not hear the shots. They were inside the building or outside the building. And really it was just the residents next door or down the hallway who heard what they thought was firecrackers. And it turned out that was gunshots.

I will tell you that this is an area of downtown Chicago that is quickly gentrifying. There are new businesses coming in. I'm standing right next to a brand new supermarket that is coming in, part of the city's effort to revitalize the South Side of Chicago in the South Loop area, we call this. There are plenty of condominiums that are going up.

And so this is an area that is quickly becoming very residential. There are people who, I'm certain at this point, are going to be giving second thoughts to their recent condo purchases. But this is definitely a well resided area. And they're quite shaken up over this at this point -- Leon.

HARRIS: Hey, Jim, you can look over your shoulder. I'm seeing FBI agents, looked like they were dressed up in SWAT gear. And they were just running towards you a second ago.

ACOSTA: That's right.

GOUDIE: I wonder if you could turn around and if you can sense at all exactly where they may be heading to. ACOSTA: Olaf (ph), if you can look at this truck right here.

Yes, we are seeing FBI agents, as I said, armed to the teeth, with flak jackets and helmets on, with semiautomatic weapons. They're loading up into the backside of this white, semi-military-looking vehicle. We don't know at this point where they are going.

But we should say -- we should caution our viewers that there's probably some details down here that we should not reveal at the request of the police department, in case this man is watching this unfold on television.


ACOSTA: But it does appear that they're loading into this vehicle for something.

HARRIS: Sure. I understood 100 percent here on that one, Jim.

About what time did all of this get started?

ACOSTA: This happened at around 9:00 this morning, between 9:00 and 10:00. We haven't gotten an exact time at this point. But it was in that hour that shots were heard and that there were reports of a detective going down.

That was the latest word from the mayor's office. The Chicago police, at this point, have only conducted a couple of news conferences. One was very brief, and just to give you the information that you have passed on to your viewers at this point.

HARRIS: All right, Jim, we're going to joined now by my partner, Daryn Kagan, who has got a question for you.

KAGAN: Jim, I want to bring up the topic that we'd heard earlier, that it's very possible that this person who is holed up in this apartment or condo could have children with him. What's giving that indication?

ACOSTA: I'm sorry. Could you repeat that question?

KAGAN: We heard reports that it's possible there could be children with the person who is holed up. What is giving the indication that that could be the case?

ACOSTA: Let me explain that one for you, because, yes, we are hearing that through residents in the building.

We've been told by a man who lives down the hallway from the suspected bank robber who is the subject of this investigation that he has a wife and children inside his home. And they've ascertained that information from talking to the police officers, who rushed them out of the building, and also from listening to the police officers and FBI agents asking that man to get out, to give himself up, that it's not worth it put his family in jeopardy like this. So we should underline that that information is coming from residents inside the building. We have not gotten that from an official law enforcement authority, at this point.

KAGAN: You also said, from the mayor's office, they relayed the information that this could be a man who is a suspect in a bank robbery. Is it a particularly infamous bank robbery or just your garden-variety bank robbery suspect in Chicago.

ACOSTA: We have a lot of garden-variety robberies in Chicago. At this point, we haven't been told whether or not this is an infamous bank robber or that he's pulled off any kind of heists that is notable.

I will let you know that another vehicle has pulled into the scene here. It's Ford F-150, 4x4 pickup truck. It looks like there are more armed FBI agents coming on to the scene here. There's really a mounting presence outside this building.

HARRIS: Jim, ask you another question, getting back to your conversation, the information you've been able to get from the mayor's office. You say the mayor's office was where you heard the word it was a police officer that was shot. You say the police on the ground -- we heard them tell you they could not confirm that to be the case. How is it we can get two different reports like that?

ACOSTA: I'm sorry, how is it that we can do what?

HARRIS: Get two different reports, one from the mayor's office confirming that we've got a police officer shot...

ACOSTA: I understand now.

We've been told by the Chicago Police, as I said, that they can't confirm an officer has been shot. Jackie Herd, a spokeswoman for mayor's office, did say it was a Chicago Police detective that was shot.

As for reason why they would do that, I can only speculate. But the police, I understand from talking to them and looking at the expressions on their face, which are deadly serious, are very concerned about the officers who are involved in this situation, and that perhaps relaying the message to this man who holed up inside that he's injured a police officer might be a bad idea, and that also they have to notify next of kin.

But I will let you know, Leon, that we have the battery going out on our camera. I'm sure you can understand that.


ACOSTA: Maybe I should be checking out for now and coming back to you in just a few moments, if that's possible.

HARRIS: No problem at all. In fact, we'll take this moment to thank you for hanging in there with us for this extended coverage. We've been going an extra 22 minutes or so with this coverage of this scene that is unfolding in Chicago, in this south Loop neighborhood, where police and FBI agents have a suspect holed up inside. We understand that perhaps as many as two people are shot.

KAGAN: Our thanks to our affiliates WBBM and WLS, bringing you this coverage.

The situation does continue. Our coverage will as well.


HARRIS: You're looking at a live picture. This one we're getting in from an affiliate in Chicago, WGN. They've been bouncing around with all the affiliates there, bringing you live coverage of this hostage situation that has been unfolding here in Chicago.

This is the south Loop neighborhood you're looking at. If we can get to a ground-level shot, you can get a better picture of exactly what's going on. There are police officers, detectives from the Chicago Police Department, and FBI agents assembled outside of a building. We assume there are some inside the building as well.

They are negotiating with a suspected bank robber who is inside and has hostages. We heard that possibly he may have his wife and children -- and there's no word on how many children -- inside, holed up with this suspected bank robber.

There has also been a report that one, perhaps two, people have been shot. The Chicago Mayor's Office told our affiliate WBBM that one of the persons shot was a Chicago Police detective. However, we heard a police spokesman come out and say that they would not be able to confirm that and would not be able to confirm anything until we at least saw more about what's happening inside that building.

KAGAN: The situation started earlier today, apparently, when Chicago Police and, perhaps, the FBI went to make an arrest of this suspected bank robber, and that's when we were getting reports that the shooting began.

Once again, it has ended with this, or it continues into this point -- a barricade situation and a hostage situation, a number of blocks blocked off in the south Loop residential area of the city.



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