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Authorities Wait for Resolution in California Conflict

Aired August 31, 2001 - 16:29   ET


DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back as we continue to cover this story out of Santa Clarita, California today. Here you're looking at live pictures as this house continues to burn.

And if you've been with us for a while, bear with us for the folks who may be joining us as we just update you on a couple of facts here. This fire started earlier today this afternoon, our time, Eastern time. And it was in the morning, around 8:45 this morning, Pacific time that L.A. County sheriff's deputies and agents from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the ATF folks, attempted to serve -- and you're looking at earlier pictures from today now -- attempted to serve a search warrant on a man who was in the house. And he allegedly opened fire on them, and allegedly shot an L.A. County sheriff's deputy, who has died today. Jake Kuredjian, 40 years old, 17 years on the force, and he has passed away today.

He -- the suspect is 35-year-old James Beck; been barricaded in the house. He was shooting back and forth at deputies on the scene. They went to arrest him on charges of impersonating a federal officer and on weapons violations, we heard from the ATF then earlier, federal firearms violations. No ATF agents were injured this afternoon.

The fire department had to stay at a distance until it was safer to come in, and as you can see in the live pictures once again, they are trying to get some water on this house. But they have been concerned in keeping this fire under control and contained to the one house where the suspect was and protecting the two houses on either side that were closest to this.

We heard from a lieutenant with the L.A. County sheriff's department that now they are going to bring in a K-9 unit as soon as the fire dies down and they determine that it's safe. A SWAT team will go in to check and see if the suspect is alive or not. They believe that the suspect is still in the house, they believe that this fire was self-introduced by the suspect.

Tear gas was fired in. Don't know what started the fire, they think though it's likely that the suspect has perished, but possible that he survived and they want to make sure that the neighborhood is safe, and they'll continue to wait and see until this fire is completely under control so that they can look and see what -- whether or not the suspect is alive.

And Michael Brooks, who is the former detective with the D.C. Metropolitan Police and our CNN consultant is still on the phone with us, and we are going to chat with him a little bit more about this, since they did have the crisis negotiation team and a special weapons unit there, and he can fill us in a little bit.

Also mention to you that the children who were in the school district -- we talked to someone in the school district there -- and the parents are going to pick up their children in a place that they have been bused to, a different location, K through six, kindergartners through sixth grade, about 1,200 children we believe involved. They have been working the phones and parents have been calling in, and so parents with identification will be able to go and pick up their children.

We'll talk to our detective and CNN consultant Michael Brooks in just a minute, and Natalie wants to update us on an another story.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, clear across the country, Donna, another story. Danny Almonte, the star pitcher from the little league world series, it was confirmed today that he is 14 and not 12, so he is ineligible. The president and CEO of Little League Baseball announced this afternoon, late this afternoon that as a result of that, all the victories won by his Bronx, New York team, the Rolando Paulino Little League All-Stars, will be forfeited, and all its records, including Almonte's perfect game, will be wiped out because of this. It cost the team its third place world series finish as well.

Quoting Stephen Keener, the president and CEO of Little League Baseball, "clearly adults have used Danny Almonte in a most contemptible and despicable way," end quote, from the CEO of Little League Baseball. And no doubt, hearts broken, the little guys with that team, the team that did so well. But that is the outcome of that story we've been following this week.

KELLEY: All right. Natalie, we'll talk to Michael Brooks, the former detective with the D.C. metropolitan police and our CNN consultant once again.

Before we went to the break, Mike, you were telling us a little bit more about what's standard operating procedure here and that they'll be willing waiting to wait it out, and that they had a lot more training. What does somebody look for? What are the signs that are successful or that you are going to have to make a move? What are those steps that they would look at?

MICHAEL BROOKS, CNN CONSULTANT: Well, a successful operation, a successful incident like this, this one -- we -- you know, I'm sure the officers and the sheriff's deputies here and federal agents with ATF were hoping to talk him out and bring him to trial after he -- after the initial shooting, and that's what they wanted to do. That's what they're trained to do.

I just want to point out, the Los Angeles sheriff's department special enforcement, they are one of the most professional teams in the country, they are highly trained, highly motivated, and they do an excellent job, having worked with them in the past. And there is always talk after a fire like this starts up that, you know, they say, oh, police introduced tear gas in the house and the fire started. When I was on D.C.'s emergency response team, which is D.C. SWAT team, for almost 14 years, I've been involved in four of these incidents. In fact, many teams nowadays are training -- there are SWAT officers and there are special enforcement officers in basic firefighting for times just like this.

KELLEY: And though we know that tear gas can start a fire, there is no indication at this point that that is what started the fire, and one of the lieutenants with the L.A. County sheriff's department said that they believe that the fire was self-introduced by the suspect. How do you make that decision, Mike, if you were involved in some of those incidents, when is the decision made and who calls the shots for that about when tear gas is going to be introduced?

BROOKS: Well, you will negotiate -- not knowing exactly everything that transpired prior to them introducing tear gas -- you negotiate as long as you can, it's...

KELLEY: And the idea is to get the suspect come out then, with the tear gas, right?

BROOKS: Absolutely. The object is to get the subject to come out and to make sure no one else gets hurt, including the suspect. And again, the decision is made by the incident commander on the scene to introduce tear gas.

But let me point out that there are different kinds of tear gas. You have the burning pyrotechnic kind, which most professional law enforcement agencies will only use outside -- for demonstrations, civil disobedience, those kinds of things. Now, there are liquid CS gas that many departments use to introduce them into a house, but most departments now, I would say 99.9 percent of the professional tactical teams in the country, now use non-burning munitions when they're firing into the house.

KELLEY: And even if that's the case, Mike, is it usually standard procedure that they would bring the fire department in if they plan to use tear gas, just in case?

BROOKS: Well, they will usually bring the police department, the fire department in whether they are going to use tear gas or not. That's -- when you have a barricaded subject, one of the standard operating procedures nowadays is to bring in the police, bring in the fire department and emergency medical services, just in case they are needed.

KELLEY: And as we continue, Mike, to look at the live pictures here, it's really getting smoky. It's been in flames and smoke off and on as we watched this house burn this afternoon, and the fire department now is spending more of the time with the water there, it looks like on the burning house, and they have done that earlier of course, trying to keep that under control, and certainly concentrated on the two homes that were closest there. When you mentioned the training, is there psychology that goes into the training there too, with those folks who are negotiators? There must be quite a bit of psychology that goes into talking with somebody in a situation like this?

BROOKS: Yes, quite a bit of training, quite a bit of psychological training, and but again, the initial -- some of the ATF agents who were probably from the first ones here on the scene -- my old partner, Pete Maggin (ph), is one of their -- is the main trainer now, and Pete's a highly skilled negotiator when he was working with the metropolitan police department, and he is the person that runs their first response or crisis negotiation training for the ATF. They have a section now that does nothing but train agents around the country in hostage, barricade situation and crisis negotiation.

KELLEY: All right, Michael Brooks, who is a former D.C. metropolitan police detective and our CNN consultant, we really appreciate your time and your information with us with your expertise in the -- you know, the knowledge and experience that you have, thanks.

BROOKS: You are quite welcome.

KELLEY: Natalie.

ALLEN: As you mentioned, Donna, it looks like the fire department in all-out effort now to put this fire out. It's been burning more than an hour, and just now they have decided to turn all their hoses to the fire, and it looks like it's just about out at this point.

But as you have heard, they are bringing in a K-9 unit to secure the area, they want to be 100 percent sure that the suspect didn't somehow slip out of this house, although we've had a helicopter camera trained on the house for the past couple of hours.

We want to take you back now to a couple of hours ago, the announcement from very emotional sheriff, Sheriff Lee Baca of the L.A. County sheriff's department, who tearfully announced that one of his deputies had died from gunshots that he received from the shoot-out outside this home today.


SHERIFF LEE BACA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Deputy Kuredjian was assisting members of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agency of the federal government in executing a search warrant regarding a suspect who had been impersonating a federal officer. During the course of his effort to apprehend this suspect, Deputy Kuredjian was shot with what we believe is one shot, and therein fatally wounded.


ALLEN: Deputy Jake Kuredjian was 40 years old, he has been a member of the force for 17 years. Our coverage continues right after this. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT


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