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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Highway Standoff Ends in Palo Alto

Aired July 5, 2002 - 12:35   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: We want to update you on the latest developments out in California.

Miles O'Brien has the latest there.

It looks like some movement finally, after hours now.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, live pictures now from Palo Alto from the helicopter operated by our affiliate KGO.

And what you see on the left portion of your screen is the maroon Oldsmobile with Tennessee plates that has been the subject of discussion all this time, and two clusters of SWAT team members, heavily armored, carrying shields, trailed by a dog handler, as they approach the vehicle. The vehicle, you will see in the foreground there, has a small box with a cord attached to it, a telephone, an attempt to raise communication with the people involved in the standoff, so far to no avail.

Let's listen in to the helicopter pilot for just a moment -- apparently, using some foam. It appears to be rather effective nonlethal way of disabling.

WHITFIELD: And, if anything, just impairing their vision in which to respond to the number of SWAT members.

O'BRIEN: Yes.

Years ago, I did a story at one of the national labs. And, ironically, it might have been Lawrence Livermore, which is where this chase began. And they were talking about using this sort of foam as a nonlethal way of restraining people. And it seems to me that this has finally been implemented and used and, in this case, in what appears to be thus far a very satisfactory conclusion.

Quick break of the window, the foam goes in. And now it appears the SWAT team has the complete upper hand here as they begin the process of extricating. What we are told are two occupants of this vehicle. If you are just tuning in, just to bring you up to date, this began at 7:40 Eastern time.

WHITFIELD: And they have got one there on the ground.

O'BRIEN: So, about five hours from now, and the dog in play. The driver is out, bathed in foam. We had been told earlier that he was bathed in gasoline, semiautomatic weapons, shotguns present, and part of the arsenal that is carried by the SWAT team there -- and now the effort to get what we believe is at least one other passenger out of the vehicle.

We still don't know what the motive in all this was. It all began on what appeared to be a disabled vehicle in Livermore. The California Highway Patrol pulled up behind it. It sped off. A chase ensued, at times exceeding 100 miles an hour. The Highway Patrol was able to puncture the tires. The vehicle continued on for some time until there was just no rubber left on those rims and it became disabled.

There was quite a long period of time, several hours, that the 101 South shut down in the San Francisco area. That's a very important north-south artery.

WHITFIELD: Either lots of bottles of water back there or canisters of some liquid, it looks like, in that trunk that they have just popped open.

O'BRIEN: Yes , it's kind of hard to see, isn't it, given the lighting conditions? I think they are presuming it to be something of a lethal nature. At least as a precautionary measure, lay on the foam.

And it appears that things are going fairly textbook, as we look at our affiliate KTVU pictures from a berm overlooking the southbound lanes of the 101.

WHITFIELD: What is interesting, too, is, you had explained earlier, they did approach this vehicle with other nonlethal tactics such as the phone, other ways of communication, before resorting to this method.

O'BRIEN: Yes. I mean, there are several ways to skin a cat in this case. And, in this case, a novel approach, an approach which we all witnessed live, worked, seemingly, very effectively -- the suspect apparently in custody and probably a lot cleaner than he was.

(LAUGHTER)

WHITFIELD: Yes, I guess so.

Well, now, so apparently not two people in there, but one?

O'BRIEN: I haven't seen the second individual.

WHITFIELD: I haven't either.

O'BRIEN: So, we had those reports. And that was sketchy at best. No one could indicate to us whether the passenger was a male or female, or what the passenger was, and whether this was a hostage situation. At this juncture, I only see one foamed individual. And he appears to be fully conscious and...

WHITFIELD: Stunned, I'm sure.

O'BRIEN: Stunned, and wearing the bracelets, as they say.

So, that -- what we think brings a conclusion to this story we have been telling you all morning long about this standoff on the 101 -- a tip of the hat to the SWAT team there for the California Highway Patrol. That was interesting to watch, to say the least.

WHITFIELD: No kidding.

But, of course, just because this portion is over, it certainly doesn't mean they are ready to open up the highway just yet. And so folks out there, I'm sure, are pretty disgruntled and upset that this has...

O'BRIEN: Well, yes, it's good news for people.

WHITFIELD: This has really hampered their travels.

O'BRIEN: The good news is, a lot of people are playing hooky today, anyway, Fredricka.

So, anyway, we will keep you posted on the outcome of this. We will try to figure out why he did this and why this driver is now being led off to jail wearing handcuffs and bathed in foam.

WHITFIELD: All right, good thing, also, that it seemed to have been ending -- or it seems to be ending now nonviolently.

Of course, we will be updating you as soon as we get more information on exactly why this all happened and why they had to take this measure, because the others obviously failed, before finally ending this very strange standoff on the California Highway 101 near Palo Alto.

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