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Talk with Mayor of Rockville, Maryland

Aired October 3, 2002 - 13:30   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: More information now on the five people shot dead in Montgomery County, Maryland. It's another breaking news story that we've been following just outside of Washington. On the phone with me now, the mayor from Rockville, Maryland.
Mayor, can you hear me okay?


PHILLIPS: And this is Larry Giammo. Am I saying your name correctly? GIAMMO: Larry Giammo, yes.

PHILLIPS: Sir, can you tell me about -- we just had video, just moments ago of police arresting, or at least questioning a man. They'd put him in cuffs. Do you know if, indeed, this man has been linked to the shootings that have taken place in Maryland -- in Montgomery County?

GIAMMO: I don't have information on that. It looked like the arrest was made by the Montgomery County Police and not the Rockville Police. Hopefully, it is one of the suspects. We'll have to wait and see.

PHILLIPS: Why don't you tell me how you and your authorities are helping Montgomery County in the search for the individual or individuals that opened fire, killing the five people in Montgomery County.

GIAMMO: Well, the city of Rockville police are doing all that they can. Four particular things we've done, is we called up all of our off-duty officers to get them on the street to play a role, whatever they can do to help. We're working closely with the Montgomery County Police, and our police stand ready to move outside of the city of Rockville to provide backup or other investigative service, help others there. We are going to have Rockville City police officers at all of the Montgomery County schools in the city limits of Rockville as the children are let out this afternoon. We'll have Rockville police there to stand ready and make sure that there's nothing to worry about and to show that our citizens of Rockville that we're doing all we can in this situation.

Finally, all of these officers that we have called up, the ones that won't be at the public schools. They will be in highly visible locations in the city of Rockville, just keeping an eye out, making sure we can do all we can to at least stop any further incidents, and they'll hopefully be able to play a role as well in identifying the suspects and apprehending the suspects.

PHILLIPS: Will you be escorting, or your officers, will they be escorting kids home or patrolling the area around the schools?

GIAMMO: They'll be patrolling the areas around the schools to make sure that the kids are getting into the buses safely and they're able to get into circumstances where parents are coming and picking them up in private vehicles, just to make sure that they make the transition from the school, and into the buses, and into cars and off the sites as safely as possible.

PHILLIPS: Is a situation like this, is this sort of unprecedented in this area? Or is this -- I mean, how is this -- has this shocked you? Does it surprise you? I know it's sort of a cliche question, but we're told this is a very nice area and this is a very unusual situation that's taken place.

GIAMMO: Well, in my memory, this is the first time this kind of thing has happened in this area. It's certainly, tragic. And I think what's most tragic about it is the fact that it's random, the victims apparently chosen at random, or at least it seems as though they've been and it strikes fear in everybody's heart, because any one of us could have been one of those victims of the shootings today, and so it's certainly a major cause for concern.

Again, I'm hopeful that we'll be able to apprehend whoever is responsible for this sometime in the next day or so, as soon as possible.

PHILLIPS: Do you have a description of the suspect or suspects or even the car?

GIAMMO: I have the same information, I think, that you all have. I guess in one of the situations that -- an eyewitness believed that the suspects responsible were in a white box-type delivery truck, potentially an Isuzu or Mitsubishi model, and it might have purple or black lettering on the side, and he described some damage to the rear lift door and possibly some damage to the rear passenger bumper.

One thing I'd like to throw out here for everybody in Rockville and Montgomery County, we're counting on the citizens being the eyes and ears for law enforcement. If anybody sees anything suspicious that believes, particularly, where they believe there might be something connected to these horrible incidents today, would want to encourage them to call the police, call 911, report any suspicious circumstances.

So hopefully, I'm hopeful that there are citizens out here in the area that may have spotted something or may see something in their neighborhood that is suspicious that will ultimately lead to apprehending the suspects in these cases.

PHILLIPS: Mayor, have you had a problem with gang violence?

GIAMMO: No, actually, we don't. Thankfully, in Rockville, as well as Montgomery County, it's really not been much of a challenge for us. Certainly, just about everywhere, there is going to be some incidents in those kinds of things. But all in all, I think we are fortunate that we really don't suffer from gang-related problems here in the area.

PHILLIPS: Have you set up -- you mentioned that your officers, your -- you have every officer out trying to help find these suspects or suspect. Have you set up checkpoints in any areas? Are you possibly trying to close off certain, maybe, routes to the freeway, or ways out of your area at all?

GIAMMO: As I understand it at this moment, no and that would be a decision that would be made by Montgomery County Police, police department. In circumstances like this, we stand ready to serve and support and help the Montgomery County Police. So for those kinds of decisions, we'll await any guidance from Montgomery County Police.

PHILLIPS: Now, for viewers that may be tuned in to this breaking news, five people shot dead within the last 15 hours in Montgomery County, Maryland. We're now on the phone with the mayor of Rockville, Maryland.

How close, mayor, is Rockville to Montgomery County?

GIAMMO: Rockville is actually the county seat of Montgomery County. We're smack in the middle of Montgomery County. If you look at the shootings that happened last night and this morning, the closest was only a few miles from the Rockville city limits. And given the fact that these -- the perpetrators are clearly mobile, Rockville is as threatened as any other part of Montgomery County.

PHILLIPS: All right, I apologize. I'm not real good with my geography in that area. So thank you for helping me out. So right now, then, you have your officers -- I bet there's a lot of concerned parents, obviously, wanting to know about their kids, number one. Maybe we could reiterate what you're doing right now with regard to the schools, and then I'd like to ask you a couple more questions about security.

GIAMMO: We're doing, basically, the same thing the Montgomery Police are doing elsewhere in the county. There will be police officers present as students are released from all of Montgomery County public schools, and those police officers are there just to ensure the safety of students. There are no specific threats, I should point out. But this is really just kind of a preventative measure to make sure that no problems do arise. And those police officers will be present to make sure that students get into bus, get into cars and get on their way as safely as possible.

PHILLIPS: Mayor, as we're talking with you, we're looking at pictures courtesy of our affiliate WJZ of police officers pulling over sort of a white delivery-type truck. You and I were talking about the type of vehicle that police have been looking for. It looks like they've cleared this vehicle and they're actually leaving the scene from checking this truck. But what we know so far, both you and the folks here at CNN is that police are looking for some type of white box-time delivery vehicle with purple or black lettering. Is that what eyewitnesses have been telling you?

GIAMMO: As I understand it, through the Rockville police and through the Montgomery County Police, that that was what one witness reported and one of the shootings this morning, that that vehicle may have been the vehicle that the perpetrator or perpetrators were driving.

PHILLIPS: Rockville Mayor Larry Giammo, thank you, sir, so for your time.

GIAMMO: Thank you.


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