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U.N. Gunman Apparently Hopped Fence

Aired October 3, 2002 - 13:48   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Meanwhile, this happening within the past 20 minutes. This man in front of the United Nations opening fire, firing shots into the air, tossing papers, but not resisting arrest.
Basically, waited for U.N. security to come up to him, clear the area, check for other weapons, and arrest him.

I'm told we have our Richard Roth back on the phone with us. He's actually live from the location where -- when the shooting happened, Richard was at this spot -- actually, this is the window you were looking out of when you saw it all go down, right, Richard?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I was standing a little bit away from here, and then I heard two shots in the air, turned to my left, behind me, and I saw a man put putting -- pointing a pistol in the air and firing what I estimate was four shots. Might have been five -- and then he tossed the pistol on the ground, threw 25 pieces of paper, white pieces of paper, up in the air, and then he just waited to basically be taken into custody by United Nations officials.

PHILLIPS: We don't know if he's any -- go ahead, Richard.

ROTH: This is the man. This was exclusively shot by our cameraman, Ricky Shine (ph), and he basically -- we don't know the exact reason. We've kind of been pinned down here, but he didn't shoot at the building. He just shot straight up in the air.

There you see the first security personnel grabbing him and then eventually, he was marched away, being held there at gun point, it appears.

These are uniformed -- non-uniformed U.N. security officials, later joined by uniformed security. It's international territory, so you do not see New York City police come pouring in here. Eventually they came on to the grounds.

There were two announcements made in the last 30 minutes in the building, a loud speaker announcement saying an incident occurred, but it is under control, and that New York City police are now on the scene here at the building.

PHILLIPS: So, Richard, the U.N. has their own police force, basically? Will they handle this case, will they interrogate this man -- how does this system work? Will the NYPD become involved at all with this? ROTH: Definitely. The New York Police Department will be. When the U.N. feels it is necessary, they will invite them in, and that is what happened. Here you see on our exclusive pictures, the suspect being held and then will be eventually marched back into the U.N. building, where he is detained at U.N. security headquarters.

There have been a few protests on non-Iraq issues in the last few days, as is customary for the U.N., but we can't guarantee exactly what this man's complaint was, and how he got either a real gun or a cap pistol into the grounds.

But the shots kind of reverberated off the canyons here in the U.N. headquarters, and at the beginning, you didn't know what exactly was happening, there are the usual truck backfires outside, but it didn't take long when I looked over and I saw the man pointing the pistol in the air to know that this was not your average day, and there was a lot of drama here because the Security Council was meeting on Iraq at the same time, with the chief weapons inspector for Iraq.

PHILLIPS: Meanwhile, business as usual, I am told, inside the U.N., right? This hasn't disrupted the meeting with chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix, correct?

ROTH: Correct. That meeting ended, and I don't believe they even heard the shots inside, but the rest of the United Nations was then put in that lockdown situation where no one could get in or out of the United Nations.

Various entrances were closed off while large crowds gathered outside. So right now, New York City Police, the FBI, and State Department security are involved in this.

One shell casing was found outside an 18th floor ladies room. We don't know the link there. We are told that, according to New York City Police and CNN's Michael Okwu that one person -- this man -- believed jumped over a fence at 1:10 New York time. So there were questions about how he might have gotten in. There's a long perimeter along First Avenue for this fence and there are area even to the east of the United Nations, and it could happen. There are security cameras, but I saw this man standing alone as if nobody noticed him, and that has been a problem in the past. They increased security, Kyra, in the last few years, but five, six years ago, you could have hopped over the fence at any time, especially at night.

But now they have additional personnel all over the place. Again, here you see the man after he threw the documents in the air, and fired four shots at least, being grabbed by U.N. security. So now, you have a wide range of law enforcement agencies involved.

PHILLIPS: All right. Our Richard Roth there at the U.N. watching it all go down, bringing us this exclusive video. His photographer, Ricky (ph) -- what's Ricky's (ph) last name? I haven't met him, Richard.

ROTH: Ricky Shine (ph). PHILLIPS: There we go, Ricky Shine (ph) getting us those exclusive pictures. Thank you so much, Richard Roth, I appreciate it. We'll continue to follow the story.


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