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Police Investigating Shooting of 13-Year-Old

Aired October 7, 2002 - 09:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Unfortunately, we top our newscast today with another sad story. Another person has been shot in Maryland.
The shooting happened earlier this morning, just about 50 minutes ago. You are looking at live pictures of the school, where a 13-year- old was shot. He was headed to Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie, Maryland.

We are now being told the child is suffering from extensive blood loss. He is in critical condition.

His mother took him to the Bowie Health Center, which is a small hospital, and a Maryland State Police helicopter was to fly the child to a hospital specializing in traumatic injuries -- this according to a police spokesperson.

Let's go to Jeanne Meserve, who has been following this story. She is in Montgomery County.

Jeanne, is there any connection being made between this shooting this morning and the other sniper cases?


We're in the very early stages of this developing story. Obviously, the first priority is to get this child the medical care he or she needs to survive. That is the top priority now.

Of course, they are looking at this, and will continue to, with a very careful eye, trying to figure out if there is any connection between this shooting and the others, apparently random, that took place late last week.

But as of yet, no connection at all has been drawn -- Paula.

ZAHN: In the meantime, anybody looking at this picture, living in that area, will wonder if they really should go about their normal lives. What are the Montgomery County police officials saying about how people are supposed to live in the wake of yet another shooting, whether it's connected or not?

MESERVE: Well, we are expecting a briefing from Montgomery County officials shortly. We will see whether or not they change their guidance that they issued earlier this morning.

I can tell you that as of a few hours ago, they were encouraging people to go about their business, live their life as normal. They did open the schools here today under normal conditions. However, there was an increased police presence around each of those schools, but that was true only in Montgomery County. This report of a shooting that we're hearing about this morning is in Prince George's County. That is next door. As far as we know, there were no additional police security measures being taken there.

We will also be waiting to hear from school officials here as to whether they are changing the status of the school situation here, whether they will again put the kids under Code Blue, which means they are going to be contained within their schools, not allowed out for any sort of activities -- Paula.

ZAHN: Jeanne, just quickly bring us up-to-date on what police are saying about the other six shootings. Is it true they're saying they can't even, with 100 percent certainty, say that even those are connected?

MESERVE: Well, they can't say it with 100 percent certainty, because in two instances, the bullet fragments were so -- in such bad condition that forensic testing on them is difficult. However, they do believe that all of these shootings were connected.

This morning, Police Chief Charles Moose told us there are 952 credible leads that they are trying to follow up on. They are using some personality profiling information that the FBI developed over the weekend. They're not telling us any of the details, because they don't want to compromise the investigation in any way.

Also, they have done something called a "geographical profile." This, they hope, will give them a sense of where this individual might live or work. The idea is that this person wouldn't want to commit crimes too close to their central point to preserve their anonymity, but they presume that they would be conducting these sorts of activities in an area that they were familiar with, a so-called "comfort zone."

Also, of course, ballistic testing continuing. Again, they're not telling us any of the details, holding things very close to the chest, because of the investigation and its ongoing nature.

Once again, they are going to be looking at this shooting in neighboring Prince George's County to figure out if there is any connection. But at this point, they do not know whether there is a connection or there is not -- Paula.

ZAHN: Jeanne, about how far away is this school in Bowie, Maryland, from where you are?

MESERVE: Oh, you're going to test my geography here. I know it's a neighboring county. I can't give you mileage. This is all in the periphery of Washington. My guess would be, and this is only a guess, that it's going to be a relatively short distance, a matter of 10 miles or so.

Larry Langley (ph), who is working with me here, lives in Bowie. Perhaps he can tell me how far away Benjamin Tasker School is from where we are right now. How far away is the school? About 20 minutes away, he says, from where we're standing right now, which is the police headquarters for Montgomery County.

ZAHN: Jeanne, before we let you get away, tell us a little bit about what authorities said about the man they questioned on Saturday, who they are not calling a suspect.

MESERVE: That's right. He has now been eliminated as a suspect. There were some suspicions about him, because he apparently had been missing for a few days, and because his wife believed he had the sort of weapon that might have been involved in these shootings.

However, it turns out the weapon had been returned to the place where it was purchased. His whereabouts have been accounted for. Officials say he is no longer a suspect or a person of interest in this investigation -- Paula.

ZAHN: Jeanne, thanks for the update. We'll be coming back to you as soon as the Montgomery County Police Department gives you its latest information -- appreciate it.


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