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Police Hold News Conference on Latest Developments

Aired October 7, 2002 - 09:06   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We go straight back to Montgomery County, where Chief Charles Moose is holding a news conference -- let's listen in.

CHIEF CHARLES MOOSE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE: ... to assist, to be of -- anything they can provide to the forensic technicians in Prince George's County.

Clearly, this is an unfolding, evolving situation. It will be monitored. We don't want to jump to any conclusions. We don't want to make any irrational decisions.

In the context of Montgomery County schools, we've talked to Dr. Weast. At this point, the schools will function as they did on Friday, which means they will close recess, they will close lunch, but it is not -- and I want to specifically say -- it is not a Code Blue at this time. It is simply a precaution to close lunch and to close recess.

Clearly, Dr. Weast will stay on top of this situation with us. As it changes, he will make any and all necessary adjustments.

At this point, all Montgomery County schools remain incident- free. We have no reports of any incidents in Montgomery County schools, and we still have Montgomery County police officers and Maryland state troopers in and around Montgomery County schools.

But we are certainly very concerned about this situation in Prince George's County, and we are in direct contact with them. And we're in the process of putting people on the ground to make our resources available to work with them.

QUESTION: Chief, is it your understanding that this child was shot once?

MOOSE: That is our understanding, and certainly, I will ask you to please understand that it's unfolding. The mother, it is our understanding, picked the child up and transported the child herself. So, we really don't have the kind of detail that we would like to have.

So, in all of your reporting, please, somehow realize that it is all tentative. It is not exact. It is not the kind of thing that we normally like to do. We like to be exact, but we can't be.

QUESTION: What type of information would you need to determine whether or not the shooting of this 13-year-old is or is not related?

MOOSE: Well, we certainly would need some kind of projectile. We've got to look at the wound, the medical -- you know, the doctors need to look at it. There's a lot of things that will come into play, so we don't want to rush to judgment.

QUESTION: Any information about the distance of the shot? Anything of that nature? Anyone see him leaving the area perhaps in an erratic manner?

MOOSE: It is way too early to tell. It is clearly unfolding. You know, you can just see from one of the channels has a helicopter up. It's not even a police helicopter, but just them looking at the scene, you can see that it's way too early for anything definitive to be decided.

QUESTION: Was the child shot outside the school?

MOOSE: To the best of my knowledge, that is correct.

QUESTION: Was the mother with the child when it happened?

MOOSE: The mother was with the child when it happened, yes.

QUESTION: No indication of an altercation, Chief, or anything like that?

MOOSE: No, sir, and it is just way too early, but nothing like that has been reported by anybody at the school that's talked to the Prince George's County authorities, nothing like that. But again, that doesn't mean it won't be.

QUESTION: Was this child was on a sidewalk rather than in a car?

MOOSE: No, all indicators are they were outside the car. But, again, it's very uncomfortable, don't want to be quoted inappropriately.

You know in some ways as much as we do. CNN has got information, the helicopter that's up. It is evolving.

We're in contact with Executive Curry's (ph) office, in contact with the school, in contact with Chief Wilson's (ph) office. But again, it's all coming in. We'll come out when we've got more, but we didn't want to just act like it wasn't happening.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), but what is the harm in going back to a Code Blue situation on these campuses here in Montgomery County?

MOOSE: There is a set of protocols for Code Blue, and I think Dr. Weast is making a wise decision that until he has more information, specific information, then this is the proper step.

QUESTION: Chief, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the report of the shooting happened -- or the shooting happened after school started? And do you know how many witnesses there may be? MOOSE: Well, as I stated, to the best of my knowledge, the shooting occurred about 8:09 a.m. That is before school starts, yes.

QUESTION: So, it starts at 9:00 or 8:30?

MOOSE: It doesn't start at 8:00, OK, and it doesn't start at 8:09. So, I don't know, but it's sometime after that.


MOOSE: No, ma'am, I have no information of how their school district will deal with it. It is still unfolding, and, obviously, that one middle school is dealing with it in a crisis mode. What the rest of the schools do, I have no knowledge at this point.

QUESTION: To your knowledge, the state police are only at the Montgomery County schools, though, at this time, right?

MOOSE: Yes, sir, I'm only aware of how we have deployed the state police in Montgomery County. I don't know the deployment strategies that have been implemented in Prince George's County.

Again, we will continue to make ourselves available and the resources that we have. And so, Captain Deming (ph) will be coming back, and as we get more, we'll share that.

The next scheduled briefing is at noon. I've got a feeling we'll be out here before that.

ZAHN: All right. We're going to stay on that picture as we just dip out of Chief Charles Moose's news conference, where he is urging no one -- or everyone not to rush to judgment.

He is saying it's too early to tell if there is any connection to the six sniper killings in Montgomery County and this latest shooting that we've just told you about in Prince George's County.

Authorities are telling Jeanne Meserve that that school, where this 13-year-old was injured on his way to school with his mother, they believe it happened outside the car before he headed into the middle school at 8:09 this morning.

The chief is saying, absent of a projectile at the moment, that doctors really need to look at the wound to make a determination if there is a connection here.

He handled some pretty tough questions from reporters, who said, why don't you call a Code Blue right now, which would set into force a whole new series of changes in the school system here, as state police seem to be, we are told, on duty at individual schools there.

So, once again, all we can tell you at this hour is that a 13- year-old was headed to Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Prince George's County, a neighboring county. He was shot in the chest. The child is suffering from extensive blood loss. He is in critical condition, and once again, Montgomery County officials are trying to determine if there is any connection to the string of sniper killings.


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