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Child Shot in Bowie, Maryland

Aired October 7, 2002 - 09:17   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We take you back to the breaking news out of Prince George's County, where police are now confirming a 13- year-old, who was headed to Benjamin Tasker Middle School, was shot in the chest. The child apparently is suffering from extensive blood loss.
According to the police chief of Montgomery County, his mother happened to be with him when he was shot. It appeared as though she was just dropping him off for school.

Now, the reason why this has so many people concerned for a whole host of reasons is that this comes on the heels of the series of sniper killings in Montgomery County. A sixth victim was killed Thursday in Washington, D.C., and then on Friday, a woman was shot and wounded in Virginia.

And the question everybody is asking of authorities this morning: Is there any connection between this shooting of the 13-year-old and these other killings?

Right now, we've got Jeanne Meserve on the ground, who also listened in on that news conference that Chief Charles Moose just held from Montgomery County.

Go ahead -- Jeanne. Why don't you reprise for us what he had to say.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, the headline was, that they are very concerned about this shooting in the neighboring county of Prince George's, but they do not know at this point whether there is any connection at all to the shootings that you've mentioned that have taken place in this county, also in D.C., and down in Spotsylvania County in Virginia.

No indication of whether there is a connection, but they will do their best to find out. They have dispatched investigators, both to the school where this shooting took place, also to the hospital. They are also sending in forensics evidence.

They will, of course, be trying to figure out whether the sort of weapon used in this shooting was anything like the weapon that was used in the others, the apparently-related seven shootings that took place last week.

But at this point, no word on whether there is any connection at all between these cases. They have told us that this boy was taken to the hospital by his mother. Maryland state police are taking him from the facility, where he was taken, to another medical facility, where they are more accustomed to dealing with major trauma sorts of wounds.

As for schools here in Montgomery County, we've been told this morning that they were operating normally. However, that there was an increased police present. That has now been changed. They are saying now that children will not be allowed out for recess or for lunch.

It is not what they call a Code Blue situation. They say that the superintendent of schools here will continue to evaluate information as it is developed in this shooting in nearby Prince George's, and if any change is necessary, that will be made down the road -- Paula.

ZAHN: Yes, he made it pretty clear that in spite of a number of questions from reporters suggesting it may be time to call a Code Blue that he simply wasn't going to do that.

MESERVE: That's correct. That's correct. He indicated that there was a very formal protocol for doing this. As I said, they will evaluate the situation.

There just aren't very many details yet about exactly what happened in Prince George's. The police chief here did say that he believed that there was a single gunshot wound, but he didn't know whether there had been any sort of altercation or anything like that, whether the shooting was at close range or whether it was at a distance.

So, a lot of unanswered questions here that will help us determine whether or not this shooting is, indeed, related to the others -- Paula.

ZAHN: And then, the chief, Jeanne, also mentioned that he'd have to -- or investigators would have to get a hold of the projectile, and doctors would need to look at a wound to make any sort of determination of whether this shooting is connected to the others.

But just for a quick review here, authorities, I guess, said late on Friday that the .22-caliber bullets used to kill four of the victims came from the same weapon, perhaps a hunting or assault rifle. What about the other killings? Have they confirmed the source of those?

MESERVE: Well, they have determined that the shooting in Virginia, where a woman was wounded but not killed, that that was apparently with the same caliber bullet. The other two shootings and killings, they don't know to a fair -- to a perfect degree whether or not they're related, because they're having trouble with the ballistic tests. It just happens to be that the remnants of the bullet were so badly damaged that the sorts of ballistic testing they need to do have been inconclusive.

The assumption is, however, because of the way these shootings took place that they are indeed related; that all of these shootings are the responsibility of the same individual or individuals.

Again, they have not yet released any information as to profiling. They indicate that they will not. However, we have been told that FBI people were here over the weekend working back and forth with the investigators, trying to hone down their description of who this individual might be.

The chief here has also said that he doesn't want people to become obsessed with the profiling. He's afraid that that will narrow people's focus.

Right now, they are casting a broad net. They are still asking for tips from anybody who might have some information, because it may well be that sort of lucky tip that is going to solve this case for them.

As of this morning, early this morning, 952 credible tips have come into police -- Paula.

ZAHN: OK, Jeanne, we've got lots more questions for you on the other side.


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