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Students React to Sniping of Classmate in Maryland

Aired October 7, 2002 - 11:24   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our coverage of the breaking news taking place in Maryland. Yet again another shooting. We are standing by for a news conference that's set to take place at the bottom of the hour, about five minutes from now, with police officials in Prince George's County.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Before we get to that, let's get to our Bob Franken, who is right now in Prince George's County. He's there at Ben Tasker Middle School, the crime scene this morning -- Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN ANCHOR: Of course, the story has two parts to it. The police investigation -- we're going to hear more about that from the police chief. But also the story of the absolute horror that a parent would feel when he or she hears that this child was at a school where the shooting has just occurred.

We have both father and son with us now. Let's talk to Carl McCallister Sr. (ph) first.

What was it like when you heard it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, it was very alarming, very disturbing. I was hoping that my child was safe. I was very concerned that, you know, the shooting wouldn't continue, that the fact that, you know, I could somehow get to him. I was waiting for some word from the school, some notification. And basically, they finally called around 10:30, said to come and pick up your kids, they would be in the gymnasium. So you had to sign them out. But I was definitely concerned.

FRANKEN: As for you, Carl Jr., what was it like inside for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was, like, different, but you normally go in the gym, sit down and they dismiss out the class. But today you just sat in the classes waiting for -- asking questions like what happened -- and waiting for our parents to come pick children up. And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) wondering, like, why wouldn't they pick the children up and they wouldn't know what happened. So all the parents were coming, and it was a whole bunch of people there.

FRANKEN: Did you know what was going on?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, my teacher, Mr. Everhart (ph), he said that somebody got shot two times, and then the mother put him back in the car (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Children's Hospital.

FRANKEN: And in fact, what we're told is that his aunt was with the 13-year-old child and took him to a nearby, what amounts to a storefront hospital: Bowie Health Center is not open 24 hours a day. A state police helicopter came and took the child to Children's Hospital. Normal MediVac procedure. And as we heard just a few moments ago, the child is in critical but stable condition, undergoing surgery.

As I said, we're waiting for a news conference that's going to occur, if it goes on schedule, within about the next five minutes, and that will be the police chief. Among the questions, how sure are they that this is connected to the other shootings? And we've been told by any number of people that it's not sure at this particular point. But of course, they have to operate the investigation now on the premise that there is a connection -- Leon.

HARRIS: Bob, the parents that you've been talking to when they've been coming out of there, have they said whether or not they'd be bringing their children back to school tomorrow?

FRANKEN: You know, it's interesting. Most of them are saying that they intend to. Typical was a gentleman we talked to just awhile ago who said that obviously he's concerned, but you have to trust the authorities in this particular case. And he went on to say that you can't let terrorists rule your life. Of course, he was talking about terrorists in the generic sense, saying that whoever is doing this kind of thing is terrorizing a neighborhood or an area, or trying to. So there's an awful lot of feeling that the parents are saying that they're going to bring their children back. Of course, that could change by tomorrow. But that seems to be a consensus now.

HARRIS: Now, have you talked with anyone there or heard from anyone there who actually did hear the shots fired this morning?

FRANKEN: We had one conversation with a person who said that he heard the shot. Not much more that he could add. We have no knowledge that police have any further information. I don't know how forthcoming the chief will be when he talks to news a few minutes. But an awful lot of the questions that we've sort of got partial answers to, too partial to actually report at this point. Maybe we'll have some completing of the circle when the chief talks to us.

HARRIS: Good deal. We'll get to you in just a bit after that press conference gets under way, which we expect should happen almost any minute now. Bob Franken, reporting live for us from Prince George's County, there at Ben Tasker Middle School, which is a crime scene this morning. Sad to say that about any situation, but particularly so when it's a school.

But that was the scene of the shooting this morning, about almost 3 1/2 hours ago. A young boy being dropped off by his aunt there at the school was shot twice -- once in the chest and once in the abdomen -- and he is now, as we understand it, in critical but stable condition at Children's National Hospital, still in surgery some three hours after the shooting.

KAGAN: You have to admire the quick thinking of his aunt who was escorting her nephew to school. When this happens, how would you even know as an adult, as a parent, a caretaker exactly what happened? You would have to go into shock. It wouldn't be what you would expect. Scooped him up, took him to a nearby emergency center. And from there, he was airlifted to Children's National, where he is in surgery right now. And doctors there, as we wait for this news conference in Prince George's County beside the school, doctors at the hospital plan a news conference at 2 p.m. Eastern.

Let's dip into some coverage (UNINTELLIGIBLE) our affiliates talking to a student. Let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was praying that my mom would come pick me up, and then, like, I was really scared.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then your mom did show up. So you feel a lot better now?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. We are glad to hear about that. All right. Thank you so much for joining us. We thank you. Exactly what you heard those two say is...

HARRIS: That was some coverage being offered by our affiliate WTTG there in the Washington area -- they've been able to take some students aside from time to time, and as we've been noticing, and from hearing from Bob Franken directly as well, not everyone coming out of that school wants to talk about this.

KAGAN: Understandable.

HARRIS: We did want to get some kind of sound from the -- some kind of comments there from the children. You've got to imagine what they must be going through this morning.

KAGAN: Yes, and it seems like from the people who come out, the kids come out, perhaps the different places were they were with the school, we hear different accounts of what it was like inside the school when the shooting took place.

Some kids saying it was very orderly, and everything was very, very understandable about what they were supposed to do, and then some places the school saying it was a little chaotic, and people concerned and not quite as orderly.

HARRIS: We've been watching these parents coming and going at the school. Got to think by now they pretty much have mostly all of them out of there by now. This has been going on for at least the better part of an hour and a half now.

KAGAN: Oh, yes, at least that.

HARRIS: So the parents there are still continuing to arrive and take their children out of Benjamin Tasker Middle School, and we'll continue to watch that as it does happen there. But, again, we cannot say for sure, and we don't know -- we'll hear from the police when they have their press conference in a couple of minutes, whether or not they believe there's a connection between the shootings that happened here in Bowie, Maryland, and those that happened in Montgomery County, Maryland last week.

But a huge effort being coordinated there amongst a number of different authorities, whether it's the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the Prince George's County Police, Maryland -- I'm sorry the Montgomery County Police, as well. And they're all working, trying to figure out exactly what's going on. We understand they're still looking for a shell casing in that area to see whether or not there is a connection.

KAGAN: We are going to listen -- didn't mean to interrupt. We are going to listen a little bit more, these are kids that arrived on a school bus at the school. Let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... the same thing -- happened. We had to go around the back, and enter through that door over there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to ask you guys, I mean, obviously, this has to be a scary situation. How has this made you guys feel?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was -- since I didn't know what was going on, I was pretty scared, because -- well, just the whole thing of someone getting shot, and after what happened in Montgomery County last week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you guys. Thanks so much. And there you hear it from middle schoolers here.

KAGAN: As we mentioned, we're expecting any minute for this news conference to begin with police officials. We're going to go ahead and fit in a quick break, and as soon as that begins, we'll show it to you live.


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