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Maryland Boy Shot at School

Aired October 7, 2002 - 14:02   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: First, to suburban Washington, the scene of yet another shooting. Today's victim, a 13-year-old boy shot in the chest as he was arriving at school. We should be getting an update on his condition any minute. Federal authorities investigating last week's sniper shootings in that area are also on the case. We're going to begin with CNN's Bob Franken. He's outside the boy's school.
Frank, what do you know?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, the briefing is probably going to be now an extra hour. The surgery is taking longer than expected. So we're expecting around 3:00 Eastern. As you know, it will be a briefing at Children's Hospital where the 13-year- old young man was taken after he had been first taken to a health center here. He was shot a little bit after 8:00 this morning.

Now, here's the situation regarding that. He is in critical condition. As I said, the doctors are still operating. A lot of the investigation is sort of on hold until that surgery is complete because the officers here want to see if there is any evidence -- any evidence of the kind of bullet that was in his body after he was struck by a weapon. They don't even know at this particular point, we're told, whether he was hit more than one time.

All the other victims that happened -- that were shot over the last several days in Montgomery County, which is adjacent to here, all of them had been shot just once. This particular child was going to school this morning at 8:00 when he was hit. Shortly thereafter the school officials locked down the school, locked down, as a matter of fact, all the schools in Prince George's County while they began their investigation. Police officials say that they continue to follow leads.


FRED THOMAS, PUBLIC SAFETY DIRECTOR: We want to assure the community that we are -- we have the situation well in hand. We have a number of positive leads that we're following up. The young man is still in surgery, in serious condition, but he should be coming out soon.


FRANKEN: Now at the end of -- at the end of the morning most parents have been able to get their children out of school. They were called by school officials who said come to this school and pick them up. Many of them of course were hearing from their children for the first time what happened inside.


ANDREW KIM, STUDENT: It was chaotic inside. I mean, everybody was trying to get to their classrooms as fast as they can, and everybody was gathered in the cafeteria room, and then they dismissed us into our classrooms. It was chaotic until the point where everyone was in their classroom.


FRANKEN: School officials said that they are still deciding whether they're going to open classes tomorrow; they are inclined to want to do so. School will be letting out fairly soon and there's going to be extremely heavy security as classes are let out.

Meanwhile, police officials say one of the first things they want to try and do is see if there is any connection between this shooting and the five in Montgomery County, which is adjacent here, both of them suburban Washington counties, and, of course, the shooting where a woman was wounded over the weekend in Virginia, about 35 miles south of Washington -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Now, Bob, you were in Montgomery County when this all happened last week. Do you see a difference in the way police are handling this or even security? Has it been upgrade a lot more from the very beginning?

FRANKEN: Well, actually, it's kind of eerily similar. First of all, the police converge on this area, there is a mutual assistance pact here which of course we have in many metropolitan areas, but what makes this area so different is that it does surround the District Of Columbia, so there are really a lot of federal resources that come into play, and they are coming into play just like they did in Montgomery County.

The other thing that of course we've become familiar with is the term code blue. It's a way that they conduct the schools after some sort of emergency situation like this. What it means really is a lockdown. The students are kept inside the building. So it's somewhat similar. What's also similar is that there haven't been an awful lot of leads, at least that we know of, up until now, and no arrests.

PHILLIPS: Our Bob Franken, thank you.

Well, at this moment, authorities say they don't have any evidence that today's shooting is connected in any way with the sniper shootings from last week. And they caution against jumping to conclusions. Joining us with the latest on that, CNN's Jeanne Meserve.

Hi -- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kyra. That is the bottom line. Officials still don't know if there's any connection between the shooting of this 13-year-old boy in neighboring Prince George's County this morning and the shootings last week here in Montgomery County, in D.C. and in Virginia. Very anxious to figure that out. This police department in Montgomery County immediately dispatched investigators over to Prince George's, also some forensics experts to try and glean what they could.

We were told a short time ago that also the recruit class from the police academy have now been sent over there. They are helping with a grid search of the area around the school, trying to turn up any additional evidence, evidence which could of course be critical in determining not only the link between these crimes but who might have committed them.

Amongst the resources being brought to bear, a mobile laboratory that belongs to the Bureau Of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm. We're told that it can do a great deal of on-site analysis. If additional testing is needed, any forensic evidence would be sent to Rockville, where there is an even more sophisticated lab.

We're also told that the ATF has sent in specially trained dogs to Prince George's County. These have been trained to sniff explosive residues, including gunpowder. We have been told these have been used at the scenes of all of the shootings and have led to some possible leads at some of those other locations.

Here, too, in Montgomery County, code blue to the schools. Officials here are pleading with parents to let the day's schedule run its course. They are, however, very concerned about providing adequate security for school dismissal. They want to have a very visible police presence at each and every school. They are working hard to provide that here today. Still no decision made about nighttime activities at those schools. We would expect that to be made sometime very shortly.

Kyra, back to you.

PHILLIPS: Jeanne, the FBI has talked about the personality profiler. Now a geographic profiler is being brought in. What more can you tell us about that?

MESERVE: We wish we could tell you the specifics of what this geographic profiler has shared with the Montgomery County police. However, that is being held confidentially because they fear it could compromise the investigation in some way. What this involves is looking at the locations where a crime has been committed and working out a scheme to figure out where this individual might live or where this individual might work.

The working theory is this, that someone's not going to commit a crime very close to home because someone might recognize them. But then on the other hand they might not go too far afield because they might not be too familiar with that territory. So the idea is that within a certain geographical radius they can identify one or more hot spots which might indicate where this individual does live or where this individual does work. There has been some personality profile work done as well. We've been told that FBI officials were here, working alongside Montgomery County investigators over the weekend, sharing information with them. Once again, they are not telling the media what that personality profile looks like -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Jeanne Meserve, thank you.


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