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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Montgomery County Police News Conference

Aired October 7, 2002 - 06:35   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: The news conference has started in Montgomery County, Maryland, an update on the sniper attacks there.
This is Police Chief Charles Moose.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

CHIEF CHARLES MOOSE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE: ... to our situation. No other major incidents in the county. Very clearly, we are at a level of anxiety with our morning rush hour getting ready to start.

I want to, again, report a regular, normal opening of school. We expect a regular school day, but also advise our community that we have a great deal of visibility out in the community.

I know it is a very poor visual, but at this point, we have just one example of the support that we get. We have the Maryland State Police at 28 local schools this morning being very visible, being very much on patrol. Just another example of the partnership, the commitment from not only Montgomery County, but everyone in the entire state of Maryland, to solve this dilemma, to bring calm and comfort to the people that live here.

We really appreciate that, but again, it is an example of the kind of support and the way that we work together in this community.

Presently, we have 952 credible leads that are being followed up by investigators. And again, these are investigators from Montgomery County, Montgomery County Park Police, Gaithersburg City, Rockville City, Maryland State Police, our federal partners -- FBI, ATF, the Secret Service, U.S. Marshals -- all of the various units participating in the follow-up of 952 credible tips.

And again, as we have said over and over, we still want to hear from people. We're still not convinced we have heard from the people that we need to talk to. So, please, call our tip line, 240-777-2600.

We have, at this point, solved all of our technology glitches. We have a staff of 15 investigators at the ready to answer those phones, to listen to people, to ask the pertinent questions. And, as has always been the case, if for some reason, some reason whatsoever, the call is not answered, we please encourage you to call back.

I do not anticipate any problems in that area, but if you do call, if you call 240-777-2600, and you do not get an answer, please call back. Our next briefing is at -- our next briefing is at 10:00. And at this point, I will take any questions.

QUESTION: Chief, is this new -- these Maryland State Police, is this the first day they will be on the job at the schools?

MOOSE: This is the, just say, refinement (ph) of them being at the schools. I think on Friday, we had them in and about, but we have given them specific assignments. And so, we've helped coordinate their resources. We feel like it's a more efficient use of the resources. So, we're trying to refine what we do. But they have been with us from the very start.

QUESTION: What are their specific assignments?

MOOSE: Their specific assignment, much like the patrol officers from the county, is to be visible, to be diligent, to be aware, hopefully provide some comfort to the parents, to the young people. And certainly if the principals have any specific needs, they will start with those officers.

QUESTION: Chief, you have recommended extra vigilance from people in the county today. Is it your belief that this person, this suspect, if they are looking to get extra attention might, for some reason, strike again on a weekday rather than on this past weekend?

MOOSE: Well, certainly, we were sending the same message, asking people to be vigilant over the weekend. But the rush hour, just the number of people that come out on a Monday morning certainly just kind of tells us it's an enhanced target-rich environment.

When we look at Thursday morning, there certainly seemed to be a focus around the rush hour. But in some ways, I'm afraid the anxiety may be there no matter what day, no matter what hour. But with making it through the weekend, and not having anyone in custody, then certainly, for me, for Mr. Duncan, Monday morning, this Monday morning has been one we've talked about and we're both very anxious -- remain very hopeful and positive, but we very anxious.

QUESTION: Chief, have there been any shootings anywhere in the country in the past two or three days, where there may be some connection, where local police departments have contacted you to see if there's a connection?

MOOSE: There have been some shootings around the country, where certainly when we hear about those, we've made some extra phone calls and, made some extra inquiries. And we feel fairly confident that that exchange, people have thought about this situation and have been willing to make a fairly strong commitment, whether they think it's even close or whether they can immediately eliminate it.

But this is, indeed, on the minds of law enforcement, and it is on the minds of our staff. But so far, there is nothing that we've heard that is connected.

QUESTION: Do you have any new information regarding the investigators efforts to track the weapon and to link that weapon with the shootings that have occurred in our area?

MOOSE: As of this morning, all of the linking is the same as it's been over the weekend. We still have the two projectiles that are in very poor shape, and there has not been any additional forensics work done on those projectiles.

Short of that, the investigators continue to do everything possible. They worked, certainly staff, a shift through the night, and we really don't have any investigative information to report this morning, not that there hasn't been work done, but we have been holding all of that type of information very close to the cuff, so that we don't give away our hand, so that we don't certainly do anything to jeopardize our ability to bring the suspect or the suspects into custody.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

MOOSE: Was there...

QUESTION: In terms of the Maryland State Police presence at schools and just the high visibility, how much longer do you think, or do you have any sense of how long this will have to continue?

MOOSE: In terms of the increased visibility and some of the things that we are doing in terms of strategies to help assure people, we don't know at this point how long we will need to do that. Certainly, I anticipate a meeting with State Police Superintendent Dave Mitchell (ph), will certainly express my thanks and gratification for what he's done so far. And then, we will certainly discuss his ability to continue to deploy this level of assets to the county.

But at this point, we think our communities deserve that we do as much as we can for as long as we can. But you're certainly on point that this is an evolving situation. We will let the intelligence, we will let the progress of our investigators, and certainly at some point maybe even the stamina of our people, determine where we go with those various strategies.

QUESTION: Chief, we understand that there is some information you're comfortable not with sharing. Are you able to discuss the status of the geographic profile, and how that may be a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to investigators to determine what neighborhood the killer may live in?

MOOSE: As we discussed yesterday in terms of the profile information, the geographic profile, we wanted members of the media to understand the concept, but we, for selfish reasons, aren't going to talk about any of those details. It is a tool to help our investigators.

Our No. 1 priority has been and remains anything we can provide our investigators to bring this person or people into custody. So, I appreciate the interest, but we're just not going to talk about that -- just feel like it remains inappropriate.

QUESTION: Chief, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) psychological profile, have you received that yet from the FBI?

MOOSE: The FBI was with us, working on those issues all weekend. And at this point, the investigators have received a bountiful amount of information from those profilers. We need to remember that that team works in a way that they stay in touch as leads continue to be developed, as information continues to be developed, as this situation continues to evolve, then they make adjustments to that information.

So, like the geographic profile, there will not be anything forthcoming. There will not be any release. There will not be any description of a person or people for you to use. We are just not going to talk about it whatsoever.

QUESTION: How important is that profile? The longer we go without a shooting (UNINTELLIGIBLE) profile become even more important here to investigators to determine the state of mind?

MOOSE: In terms of our investigators, it is information for them to consider, but at the same hand, we are continuing to tell them to not exclude anyone. And so, they have information that's very helpful, but they also have to keep an open mind. We have seen too many times if we get tunnel vision, if we go down a path and we fail to see something outside here, it is a problem.

QUESTION: Chief, were you able to recover a shell casing from the shooting in Fredericksburg, Virginia? And if so, has that been analyzed yet to determine what (UNINTELLIGIBLE) gun used in the attack?

MOOSE: In terms of the situation in Virginia, we, again, want to continue to respect the sheriff's office. They will talk about that investigation, the information they want to release on that investigation. And we are not disclosing evidence and not being specific with regards to your question.

So, I'm going to say everything, but give you an answer to what you just asked.

QUESTION: Are activities at schools still indoor only?

MOOSE: No, Dr. Weast has indicated, and we have certainly agreed with his decision, that it be a full school day, regular hours, regular activities.

OK, yes.

DOUG DUNCAN, MONTGOMERY COUNTY EXECUTIVE: I do want to add, Dr. Weast, our school superintendent, also has said that if any parent is uncomfortable with that, contact their individual school where the children are, and they will make arrangements for the children -- the individual children to stay inside. So, they've got some flexibility there.

MOOSE: 10:00.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually, it's at 9:00. MOOSE: OK. All right, I'd just like make one correction. The next briefing is at 9:00. So, instead of 10:00 as I stated, the briefing will be at 9:00 a.m. OK? Thank you.

COSTELLO: And you have just been listening to a live news conference from Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose and County Executive Doug Duncan. Another update on the sniper attacks in the Washington suburban area will take place at 9:00 this morning, Eastern Time. Of course, CNN will be covering that.

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