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Sniper on the Loose Police Update

Aired October 8, 2002 - 06:42   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: A news conference is about to start in Montgomery County, Maryland. This is an update on the sniper attacks there. Police Chief Charles Moose and County Executive Doug Duncan.
Let's listen.

CHIEF CHARLES MOOSE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND: We'll report a quiet overnight in the county. No major incidents. No shootings to report. Very quiet. Certainly continuing to gear up for school today. Schools will be opening normal hours. We'll stay in a Code Blue status. Parents, police and fire and rescue recruits will be participating as safety patrols. Felt very comfortable advising and agreeing with Dr. Weast that the student safety patrols need to be in the schools.

This morning we have, in working closely with Prince George's County, been able to expand the tip line. And we would appreciate any support in helping people understand that we now have two numbers, 240-777-2600, a number that we have been talking about for a number of days. But we now also have a 1-800 number, 1-800-755-9424.

We again want people to call us. We feel like someone has information that will help us bring this situation to closure. Someone has seen something. Someone knows someone who has acted strangely, that has not kept their regular schedule, that are somehow bragging about their involvement in the situation. Someone's seen now a white box truck, remains a vehicle that we are interested in.

I'd like to report that to date we have received 1,250 credible leads. Our investigators are following those leads up. Remind you that those investigators are supported by Davisburg City (ph) police officers, Rockville City police officers, Montgomery County Park Police, federal agencies from ATF, FBI, Secret Service, U.S. Marshals Office. Everyone that we've asked, MPD, Washington Metropolitan officers, Spotsylvania County Sheriffs Office, Virginia State Police, Maryland State Police, all agencies are involved in helping us follow up on these various leads.

These credible leads have come from 6,025 phone calls. A lot of phone calls are duplication. But again, we encourage everyone to call. Don't assume we have your information. Do not assume that the information you have is no good. Let our investigators determine that. Let our investigators talk to you. Let us decide what is good information. Do not eliminate yourself.

Our next briefing is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. At this point, we'll take questions.

QUESTION: Chief, what can you tell us about the situation in Prince George's County, the search warrant that was executed last night, do you know anything?

MOOSE: It is my understanding that Chief Wilson conducted a briefing this morning, and I hope that that question was put to him. I know that he and his agency will remain very accessible, and I would encourage you to talk to Chief Wilson about any specifics with regards to that investigation. It has been my practice and will continue to be to not talk about any specifics of the investigation.

QUESTION: Chief, this individual fired shots last Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, took the weekend off, hit again on a Monday morning. Here we are another weekday morning, what is your level of fear this morning that this individual may strike again today?

MOOSE: As a police department, as a community, we clearly remain anxious. We have very visible patrol in and around our schools, very visible patrol on our roadways because of rush hour, but we continue to function as a community. We're very resilient. Anxiety is anxiety. But again, we realize that people in their own way may be fearful, but I personally will encourage people to continue to move forward with their lives.

QUESTION: But do you think you may have seen a pattern here that this individual strikes on a weekday in particular?

MOOSE: With regards to your question about a pattern, it remains inappropriate for me to speculate. We will continue to work the case. Certainly a two-prong approach with regards to visibility, patrol, being out there, being available to our community members. And then certainly the other prong with regards to all of our investigative strategies. It is just still inappropriate for me to speculate with regards to strategy and certainly then to talk about any of that publicly would be inappropriate.

QUESTION: Chief, any idea of how this new task force is working now that you've given your formal request for federal assistance? How are things different this morning than they were last night?

MOOSE: With regards to the request for a formal response from the Department of Justice and the attorney general, that process will certainly start to unfold and ramp up today. I want to remind us that many of our federal partners have been on site, have been very, very active and that remains the same. Any additional resources, addition layers, all of that will unfold as the investigation continues to unfold.

We must recognize that a lot of that work will occur today. You know second, third and fourth level phone calls will all happen today. Last night was a matter of marching orders going out to people. Everyone enthusiastically accepts that decision, and we will need today to unfold some of those details that you're asking about. QUESTION: Chief, Prince George's County chief confirmed that they executed a search warrant based on information they received from the public yesterday morning. Since these shootings began, has your department executed any search warrant (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

MOOSE: Sir, I am not going to talk about any of the investigative details with regards to the Montgomery County Police Department.

QUESTION: Sir, there was a question yesterday...

QUESTION: Do you...

QUESTION: ... as to whether the bullet that was shot into the Prince George's County boy came from the same gun as these other shootings that have been linked. Has there been any further progress on that?

MOOSE: Yesterday Special Agent in Charge Bouchard talked about the ballistics report. It was appropriate for him to talk about that and I think also that Chief Wilson talked about that. I will not be making any comment about that situation and those details. They have discussed it. They will continue to discuss it if they feel like there are any other questions that need to be answered there.


QUESTION: Chief, can you describe a little bit more how classifying these crimes as federal serial killings might bring more resources to your investigation? How would it help?

MOOSE: I couldn't quite hear the question, but in regards to implementing the federal legislation that allows me to send a letter to the attorney general, it makes it a formal request. Certainly I think that assists the federal government in their effort or their desire to maybe reallocate some resources, expenditures that they may need to make making this a clear priority in their agenda. I think in some ways there's some nuances to the federal system that I don't understand. But again, the formal request and the formal acceptance means that in my mind it's a higher priority and the people that have been allocating resources here now have the blessing of all those in charge to continue to do that and to continue to meet any requests for resources.

QUESTION: Chief, I know you don't want to talk about the specifics, but can you talk at all about whether you feel that progress is being made? Do you feel that you're any closer today than you were yesterday or the day before in terms of identifying a suspect?

MOOSE: I certainly feel positive about the progress. But I understand that it is a complex case and you know I don't want to build any false hope. I don't have a timeline in terms of can I tell you what day or what hour it's all going to be over. So I struggle with how can I actually deal with your question. But again, more people are involved. People's energy is still very high. And I think in some ways as it continues to unfold, a lot of my investigators are almost more committed today than three days ago. So we will continue.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) now being formally described as a serial killing, but at what point did you personally determine that you were dealing with a serial killer? Was it after the shooting spree on Thursday or at what point down the road did you determine for yourself we've got a serial killer on our hands?

MOOSE: You know I don't know if I actually know that moment in time when that clicked. Obviously as more hours passed, as the geographic area gets larger and certainly in some ways as I also learn more about what we're dealing with, not that I feel untrained, but certainly the review of some of the federal legislation is not something that I've dealt with over the years, so it is all unfolding and I don't know if there is any one moment in time when it -- when it all clicked.

QUESTION: Chief, do you have any evidence to suggest that these shootings may have begun before last Wednesday? There are broadcast reports about similar incidents September 14 in Millerdale (ph).

MOOSE: We are certainly not talking about anything with regards to the investigation. So people are speculating, people are looking at things, and I just would prefer to stay away from that kind of activity.



Our next briefing will be at 9:00.


COSTELLO: You've just heard from Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose updating us on the situation in Montgomery County and the Washington area as to the sniper attacks. As you heard, they are no closer to catching a suspect.


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