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Montgomery County Police Press Conference

Aired October 11, 2002 - 07:26   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Leon and I are going to check back in with Bill to go over some of the details that have gone back and forth in this investigation over the last week or so.
So, Bill, what's with the white van? Are they completely ruling out that plays any role in this spree?

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, great question, Paula.

Late yesterday afternoon the police chief down in Prince William County essentially came out and said, OK, you know, we heard the reports about the white van, but then he said the people driving that van had come to the police and approached them on their own and essentially they were discounting the possibility that would even be held as suspect.

I think that's quite critical, Paula, just because there's been such a lack of evidence, at least publicly, anyway, a lack of evidence given over. And if you really think about these nine cases, there's only two bits of evidence we know about -- the shell casing found at the school on Monday and then the tarot card was found at the same location. That make it very, very tough.

In the meantime, I think the police chief is coming out, Paula. Is that right? Am I seeing that correctly? Yes.

Charles Moose coming out once again. Getting word, Paula, this will be the first of only two press conferences scheduled for today. Normally we get three, possibly even four at a time.

Here's the chief.


I want to report that there are no significant incidents overnight in the county. You may have heard that was a homicide in the 3600 block of Pear Street. It is without a doubt unrelated to the shooting situation. There was a vehicle stopped. We have someone that we took into custody at that time and there are no charges. But I want to be very clear that this case is not related to the situation that we've been working not only in this county but in Virginia and Washington, D.C.

We continue to get calls, very good calls on our tip line, 1-888- 324-9800. That phone is being answered by FBI agents. We have over 40 lines into that facility at this point. We'd still like to talk to people. Now that the link has been made with our cases and the case in Manassas, I want to remind people that they may have been in the area of that situation, not realized that they were in the area of a crime scene and we certainly would like to talk to you.

Let us decide whether or not what you saw or what you heard has something to do with the investigation. Let the investigators talk to you. Again, you may not have known that you were in the area of the crime scene.

As has been our practice, we are committed to keeping that information, your interview, confidential. We just want to talk to you so that we can do everything in our power to get the person or the people involved in these terrible crimes into custody.

I'd also like to make note that the special projects unit of the FBI is working on a graphic aid that we anticipate having available to the media and the general public this afternoon. We have certainly appreciated the support but we are continuing to ask them to produce that product with a sense of urgency so that we can get it out this afternoon. So we look forward to that and look forward to the support of the media in terms of getting that out to the public.

Any questions?

QUESTION: Could you elaborate more on that, Chief? What are you talking about?

MOOSE: The special projects people will have that product by this afternoon and then it will be clear. It would be inappropriate to elaborate until I actually have the product.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) what the product was. What was...

MOOSE: Our special projects unit is putting together a graphic piece to be distributed to the public.

QUESTION: Chief, you said yesterday that you had talked with the Prince William County police chief prior to the event there and he said yesterday that they had been preparing or running what if scenarios, thinking this might come their way. Can you talk about, you know, what you are doing to reach out to surrounding law enforcement agencies to help them prepare for this, to, you know, telling them when, what to be alert for, when to contact you, at what point does your organization get involved, how are you monitoring what's going on in outlying and, you know, just what the preparedness is for these outlying communities and counties?

MOOSE: Well, certainly the law enforcement industry has its own network. Clearly, here in the Washington metropolitan area, northern Virginia, we talk often. We work through the council of governments to communicate. We also have conference calls, something that we've been doing since the tragedy of September 11, as we prepare for different events. They are regularly scheduled phone calls and there are certainly emergency calls.

And in addition to that, the investigators, the people that run the various district commands, the people that share borders, for instance, the command that shares a border between Montgomery County and Howard County, they speak almost daily. So there are a lot of different networks that are in place and then certainly the Maryland State Police in constant contact with the Virginia State Police.

So a lot of things that occur I don't know if I can give you all of the specifics and dates and times of those communications, but I would tell you that all the agencies in this area, and, quite frankly, from the number of phone calls and messages that I have, agencies from throughout this nation, are aware of this situation, are being kept abreast of the patterns, the information that we're able to release.

So there is, indeed, a lot of awareness of this situation.

And more specifically the Washington metropolitan area agencies are very much involved and we have had any number of briefings, conference calls and sharing of information between investigators and between commands, as people, as much as Chief Deane said, as people become aware of it, but also keep their fingers crossed that it doesn't happen in their community.


QUESTION: .... anything different this weekend at all?


MOOSE: Yes, ma'am, I apologize. I didn't kind of relook at that. That was a road rage situation and I'm not sure that there were charges. But certainly all of that was about just people driving in the Washington metropolitan area and being a little impatient with other people. Nothing whatsoever to do with the shooting situation that we're dealing with.

QUESTION: Chief Moose, are you concerned at all about this weekend? Last weekend, of course, as we know, the sniper, whoever is behind this, appeared to have taken a break, a cooling off period. Are you doing anything different this weekend? Are you changing your strategy? Are you very concerned about this weekend? I mean you obviously do want to catch the person involved, but can you speak at all about if anything different is being done this weekend given what you know about last weekend?

MOOSE: I know that on the first part of your question, I really don't know what the suspect or the suspects were doing last weekend, so I don't want to infer that we do. We remain very concerned about each and every moment until we can get this person or these people into custody. So we will continue to patrol, to be very visible, continue to implore the investigators to turn over every stone. We are not putting people on leave. We're not taking time. We're working around the clock continuing to pour every resource that we have into this situation.

It is every day. I think when I left home this morning -- and I don't want to appear to be out of touch -- but I do recall asking my wife what day is it, because it really doesn't matter. We're working every day, working hard and we are looking at events and making sure that we're visible, present, doing different strategies.

But, yes, we know that it's the weekend. There won't be the rush hour. There won't be school. But there are other events and certainly we're aware of that, cognizant of that and agencies and police officers will be out and about.

QUESTION: Chief, one of those events in the Washington area is the...

HEMMER: Charlie Moose.

Let's break away from this for a moment here. He gave us a bit of information earlier saying the FBI later today was going to release some sort of graphic aid, is the words that the police chief is using, some sort of graphic aid to be released later today. This could be a further extension of the profile that Gary Bald (ph), the special agent in charge, was describing to us at the top of our program this morning here at 7:00 a.m. Eastern time. Quite possibly a further definition of what they're putting together in terms of a profile. But essentially we're going to have to wait on that one.

The chief also saying that they're still getting good tips on the tip line. Forty different lines open right now, taking calls 24 hours a day. And the chief encourage people, if you have any information, call us, give it to us and allow us to make the decision, meaning the investigators, as to whether or not it has anything to do with this case.

We'll talk a lot more about the tip line. 888-324-9800, again, is the consolidated number to call. And in a moment, too, Paula, I'll give you a bit more information about the frustration right now that investigators are feeling throughout this entire area.

More in a moment -- Paula.

ZAHN: Well, I thought you did a good job with your guest earlier on in the hour asking about the competing jurisdictions here, five jurisdictions in the investigation and the reality of how that coordination has worked out.

HEMMER: Yes, a great point. And listen, there's been speculation all week that the FBI was going to come into here with a heavy hand and take the investigation out and away from Rockville. He says no, they're getting enough cooperation between all the units and all the jurisdictions to keep it here in Rockville, Maryland, at least for now, anyway -- Paula.

ZAHN: Thanks so much, Bill.

See you in a little bit.



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