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Interview with Mike Brooks

Aired October 15, 2002 - 10:13   ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: As you can see of the top story on our Web site, the same top story we have here on our show, that sniper shooting last night in Falls Church, Virginia.
Let's get some more law enforcement perspective and analysis on this right now. Let's turn to veteran lawman Mike Brooks who's a former official with the FBI terrorism task force. He joins us now.

And as a -- as a matter of fact, you have spent some time and lived and worked in that area?

MIKE BROOKS, FORMER FBI TERROR TASK FORCE LEADER: Absolutely, 26 years with the Metropolitan Police Department and fourth generation, you know, D.C. boy. And my -- I still have relatives that live in Arlington. Just up there last weekend.

HARRIS: Yes. Let me ask, if you could put up that shot that we had up there moments ago of the Home Depot crime scene. There it is right there. There's a shot. You have actually been around this site before?

BROOKS: Yes, I have.

HARRIS: Can you give us an idea of what's happening right there?

BROOKS: Well it's at the main entrance. It's kind of a covered entrance, if you will. And the victim, from talking to people who were on the scene last night, the victim was right near her car, right near her shopping basket when all of a sudden a shot rang out and she was -- then she fell -- she fell right where she was.

HARRIS: Let's talk about that. Some differences between this and some of the other incidents that have happened in the past. This woman was not alone.


HARRIS: She was with her husband...

BROOKS: Right.

HARRIS: ... in a very well populated and well-traveled area. What's that tell you right now?

BROOKS: He's getting more and more brazen. We look at the last shooting in Virginia where there was a state trooper about 50 yards away, we thought that was brazen. You know now you're into an area -- an enclosed area, kind of as you see, it was under a parking deck, you know is a -- in an enclosed area like that. He's very -- he's getting real brazen. This was only the third one, though, Leon, that was at nightfall. It was nighttime. This was only the third time we've seen this, if I'm not mistaken, third shooting at night. So he's hiding under the cover of darkness; but in this area, this is nothing but shopping centers.

HARRIS: That's right.

BROOKS: And there's a lot of traffic all times of the day and night in the Seven Corners area. It's highly populated and people coming and going all hours of the day and night.

HARRIS: All right. So with that in mind, that in mind, how much more evidence do you think that the police could have gleaned from this particular incident considering there were more people around? I understand there were also lots of traffic cameras around in this area as well, is that true?

BROOKS: Yes, there are. And as in this particular area, Fairfax County, there are lots of traffic cameras. Home Depot I know probably has some cameras. There are probably cameras in this parking garage because it is a covered parking garage, and for security reasons they would want to protect the patrons coming to and from the Home Depot.

Now this particular area is easy in and easy out also. You've got Route 50, Route 7, Route 66, Seven Corners, that's where all these different roads intersect and they all lead to Route 66, lead to the -- to the beltway, easy in and easy out, and that's where they cut traffic off last night.

HARRIS: Yes, but there's another point I'm going to bring up on that note. Our Jeanne Meserve just moments ago brought up another observation, there may be a lot of roads there but there's also a lot of traffic lights.

BROOKS: There are lots.

HARRIS: That means that if a person is going to make a getaway, if they're going to be running a lot of these lights, No. 1, they're going to call a lot of attention to themselves, they will be seen by some either a witness or a camera. And getting in there, if they observe the lights, you know it's going to take them a lot more...


HARRIS: ... time to do that.

BROOKS: From talk -- from hearing the press conference this morning from Chief Manger of Fairfax County Police, he's talking about information that'll lead to an arrest. That's the first time we've heard that from anywhere.

HARRIS: That's right.

BROOKS: That's the first thing we've heard about -- this first mention we've heard of an arrest. So thinking -- my thinking and also from talking to sources who are talking in kind of code is that they have more information that they're leading on right now. And...

HARRIS: Well they did concede this morning that there was license plate information.

BROOKS: Right.

HARRIS: Do you think there's more than that?

BROOKS: I -- well license plate information can give you a lot of information. Just because of the density of this area and the number of people here and the number of potential witnesses that they have, that's why I think they probably have a potential tag number.


BROOKS: And with a tag number, it doesn't take much to go from there.

HARRIS: All right. Now this morning they're talking about not a white van but a cream-colored van. Does that mean anything to you? Do you think there may be a problem just maybe with the lighting in the area or something like that or what?

BROOKS: It could be. Fluorescent lighting and everything else kind of makes white look cream. It's still light colored. We're still talking about a silver ladder rack on top. The shooting in Virginia, it was a white Astro van, Chevy Astro van with ladders on the roof.

HARRIS: This one now more specifically a rear taillight that was out. They said it wasn't broken, but it was not working.

BROOKS: Right, work (ph) out. So that, again, you know, but people are talking about this van. Also I heard last night that there is a possibility they were looking at some other cars. They gave some initial lookouts apparently, the police did, from witnesses. So they're looking at a number of different things, but they are focusing on this Astro van with this roof rack. So hopefully they could have gleaned a tag number from that.

HARRIS: All right, let me ask you one other thing. I know that the police didn't want to draw too much attention to this one particular element that occurred to many of us from the very beginning, the incidents have been around -- a number of them have been around Michaels Craft stores.

BROOKS: Right.

HARRIS: As I understand it, there was one in this plaza close to this Home Depot as well.

BROOKS: There is.

HARRIS: Does that mean anything at all to you if -- even if the officials who are now working this investigation won't come out and say it, what does that mean to you?

BROOKS: Well talking to one official last night, when I mentioned -- caught him at home and mentioned about a Michaels Craft store, he said, oh really! He seemed very interested in that. And we've -- this is now the fourth time we've heard from a Michaels Craft store?

HARRIS: There have been four that had connections to...

BROOKS: Right. The very first shooting where no one was shot.

HARRIS: It went through a window...

BROOKS: Went through a window of a Michaels Craft store.

HARRIS: ... of a Michaels store.

BROOKS: The next one was in Spotsylvania County,...

HARRIS: That's right.

BROOKS: ... a woman outside loading her car at a -- outside of a Michaels Craft store. The school where the 13-year-old boy was shot in Prince George's County was just down the street from a Michaels Craft store. That, consequently, we found out was closed because there was an arson fire there about a year ago and it's still -- and it's still an open case. And now we see this Michaels again. Does it have a connection? As an investigator, I would be -- I'd be very interested in that and...

HARRIS: You'd be all over it, wouldn't you?

BROOKS: I'd be all over it and looking at past employees, current employees, sick leave records, leave records, all those kind of things. And I -- and I know the investigators in this particular case are extremely good, and I'm sure that they are not going to leave any stone unturned when it comes to that.

HARRIS: No doubt. No doubt. Mike Brooks, thanks, appreciate it...

BROOKS: Good to be here -- Leon.

HARRIS: ... especially since you got stuck in traffic coming back here to the studio. We sure appreciate you being a trooper...

BROOKS: No problem at all. Thanks.

HARRIS: ... here as well. All right, take care.


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