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Latest Sniper Victim Worked for FBI

Aired October 15, 2002 - 11:18   ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We have a little bit of breaking news for you now. More news coming in for us as the details begin to unfold on the shooting last night in Fairfax, Virginia by this D.C.- area sniper.
We are just now learning more information about the victim last night, Linda Franklin. Word now is that she is an FBI agent. We understand that she may be an intelligence operations specialist. And that may end up having to -- that may play a role in whatever charges this shooter faces once he is actually apprehended. We'll have to consider that down the road.

Police have been examining one crime scene after another one in this case, looking for clues, looking for patterns, anything to get inside the mind of the killer and track down this attacker before he can strike again.

Joining us now to talk some more about this is CNN criminologist, Casey Jordan, who joins us now from New York.

Casey -- thanks for coming in.

Let's talk some more about, first of all, this breaking development that we have about Lindsey -- I'm sorry -- Linda Franklin being an FBI agent. And I would imagine that this is probably just something here, -- it's only related to the number of agents and federal employees who happen to live in that area. Would you imagine that this man would know this or target an FBI agent?

CASEY JORDAN, CNN CRIMINOLOGIST: I've got to tell you, Leon, with this case, all bets are off. This is news to me as well, and it really does change the scope of things, because the chances that that is a pure coincidence vs. this shooter has actually started doing more research on the victims, really has to make you wonder.

He has certainly taken more risks in the latest shooting than we have seen in any of the previous 10 shootings, and it really does make you ponder whether or not this person is playing unsophisticated at times, when in fact he might be infinitely more sophisticated than we realize.

HARRIS: All right, I just want to clarify one thing. I just said it going in that this person, Linda Franklin, was an FBI agent. She is an FBI analyst is what I am now being told. So, again, this is all just coming into us within the last couple of minutes.

And let's talk about the fact this one took place in a much -- a very, very public area, a very well-traveled area, a place with tons of people around, lots of lighting. You know, going into this week, many of the experts that we've been talking to in the last few days have said this person is someone who does not want to get caught. But to see a person take this kind of a risk and do it in an area like the Seven Corners area, where there are tons of stoplights, where this person is going to either have to stop or perhaps get caught going through a stoplight, does that change that estimation about this person at all?

JORDAN: Well, I don't believe that he wants to get caught, but what he wants to do is be famous, and he is certainly succeeding in doing that.

The thing that really does seem to strike us with this latest shooting is that there is a severe sense in the area that really no one is safe. We have had that all along, but now you have something that really I think strikes at the heart of the so-called everyman in our society. Who hasn't been to a Home Depot or to one of these major shopping centers, where you can go from store to store.


JORDAN: Who hasn't parked in one of these garages and thought they were more safe, because they were under cover? I think that he is really trying to send a message, look at what I can do, and I got away. And it really does make us wonder what the next step might be.

HARRIS: And along those lines as well, the fact that this one happens now in Falls Church, Virginia, we're now getting into a different community, are we not?

JORDAN: Right. And we have seen he has been bouncing around. Of course, we had the initial spree in one centralized location in the first two days, but ever since then, there has not been any pattern at all. It's been bouncing a little bit south, a little bit west, a little bit east, he's back west again.

HARRIS: Well, what does that tell you? What does that tell you?

JORDAN: It's part of the chess game. You have no idea where this shooter is going to strike next, and that is part of the strategy of getting away with it. It doesn't matter how well police are prepared and how ready they are to respond, the chances that they are exactly at the scene that he chooses next are impossible.


JORDAN: And of course, the more that police increase their pace of watching and vigilance, the more likely it is to displace this shooter to a location where he hasn't been before.

HARRIS: Now, the police this morning, they were saying -- the Fairfax County Police were saying that additional information was recovered from last night's shooting. And they did also mention that there were eyewitnesses who did give them a description of the vehicle. This time, they said it was a cream-colored vehicle. That could, of course, be something that's a factor because of the lighting there in that parking lot.

But is there anymore information besides the license plate information that any eyewitness could have picked up last night that would be very helpful here?

JORDAN: Well, initial reports were that Linda Franklin's husband, who was with her when they were loading the packages into the car, had some very specific details. And there are people who respond to such traumatic events, their minds are like a steel trap. It just closes in on all of the circumstances around them.

The quality and the quantity of the information in this particular shooting is better than it's ever been. That's the most significant thing, as well as the fact that it appears we have a shell casing left most likely by accident at this scene. And that also indicates that the killer might be on a downward spiral, where, with bravado and carelessness. we might be getting closer to capture.

HARRIS: All right, now, why would you say a shell casing there, if it was left there, was left there by accident?

JORDAN: Well, in the other incident where we have a shell casing, it was left on top of the tarot card, quite intentionally. Of course, the possibility exists that the shell casing was left intentionally as well. There could be a lot of information the police are not letting us know. There could have been another note for all we speculate.

At the same time, for the first time we have police admitting that they have a second shell casing, and out of 11 shootings, 2 out of 11, shows that the shooter has been much more careful in the past to take the evidence with him. Now, whether he's leaving it by design or by accident, we do have more evidence.

HARRIS: All right, Casey, stand by right there.

We want to bring in our Mike Brooks once again, our analyst who was with us a little bit earlier this hour, to talk about this.

You were able to dig up some information last night about Linda Franklin -- or this morning, I should say...


HARRIS: ... about the lady who was shot last night.

BROOKS: It's unfortunate, having spent the last six years of my 26-year career with the Metropolitan Police Department, the last six years was spent on the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force in Washington, D.C., we found out that Linda Franklin was an employee of the FBI at FBI headquarters.

I know the name, but I don't know her personally. She was an analyst at FBI headquarters info guard (ph) section, and it's very, very sad. I think it's just ironic that she was the victim and she also worked for the FBI. HARRIS: You don't think this, then, was a matter of her being targeted because she was an FBI employee?

BROOKS: No, I don't think so. Where she worked at headquarters and having to do with this case wouldn't have anything at all to do with this case. And she lives in Arlington, Virginia, and that does not believe that she had anything to do it at all.

HARRIS: Just a matter of a victim of opportunity in this case?

BROOKS: Yes. It seems that way. The wrong place at the wrong time.

HARRIS: Now that an FBI employee now here is among the dead, does that change the way that that agency, or any of the other agencies that are involved here, go about their investigation in this case?

BROOKS: Well, she's a victim. It's unfortunate that she did work for the FBI, the officers and the agents from both ATF and FBI that have been working this case. Members of the FBI's evidence response team from the Washington field office were on the scene last night assisting Fairfax County with that crime scene. They were also in Spotsylvania County assisting there.

They are very good at what they do, and they're very diligent at what they do. And they'll just keep trying to put the pieces together of this large puzzle, and try to hopefully wrap it all up.

HARRIS: Yes, earlier, we were talking about how Chief Moose from the Montgomery County Police Department was showing his emotions. We've got to think the emotions of the FBI agents who are now working on this case, they may get stoked up quite a bit, huh?

BROOKS: Well, absolutely. And having worked the line of duty desk afterwards, you know, friends of mine who were killed in the line of duty and having to go out and carry on, the agents will do the same thing. And they want to make sure that all of the T's are crossed and the I's are dotted, that's for sure.

HARRIS: All right. Let's talk once again about some of the clues, and, Casey, if you're still there listening in, some of the clues that may have been picked up last night. Anything else we can talk about here publicly that you think they may have been able to uncover last night? I mean, considering that there were a number of people that were in that area, we've got a number of eyewitnesses, not just the husband here, we've got a number of eyewitnesses.

And then, that there had to be someone somewhere on that road that saw something. It strikes me as very odd to hear this is -- knowing what we know this morning about the Seven Corners area...

BROOKS: Right.

HARRIS: ... and about the traffic patterns there that how could someone make a very fast escape out of there and not be noticed? BROOKS: Well, it's very congested. Apparently, someone did see the van go down Route 50, make a U-turn, head back westbound. That's where it was last seen. And apparently, a partial tag number was gotten off of the van.

So, that's a great start. I mean, with the computers the way they are and the amount of numbers and letters that you have, you know, and the different tag numbers in the Washington Metropolitan area, right now, we're not sure if it's a Virginia tag or a Maryland tag. I think they were leaning towards a Maryland tag, but were trying to confirm that for sure.

But with a partial tag number, that's a lot more than what they had before.


BROOKS: And, as we talked before, Leon, with that area as congested as it is, the canvas of people, they apparently had a lot of witnesses last night that they were talking to.


BROOKS: So, hopefully, out of the witnesses, maybe we can get a description of this person, get a composite drawing going.

And before, there was an article in "The Washington Post" the other day, and it's also been reported that a man from Athens, Georgia, right outside of Atlanta, was approached by an FBI agent, who said, "I'm stopping you because you look like a picture we have from a video camera." So, do they have information like that? I think they have a lot more information than what they are giving here.

HARRIS: Casey Jordan, let's go to you finally with one last question here. Something that struck me. In considering that this person with this vehicle, and this vehicle that everyone in town now is looking for, has been able to get out of these areas and do so in a quick manner, and then fade into the night or the daytime or whatever, is it at all possible that this, considering it looks like or it could be some sort of a work vehicle that's being used here, that there's actually a place that -- some sort of depot or whatever that this man is doing these things around? And this person is able to go to a location prearranged and hide this vehicle, as opposed to getting on the road and escaping somewhere?

JORDAN: It is entirely possible. And the thing about this white utility vehicle, because that's what it is, it's a very typical vehicle for people who are self-employed, delivery vans, is typical for contractors to use. And these kinds of vehicles, because of their commonality, blend into the background. And given at any Home Depot you're likely to find 5, 10 of these vehicles in the parking lot...

HARRIS: And I've seen them.

JORDAN: ... and not even notice them...


JORDAN: ... and for it to be speeding away from a Home Depot is not significant at all. That's why I'm impressed that people did notice. It shows that the information released after last Friday indicating there was a white vehicle of this description did pay off in this case.

HARRIS: Yes. Casey Jordan in New York, Mike Brooks here in Atlanta, thanks to both of you. We sure do appreciate the insight. And no doubt, we'll be calling upon you again very shortly.


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