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Shooting Reported in Ashland, Virginia

Aired October 19, 2002 - 21:33   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We have some breaking news to report. There has been a shooting in Ashland, Virginia, which is a suburb of Richmond, Virginia. Ashland is about 70 miles south of Washington, D.C., just off Interstate 95. We are showing you a live picture now from the scene.
There is a lot we do not know at this hour. What we do know is this: A shooting occurred at the Ponderosa Steak House restaurant. The Ponderosa restaurant is on Route 54, very close to I-95, in Hanover County, Virginia, in Ashland, again, very near I-95. Police, as you see there in the picture, are on the scene. What you do not see in the picture are police helicopters, which are overhead training search lights on the area. At this hour, we understand that police have shut down stretches of Route 54, as well as I-95, sealing off the area.

No word at this time of casualties. We understand a person was shot at the Ponderosa Steak House. We do not know the condition of that person, or their identity, or anything else about them. This information so far has come from the Virginia State Police radio. It's also confirmed by the Montgomery County Police Department. They have someone from the sniper task force en route, but no word at this time whether or not this is the work of the sniper. Police have, again, sealed off the area around Ashland, around Route 54 and I-95, as you see there in that picture, that live picture from the area from our affiliate WTVR. Traffic has come to a standstill as police are obviously closing down the highways, searching for any vehicles.

At this hour, what we know is that there has been a shooting at a Ponderosa restaurant. We do not know who has been shot. We do not know the identity of the person shot, nor of their condition. We don't know if they are alive or dead. Police have shut down the area. They are certainly on the scene. They are treating this very, very seriously. As you can see in that picture, the area has been sealed. This happened just a few moments ago; the information is coming in as we speak.

Obviously, if this was a shooting by the sniper, it would be a break in the pattern. There has been five days since there has been any known shooting by the sniper. The last one occurred on Monday. The sniper has never shot anyone on a weekend, never shot on a Saturday night. This would be a break in that pattern. Obviously, of interest to criminologists.

The police are treating this very seriously. Helicopters are en route. We have joining us now live on the phone, we have J. Kelly McCann, a security consultant, CNN expert. Kelly, what do you make of this? You hear that highways are being shut down in that area, Route 54, I-95. Your impressions at this moment?

KELLY MCCANN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: It sounds, Anderson, if they can draw the link to and it is, in fact, consistent with the other behaviors, that of course it's on the 95 corridor, and it goes outside the established 60 to 80-mile square perimeter that they'd been working in, unfortunately.

COOPER: Yeah, it really does. It's about 70 miles south of Washington, D.C., suburb of Richmond, Virginia -- not so far out, but definitely another way that it has broken the pattern. When you look at all these incidences, what really stands out to you? I mean, you have experience with guns, experience with the workings of the military. Do you think this is one person, do you think this is more than one person?

MCCANN: What stands out is malice of forethought, that there is some significant thought about how to do this and then position himself to be able to be so elusive.

If he is in that area, there are a couple of roads down there. Of course, 64, Route 64, Route 295. There is other major arteries very close to Ashland, Virginia that could lead him south. So the problem just got a little bit bigger.

COOPER: In something like a sniping case, how important is it for this person or persons to scout out the area in advance, to know all the escape routes? I mean, one -- I talked to Eric Haney just a little while ago, one of the founding members of Delta Force, who said, you know, these people or this individual is scouting out the area a lot in advance. Do you think that's true?

MCCANN: Absolutely, because, I mean, you know, if he made one misstep, and I've said on a few of the shows, Anderson, you know, is this guy has not had a car accident, he's not jumped the curb, he's not bumped into a shopping cart, hit another car in a parking lot. He's merely disappeared, which means that he must be familiar with the traffic flow, he must know how to get out of an area without crossing over two lanes, he must know what the path of least resistance is in order to evade the area, to leave the area. So there is no doubt that he surveills an area first.

COOPER: We've seen -- the picture we're looking at right now is obviously a nighttime shot. You really can't see much other than traffic at a standstill. What are police looking for exactly right now, do you think?

MCCANN: I'm sure what they're going to do is they're going to lock down the traffic, and then they'll probably have officers looking for two things. They'll have people in the area looking for anomalies in the traffic, people who are not willing to sit in line and try to cut across to center line, et cetera, to be evasive. And then they're going to also have officers moving up through the traffic and interviewing people. They are going to actually look for nervous or suspicious activity, people who are trying to look disinterested, or not questioning, anything out of the normal. And it's -- their job is going to be onerous.

COOPER: You know, there have been so many shootings and so many opportunities, one would think, to an outsider, to identify this person, for a witness to see this person, and yet we've heard very little from witnesses. Does that surprise you? I mean, does that jump out at you?

MCCANN: No, it doesn't surprise me, Anderson, because most people don't have a personal relationship with this kind of...

COOPER: Kelly, sorry to interrupt you. If you would just hold on with us for a few seconds, we're going to be joined now by Daryn Kagan, who has been following this story for more than a week now, who's live in Montgomery County, Maryland. Daryn, what do you know at this hour?

DARYN KAGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, I've been following pretty much the same information that you have right now, and for our viewers who are just joining us, let's go over this once again. We're investigating, looking into a shooting taking place along I-95. This area of Ashland, Virginia, Hanover County -- this is about 90 miles south of Washington, D.C. If you look at a map, Fredericksburg and Manassas, Virginia was the farthest south that the sniper has gone before this.

I think we need to be really careful about what we're saying here, because of course, there are other aspects of violence that take place across the country, certainly across Virginia, and I think the thing that causes the most concern at this point is, as you were saying earlier, that we have confirmed that the task force, the sniper task force, is on its way, so of course, police taking this very seriously.

The other thing that jumps out at me is that we're talking about I-95, and that tends to be a consistent route when we are dealing with this particular sniper. But once again...

COOPER: Daryn...

KAGAN: Go ahead.

COOPER: Sorry, if I could ask you, you have been following this story, working it harder than just about anyone else out there, what -- how quick have police in past instances been to say, yes, this is, you know, we are looking at this as if it is the work of a sniper, no this is another kind of a shooting?

KAGAN: Well, there is two answers to that, Anderson. First of all, exact confirmation that this is the work of the sniper usually doesn't come until at the earliest 13 hours after the shooting has taken place, because ballistics tests will have to come back. But the difference that we've seen, especially with the last two or three shootings is that there is a change in police tactics. And what they've done, and I think that's what we're seeing here, what they've done is they go on the assumptions that it is the work of the sniper -- basically, guilty until proven innocent. They don't want to be caught like they have in the past, so that's why you're seeing these aspects of the dragnet. They have a sniper alert plan, where they go and they try to shut down as many roads, so act first, and eliminate the possibility that it's the work of the sniper later.

COOPER: Daryn, you know, we had heard a lot earlier in the week about surveillance aircraft, perhaps, that the Pentagon was going to be adding to this fight. Do we know any more about that? You know, at this hour? Do we know, are these things flying around in the air at this moment, do we know?

KAGAN: The Pentagon seemed kind of closed about when they were actually going to put that up in the air, put that plane up in the air, and I understand it was so, you know, they don't want to give away all their cards. It's possible it could have been up as early as this weekend, but, on the other hand, I think at the time they were talking about surveilling the Washington, D.C. area, and don't forget, we're talking about an area that's about 90 miles south.

COOPER: Now, the police where you -- you're in Montgomery County, Maryland. I mean, are police leaving from that area to go down to this scene? What do you see around you?

KAGAN: Well, you know, we're at police headquarters, but there are other police facilities from Montgomery County. Right now, really what you see the most is a lot of alert reporters, getting the same kind of word that we have in trying to track down a story. And if you hear sputtering generators in the background, it's other people trying to get their live trucks (ph) up and going.

COOPER: Does this -- I mean, you know, this obviously, as we all know, and I'm going to bring in Kelly McCann here as well -- this is obviously a break in the pattern, and Kelly pointed it out...

MCCANN: I am, I'm on the line.

COOPER: Yeah, Kelly is on the line right now with us. It's not just a break in the pattern if, in fact, this is the work of the sniper, and at this moment, we do not know that at all. But if it is, it certainly would be something unusual. The sniper has not worked -- has not shot on the weekends. This is out of the area that the sniper has worked in in the past. Kelly, what do you make of that?

MCCANN: Well, to go -- finish that thought we had a little bit earlier about why is it, you know, yeah, he is working out of his area, Anderson, and why isn't it that people haven't been able to report -- people's relationship with this is very aloof, you know, and normally, when a report of a rifle is heard, if you're in front of a muzzle, it appears to be omnidirectional. It's very difficult to pinpoint exactly where it's coming from. And then of course, people immediately are fearful, and in fact, the report of a rifle finishes in five milliseconds, so then it just reverberates. So if someone goes to cover and then decides to put their head up, number one, they can't identify where it really came from. By that time, the scene could have gone to a normal state. This fellow could have either gone to no movement at all, or just merely driving away, not at speed.

And so it is really not surprising that people haven't been able to give us more information.

KAGAN: Anderson, I think I kind of know where you were going with that last question, and looking at the pattern, if there is any kind of pattern here. The sniper since October 2 has not hit on the weekends, and so if indeed this was the work of the sniper, to be on a Saturday night would be unusual. It's been five days since we saw the last shooting -- the longest gap since the shootings began, and this is considerably farther south than we would have seen.

But once again, we have to stress that we are looking at a shooting here, and we do not yet know if we're talking about the sniper.

Interesting piece in "The Washington Post" today talking about everyday violence still claims its victims. It's the cover story of the "Metro" section. Just to put this in perspective, since the sniper attacks began, there have been 18 traditional homicides just in the Washington, D.C. area, once again stressing the point there is other violence out there and there is other gun violence.

COOPER: And you bring up a good point. That is what we may be dealing with at this moment. At this time, we just for viewers who are joining us just now for this breaking news, the area around Route 54 and I-95 near Ashland, Virginia, a suburb of Richmond, about 70, 80 miles south of Washington, D.C., has been shut down. There has been a shooting at a Ponderosa. We don't know what sort of a shooting it was; we don't know if it was inside the restaurant, outside in the parking lot. At this moment, we're just not sure. We do know -- we don't know whether someone has been killed or not. Police are certainly acting on the assumption, and that is their game plan all along for all of these instances now, to act as if it is the work of the sniper, to shut down the area, to deploy the helicopters. As Gary mentioned, the task force has been deployed, but at this moment, we simply don't know.

KAGAN: Absolutely, and as I was mentioning, Anderson, this is something that changed about two or three shootings ago when they decided -- this is when you started seeing dragnets implemented, and I think the first one we saw was in Fredericksburg, which is not too far -- it's a bit to the north of where we're looking right now, but it was a Fredericksburg shooting. Ken Bridges, a man from Philadelphia, who was shot at that Exxon station. And that also was I-95, we saw the dragnet -- we saw them shut down the highway. That was the first time we really saw them act first and then figure out through ballistics testing whether or not it was related, and indeed it was, and two things have been consistent in that. It was related, and the sniper got away.

COOPER: Well, the live picture you're looking at right now from affiliate WTVR, you'll notice two things. One, on the left side of the screen traffic just moving a little bit there. On the right side, the other side of the highway, traffic has been at a standstill behind that -- or, rather, in front of that car that's in the foreground of the shot. All those red lights indicating people are just stopped on the highway. Police sealing off the area. You can see just above the search light of a helicopter as it trains its light down on the area. Again, this area, and perhaps significantly, perhaps not, this is a restaurant very close to I-95, right on Route 54. And Daryn, as you mentioned, I-95 has played a significant role in many of these shootings.

KAGAN: Yeah, it has, and we've seen other shootings taking place along I-95. Notice -- I'm just reminded, Anderson, of thinking back to before the Home Depot shooting, which was on Monday night. That was in Fairfax County, and that's a county that's very close to Washington, D.C. And I just know in talking to some friends there and some officials at the time, they were thinking, oh, not happening in our county. This is somebody who is focusing either farther south or in counties in Maryland. Well, they found out it could indeed happen in their county, and in light of that, other counties in Virginia, and our Jeanne Meserve reported this later in the week, she reported that other counties in Virginia got together trying to come up with some kind of proactive plan, none of the counties wanting to be thinking that couldn't happen here, and they wanted a proactive plan of what could happen, how could you deter the sniper, if that's possible, and indeed if it did happen, what to do in the event of that attack.

COOPER: And yet you wonder at this hour if this is indeed the work of the sniper, the fact that this is out so far out of the range of previous attacks, whether that will really throw a wrench into the police plan. I mean, how able are the police to cordon off an area which is beyond the area the sniper previously worked in?

KAGAN: Well, just very quickly, when this was just breaking, I called up a map on the Internet. It's not the most detailed map, but it didn't seem to me that it had as many getaway routes as, let's just say, the one we saw in Falls Church on Monday night, where there were so many roads in and out of that shopping center. You know, if you give the sniper two choices, north or south on I-95, not the best choice, especially if you're going to get stuck in a dragnet like this, but of course, up to this point, he has proven that he's been able to outsmart police when it comes to getting away.

COOPER: Daryn, we are joined right now by Casey Jordan, CNN criminologist, who's on the phone with us. Casey, are you there? Casey Jordan, can you hear me? OK, we're going to try and get back in contact with Casey, as soon as we can, she's a criminologist. We were just talking to her in the previous hour about the fact that there has been a lull in these shootings for five days now. It began 17 days ago, October 2, but five days of relative quiet. Obviously, a lot of work behind the scenes, a lot of police investigation, but if this is, in fact, the work of the sniper, that lull has been broken tonight, and we are awaiting to see whether or not this is, in fact, the work of the sniper.

KAGAN: Yes, and as you were pointing out, as we were both pointing out, police have not taken any chances in trying to clamp down on that area. Looks like on of our affiliate reporters popping up there. In any case, one thing that does not match up -- a Ponderosa Steak House does not sound like we're talking about a gas station...

COOPER: Daryn...

KAGAN: Go ahead.

COOPER: I'm sorry to interrupt you, but we have on the phone now a man by the name of Raymond Loving, who my understanding, is the man who made the 911 call. Mr. Loving, are you there?


COOPER: Is it Loving? Is that your last name?

LOVING: L-o-v-i-n-g.

COOPER: All right, Mr. Loving, what did you see?

LOVING: To be perfectly honest with you, a lady came into my store at approximately 8:30, told me that someone has been shot, wanted me to dial 911, so I did.

COOPER: What sort of a store do you have, Mr. Loving?

LOVING: It's a Texaco gas station.

COOPER: And is it close to the Ponderosa restaurant?

LOVING: Yes, sir, it's not too far away, approximately anywhere from 50 to 100 yards.

COOPER: And this is Route 54 we're talking about?

LOVING: Yes, sir.

COOPER: OK. So the lady came in and what did she say to you? She said someone's been shot?

LOVING: She said someone's been shot, asked me to dial 911, so I did.

COOPER: And then what happened?

LOVING: The police responded, and they pretty much closed down the access to the interstate.

COOPER: Now, have you remained at your Texaco station for this time?

LOVING: Yes, sir, I have. Walked out a couple of times to pump some gas for someone, because they were afraid to stand outside themselves.

COOPER: Yes, understandably. Do you know if the person was shot inside the Ponderosa restaurant, if they were shot in the parking lot? Do you know anything on that?

LOVING: From what I understand, it happened outside in the parking lot. COOPER: OK. And you understand that based on what other people have said to you or on what you have seen yourself?

LOVING: Yes, sir, from what I was informed by someone else.

COOPER: I see. The woman who came in to tell you of the shooting, had she actually witnessed it, or was she at the restaurant?

LOVING: She was at the parking lot, but she didn't see anything. She just heard a loud boom.

COOPER: OK. When she told you this, what went through your mind?

LOVING: To be perfectly honest, I didn't jump to any conclusions. I just took the facts and just dealt with that.

COOPER: Mr. Loving, we are joined by Daryn Kagan, who is standing by in Montgomery County, Maryland. Daryn, do you have any questions for Mr. Loving?

KAGAN: Yeah, a couple of questions for you, Mr. Loving. First of all, what can you tell us about Ashland, Virginia? How far south are you from Washington, D.C. and what kind of a community is it?

LOVING: We are approximately 90 miles from D.C. It's just a small suburban area. Nothing special to it. All (ph) community.

KAGAN: Suburban to what -- Richmond? Or do people commute to another area?

LOVING: People commute to Richmond, people commit to Fredericksburg. And some other areas.

KAGAN: I know from having been here -- sorry, Anderson, I just want to ask him one more question. I know from having been here over the last week in the Washington, D.C. area...

COOPER: Daryn, I'm sorry to interrupt. We are going to go now to WTVR, the affiliate -- I'm told to go (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... on the way up, I was getting passed by police cars, sirens blaring, going past me at good rates of speed. They were crossing the overpass, as you can see them. It's the biggest police presence I've ever seen in this area.

From what I saw, Rick (ph), it was Hanover County sheriff's deputies, and also Henrico County police. Didn't see any state policemen.

That's correct, Rick (ph).

That's pretty much all we have. All we can do is confirm there has been one person shot at the Ponderosa Steak House, either in the parking lot or inside, we're not sure of. They're not telling us.

COOPER: We are joined on the phone by -- Mr. Loving, are you still there?

LOVING: Yes, sir. I am.

COOPER: Thank you very much for staying with us. And Daryn Kagan, are you there?

KAGAN: Yeah.

COOPER: OK. Go ahead.

KAGAN: Can I go ahead and ask my question?


KAGAN: I was just going to ask him in terms of what the mood has been in Ashland and in Hanover County. I know in the counties surrounding Washington, D.C., a lot of fear over the recent weeks, but I wonder if that fear spread as far south as Hanover County?

LOVING: Not really. I mean, people have been aware, but I can't say that people have been afraid. We've been just dealing with life and living our lives. We -- I wouldn't say we haven't worried about it. We have worried about it, but we haven't been afraid.

KAGAN: Did the person who came in and told you that somebody has been shot, did they mention if it was a man or a woman or say anything about the victim?

LOVING: She heard someone scream that it was -- a man had been shot. That's all I know. Screamed that it was a man. I don't know if that's true or not. I don't know too much at all, really.

COOPER: Mr. Loving, how quickly did the police respond to your call?

LOVING: No sooner I dialed the phone, and told someone that someone had reported a shooting to me, I heard sirens within three seconds.

COOPER: Did you have the sense that they have received other 911 calls?

LOVING: If they have, I don't know for a fact.

COOPER: And at any time, did you leave your Texaco -- did you step outside your Texaco station and look over toward the Ponderosa, and if so, what did you see?

LOVING: I did step outside at one time to pump gas for someone that was afraid to pump themselves, and I've seen police cars everywhere. Everywhere you looked, there was a blue light.

KAGAN: One thing you said, this was about 8:30 this evening, 8:30 this evening, Mr. Loving?

LOVING: Approximately, yes, ma'am. KAGAN: So we're talking about an hour and a half already of difference of time from where the shooting would have taken place to the scenes we're looking at right now on CNN?

LOVING: Yes, ma'am.

KAGAN: Anderson, one thing that that local news reporter said that I thought was interesting that I think will be really telling if indeed we are dealing with the sniper here. He said it was unclear whether or not the shooting had taken place in the parking lot or inside the restaurant.

COOPER: Right, and Mr. Loving, the Texaco, the man at the Texaco station, one of the people who called 911, said that he believed from what he had heard and from what the people there had said to him was that the shooting had occurred in the parking lot, though of course that is unconfirmed at this time.

Mr. Loving, as you look outside your Texaco window now, what do you see? In the picture we're looking at, we see traffic stopped, and, you know, a lot of flashing lights and police helicopters overhead. What do you see?

LOVING: The exact same thing, actually. I see blue lights everywhere and I hear helicopters everywhere.

COOPER: All right. Well, obviously, for viewers who are just joining us, what we know at this moment that there has been shooting at a Ponderosa restaurant in Ashland, Virginia. It's a suburb of Richmond, about 90 miles, I believe Mr. Loving said, from south of Washington, D.C. We do not yet know any word on casualties. Nothing has been confirmed. Police have not confirmed or not saying if this is the work of the sniper. They have sealed off areas around Route 54, areas around I-95. This is a restaurant very close to I-95, on Route 54 in Hanover County in Virginia, and this is a story that we're obviously following as it happens.

KAGAN: Anderson, I guess one word that we're also getting from Montgomery County Police, which of course is the lead agency in this task force, this investigation, is the word they heard is that the shooting did take place in the parking lot and not inside the building. And once again, it could be that we're looking at the next act of the sniper, of this elusive sniper, but it's also very probable and very possible that we could just be looking at some kind of dispute that took place in the parking lot outside the steak restaurant in Ashland, Virginia.

COOPER: Absolutely, and as you pointed out, just a few moments ago, you know, there have been a number of you want to call them normal killings or regular killings, but non-sniper related killings, and those, you know, they don't get reported in these days when everyone is on edge about the sniper.

We're also joined, Daryn, by Casey Jordan. We tried to get her before. I believe she's joining us on the phone. Casey, can you hear me? CASEY JORDAN, CNN CRIMINOLOGIST: Yes, I can, Anderson.

COOPER: Great. Casey is a CNN criminologist we've been talking to a lot over the last couple of weeks. You know, Casey, we have been talking a lot about this lull, and again, we do not know if this is the work of the sniper tonight. But there has been a lull of five days. How significant is that, and if it is been broken, how significant is the fact that it has been broken?

JORDAN: Anderson, we don't want to make too much of this at this juncture, but we've been saying all along that whatever is motivating this particular shooter, he seems to up the ante every time.

We've been talking with kind of guarded confidence for the past two and a half weeks that this shooter takes weekends off. Perhaps in response to that, he is making (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on a weekend, to point out that we should not be assuming anything about him.

COOPER: Daryn, if you have any questions, feel free to jump in any time.

KAGAN: Yeah, maybe just, Casey, Anderson and I were kind of racking our brains on this, and again, doing this very cautiously, but anything about this shooting that we know about that would seem to fall into the pattern and things that seem at this point to really not fit at all, besides the weekend factor?

JORDAN: Well, something we've also been discussing this week that the lull could have been caused by the tremendous, notable, well publicized step-up in police activity. Increase of surveillance, the entrance of the Pentagon technology, and that could have contributed to the cooling off period, and it also could have contributed to what we call displacement of the crime. I understand this reported shooting is about 70 miles south of D.C., and I have been wondering if the shootings continued, and if indeed this is the work of the same sniper, I have predicted that it would continue to work geographically south, because in direct response to increased police activity.

So that, again, we have to be careful, we don't know for sure this is the work of the same sniper, but it would fit with the logic and rationalization of this shooter.

COOPER: And that logic being, basically, go where the police are not?

JORDAN: Exactly. Get out of their perimeter. Wherever you have been, they are, so pick a new location. Obviously he's going to go further out. If you think of Washington as an epicenter and rings surrounding it as kind of the ripples, like a pond thrown in a puddle, he's going to go out to the outer rings at this point to avoid police surveillance.

KAGAN: On the other hand, just to offer a counterpoint to that, if you look at the shooting that took place in Fredericksburg, at the Exxon station, that was done with a state trooper very close by. The shooting at Tasker Middle School almost two weeks ago, that was done with the police presence close by. But to actually support your argument, Casey, the point about almost like as a dare, OK, you want to do this, I'm going to go do the next thing. Go ahead.


COOPER: I think we've lost Casey.


COOPER: Casey, are you still there? Yes, I think we just lost her.


COOPER: We have Jeanne Meserve on the line, I believe, who...

KAGAN: Great.

COOPER: ...I'm told may have some new information about this possible sniper shooting in Ashland, Virginia.

Jeanne, are you there?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I am. I've just had a conversation with a knowledgeable official in the state of Virginia, who tells me that there was a man in the parking lot of a Ponderosa Steakhouse at the corner of Route 1 and 54. A shot rang out. He went down. I'm told there is -- there was no altercation in the parking lot that preceded this and that this man has been taken to the hospital. I am told he is in relatively stable condition.

State officials still do not know if there is any connection between the shooting tonight in Ashland and the other sniper slayings. They do note that this is an area very close to Interstate 95, but it also is, they say, a rough area.

The police chiefs in the metro Richmond area met a week ago Wednesday. That would have been October 9 and had a discussion about what they would do if there was an incident of this sort in their area. They developed contingency plans. That is being put in play tonight. And that is why you see the quick closing of roadways. And I'm told that routes 1, 54 and 95 are all being shut down.

And that's the information I have. Again, no word yet on whether this is connected with the other sniper shootings. And no further information on this man's condition.

Back to you.

COOPER: But you say what you do know is that he is in relatively stable condition?

MESERVE: That's what I'm told by the state official, yes.

KAGAN: Jeanne, I -- it's Daryn Kagan here. I just wanted to ask you another question. This -- I was mentioning some of your reportings later in the week. And I think this is what you were touching on, this meeting of these officials not wanting to be caught like Fairfax County after the shooting outside the Home Depot.

MESERVE: That's right. That's right. I had been told earlier in the week that some of the other officials in the greater Washington area had done this, police departments had done a lot of planning, a lot of determination of how they would position their personnel so that if there was an incident, they would be able to quickly dispatch them to the scene in a very efficient manner. So there would be absolutely no delay in closing roads and things of that sort.

There wouldn't be any time lost with people reporting to a central location and then having to be sent out to specific assignments.

Apparently the police chiefs down in the Richmond area, according to the state official, went through the same sort of exercise, came up with this plan. And that's what you're seeing tonight.

COOPER: Jeanne, based on...

KAGAN: And this...

COOPER: I'm sorry, go ahead, Daryn.

KAGAN: Go ahead, Anderson. Well, I was just going to say that what we're seeing here looks very much about some of the activity that we saw in -- actually in the Washington, D.C. and Montgomery County area last weekend, shootings that proved not to be part of any kind of sniper related action.

But Jeanne and I -- I was telling people about this before you can on with us. The assumption is act now, figure it out later.

MESERVE: Absolutely.

KAGAN: Is how they're -- yes.

MESERVE: Absolutely. Any shooting that takes place, unless they can immediately rule it out, for instance if they know it's part of a robbery or something of that sort, of they know it's a domestic disturbance, the assumption is this could be another one. And they're deploying as if it was.

Obviously, time is of the essence in this investigation. We've learned over and over again the quicker they get there, the more apt they are to see something that's important. They can hold witnesses in place. They can secure the crime scene. And a large one at that if they need to, to start looking for evidence.

So speed is something they definitely have been working to develop. They have tried to get these reflexes all toned up, so they can respond very quickly.

COOPER: And what exactly does that response entail? I mean, based on what you know about past investigations, what are we talking about here? I mean, we've seen pictures. Right now, we're seeing a picture of the helicopter turning a searchlight down on the area. We've seen traffic stopped. What do you think police are doing right now? Or what have they been doing in the past?

MESERVE: I can only speculate as to that. I have not been myself on any of these crime scenes to see exactly how it plays out, but I know they have been bringing in forensic teams very quickly to go over the scene. In several instances, they brought in teams of cadets, people in training to be police officers and have them go criss-cross an area, doing a grid search looking for anything that might potentially be relevant.

We also know they have been dispatching dogs. And they are using dogs at these scenes to try and do some tracking. So those are some of the things that go on. And of course, they try to keep the witnesses there. As we've learned in the past week, witnesses are going to be crucial to any break in this case. And they want to be able to keep people in place until they question them.

There's this fear that the people will see something and not realize exactly how important it is. And they want people to stay there and talk to the police. It's only the police who have the big picture, and can figure out how important the little pieces of information just might be.

KAGAN: Yes, Jeanne, you say that, you know, you haven't been on the site if a shooting as it actually took place for minutes afterwards, but you have been following the investigation closer than just about anybody in this town. Besides speed, of the past opportunities that they've had, the 11 chances, what would you say the lessons learned, what they need to do better? What have they learned?

MESERVE: Well, we heard some talk the other day about a lesson learned about the size of the perimeter they've put in place. In Falls Church, apparently based on the information given from -- by the witness, who then turned out not to be credible, they secured a crime scene which in retrospect they decided wasn't large enough. And they went back in subsequent days, and searched more carefully over a much broader area. That is the one lesson that Chief Moose has spelled out in his briefings. He did indicate there had been others, but he did not articulate what those were.

One can imagine that it has something to do with speed and the necessity to get there quickly and to be ready to deploy.

KAGAN: You also were mentioning witnesses. We've learned over just even the last couple days how damaging a bad witness providing purposely bad information can be, but police are really desperate to get some good witnesses.

And it was interesting, the days are blurring now, as I'm sure they are for you, but I think it was Thursday, Wednesday or Thursday that police used their news briefing just to pass out tips of how people can be good witnesses on crimes and to educate people.

MESERVE: That's right, that's right. They urged them to, of course, first get out of the line of fire if they can figure out what that line of fire is, but make them feel safe and then calm down. That was really the critical thing they said, calm down, look at things carefully, don't just look at the victim, look at the surrounding area. Note anything that looks unusual. Imprint this in your mind as best you can. If you have a piece of paper nearby, right it down. Keep track of what you've seen.

Their preference, that people not talk to other witnesses before they talk to the police because this is -- there was this contamination of memory that can take place, where you listen to other people, and then take their impressions. And instead of giving strictly what you've heard, you may incorporate some of what they've heard. And maybe your recollection is better. Maybe you're the better observer. But one of the principle instructions was stay calm.

KAGAN: And I think one of the big things I learned in just listening to that briefing was marking the difference between things that are temporary and things that are permanent.

MESERVE: That's right.

KAGAN: With a car, the make is permanent. The color can be changed, as well as license plate tags.

MESERVE: That's right. And with personal appearance, there are some things that can be changed, like clothing, like hair color, like facial hair. All of those things can change, but the height and weight are likely to stay the same. So yes, pay attention to the permanent things. And I think they'd love even those things that aren't permanent right now. They'd love any description at all, anything they can get, but they're more interested in those things that cannot be altered.

I know that was -- there were some people that were concerned after that Falls Church shooting. They had a report went out for a cream van with a left tail light that was burnt out. In the end, that turned out to be bogus information, but the feeling was gee, if you let people know you're looking for a van with a burnt out tail light, then someone can go change the tail light. And that's no longer a relevant and useful piece of information.

KAGAN: Not at all. Hey, for our viewers that are joining us, because I'm sure people will be tuning in as word of this spreads, let's go back to the beginning. And Jeanne, if you could recap what we know about this shooting, not that far away from I-95 in Ashland, Virginia, Hanover County, please?

MESERVE: Yes, this information coming...

COOPER: I think we've lost Jeanne.

KAGAN: All right, I think we did lose Jeanne. I'll pick this one up, Anderson and tell what people what we know. And that is this is a shooting that took place about 8:30 p.m. Eastern in Ashland, Virginia. It's Hanover County close to route 54. It's very close to I-95. This area of Ashland, Virginia is 90 miles south of Washington, D.C., a few miles south past Fredericksburg, which is the most southern point that we've seen. Now of course, it is very -- it's way too early to know if this is a sniper related crime, but what we're watching, and the pictures you're seeing on this screen is the new response, the sniper alert response, that counties all over Virginia have adopted, and those around Richmond and also Washington, D.C.

And the basic theory is act first, try to shut down highways and roads, and figure out later whether or not the sniper has hit again. And we're getting word that one man was shot outside of a Ponderosa Steakhouse in Ashland, Virginia. He has been taken to the hospital and he's in relatively stable condition -- Anderson.

COOPER: Daryn, also Jeanne Meserve, who reported that a source has told her that a man was shot, also and importantly said that there was apparently no altercation in the parking lot in advance of the shootings, that these shots seem to come out of nowhere.

We also heard from a Mr. Loving, who runs a Texaco station very close to that Ponderosa. He made one of the 911 calls. He said approximately 8:30 p.m. Eastern time, a lady came into the Texaco, said someone had been shot in the parking -- at Ponderosa. He called 911, and he said it seemed to him almost instantaneously that the police were on the scene. The indication perhaps being other 911 calls had been received as well.

As we know, this area has been closed down by police. The area around Ashland, around route 54, also on I-95. There are helicopters on the scene, patrolling. The traffic has come to a standstill. We are seeing some live pictures, just a few moments ago from our affiliate there. Not much traffic moving at all. Those cars have been there really since we began reporting this about 20, 30 minutes ago -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Well, we've also been able to confirm one more bit of information, be able to confirm that members of the sniper task force, made up of the different jurisdictions here in the Washington, D.C. area, there are members of the task force that are headed down to Ashland, Virginia, to check out the situation for themselves.

We're dealing with the -- we're dealing with a number of agencies here. You have six different police departments. You have the FBI, you have different federal agents. And you also have ATF. And you have state officials in both Virginia and Maryland. They all have representatives on this task force. And together, they say they're doing this by committee, trying to figure out who's been doing these shootings.

And the members of that task force indeed headed down to Ashland, Virginias we speak.

COOPER: Daryn, I'm sorry to interrupt. Gary Tuchman is on the phone. He's been following this story.

Gary, where are you and what do you know? GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we're in the midst of a 90 mile drive from Washington to Ashland. And what's notable about this drive are two things. You were just talking about members of the sniper task force making their way down to Ashland. We've actually been seeing them zoom by us in the left lane of Interstate 95 at speeds upwards of 100 miles per hour under covered vehicles with flashing lights.

Another notable thing, in the other direction, in 95 north heading back towards Washington, about 60 miles away from the scene of this incident, there's a blockade on the road, a massive traffic jam as police cars stop vehicles that are on the road, checking them out.

So that's 60 miles away from the scene. The thinking, presumably, I would think, it happened about an hour after the incident when they set up the blockade and if it got away and headed north, perhaps they would think that's where they could have been at that time.

So we see a blockade of traffic on 95 north, 60 miles from the scene. And people zooming by us, southbound, heading towards the scene -- Anderson.

COOPER: How is traffic heading on I-95 south? Are you able to make progress?

TUCHMAN: Right now, about 20 miles away from Ashland in the traffic is still moving. And that's why these police vehicles are able to go 100 miles per hour, and perhaps that's why it's still open, heading in this direction because they know the authorities are making their way down there.

COOPER: And any -- have you heard any more about, you know, what time this shooting may have occurred? The earliest report we have is around 8:30, one of the men who runs a Texaco station right by the restaurant said that's around the time he got the request to call 911.

TUCHMAN: Virginia police officials tell us it happened at 8:46 p.m. That's when they got the initial reports. And that's liable to change because this was a very initial information which we heard minutes after it happened, before hearing 8:46.

One thing I want to point out, obviously, do not know yet that this is related to all the sniper shootings. But if it is, and that's an important point, if it is, it's the first one that's happened in a different metropolitan area. This is metropolitan Richmond, Virginia, where this happened. Fredericksburg was the furthest south before this. And that is kind of halfway between Washington and Richmond, but still considered part of the Washington area. So this would be a whole different metropolitan area.

COOPER: Well, it would also -- if again, and we use that word "if" it is the sniper, it would be the first time that there has been a shooting on a weekend.

TUCHMAN: And that's a good point. And I think that's something we have to be very careful with, Anderson. We've had a lot of people on our air, and lots of other networks and local stations air, speculate maybe he has a weekend job. Maybe he's with his family. It's so important not to speculate. We don't know what the heck this person or persons is doing. So to speculate on why he or they have not struck on a weekend is pretty irresponsible. We don't know why crazy people do what they do.

COOPER: And we do not want to speculate whether or not this is the work of the sniper tonight. At this moment, at 10:14, we do not know. Police are certainly acting as if it is. They have cordoned off a large area, very tough in reporting that around 60 miles away, heading north on I-95, there's traffic backed up, that they have put up some sort of a roadblock.

We have seen police helicopter in the area, training a searchlight down on the highways. Police reacting very quickly. And Gary Tuchman reporting he has seen members of the sniper task force driving at very high speeds toward the area. This is an area about 70 to 80 miles south of Washington, D.C. a suburb of Richmond, Virginia, Ashland, Virginia.

Daryn, I want to bring you back in again.

KAGAN: Yes. Yes. Anderson, I think Gary, and you both make very good point in talking about the big if. We certainly do not know, but yet again, we have not seen the sniper strike on a Saturday night. It has been five days since the last time we saw the sniper strike. And that was on Monday, the shooting in Falls Church, Virginia, just outside the Home Deport store.

But even though we don't know if this was the work of the sniper, what we are seeing, and these pictures are seeing, and that I'm just struck by, is this is an indication of how life has changed in this area, in Virginia and Washington, D.C. just since the beginning of this month.

This is the kind of reaction when you get report of a shooting in a small Virginia city. And to me, that's significant indeed.

COOPER: Daryn, I'm told we are joined now on the phone. We have a woman, Jeannie Boylan, who has a lot of -- is joining us from Tucson. She has a lot of experience with witnesses, and their reliability. We actually had already planned to have her as a guest in this 10:00 hour. So we are happy that she joins us.

Now Jeannie, can you hear me? She is not yet available, so we're going to stay with Daryn Kagan and myself and Gary Tuchman.


COOPER: Gary, about where are you now? Are you still there? Are you still en route to the scene?

TUCHMAN: We're still en route to the scene. And the traffic is still moving very well. We anticipate if the traffic keeps moving, we'd probably be there about 20 minutes or so. COOPER: And as you look north, over to north on I-95, is the traffic all backed up there?

TUCHMAN: Well, that's what's interesting. Here, it's not backed up at al. It's about 30 miles behind me, about 50 miles from the scene where it was backed up for about three or four miles with cars being pulled over by members of the police.

That was interesting and notable that it was so far from the scene selected area.

COOPER: And have you seen any roadblocks since that roadblock 30 miles past?

TUCHMAN: We haven't seen any roadblocks, but we have seen a smattering of police cars with their flashing lights on, sitting on the shoulders of the road, perhaps awaiting orders. Either way, they're sitting there waiting for something.

COOPER: And what do you plan to do as soon as you get to the scene? I mean, what...

TUCHMAN: Well, we're hoping to question any possible witnesses who were on the scene. We're hoping to talk to authorities who might be on the scene. They have set up a media staging area for us to be at when we get there, but obviously, Daryn was just pointing this out, things have changed so much in this region of the country.

I was just listening to a local radio announcer talking about the World Series game tonight. And he goes and that's happening really far away. And he didn't just mean geographically. He meant in a spiritual sense, how life perhaps in California right now is a lot more carefree than life is in the region of the nation's capital.

COOPER: Daryn, does it feel that way to you? I mean, you've been there following this story, really since the beginning.

TUCHMAN: Yes, it's pitiful. It's very...

KAGAN: Yes, it's definitely...

TUCHMAN: Oh, I'm sorry. Go ahead, Daryn, I'm sorry.

KAGAN: Well, I was just going to say, I was talking to some friends in Atlanta today. And they were going out. Their son was going to go play in a soccer game. I said well enjoy that because if you were living here in the Washington, D.C. area chances are your kids wouldn't be doing that today. Life has definitely changed for now in this area.

Can I tell you one thing that you will see happen, just from covering this story, just a jurisdictional kind of thing. No matter what the case is here in Virginia and Ashland, Virginia and Hanover County, you will see when the news conference happens, it'll come over Hanover -- it'll come from Hanover County. They have been very particular, even though the lead agency is Montgomery County, right where I'm sitting, they've been very specific that when something happens in a different county, they allow that police department to come out and give the news, whether this is a match or this isn't a match.

Chief Moose saying that it's very important, he feels, that the people of a certain jurisdiction and a certain area feel that their police are involved, and that they be the one to give the news of exactly what is happening in that community.

So the news about what is happening in Ashland, Virginia will come out of Ashland first. And then, you'll see a news conference there for Montgomery County.

COOPER: Well, that raises an interesting point. And Daryn, I want to ask you, and also Gary has been following this investigation, how are all these agencies working together? I mean, this must be a nightmare in terms of logistics. You have different, you know, municipalities, different government agencies, federal, state, local. How is it going from what you can tell?


KAGAN: Well, that's a big...

COOPER: Daryn, go ahead.

KAGAN: I'm sorry, do we have someone on the line with us?

COOPER: No, no, Daryn, go ahead.

KAGAN: OK. I was going to say, I mean, that's the big question. And this is being done of course behind closed doors. Chief Moose has been very clear that he is not too thrilled with the idea of giving too much information either about exactly what they have or how they function behind closed doors to the media, saying it's more important.

In fact, he came out and specifically said, please, we need our privacy. But Anderson, you do have to wonder, 17 days into this, six different police jurisdictions, as I was mentioning, state officials from Maryland and Virginia and Washington, D.C. And then you have federal agents, like ATF and FBI. You have to wonder behind closed doors how this is all being processed, and how this is all going.

They say they're doing it by committee. That's their explanation. We're doing it by committee.

COOPER: Well, it'll be interesting to see once, you know, this is solved and hopefully as soon as possible, you know, to get the accounts from behind the scenes of really how it has been -- how the investigation has been going on.

Casey Jordan is still on the line with us. She's a CNN criminologist.

Casey, if -- and again, Daryn and I have all night long have been using that word if very strongly, if this the work of the sniper and we at this moment we do not know whether or not it is, how surprising is it? It occurred -- you know, it's a Saturday night. It's out of the area that the other shootings have occurred in. What about this, if anything, surprises you?

JORDAN: Well, not quite surprising to realize that it's consistent with all of the other catch us off guard shootings that have been perpetrated.

It is the longest lull. We probably did put our guard down a bit. In terms of thinking well, you know, he's never struck on weekends. And it has been five days. And perhaps he'll have a cooling off period of several weeks to several months. Or maybe he'll just pack up and give up entirely because of the increased police presence.

The fact that he moved south shows, assuming once again if this is the sniper, that would be consistent with displacement again. It would be a direct response to the police increase of their surveillance. He may insist that he is God, that he is not idiotic enough to stay around where he might get caught.

KAGAN: Anderson, let me just jump in here real quickly because we are getting a little bit more information. This is coming from the Associated Press. They have more information now on the victim of the shooting, saying that it is a 37-year old man and that he was shot, and that he currently is undergoing surgery.

Once again, even though we know that we can report a shooting in Ashland, Virginia, we have to keep stressing that it's unclear at this point, despite the police presence that we're showing you with these live pictures from Hanover County, unclear at this point if this is just random shooting or if it is indeed related to the sniper.

COOPER: Daryn, somebody was talking in my ear. What was it -- what was the new information you had about the victim?

KAGAN: That it's a 37-year old man who was shot. So we know that it's a man. We know that he's 37-years old, and that he already is undergoing surgery right now in Ashland, Virginia.

COOPER: OK, that's interesting. Jeanne Meserve earlier had reported that according to her contact, that the person is in relatively stable condition. So again, all these reports, you know, as they always do in a situation like this, coming in, in drips and drabs.


COOPER: Trying to sort them out. What we do know, and again just to recap at 10:22, a shooting at a Ponderosa in Ashland, Virginia. It's in Hanover County. It's about 70 to 80 miles south of Washington, D.C. A man, 37-years old apparently, shot in the parking lot of the Ponderosa. This is from early reports.

And again, none of this is confirmed, but this is what we have at this moment. The man is in relatively stable condition. Daryn Kagan just reporting he's already undergoing some form of surgery. And police have shut down a large swatch of area around route 54, I-95, even as far away as some 60 miles, according to Gary Tuchman, who is on route to the scene right now. There's a roadblock on -- north on I-95. Helicopters in the area. Police taking this very, very seriously.

KAGAN: Yes, well, and that wide roadblock would make sense if you look at the timing here. We're getting...

COOPER: Are -- sorry, go ahead, Daryn.

KAGAN: Go ahead.

COOPER: We're joined on the phone actually I'm sorry to interrupt you, Daryn...

KAGAN: Go ahead, go ahead.

COOPER: Art Harris is on the phone right now. He apparently has some new information. Art, are you there?

ART HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm here. What we have is the victim is a 37-year old white male who is in surgery at this very moment at a nearby trauma center. We get this from the Hanover County Sheriff's Department. They confirm that he was hit with a single gunshot wound. They won't say exactly where, what part -- whether it's to the body or to the head. They will get back to us within the hour, they promise, but that he's in surgery right now, a 37-year old white male, single gunshot wound to the head, shot earlier this evening in the parking lot of the Ponderosa restaurant in Ashland, Virginia.

COOPER: Art, do we have anything on what time the shooting occurred?

HARRIS: About an hour and a half ago is what I have from the sheriff's department. You may have a better time from folks on the scene, but they don't know anything more at the moment. They wouldn't give us the name of the trauma center, but he's in surgery at the moment. And I think Jeanne Meserve is reporting that he was in stable condition.

COOPER: That's right. She reported that earlier. She was actually very early on reporting there was a man who was a hit. Apparently significantly, there was no altercation before the shooting occurred in the parking lot. And as Art Harris just said, a single gunshot wound. We do not know where that wound was on the person's body.

And Daryn, you know, I guess the earliest report right now we have is that it was at 8:46 p.m. That's the time I believe Gary Tuchman said this shooting may have occurred?

KAGAN: Yes, and I think that gas station owner we were talking to was saying around 8:30. So clearly we're talking between the 8:30 and 9:00 Eastern time timeframe, as we were talking about the shooting taking place, which brings to mind interesting point. And if -- is Gary still on the phone with us? Gary Tuchman?

All right, perhaps not. But Gary was talking about the roadblocks that seem to be so far away. This to me seems like an expansion perhaps of a lesson learned of trying to shut down a bigger area, thinking that this is a person who goes ahead and again, if this is a situation with the sniper. But this is a person who stakes out his area first and figures out his get away.

If he can get away, and within an hour, hour and a half time, be 50, 60 miles away, that's why police are stopping cars so far away on I-95.

COOPER: Also, we should point out that, you know, I mean, the most concrete if you can say concrete information that we have, are those composites that released last weekend. The white box truck, the van would be an Astro van. And we can only surmise that if in fact this is the work of the sniper tonight, that that would be high on the list of what police are looking for.

KAGAN: It could be, but don't forget we're talking about a number of different vehicles. There's -- as you said, the white box truck, the Chevy Astro van, the Ford econo van. There's some people who think that this is a person or people who have access to some kind of fleet of vehicles. And police all along have been kind of walking this tightrope. They want people to be aware and looking for these vehicles, but they don't want people to shut off their mind. And if they see something else significant, to not report that into police and not think that that's something that police need to know about.

COOPER: Daryn, we're joined by Kelly McCann, CNN security analyst just who's following this situation as closely as we are. Kelly, at this point, anything really stand out to you?

MCCANN: Just what's been spoken about before with a cautionary note, of course, that you know, we don't know yet in fact whether it is or isn't, but it's got the earmarks of it.

COOPER: And you say that because single gunshot wound, no altercation apparently before the shooting occurred?

MCCANN: Exactly. And no real signature post shooting. In other words, there was no screeching of tires. There was nothing to indicate, you know, a heated argument that maybe even went car to car or anything like that. Pretty significant tells.

KAGAN: And one more point, Kelly, even though this wouldn't fit into the weak -- the day of the week pattern, this being a weekend, and if indeed this was the sniper, this would be the first time the sniper would hit on weekend night, but it does fit into the timeframe.

MCCANN: Absolutely.

KAGAN: In terms of time of day.

MCCANN: Absolutely, Daryn. And remember, of course, we have -- we've seen a lull. And he hadn't gone into a neutral period, if you will. So that in itself was different.

And what we've talked about today was that that may have signified a change in the situation, in his normal state, which of course could be the induction of the R&S planes, you know the overwatch planes. It could be more heavy coverage in the area, as Casey Jordan said.

So the period where he went into a lull might have signified that he needed to go somewhere else. And maybe in fact that's what he's done.

COOPER: Daryn, I should just point out that, you know, obviously CNN is covering this story with a lot of people out in the field. You are in Montgomery County, Maryland. We have Art Harris. We're...

HARRIS: I'm here. I'm here.

COOPER: ...joined by Kelly McCann. And we're joined now by Gary Tuchman, who is en route to the scene.

Gary, I understand you have some new information?

TUCHMAN: Anderson, two things I want to point out. Virginia state police are saying that a witness reported seeing a white van with a ladder on the back of it after this shooting occurred, which is a description that's been given also after other shootings.

Also, I wanted to mention to you, we were talking about the blockade we saw in I-95 north, 60 miles north of the site. We now just saw another blockade as we crossed into Caroline County, Virginia, about 17 miles from the site, there's another blockade on the road now. What police have done, they've put like seven or eight cars kind of perpendicular on the highway. And they set up lanes of cones. And they're stopping each car and truck one at a time and talking to the drivers as they go by.

COOPER: So if confirmed, that is very significant. And just say it again, Gary, a witness says that they saw a white van?

TUCHMAN: Right, now you know, you can't (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

COOPER: Daryn, you might want to jump in. Obviously we...

KAGAN: Yes, I'll jump in here. Yes, we lost him. I mean, Gary was reporting that a witness says that they saw a white van. I got to tell you, I don't know if it's just here in the Maryland and Washington, D.C. and Virginia area. I challenge you to go on the road and not see a white van with a ladder. And I don't say it facetiously...


KAGAN:'s -- our eyes have been opened to seeing there are a lot -- there happen to be a lot of white vans with ladder racks on top. And it's entirely possible that one was in the area when the shooting took place. And it could still not be related to the sniper situation.

COOPER: Well we're hoping in a little while to bring in Jeannie Boylan, who is an expert with witnesses, and to just talk about that, about the reliability of eye witness accounts, and how difficult it is, and how those accounts can change over time, and how they can be influenced. So that's something we'll probably come to in a little while.

Just again, bringing viewers up to date in what we know at 10:30, a shooting in Ponderosa restaurant. A man, we know, was hit. We do not know where he was hit. He's apparently in surgery. Jeanne Meserve reporting from her sources that this man is in relatively stable condition, being cared for at a hospital. Police have shut down a wide range of areas along route 54, I-95. Helicopters outlooking.

And as the picture you're seeing right now, which is a live picture from our affiliate, WTVR, traffic seems to be at a standstill around there. I'm assuming that's route 54. Gary Tuchman is on route I-95. He's heading south. He said traffic is moving, I believe he said about 20 miles an hour. He's also seen at least two roadblocks on I-95 north. One as far as away as 60 miles from the scene in which it's certainly an interesting development in terms of police are widening the search, widening the dragnet for whoever it is that they may be looking for.

Again, we do not know, it has not been confirmed at this time whether or not this is the work of the sniper. But we know one hit to a man in a parking lot at a Ponderosa restaurant.

Daryn? Daryn, what is the scene like where you're at now? I mean, obviously, there must be a lot of activity there as well in Montgomery County?

KAGAN: Anderson, were you talking to me?

COOPER: Daryn, sorry -- no...

KAGAN: Yes, no, I was just getting some new information that -- taking place closer here to Washington, D.C. And we're getting word from Montgomery County police, which is where I am in Rockville, Maryland. They are closing roads near Wisconsin and Western Avenues. That's just north of the District line. And they are doing that in direct relation to this shooting. And they're doing it to search cars. That would be some 70, 80 miles away from where this shooting took place around 8:30, 8:45 this evening, Anderson.

COOPER: Well obviously, you know, we should just point out to any viewers in that region to stay off the highways at this point. There is no point in trying to get on these highways now. Obviously, they'd just be adding to the problem of these -- a lot of backups.

Gary Tuchman reporting traffic coming to a halt in several stretches of I-95. Traffic very slow around I-95 south. And Gary Tuchman is en route to the scene. I think he said he's about 20 miles away right now, and that traffic is still progressing. The picture we're looking at would seem to indicate the whole area is shut down. The traffic -- that truck in the right hand side of your screen has not moved in this -- about the hour that we've been on the air so far.

KAGAN: But...

COOPER: Go ahead, Daryn.

KAGAN: I was going to say that's a good marker. Did you have a particular place you wanted to go, because I wanted to talk about this victim and what we know about him?

COOPER: Absolutely, go ahead.

KAGAN: Well, so far what we know, and this is just to repeat information that comes from our own reporters, and also from Associated Press, but we're talking about a 37-year old white male shot once. As you mentioned earlier, we don't know exactly where, but shot once and currently in surgery for the single gunshot wound.

That is one thing that has been so unnerving about what has taken place in this Washington, D.C., Anderson. And that is not just the randomness of the shootings, but there's no pattern to the victims. We have seen old. In fact, the man who was buried today, Pascal Charlot, he was 72-years old, all the way as young as 13-years old, the boy that was shot at Castro Elementary -- Middle School almost two weeks ago.

So we've seen all different types of ages. We've seen men, we've seen women, and we've seen all different types of races as well. This is cutting across all lines.

COOPER: Which I think has been one of the things, so much early on, which really threw investigators as we all know by now. I mean, often in -- when there are a number of killings, one looks for a pattern in terms of who the victims are. Is there a particular group that the killer or killers is targeting?

And in this case, as you mentioned, it cuts across all lines.

KAGAN: Well, because it appears he's not picking a victim, he's picking a place. And whoever's unlucky enough to walk into his crosshairs, that's who he aims for.

COOPER: Should point out the first shooting, which two bullet holes in the windows of a Michael's, I was talking to Eric Haney a little bit before, one of the founding members of Delta force. And he was saying that he's looked at the scene. And he thought that it was a shot that they were leading someone who was walking, that he believed the shooter or shooters were aiming at someone who was walking. And that person may not have realized it at the time, but they perhaps know some information. And police would certainly like them to come forward.

Again, one of the many theories, as you know, that is out there. We've heard from an awful lot of different people over the last two weeks or so with a whole lot of different theories.

KAGAN: We certainly have. But you know he was particularly interesting from, Anderson, because he has been out here. I don't know that he made it to the Home Deport shooting site, but he has made it to every other shooting site. And when you take his training and then his experience of having gone to the places where the shooting took place, I found his comments particularly interesting.

COOPER: Absolutely. And it was very interesting for me to really talk sort of the nuts and bolts about the modus operandi of this person or persons. And when I said to him, you know, point blank, do you think this is more than one person? He said without a doubt. He thinks there are two people involved in this. And he thinks they actually may be trading off, shooting -- one person shooting one time, the other person shooting another time.

Again, this is all theories. We're joined on the phone now by Art Harris, who we are told has some new information.

Art, you're on the air.

HARRIS: Yes, Anderson, just got off with the Hanover Sheriff's Department, Goodman, Lieutenant Doug Goodman is about to update the press in Ashland, Virginia and just told me that the community is shocked because this thing, this kind of thing just does not happen there. It's a very sleepy, peaceful town of 6,000. It's 90 miles south of Washington, D.C., 15 miles north of Richmond. People commute to both places.

And one of the reasons they go to a place like Hanover is to get away from the image of big city crime.

KAGAN: Well, Art, that's a good point. And maybe with that, we could put the map back up and show people again where Ashland, Virginia is. And I think it was Casey Jordan who pointed out that if this is indeed the work of the sniper, what's significant -- would be significant about this, this would be the first outside the metro area for Washington, D.C., and that Ashland is actually a suburban county -- a suburban city to Richmond, Virginia, which is to the south of that, and not necessarily a feeder community or one that considers itself part of the Washington, D.C. metro area.

COOPER: And also, Daryn, it's an interesting point. You mentioned Casey Jordan. She actually said to me earlier that she believes this is in a sense a high -- and again, not talking about this instance tonight, because we do not yet know the exact details of, you know, whether or not this is part of the sniper pattern, but that in the other sniper shootings, that she considers the sniper or snipers a hybrid killer in a way, that they are taking different elements from different sorts of spree killings and serial killings. And they really defy the pattern in a way. And it makes them particularly interesting from a criminologist's point of view.

HARRIS: Anderson, I've covered...

KAGAN: Yes. HARRIS: ...serial killers for a lot of years and went back to Wayne William Atlanta child murders. And often, you have say a sexual predator who has an inner urge. And once that's satisfied, you can, he can think about what he has done for a period of time without striking again.

Of course, spree killers are often considered to rapidly cycle and need that sort of jolt, that reinforcement. And as many profilers will tell you, this does seem to be someone who not -- is not only driven by an inner urge, but it may well be the reacting or responding of what he sees in the media or the police, that sort of thing.

KAGAN: Before we go too far off on the speculation track, I think we should go back and review the facts that we know. And Anderson, I'll do that with the help of you as well. And that is that we know that a shooting, some type of shooting took place...


KAGAN: Ash -- hello?

COOPER: Go ahead, Daryn.

KAGAN: Okay, some type of shooting took place with -- took place in Ashland, Virginia on I-95 in Hanover County, Virginia. That was around 8:30, 8:45 p.m. Eastern this evening. So not that long ago. We're talking less than two hours ago. We're talking an area about 70 miles south of Washington, D.C., not part of the regular metro area, outside the Ponderosa steak house in the parking lot without any kind of altercation or any sign of trouble, a man was suddenly shot in the parking lot.

We know he's a 37-year old man, a single gunshot wound, and he's currently undergoing surgery in Ashland, Virginia. And we also know, and Anderson, if you want to take over from here, the geography part and the significance of I-95 and the proximity to that?

COOPER: Right, well, if you look at a map, and I think we're going to show up a map in just a second, this shooting is far south of well, Washington, about 90 miles, as we've said several times already, south of Spotsylvania where the two -- you know, or the area around Spotsylvania where we're showing two shootings have occurred.

So it's far south of the operational area that the sniper has worked in the past. But the restaurant is very close to I-95. It's right on route 54. And I-95 playing a very significant role in past shootings, as we all know by now. And not surprisingly, police have shut off large swathes of that area around route 54, around I-95.

We were just talking a few moments ago to Gary Tuchman, who's literally driving on I-95 south.

Daryn, I believe you have some new information?

KAGAN: Yes, I do. We're getting this from the Associated Press, Anderson. And they're reporting some more information about the victim. We're learning not only that he's a 37-year old white male, but that he was a traveler. He was passing through Ashland, Virginia, coming out of this steak house, the Ponderosa steak house, had a female companion with him when he was shot walking to his car. And we're also getting word that he was shot actually in his abdomen.

COOPER: Okay, and from Jeanne Meserve, a while ago from a source of hers, we had heard that the person is apparently in relatively stable condition, and they are being operated on.

So Daryn, just repeat that again. The man was with -- had a companion when he was shot?

KAGAN: This is a man traveling through Ashland, Virginia. Apparently stopped at Ponderosa Steak house. You can just surmise to get something to eat, was walking across the parking lot, between 8:30, 8:45 this evening. He had a female companion with him when he was suddenly shot in the abdomen area.

And he now has been transported to a hospital and is undergoing surgery. But we know that it's a single gunshot wound and it's one gunshot wound to the abdomen.

COOPER: Well, it of course is -- sounds very suspicious, sounds like things we've heard before, but at this point, we just do not want to speculate. We do not have...

KAGAN: Absolutely.

COOPER: ...any confirmed information whether or not this is the work of the sniper who we have been following for these 17 days now, since October 2 when these nightmare shootings began.

On the phone, we're joined right now by Jeanne Boylan, who's -- you know, there's an awful lot of our witnesses and the reliability of witness testimony.

Jeanne, are you there?


COOPER: What is the most difficult thing about dealing with witnesses? I mean, why is it so hard to get witnesses who have seen what -- or who know what they've seen?

BOYLAN: Well, the most difficult thing actually is moving beyond the contamination. Typically I arrive when eyewitnesses have been interviewed by a number of different people. And that's often very problematic because the way that they may have bee interviewed might be very sort of inadvertently suggestive.

You know, for instance, to give you a real basic 101 example, you know, was he, you know, over 5 foot 10? Was he -- did he have a mustache? I mean, those kinds of simplistic questions sound innocent enough, but yet what they do is implant visual images in the eyewitnesses memory. So when I arrive at a scene, oftentimes I have to work back through what has actually contaminated that recall to get to what was actually seen.

COOPER: Essentially, you actually call it contamination?

BOYLAN: It is contamination, yes, unfortunately. And there's a lot of emphasis put on how to interview a suspect. But unfortunately, in police training there isn't a lot of emphasis put on how to interview a crime witness or a victim.

COOPER: Also in a shooting like this, I mean, what I've heard in the past is that so many people look to the -- you know, where the shot landed.


COOPER: In the person who was hit not to where the sound came from?

BOYLAN: Yes. Very true. And then when you do have, I want to add this, a very important point, when you have multiple witnesses in a case, so many times when I arrive on a case, and I've been doing this for 2.5 decades, so I've got a bit of experience behind me, I arrive and I find that eyewitnesses have been discounted sometimes even dismissed as not being credible because their descriptions differ.

And what I really want to point out, I'm not saying I'm not being critical of this case at all, but I'm saying that this is an important point, is that oftentimes when I arrive, I look for discrepancies and eyewitness recall, but what that tells me is that you've got truly uncontaminated witnesses.

If you reach a point at which the descriptions are homogenized or they tend to be similar to one another, that typically is a red flag. Everybody perceives things differently. And so, if you have five people that witness the same event, if you isolate them, they're verbiage may be very different than one another. You may have a 65- year old describing a kid, and you may have a 19-year old describing an old man. Well a kid and an old man don't sound like they're alike, but from their vantage points, in fact they're describing the same thing.

So you can't expect the verbiage to be either identical or sometimes even similar. It can be radically different. And yet, you can have five different eyewitnesses as -- using our hypothetical, that are describing in fact the same thing.

KAGAN: Jeanne, Daryn Kagan here in Montgomery County, Maryland. That in mind, the point you just make, it seems like the problem on Monday night at the Home Depot shooting, the descriptions were so different that police couldn't even come up with composite?

BOYLAN: Well, you know, the typical process used to come up with composite is to have eyewitnesses look through a number of different visual aids. You know, they look through catalogs. It's a traditional system that's been used. And they're expected to point out particular or facial characteristics. That's certainly suggestive to begin with. So that system of producing a composite is problematic to begin with.

It's very important to understand the psychology behind a trauma witness in that information is always -- you know, it's typically it's submerged. It's not always at the top of their mind. Or in the conscious memory, sometimes you have to delve a little bit deeper to get what they truly saw, as opposed to what's been suggested that they may have seen.

COOPER: What is this picture on the...

KAGAN: Well, on that point, did you happen to see the list of tips that Montgomery County police in the task force put out earlier this week, trying to teach the general public how to be a better witness?

BOYLAN: I didn't see it, but I heard it as I was waiting for our interview to begin. And I was extremely impressed with it. It's exactly right, and that's what I've been saying for years.

So you've got to look at things that are not subject to change. Clothing is likely to change. Those kinds of things are -- those descriptors are needed immediately, because police are in pursuit, and they have to know what kind of a vehicle, what kind of clothing, etcetera.

But the kinds of things, in terms of, you know, an eyewitness that has opportunity to see a face, really need to be the kinds of things that are not subject to change. You know, facial shape. You know, mustache could be shaven off in 30 minutes. So facial hair, those kinds of things are not especially important descriptors. And they're important superficially.

But the long term, sort of, useful descriptors are going to be things that are less subject to change. And they made some extremely good points.

KAGAN: All right. Well, Jeanne Boylan, thank you so much for your tips on being a good witness, and your perspective on this case. Anderson, you take it from here.

COOPER: Well, Daryn, we have a tape that we're going to play of a report from WRIC that we just received. We're going to play that right now from the scene.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Cheryl. What you see behind me is a massive police response to a shooting that occurred here in Ashland around 8:00 p.m. this evening. I'm going to take you over here for one moment. The shooting occurred at the Ponderosa Steak house, which is right over here. We're set up across the street here on route 54. The shooting occurred around 8:00 p.m., as I said. A 37-year old man was walking out of the restaurant with a female companion when she heard an unusual noise. She heard some sort of noise. And he slumped to the ground. She looked down. He had been shot in the abdomen.

Rescue personnel arrived on the scene very quickly. Immediately brought him to VCU's MCV hospital with a single gunshot wound to the abdomen. He was conscious and talking to medical personnel when he arrived to the hospital, which makes police hopeful that he will recover from this wound.

Right now, they do not know if it was the sniper responsible for this shooting, but they are treating it as if it were a sniper attack. A tactical plan was put into place last week, in case something like this should happen. So what's going on right now is that practical plan in reality, they were preparing for something like this. Something like this has happened. And they are working the scene right now.

Well, who we have here are Virginia state police, Hanover sheriff's department, Ashland police, the ATF, the FBI are on their way. So are task forces from northern Virginia, who are working the sniper investigation.

Police don't want to officially confirm that this was a sniper attack. They don't have enough information to do that. They still need results from ballistic evidence to draw any kind of conclusions, but they are treating it as if it were a sniper attack.

Again, a 37-year old victim of this shooting is in the hospital under surgery right now. He was walking to his car at the Ponderosa Steak house after dinner en route to his car, which was parked behind the restaurant, when he was shot with a single gunshot wound. There were several witnesses that heard the shooting, though nobody has seen any suspects or vehicles to help police.

Nevertheless, a very intense search is underway. 54 behind me is just down. Parts of 95 are shut down, as police are trying to find any kind of suspect or vehicle, but they don't have any visual accounts to go by, just the sound of gunshots that witnesses heard. Cheryl?


COOPER: All right, that was a tape from WRIC. We're joined now by Nathan Hager with WTOP Radio, which is I believe in Washington.

Mr. Hager, are you there?

NATHAN HAGER, WTOP RADIO: Yes, I am. Good evening.

COOPER: Good evening, what information do you have?

HAGER: Well, as far as we know, as the reporter at RIC just said, the police aren't -- or aren't saying at this point whether it's related to the sniper shooting. It just happened two or three hours ago.

So it's obviously a little too early for them to make that leap. But what we do know right now is that this shooting, which is close to Richmond, Virginia, is affecting traffic here in Washington on the beltway with these roadblocks that police have set up all the way from Springfield, Virginia, which is like say about, you know, 10 or 11 miles south of Washington all the way down to Richmond. It's affecting traffic here. They're looking for a white van in Virginia as well as Maryland. And as the reporter said, they have the task force heading down from Maryland. And you know, with all the jurisdictions that are involved in that task force as far as south as Spotsylvania County, where the shooting happened Friday before last.

With these roadblocks that they're setting up, it seems to be fitting the same police procedure that occurred in -- during the Massaponax shooting Friday before last, when the man from Pennsylvania was shot to death.

COOPER: So even in the Washington beltway area, you're seeing congested traffic?

HAGER: Absolutely. I mean, talking to callers, it's affecting traffic as far north as Maryland with the roadblocks that Virginia state troopers have set up. You know, the beltway connects to interstate 95 in Springfield, Virginia. So anybody who's on the beltway trying to head south is going to get jammed up. And it's going to bleed over into traffic all the way around the beltway, which of course, extends into Maryland.

COOPER: Right. Mr. Hager, thanks very much for joining us.

HAGER: Thank you.

COOPER: On this developing story. Daryn Kagan also standing by in Montgomery County, Maryland, we were showing you some live pictures.

Just a little bit before there, where we saw the yellow crime scene tape that was actually of the crime scene, we are now back to the picture from WTVR of the highway that's been shut down. Traffic -- we are going to listen to WRIC right now, to their live report.

COOPER: This is Anderson Cooper in Atlanta. Daryn Kagan is standing by in Montgomery, Maryland. Daryn, are you there?

KAGAN: Yes, I am, Anderson.


KAGAN: We want to go ahead and bring in Don Clark. He's a former FBI investigator and get his take on what we're seeing right now.

Don, good evening.

DON CLARK, FMR. FBI LEAD INVESTIGATOR: Good evening, Daryn. KAGAN: Are you able to see the pictures that we're watching with the huge response to what's taken place in Ashland, Virginia?

CLARK: No, unfortunately I'm not, Daryn. I've been hearing some of the taped conversation as things have taken place down there regarding the Ponderosa, probably around 8:00 tonight.

KAGAN: Well first of all, just the kind of response that we're seeing with the sniper task force heading down there, shutting down highways and freeways, all the way from Ashland, all the way up to Washington, D.C. Are you surprised at this response?

CLARK: Oh, no, not at all. I suspect that based on what we've been talking about ever since October 2 here, that that task force has grown and grown. It's really reached out to get more and more resources. And the thing about having resources is the to be able to immediately deploy those resources, and while that's 90 miles away from the area where most of the other shootings have taken place, in a sense of time and especially with air resources, it's not very far away.

So I think it's a good thing that they are poised and in a position to respond like that.

KAGAN: Don, we've been able to see so little about how this task force actually works. We do know that you have -- we have a number of police jurisdictions involved, at least six.

You have state. You have federal, ATF, FBI. Does it boggle your mind how all these different agencies are able to work together?

CLARK: Well, it doesn't boggle my mind, but in my experience in having run the World Trade Center up in New York back in 1993, and done a number of things down here in Texas with the local law enforcement, it's certainly very, very doable. And I think at the grassroots level, that you find that these police officers and all these various agencies, the only difference may be the uniforms that they are wearing because they have a common goal out there.

But I think what is important is that the group comes together and establish an organizational structure that can really be effective in coordinating all of these different agencies.

And if that takes place, then it doesn't matter that you have all of these different people coming in.

KAGAN: All right, Don Clark, former FBI investigator, thank you very much.

We're coming very close to the top of the hour. So let's recap for our viewers who are joining us exactly what we know about what has taken place.

Sometime between 8:30 and 8:45 this evening, a man and his female companion in Ashland, Virginia, which is about 80 miles south of Washington, D.C. were coming out of the Ponderosa Steak house in Ashland, walking across the parking lot when suddenly out of nowhere, this man was shot with a single gunshot wound to his abdomen. We know that he's 37-years old, a white male, has already been taken to a hospital, and as we understand it, is currently undergoing surgery.

The pictures you're seeing on your screen right now is the immediate response. This is the sniper task force going to work, and also local agencies saying they wanted to be ready. The basic theory here, act first, try to shut down as many areas as possible, and try to somehow ensnare a suspect or suspects that could be related.

Most importantly, we need to stress, we do not know right now if this is the work of the sniper. There are certain aspects that look like it, with the indication of I-95, the time of day, but there are many aspects that do not.

Namely, that it's a weekend and of all the times the sniper has shot, he has not shot on a weekend day since this started on October 2 -- Anderson.

COOPER: Daryn, I've just been handed a transcript from a press conference. I'm just going to read it to you.

KAGAN: Go ahead.

COOPER: As it was handed to me. It's from Reuters. "A man was hot and wounded in a parking lot outside a restaurant in Virginia town, located 90 miles south of U.S. capital Saturday night, as we know. But authorities said they did not know whether the incident was linked to the sniper murder spree in the Washington area.

Authorities said a man was shot with a single bullet outside a Ponderosa Steak house restaurant in Ashland, Virginia. All that we've reported. He was transported to a local trauma center for treatment. Hanover County Sheriff's office said the area was being quarantined following the nighttime incident."

Let's see, I'm just looking -- literally, I was just at the end of this.

KAGAN: Well, let me just jump...

COOPER: Go ahead.

KAGAN: here, Anderson, in terms of talking about what's being blocked off. That's what I'm finding so fascinating, this huge area. First we were hearing about this from Gary Tuchman when he was making his way down to Ashland. And I imagine he's getting very close to being there.

He was talking about some 60 miles away, I-95 being shut down. We're seeing these pictures from Ashland, from Hanover County of the roads and the highways shut down there.

And then not that long ago, I got word here in Montgomery County, Maryland of this streets, many streets between Montgomery County and Washington, D.C. along this District line, being shut down as police search vehicles looking for a suspect.

COOPER: And Daryn, I believe we're going to be joined by Gary Tuchman. I'm told -- Gary, are you there?

TUCHMAN: Yes, I'm here. And as Daryn was saying, not only am I close to it, I'm next to it. I'm 50 feet away right now from the Ponderosa, watching the investigators do their work in the site of the restaurant.

It's an eerie and disturbing scene here, as I stand here. There are three helicopters flying overhead right now, shining their searchlights on the ground below. As I was driving here about one mile from the Ponderosa, just to the east, there is a police center set up, a staging point for the police. There are at least 75 or 80 police cars and official cars that I counted with ATF officials, Virginia state police, other police forces standing by, waiting to be called upon.

This Ponderosa sits in between a Burger King and a Wendy's. Next to the Wendy's, there is a gas station right down the street. And what's very unusual that we see here is ever since this happened around 8:46 p.m., we have been told that the cars that were out in this local loop 54 when it happened, we're told they couldn't move.

So route 54 is like a parking right now, along the sides. People are sitting in their cars with their headlights and their engines off. They're being told they can't move right now. So they're just sitting in their cars, in some cases getting out of their cars, go look at the Ponderosa.

It's interesting, a lot of people are standing right next to me. I'm only 50 or 60 feet from the restaurant. There are people standing here, looking along with me right now.

But at this point, the traffic on this road is not moving. On Interstate 95, it's interesting. It's not a complete backup. I mean, I was mentioning to you before, Anderson and Daryn, that 60 miles from this city, I saw a blockade. Then I saw another one 25 miles away. And then another one 25 miles away.

And then another one 10 miles away. There are -- so if you're heading north on I-95, you're going to be stooped three times. It's not blocking up the entire interstate, but it's part of a strategic move by the police to check people at various points of the interstate.

But right now, they're doing their work. And as you've emphasized so many times, and we can't emphasize enough, we don't know if this is linked to the sniper shootings, but we certainly do know that a man has been shot and hurt here at the Ponderosa restaurant.

COOPER: And Gary, we certainly know that the police are taking this very, very seriously indeed. As you mentioned, roadblocks really stretching all the way to almost Washington, D.C. We heard from a radio reporter, a traffic radio reporter, Nathan Hager, WTOP. He said around the beltway, there are some roadblocks, traffic tied up. (CNN BREAKING NEWS COVERAGE CONTINUES)


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