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Chief Moose Briefs Press on Sniper Shootings

Aired October 19, 2002 - 12:06   ET


CHIEF CHARLES MOOSE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE: Good afternoon. Certainly, there is a lot of information out about the white box truck that was seized from a car rental agency in Virginia yesterday. Certainly, that vehicle and shell casing were seized. We are in the process of looking at all of that. Do not expect to have any information to provide on that matter until at the earliest on Monday. And, certainly, we continue to ask for assistance from the public, whereas this may or may not remove the white box truck. This is a good example of people hearing the message, people seeing things, and then notifying local authorities. We appreciate that. So we still encourage people to call our tip line at 1-888-324-9800. And until we can finish this work on this truck, yes, we are still interested in white box trucks, as well as the two composite vans that were issued from the Spotsylvania County sheriff's office, the shooting there.
We also have received numerous calls and requests from the Vehicle Rental Corporation. They feel like they're having some difficulty conducting business today because of all of the inquiries and media attention. They are a business, and so they asked me to just ask that, somehow, if we can give the kind of information you need so that they can get back to business.

Additionally, we do also appreciate the use of the media line that's been advised -- been given to this group. You have called us. You have talked to us about situations. And this information has been confirmed or corrected, and we've reduced some of the possible misinformation that may go out. So we appreciate that cooperation and anticipate getting even better at that in the future.

The next briefing will be at noon on Monday. Noon on Monday. And we want to also now be available for questions.

QUESTION: I know one witness has been discredited. Have you been able to develop any other information from other witnesses that you can share with us?

MOOSE: It would be inappropriate to discuss anything from any other witnesses.

QUESTION: So there is basically nothing else that you can share with us is where I'm going, nothing that you feel comfortable sharing with us yet?

MOOSE: That is correct.

QUESTION: Can we ask chief, or perhaps Agent Bouchard, what type of tests are being conducted on this truck and what preliminary results you may have gotten already, if possible?

MICHAEL BOUCHARD, ATF: Forensic tests are being conducted on all the evidence, and we don't have any results that we can release.

QUESTION: But you haven't ruled anything out? It's safe to say you haven't ruled the truck out, you haven't been able to rule the truck out based on testing?

BOUCHARD: Again, we're doing forensic tests, that's all I can say.

QUESTION: Why has it taken so long to get these forensic -- these ballistics results when it's taken just a day in other cases?

MOOSE: Sir, at the earliest, on Monday, and we're not here to debate it or offer any excuses.

QUESTION: So many people are hoping that this could be a significant development. How would you characterize just your feeling about this? Do you see this as a significant development regardless of what pans out, but this is maybe the break you guys are hoping for in this situation with the truck?

MOOSE: Sir, I appreciate your inquiry, but it's not appropriate for me to talk about my feelings on this matter. We're doing the work and we will continue.

QUESTION: Chief, was the information -- since this stuff comes out from different sources -- was this information something that got leaked out that you would have rather not have been publicized yet? About the truck and the shell casing, or is that something that you all took the initiative to tell us about?

MOOSE: Well, I think at this point, I just -- we're trying to, I guess, in some ways, confirm the obvious, and I won't make any further comment with regards to how I feel about it being out there.

QUESTION: Have you been able to identify the person who rented the truck and have you contacted that person?

MOOSE: Sir, any information along those lines would be inappropriate for me to discuss. You know, the investigation continues. And we don't want to discuss ongoing matters of the investigation. Feel like that...

QUESTION: If this were a bona fide lead, would it not be true that you would declare such a location as that a crime scene, look over other vehicles they might have, look over their computer files, and, generally, treat it as if it were a crime scene? And, if this is a significant lead, why haven't you done that?

MOOSE: Well, sir, it was all of that is your thoughts on the matter. So I don't know what the question is there for me.

QUESTION: Well, the question is -- why didn't you treat it like a crime scene? MOOSE: Well, sir, what was the crime?


MOOSE: OK. I'm not aware that there was a murder at the rental car company.

QUESTION: Well, there was evidence found at that location, was it not?

QUESTION: Sir, I don't think it's sparring with you. I think it's a possible development, he just wants to know why you didn't deal with it as a crime scene, because there were obviously some steps you could have taken as such and dealt with it as such, and, apparently, it appears you didn't. That's what I think his question is.

MOOSE: Well, we feel that the evidence was seized and has been dealt with appropriately. I don't -- I don't agree that it's a crime scene, but that's OK.

QUESTION: You folks are experts, and the shell casing is not the greatest (ph). Can you please -- can you or the agent in charge tell us whether the, at first examination, the casing that was found was in the family of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

MOOSE: Well, sir, as we said, we're doing work, and if there's something to report on that, and we don't anticipate having anything until Monday at the earliest, and at that point, we will make a determination whether there's anything to report there or not. But we don't know at this time and don't really want to take any more detail- type questions about the evidence.


QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ... that family of shell casing, or am I misreading?

MOOSE: Sir, we're just saying that we seized a truck and we seized a shell casing, and we haven't done any work there, and so, when we have done that, we'll report that.

QUESTION: You said that a day without violence is a good day...

QUESTION: There was a chase this morning from 3:00 to 4:00 down in Stafford (ph), in Fredericksburg. The man apparently had weapons violations in Maryland. He ditched his car and went off in the woods. We know you have sent task force members down there. Have you caught the man, and do you think it's any sort of significant lead?

MOOSE: We did look at some of those reports. I think that case is still coming to develop -- coming together, and it's just too early to determine whether it's related or not.

QUESTION: Is the man still on the loose, then? He's not been apprehended? MOOSE: Again, I don't have that information, but I return to the one thing that has been consistent is that police work in the Washington metropolitan area continues, and it has continued. We do try to give some determination if we feel like it is connected or not connected to this situation, but we don't know at this time.

QUESTION: Can you just give us, some of us not privy with that information, just kind of in general from the top what happened with this situation? I mean, instead of just kind of telling maybe part of the information and people brought out the wrong information? Can you explain what you talked about?

MOOSE: Well, could you just ask your question again? Then he would know.

QUESTION: You said that a day without violence is a good day. Now, we've gone since Monday without a shooting, and, obviously, we're all thankful for that. Has that changed your perspective any on the sniper or the investigation, and do you attribute any significance to the fact that we haven't had a shooting since Monday?

MOOSE: Sir, again, any day without violence is a good day, and any other speculation would be inappropriate.

QUESTION: Chief, tomorrow there will be the first day that there had not been a briefing on this. Obviously the interest in this case is extreme and it's important for the public to be able to ask questions about what's going on. Would you please explain to us the rationale behind not having a briefing tomorrow?

MOOSE: Simply, we feel like we've have a mechanism with the issuance of a phone number to the various PIOs that are making themselves available to answer questions. We will give any advance notice of any breaking news in a briefing. We will do that over the AP notification and give people a chance to gather. It just seemed reasonable that if we don't have news, to not have a briefing that, again, we're trying to find that balance to being accessible, being open, but also, not wasting your time and not saying how many new ways we can say we're not going to talk about that.

So it is very difficult, because I think that we do want to keep the public informed. We do want to appear to be open and progressive with regards to our law enforcement style. But at the same hand, we also want to be cognizant that there's some parts of an investigation if we discuss it too much, it compromises what we're trying to do. So it was just a matter of our best thinking to not do anything, a formal briefing, tomorrow.

Now, certainly, again, we're going to be working. We're going to be accessible. If there is something, we will make ourselves available, but to schedule something just didn't seem to be necessary.

QUESTION: Chief, would it be fair to say that you're on to something here and it would be better for you as investigators not to give out any information perhaps until Monday, until, let's say, you've checked out every part of this, because presumably, you must have some preliminary results that have not ruled out this truck?

MOOSE: Again, sir, I don't -- what is the question?

QUESTION: The question is -- are you not telling us this because you know you're on to something, you want to thoroughly check it out, and then in a day or so, perhaps when you've contacted the person who has this truck, then you will let us know? I mean, there must be a reason why you're not giving us any preliminary -- surely, there must be something preliminary in that truck that tells you that this is still a lead, otherwise you'd probably be saying here, no, folks, it's a no-go.

MOOSE: Well, sir, we want to just give our people time to do their work, and that work hasn't been done.

QUESTION: To verify, you haven't ruled it out, though?

QUESTION: Can you or one of the guests at least tell us a little something about what is being done to this truck in terms of processing it for evidence?

MOOSE: No, sir. It, again, would be inappropriate to talk about the things that we're doing. We're doing the work that the forensics people know how to do.

QUESTION: Chief Moose, an area that you can talk about it, another weekend without football and soccer games. A lot of people were wondering if football or sports events will ever come back. Can you talk about, is there any meetings going on with the council or government to come up with some type of security plan so young people can return to streets and playing football and things like that, what's being done on that front?

MOOSE: Sir, anything with regards to your question would be inappropriate for me to talk about.

QUESTION: You say as a public safety official, you can't talk about what the police are doing to protect students and planning for future athletic games? That's not part of your purview?

MOOSE: Sir, I think what I said was that it would be inappropriate for me to discuss that with you.

QUESTION: It seems a lot of people in the public are just calling in tips whenever they see a Chevy Astro van, a white box truck. Do you want more specific information, or does that do any good for people to call in and just say, I just saw a white box truck drive by without any plates? Do you need the plate number?

MOOSE: As our people continue to call the tip line, we're very appreciative of that. I think that if you have some information to give us, I think you'll find that the people answering that line are very professional. They're asking very good questions. They're helping people frame their thoughts, helping people understand what they saw or didn't see, helping them understand whether or not they need a immediate police response, whether or not they have a crisis. So I think that it is working. We're very pleased with the people that continue to call us. And as sated earlier, we still encourage people to call the tip line, not only with truck and van information, but all the other things that we've discussed in terms of any vehicles that are in areas suspiciously, behaving suspiciously. We encourage people to not be narrow-minded or have tunnel vision on just white trucks or box trucks.

So all of that is continuing to work and has been very helpful to the men and women out on the street and to the investigation. So the tip line is working very well. But, again, part of it is the questions, the inquiries, that are made by the call takers. And I think that that is going extremely well.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And we're going to cut away now from this news conference by Chief Charles Moose of Montgomery County. As you can see, not much coming out of this news conference. There will be no more information on the shell casing that was found in that white box-type truck at the car rental place until Monday, just as we suspected. And the chief also asked the media to lay off that car rental place because they were getting so many inquiries.

Chief Moose seemed downright hostile as times, telling the media to just simmer down, and the next press briefing will be Monday at noon, we believe.

And while this press conference was going on with very little new information to pass on to you, and while we celebrate just a little in the fact that the sniper has not struck for four and a half days, a funeral is ongoing at Pottstown, Pennsylvania, for the sniper's ninth victim. He is 53-year-old Dean Meyers. He lived in Gaithersburg. He was shot at a Sunoco gas station in Manassas on October 9 at 8:15 p.m. And you can see the pictures there. Very sad thing for his family. At least 100 people are at this funeral. We understand that his nephew is playing guitar in honor of his uncle.

Mr. Meyers was known to be a great Beatles fan, and his family loved him because he's so connected with them.

That is the latest from here in Rockville, Maryland, at the command center. We're going to send it back to Atlanta now and Fredricka.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thanks very much, Carol. Of course, we're going to continue to keep tabs on this story. We'll be revisiting this scene in Montgomery County, Maryland in the next hour on CNN SATURDAY.


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