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Moose: Message for Police Left at Ashland, VA Crime Scene

Aired October 20, 2002 - 19:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We are going to go live right now to Montgomery County for a press conference of police officials. Police Chief Charles Moose, among others, approaching the podium.
CHIEF CHARLES MOOSE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY: I have two points to share. It has not been our practice, but tonight we will not take any questions. We'll take no questions on no topic. And we just ask you to understand.

First, just like to say that the sheriff of Hanover County, Colonel Stuart Cook, everyone has been very impressed with the prompt response and investigative expertise demonstrated by you and your people with the shooting last night. And I would like to remind everyone that the sheriff's leadership has been critical to this investigation.

The second point I would like for people in the media to carry this point. Carry it clearly and carry it often.

To the person who left us a message at the Ponderosa last night, you gave us a telephone number. We do want to talk to you. Call us at the number you provided.

Thank you.

COOPER: Wow. You heard it right here. That was Police Chief Charles Moose in Montgomery County saying that a message was left at the crime scene last night, that a number was provided.

The police are saying, call us. Let's bring in Daryn Kagan standing by in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Daryn, pretty explosive stuff.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, I have the exact same response that you did. I just said, wow.

When Police Chief Moose came out and said he was just going to make two points and no questions, I thought this might not be very newsworthy. But this is one of the most newsworthy pieces of information that we've had in many days.

If indeed what he is saying is true -- and we have no reason to doubt that -- that last night at the Ponderosa, that shooting, which keep in mind, police have not through ballistics evidence as far as we know, conclusively tied to the other sniper shootings. He is saying that whoever was out there left a message. And that would be the first -- as far as we know -- the first communication that the sniper has had to try -- have with police since the tarot card, which as left at Tasker Middle School. And that's going to be two weeks ago tomorrow.

Many people -- and one of the reasons I think Chief Moose was frustrated with the tarot card incident being released to the media was that he thought that was an opportunity to communicate with the sniper, a blown opportunity once it got out into the media.

But here it is. Chief Moose coming out and saying, we acknowledge you left the number and are wanting to talk.

One thing I do wonder, Anderson -- and I'll have your take on this -- is it a bogus number? It sounds like he left a number, and for some reason the communication's not working. So it feels like police had no choice but to come out and say, we got your message. We know you left the number, but something isn't working with that communication.

COOPER: It did sound like that. I would actually like -- and as soon as it's possible -- I'd like to replay what the chief just said, because it was ...

KAGAN: Sure.

COOPER: ... I mean, such kind of a shocker. Such a short statement and yet packed with so much information. As soon as we're able to, I think we should just replay it, just so we can kind of go over it a little bit more.

And, Daryn, I don't know if you saw in the last hour where Gary Tuchman actually showed us, actually took us into the wood behind the Ponderosa where, you know, all assumptions are that is where the shot came from.

If some sort of a note or some sort of a message was left, one can only assume that it was left in that area.

KAGAN: Right. And one other thing that occurs to me about the chief coming out and saying that -- and I do think it's a good idea that we should replay it -- they are going on the assumption, of course, that the sniper, whoever is doing this, is watching the media very carefully and watching these news conferences.

That is one reason that the police have been frustrated with information getting out, but also realizing that this can be a tool for them to try to communicate with whoever is doing this.

COOPER: Well, as I -- and one of the things the chief said is, you know, play this often, get this out, you know ...


COOPER: ... get this ... KAGAN: Let's do it.

COOPER: ... play this as many times as you can. It's really pretty amazing stuff. Do we have that tape? Are we ready to roll it?

OK. We will have it cued up in just a few seconds, and we'll be ready to roll on it.

I really don't think anyone expected this kind of a statement at this hour.

KAGAN: No. I mean, I think -- as you and I were talking just a few minutes ago, we weren't even expecting a news conference. But, again, things being fluid since the shooting took place last night. It's also our first indication, we haven't really been able to find out exactly what police were able to get at the scene.

I'm getting word that we do have that sound ready to go. Police Chief Moose said, say it often. So let's listen once again to what he had to say just a couple of minutes ago.


MOOSE: I have two points to share. It has not been our practice, but tonight we will not take any questions. We'll take no questions on no topic. And we just ask you to understand.

First, just like to say that the sheriff of Hanover County, Colonel Stuart Cook, everyone has been very impressed with the prompt response and investigative expertise demonstrated by you and your people with the shooting last night. And I would like to remind everyone that the sheriff's leadership has been critical to this investigation.

The second point I would like for people in the media to carry this point. Carry it clearly and carry it often.

To the person who left us a message at the Ponderosa last night, you gave us a telephone number. We do want to talk to you. Call us at the number you provided.

Thank you.


KAGAN: You know, if you go back and you listen to that statement, it is a little bit confusing. And, in fact, there's kind of a gaggle of reporters just over my right shoulder, very close to where the briefing took place.

If you listen to that statement, it's a little bit confusing, because if you take it just as the chief said it, Anderson, he's saying that the sniper left a note, left a number.

But to call us at the number you provided. It would seem if you're leaving a number, you would want to be called at that number. COOPER: Well, we should also be ...

KAGAN: So I think that that's a little bit confusing. And so I think that's what they're trying to clear up right now.

COOPER: We should also be very careful that -- you know, we don't want to speculate -- we don't even know if this message was left from the sniper, from the person who took the shot.

You know, basically, the chief just said, you know, to the person who left us a message ...

KAGAN: Right.

COOPER: ... you know, we don't -- we want to be very careful, obviously, not to speculate too far on this.

But certainly, a -- if it is some form of communication from the shooter, it's really, I mean, it's quite astounding.

Casey Jordan, Daryn, who I know you're very familiar with, is also standing by, a criminologist. Casey, your thoughts on what you just heard.

CASEY JORDAN, CNN CRIMINOLOGIST: Anderson, I agree. We've got to be very careful here not to jump to conclusions, because a message could have been left by a witness, or somebody with other information.

But, Daryn, my guess, that the message interpreted, call us at the number -- it's just a guess -- the number is probably a pay phone. And the pay phone would be a number where the police will go and stand by, perhaps, in hopes that the caller will call them there.

What occurs to me is that if that is ...


JORDAN: ... the scenario that is set up -- because it would be an anonymous number that you could get off of a phone -- who knows where the pay phone is or what the number is.

This is a just a really off-the-top of my head theory.

But the police have surely got to be thinking in terms of making sure this is not a set-up. That would be their biggest concern right now.

KAGAN: Right.

JORDAN: And perhaps the reason why it took them this long to actually get that message out. Take precautions for their own safety.

KAGAN: Right, and, you know, I'm right on board with both of you. Of course, we don't know that it's the sniper that left this. But what I am struck by here -- two things. Somebody left that note, apparently in the woods. And police taking this seriously enough. And you know from following this, Casey and Anderson, over the last several days, they have been so closed about any information or any evidence that they might have.

And any attempts, perhaps, to communicate with the sniper through the media have been kind of in couched terms. For them to come right out and speak directly into the cameras and say, call us -- or, we want to call you at that number -- to me, that is the most confrontational thing I've seen since I've been covering this story over the last 10 days.

But we're going to get back to you. We have an opportunity right now to talk with the Attorney General of Virginia, Jerry Kilgore joining us. And he is at the site of the latest shooting, and that, of course, is Ashland, Virginia.

Mr. Kilgore, thanks for joining us.


KAGAN: What can you tell us about this latest development, this request by Chief Moose, and the note that was apparently left at the shooting last night?

Are you familiar with any of it?

KILGORE: Well, I think we just need to encourage -- follow his directions and encourage someone to contact the task force and give them the information.

Someone out there has information on the shootings, on all the shootings. And we need to have everyone call the toll-free number.

KAGAN: No, but have you been briefed on this latest bit of information? Or did you hear this news briefing with the chief asking, whoever left the note behind at the Ashland shooting site ...

KILGORE: I certainly ...

KAGAN: ... last night to please -- go ahead.

KILGORE: I certainly heard the news briefing. I certainly heard the news briefing. I think it's important that the person follow the chief's directive to call, to make the phone call.

It's important that we move on this, that we get the information necessary, but that the public not jump to conclusions.

KAGAN: Mr. Kilgore, can you give us any more information, anything more about the investigation? We didn't -- where that was -- very interesting to get -- we didn't get anything more out of that latest news briefing.

KILGORE: Well, now, I think it's important that we not give away every investigative role that the law enforcement's taking in this case.

The most important thing here is to catch this murderer, to make sure that the individual is caught before another murder takes place.

KAGAN: Well, and on that -- and on that point there, sir, are you satisfied with the response last night? It was yet another opportunity perhaps to catch the person responsible for these shootings. And we have not made that connection completely yet.

But it was an opportunity. And whoever did shoot that 37-year- old man last night has gotten away.

Are you satisfied with ...

KILGORE: Well, ...

KAGAN: ... your (ph) response (ph)?

KILGORE: They did get -- they did get away last night, but it was quick response from the state police and all the local authorities.

Every exit was shut down off the interstate from the Richmond, Virginia area to north of Washington, D.C. It was quick action by all police agencies involved. And I'm convinced that through their quick actions, now and in the future, that we are going to catch this individual quickly.

KAGAN: For people not completely familiar with you as the attorney general of Virginia, we can share with them that you're a relatively new attorney general, taking office within the last year. Also that you served as ...

KILGORE: That's right.

KAGAN: ... secretary of public safety for the State of Virginia in a previous job.

KILGORE: That's right.

KAGAN: And so you have experience in coordinating different police agencies within the state. What's your take ...

KILGORE: Absolutely.

KAGAN: ... on this task force?

KILGORE: Well, I think that a task force is the only way to solve this crime, the task force operation.

We've had many jurisdictions involved from Maryland to D.C., down to many Virginia counties. And I think everyone is working extremely well together, from the federal authorities to the state, and now the local authorities.

Everyone has a role to play here, and they're playing that role well.

KAGAN: But do you think it's appropriate that Montgomery County is still the lead agency? Should this not be turned over to the FBI or some other federal agency, sir?

KILGORE: You know, I don't think anyone's here to take credit. No one's here to, quote, be the leader. I think everyone's working together in Montgomery County, because that's where the first offenses took place.

KAGAN: And one final question for you, Mr. Kilgore. If and when this person or these people, if they are caught alive, do you anticipate some kind of tug-of-war in terms of prosecuting this individual or individuals?

KILGORE: You know, if the individual's caught in Virginia first, of course we will want to prosecute that individual in Virginia. If he's caught in Maryland first, you know, Maryland authorities will probably take their turn to prosecute. Then we will wait and then prosecute the individual in Virginia.

KAGAN: What about those who think he should be prosecuted, the place where the death penalty is the toughest?

KILGORE: Well, that would be Virginia. Of course, we have a tough death penalty statute in the Commonwealth of Virginia. And an even tougher one with our anti-terrorism bill that was passed just this past session.

KAGAN: Jerry Kilgore, Attorney General, State of Virginia. I know this is a busy time for you, sir, and we appreciate your time joining us now ...

KILGORE: Thank you.

KAGAN: ... from Ashland, Virginia. Thank you very much.

Anderson, back to you in Atlanta.

COOPER: Well, Daryn, we're going to replay the press conference that was just held by Montgomery County officials, Charlie Moose -- Charles Moose speaking.

Really nothing short of a bombshell that he let drop at this conference. We're going to play and it, and then we're going to get Casey Jordan, the criminologist, the talk with us about it, as well as Eric Haney.

Let's just play that press conference right now.


CHARLES MOOSE, POLICE CHIEF, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND: To the person who left us a message at the Ponderosa last night, you gave us a telephone number. We do want to talk to you. Call us at the number you provided. Thank you.


COOPER: Casey Jordan, criminologist, you were sort of theorizing -- and, you know, we don't want to go too far out on a limb on this -- what do you think this possibly means? I mean, how do you think this may work logistically?

JORDAN: Well, it's an extraordinarily interesting development. And it would certainly be consistent with the power control game that has been going on for the past few weeks.

It appears that somebody left a message. We have obviously two options here. One, that it could be a witness. One, that it could be a hoax. And the third, of course, that it could have been left by the shooter.

He simply says it's left at the Ponderosa. He doesn't elaborate. I think we can assume that it could be left anywhere in the perimeter, including the woods that they scoured so carefully this morning.

But whatever that message said, it provided a telephone number and surely some instructions. The number could, in my mind, lead to a pay phone. It could, in fact, be a phone number which the police were instructed to establish, just so that they have a clear line between the caller and the police agency.

Not -- an anonymous line, nothing -- nobody but the people in charge will answer that phone line. It would seem a little strange to me that the police would jump through so many hoops to establish a phone line at the beck and call of somebody.

And yet, at the same time, they are so desperate, so frustrated to catch this person, any lead is important. And I can't imagine they would ignore any possibility of getting information. They certainly can't rule anything out at this point.

COOPER: You talk about this power control game that's going on. Why would somebody want to talk to the police in this situation? I mean, if it's not a witness, if it is in fact the person that's been shooting. Talk a little bit about that, what's behind that, the idea behind that.

JORDAN: A few different options occur to me. The least likely in my mind would be that the person wants to negotiate their surrender. It is a possibility. It has happened.

We saw it happen with Angel Resendiz Ramirez, the railway killer from, I'm guessing, two to three years ago, who with his family's help turned himself in, surrendered himself at the Mexican border, and was taken into custody.

And that was done with a series of phone calls and the help of family members. But that is an extremely unusual situation where somebody actually negotiated their surrender. My guess is that this is part of the wish to become famous, to keep the game going, to live in infamy, whether things turn out well or don't turn out well for the shooter.

Obviously, it heightens the stakes in terms of how the game continues. Whoever sent that message -- let's assume for a moment that it is the shooter -- has really, as you say, dropped a bombshell, thrown the ball back into the police's court and left it up to them.

Whoever left that message is in -- has a tremendous amount of control right now, has the police begging this person to call. And that, as I said, would be consistent with a person who loves attention and who really wants to be in charge of what happens next.

COOPER: All right. We've got to go to break. I want to, as soon as we come back, I want to bring in Eric Haney. And in case they want to talk to you, I want to ask you, does this mean that the person wants to be caught? That's the question we're going to ask you when we come back from this break.

But we'll be right back.


COOPER: We have some very interesting developments in the search for this shooter or shooters, the search for the sniper.

We will have all the latest when we come back from this break. We're going to talk to Casey Jordan, criminologist, Eric Haney, as well, as well as replay the bombshell that was just revealed that the press conference just a few shorts minutes ago.

We'll be right back.

We also have some new developments with the patient. Naturally (ph), we expect also a press conference from the hospital shortly. We will have all of that when we return, just on the other side of this break.


COOPER: We have learned that there is more surgery ahead for last night's shooting victim. Doctors said the man's chances of survival are good, because he was healthy and relatively young.

CNN's Jason Carroll is at the Medical College of Virginia Hospital in Richmond with the latest. Jason, what do you know?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, in fact, Anderson, just a few moments ago, the public information officer here at the hospital came out and told us that that 37-year-old man is currently undergoing his second surgery.

Doctors actually brought him in for that second surgery just about a half an hour ago. He is still in critical but guarded condition. But, Anderson, I have to tell you, that's definitely an encouraging sign, the fact that doctors were able to get him stable enough to bring him in for that second surgery.

Doctors first operated on this man last night. That operation took about three hours. They did what they could to try to repair all of the extensive damage that was done by that single gunshot wound to the upper abdomen.

Doctors tell us that the victim's stomach was just about destroyed. His pancreas was torn in half by the gunshot. In fact, they had to remove the left portion of his pancreas.

His spleen was so badly damaged. That had to removed completely. The bullet also grazing a kidney before it finally settled in his chest.

So, what doctors are going to do during this second surgery is, their first priority is to try to repair much of that extensive internal damage. The second priority here is to try and recover the bullet fragments if they can.


RAO IVATORY, SURGEON & DIRECTOR, TRAUMA CRITICAL CARE, MEDICAL COLLEGE OF VIRGINIA HOSPITAL, RICHMOND: We did not see any bullet fragments. We did not go after the bullet, because the patient was not very stable at that time. And at the next operation, we'll make an attempt to see if we can take the bullet out safely.


CARROLL: And, again, that next operation happening right now as we speak. Doctors also saying that the 37-year-old man was conscious during part of the day, opening and closing his eyes.

He is not speaking, because he is on a ventilator. His wife is by his side. That certainly has got to be a mental boost for him.

Doctors, as you say, were telling us that he was -- this man was in good health before the shooting. That is definitely going to play in his favor, as well.

So, again, he is undergoing his second surgery. In situations like this where you have a gunshot wound that is as extensive as this one, it is not unusual to go through multiple surgeries. But, again, an encouraging sign that doctors were at least able to get this man stable enough to go on ahead and perform the second surgery -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jason, very briefly, do we know -- is the bullet in fact intact, or has it fragmented? Do we know?

CARROLL: At this point, I believe it's fragmented. I know the doctors had taken X-rays at this point. That will certainly be helpful with the investigation. But I want to make clear what doctors were telling us out here. Their first priority is the repair a lot of that extensive internal damage that was done by that gunshot wound.

And, in the event, if they can at some point get some of those bullet fragments, they will do that. But that is not the first priority here.

COOPER: Understandably. All right, Jason Carroll, thanks very much for standing by. When we come back -- we're going to go to a short break -- when we come back, we are going to replay this press conference that happened just a few minutes ago where the police spoke to someone who they say left a message for them at the scene of the crime last night.


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