CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Sniper on the Loose
Aired October 20, 2002 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We begin this hour with a frustrating hunt for the sniper. The shooting last night outside the Washington metro area is raising more questions in the probe. CNN's Daryn Kagan joins us live from Montgomery County, Maryland, the hub of the investigation. Good evening Daryn. We're expecting a press conference there pretty soon, aren't we?
DARYN KAGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are, and that was kind of a surprise to us here Montgomery County. Anderson, this hour promises to be -- has the potential to be very newsworthy. In fact, we might get the most information that we've had since you and I were working into the wee hours of the morning, covering last nights shooting.
Let's review what we expect to see. First of all, we first heard that there was going to be a news briefing sometime this hour from Ashland, Virginia. That's were the shooting took place. Also, in Richmond, Virginia, not too far away from there, where the man is fighting for his life, we expect an update on his condition. And then, right here in Montgomery County, yet another news briefing in the same hour. Very interesting because on yesterday actually, Police Chief Moose here had said he wasn't going to hold another briefing until Monday. Of course, that was long before last night's shooting took place, so you'll see all three briefings right here on CNN.
Meanwhile, in anticipation of what we should learn from the hospital in Virginia, let's bring in our Jason Carroll, who is covering that part of the story for us. The latest on the man's condition, also the desire not to just to save his life, but to try to get the bullet out and help the investigation. Jason, hello.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello to you, Daryn. And that 37-year-old man is in critical but guarded condition here at the Medical College of Virginia. Doctors operated on him last night for three hours, between 9 P.M. and lat night doing all that they could to repair the damage that was done. The extensive damage done by that single gunshot wound to the upper stomach. The problem is once someone is shot, the bullet doesn't always travel in a straight direction and then stop. It oftentimes will travel around the body doing extensive damage before it finally rests and that's exactly what happened in this particular situation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. RAO IVATURV, DIR. TRAMA CRITICAL CARE: His stomach was ripped apart so we had to take out part of the stomach. His pancreas was torn in half so we had to take out the left half of the pancreas, and his spleen was in multiple fragments, so we had to take out the attached (ph) spleen, and the bullet grazed the kidney and went into the chest, where there was some bleeding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: A lot of extensive damage. Doctors will go on ahead and try to perform a second surgery. It's likely that that could happen sometime later on this evening. At that point, they will try to repair some of that internal damage, and they will also try to recover the bullet fragment that, of course, will be very helpful to this investigation. The 37-year-old man who remains unidentified, has been conscious throughout the day. He has been responding by opening and closing his eyes. He has been moving his hands and feet, though he has not been talking because he is on a ventilator. His wife is by his side, and that will help with his recovery in terms of the mental aspect of trying to recover from a wound like this. Doctors say that he was in fairly good health before the shooting. That will definitely help with his recovery. They say that his prognosis, his chances of survival are fair to good.
But one of the challenges, other than what we mentioned, that doctors are going to also have to deal with is, Daryn, the chance of infection, because in a situation like this when the stomach is so badly damaged, there are materials from inside that stomach, obviously that spill out. That can cause infection. That is something that doctors are going to have to deal with, as well. Darren?
KAGAN: He does have a long road back, but he does sound like quite a fighter. I was reading one quote from doctors. They were amazed when he came into the hospital, and Jason, maybe you can expand on this, they asked him, he was alert, they asked him 'are you in any pain', 'yeah a little bit in the stomach area', and doctors were just amazed by the extent of his injuries.
CARROLL: I read that, as well. It's absolutely remarkable, and in a situation like this, your mental well-being can be very critical in terms of how you deal with something like this, and it can be instrumental in the recovery. It's obvious that what doctors are dealing with is a fighter, and he definitely has a fight on his hands. Daryn.
KAGAN: And so Jason, we expect this news conference within the hour from the hospital. Do you have any indication what they're planning on discussing, or was this set to go just to give an update on his condition?
CARROLL: I think we're going to get, Daryn, is more of a clear sense of when doctors are going to perform this second operation. If they decide to perform the second operation tonight, that's definitely an encouraging sign, because it shows us that this man is at least stable enough for doctors to go back there and try to repair some of the damage. So I think that's what we're going to get from this update that we're expecting anytime now.
KAGAN: And just finally, you mentioned that they're concealing this man's identity, both he and his wife are considered important eyewitnesses in this crime, and whether or not it ends up being related to the sniper crimes, still a significant crime. Somebody took a significant shot at this man as he was leaving a steak restaurant in Ashland, Virginia.
CARROLL: Absolutely. I think what they're trying to do is they are just trying take all the precautions that they can. In many of these situations we've seen, again, it has not been determined if this has been directly linked to the sniper shootings, but in past cases we've seen the authorities have concealed the identities of many of the victims, and I think that's what they're trying to do in this particular situation.
KAGAN: Alright, Jason Carroll in Richmond, Virginia, thank you so much. We'll be back to you when that news conference begins.
So, Anderson, just to review, in the single hour, three news conferences that we expect, the one in Ashland, Virginia, the sight of the latest shooting, right here in Montgomery County, and then also from the hospital in Richmond, Virginia. I can give you a little bit of perspective. I've seen this since I've been covering this story. This happened before, when two different counties announce that there's going to be a news conference win the same hour. When that happened, what we've seen is Montgomery County, which is the lead agency in this investigation, they tend to bow to where the latest event has taken place, and let that county go first. So what I would expect, and we'll see if it plays out that way, for Hanover County, Ashland, Virginia to go first, and then we'll hear from the folks up here in Montgomery County.
COOPER: OK. And that -- we're not sure about that, because I actually was told that it's going to be the other way around. But, really, who knows? We will see how that develops, and we are expecting that any minute now, and obviously CNN has deployed a large number of people on the field. We will have all of the press conferences for you live for you in this next hour. Daryn, be right back to you.
KAGAN: You got it.
COOPER: Some other news, the White House says it is closely monitoring this investigation into the sniper attacks, and the effect those attacks are having on homeland security. Authorities, of course, have not linked the sniper slayings to foreign terrorists. The National Security Advisory Condoleezza Rice says it is a concern. She spoke on CNN's late edition.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We don't have any evidence that this is the result of terrorism. Of course, no one can rule out that possibility, but right now, Bob Mueller and the FBI are working very closely with local law enforcement officials. They're doing everything they can. I think local law enforcement officials have been very aggressive, and we have to hope this can be resolved very, very soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, Federal investigators are painstakingly going over every piece of evidence in the case, including that tarot card that we've heard so much about. Time magazine reports the FBI is doing forensics testing on the ink writing on the card. The phrase "I am god" was penned on the death card, we know. Authorities found the tarot card at the site of the Maryland Middle School shooting, --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (voice over): -- you may remember. The FBI is reportedly trying to link the ink on the card to a specific kind of pen, and they are hoping that will give them some sort of a lead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Coming up, we'll take a hard look at the evidence. What, if anything, has the sniper left behind, besides that tarot card? Stay with us.
COOPER: Welcome back to our continue continuing coverage, SNIPER ON THE LOOSE. In the last 18 days since these attacks began, we have heard an endless stream of theories. Theories about the shooter, his motives, his methods; but they are all just that, theories. Conjecture. Let's double-check some facts. Facts about yesterday's shooting, and the ones before that. CNN Security Analyst Kelly McCann joins me from Washington. Kelly, let's talk first about the shooting last night. What facts stand out to you?
KELLY MCCANN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: There's three really, Anderson. Number one is we know that this is a standoff attack. There's no argument about that. There is no personal relationship between the assailant and the victims. Secondly, it's doubtful that there was any previous relationship, because there was no way to draw a link on time and place predictability for the victim to have published that so someone could exploit it if he, in fact, was a particular target. The other thing we know is, is that there was no aggravated assault, there was no road rage, there was no incident that was reported prior to this. He was an anonymous target to the shooter.
So that all is consistent with the other shootings, and unequivocal. After that, you look at the casings, and although we really -- you hear so many different kinds of casings have been taken. Some -- The number doesn't matter, because the truth is, in order to know that the casings came from the murderer's rifle, we would have to fire test rounds, control rounds, through that rifle to get baseline data, to look at extractor marks, ejector marks, et cetera.
COOPER: So it's not enough to have the projectile itself?
MCCANN: Absolutely not, because all we can do if we have projectiles, or not projectiles even, but the casings, is say well yes, these were all fired from the same gun, but what gun. In other words, there's no baseline, so they could have been picked up on a public range and scattered about an area. Do you see where I am going with this? COOPER: Yes, but what we keep hearing though, that doctors are hoping to get the bullet out and or the fragments that may exist, and that can link to other shootings. Not true?
MCCANN: That would link to the other shootings. That would show the same striations, the same lines (ph) and groves impressions on the actual projectile...
MCCANN: ... as the other ones. But then again, when you catch somebody, when you apprehend and arrest somebody, unless you have that weapon, and then shoot controlled ammunition through it to get a baseline, you still have to draw that link. See what I am saying?
COOPER: Got it.
MCCANN: Physical evidence is unequivocal.
COOPER: Got it.
MCCANN: After that, if you say that, OK, but what about the white trucks...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCCANN: ... I mean, there seems to be all this business about white trucks. Is there or aren't there white trucks involved? I think the only consistent piece of data is that they are in the area when shootings have occurred. Now, how they're in the area is open to a lot of interpretation. I don't think we've got any eyewitness accounts that say, I saw a man stop a truck, get out, shoulder a rifle, shoot, get back into a white truck that had a ladder on it, nor have we seen him use that as a shooting platform, nor have we seen him shoot from a vehicle. They're just in the area, and I think that is, again, unequivocal and the most consistent data that we can go to.
If you think about it, is this terrorism or a criminal? How would you determine that? Only the perpetrator can know that. There's simply no evidence, no real factual data to point us in one way or the other, and you can argue convincingly either way, and you can give plausible reasons for that, but they're unsubstantiated. The only people that have all the facts, and you remember reporting the afghan war. A lot of people said this was going to be a secret war, and they had a lot of theories about it. The only people that knew were the president, the secretary of defense, and Tommy Franks. Similarly, the police have the body of knowledge that make up fact. That's what investigators do. The rest is merely opinion as in, is there one or two shooters. We can't apply generally accepted practice or U.S. doctrine, which is a two-man kind of concept, to aberrant behavior. This is socially aberrant behavior. Sane snipers don't go around and murder innocent people. So, how can we apply that rule? Yes, it makes sense, and it is plausible, but no one has put their eyes on at the time the trigger is pulled. Certainly not if there's another man in another place, providing some other level of over-watch, et cetera.
COOPER: Actually, Kelly, I want to ask you a question here. I just want to give you a little bit of a warning, and warn our audience, we are expecting the press conference in Montgomery County any minute now. So I may have to breakaway from you, Kelly. We will come back to you. But I want to ask you this question. The other fact that is out there, which is a pretty ominous one, is that people are getting shot. The person or persons responsible for it continue to get away, and whatever evidence there may be out there, it is not been enough to catch this person or persons.
MCCANN: Immutable. It is, and I mean it's not an emotional fact. It just is the condition that exists. It's funny, when you sometimes confront problems like this, people sometimes stamp their feet and figure through anger or through, you know, getting really worked up over something, that it will make the answer appear. Well, that simply isn't going to happen. These men are working harder than they probably have throughout their career, to get this guy. And in some instances like this, you've done and continue to do exactly what you know has proven, you know, fruitful previously.
COOPER: Kelly, I want to bring in Eric Haney. (INAUDIBLE) I know you have a lot of respect for Eric -
MCCANN: I do.
COOPER: ... a firearms expert and a lot of different fields. Your thoughts, I mean, you were with us last night when this happened. What are your thoughts today as you look at the investigation, as you look at the evidence as it exists now?
SGT. MAJ. ERIC HANEY, CNN FIREARMS ANALYST: Well, the evidence is scanty to nonexistent that we know anything about, but the things that we don't know that happened again. Once again, there's no witness that says, 'I saw the shot take place. I can point to the place where the shooter was'. The closest it comes is the victim's wife said "I heard a sound but I didn't equate it with a rifle shot". The second is, once again they've alluded capture.
COOPER: Right. And - I mean, both Kelly and Eric, I mean, how - how is that going to change? No matter how good the police get at this, and again, I mean I don't want to take away anything from the police, do the first officers, our understanding is, responded in about 2 1/2 minutes to last night's shooting, which is a very good response time, but no matter how fast you respond, you still got to get the calls out, you still have this rolling process of getting road blocks up, and five minutes is a lifetime in terms of executing an escape. Is that true?
HANEY: Exactly. That, and this person or persons realize they have just about two or three minutes, just a short time window, to clear out of the area without observation before that net can swing down and clamp an area down. So once again, it's going to be solved either by just old-fashioned detective mundane work, going through -- turning over every leaf, every rock, running through every situation that's --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANEY (voice over): -- possible conceivable, or they're going to mess up. They are just going to be caught in some screwy situation, or someone who knows someone turns in the right tip.
COOPER (voice over): Let's talk about this bullet that is still believed to be in the victim. How important is it that the bullet is intact or fragmented? Does that really matter?
HANEY (voice over): Eventually, yes, --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANEY: ... but what we're talking about there is forensics and body of evidence that's later for a trial. Right now, it does absolutely nothing, because it's - brother (ph) McCann said, it doesn't link back to a weapon because we don't know what that weapon is, we don't know where it is. Right now the whole impetus is get them, pull them in, stop the killing.
MCCANN: It's an amazing drill to do time-distance equations on a piece of paper. How far can you go at 65 miles an hour in three minutes? I mean, that alone is such a thing to get your arms around, and as you're being allusive and withdrawing from an area, it's awful hard to gauge or predict which direction, what route is he going to take.
COOPER: One of the things I was struck with last night was, we received a call from a person who had been in that area, had been eating in a restaurant very close to the Ponderosa, and said to us on the phone, that they had left with their family at about 8:05 from the restaurant along Route 54. they had gotten on Route 1 and they gotten home, even though they saw 95 was all blocked off. They got home on Route 1 without any problem, without any roadblocks, so if a person, you know, who's just leisurely making their way home didn't come across any roadblocks, that's pretty ominous. There are a lot of other people who could have gotten through as well.
HANEY: Well, remember, also, there's not an unlimited number of officers that can be used, and this was in a county, so it's the county and local city police whatever their municipalities are. It's not like we have masses of infantry battalions standing by every mile, ready to just fan out in all directions and close each road. Limited assets to work with.
COOPER: How do you - I mean, how will this person be caught, or persons?
HANEY: As I said before, either they're going to do something that leaves a signature and somebody can point to it directly, they're going to be caught by just a freak circumstance literally, the burned out taillight, though I'm sure this person is checking these things meticulously. Good old fashioned detective work or someone turns in a credible tip that turns out to be correct.
COOPER: And Kelly, I hate to sort of bring it back to the realm of theories and ideas, but often that is all we have to go on right now. Kelly, I'd like to hear your thoughts of the M.O. of this person. I mean, we - whether it's -- let's talk about the M.O. of the shooter last night. It seems to be, if it was a shot from the wooded area, it seems to be a sniper, whether or not it is the suburban sniper from past shootings, we don't know, but if indeed, the shot came from the woods, it would seem to be a sniping type shot.
MCCANN: Absolutely. And I mean, you know, the thing is, is there's some assumptions made in reporting the stories. When it said tree line, people think, well, right where the trees are, but even the most moderately trained military man knows it would not be at that point. It would be in the recess of that forested area, back 10 yards, 15 yards, because line of sight is line of sight. Why would I risk being seen at the forward edge of the tree line when I can step back 20 yards and really make the sound omni directional, and really confound people who are there. So again, it - there are a lot of consistencies, and you've heard Eric and I talk about the ballistic trajectories, and what the three injured but not killed, people may mean. It may mean a closer distance where you've got bullet drop before the bullet rises in its trajectory, but all of that, again, is conjecture. I mean, what we know is really what we talked about at the very beginning.
COOPER: Alright Kelly McCann, Eric Haney, I'm going to ask you to stand by. We're going to go to a short break and when we come back, we anticipate having that press conference that I know we all want to hear what the Montgomery officials have to say. We'll be right back. This is a live shot of the press conference, we will bring it to you as soon as it happens. We will be right back after this break.
COOPER: Thanks for joining us on this special coverage of the search for the sniper. We are expecting a press conference literally any minute now from Montgomery County, Maryland. That's just one of three press conferences we're expecting in the next hour, so at 24 past the hour right now.
We're going to go just talk about some other news, but again, as soon as that press conference happens in Montgomery County, Maryland, we will bring it to you, as well as the one in Ashland, Virginia, as well as the one in the Richmond hospital.
U.S. officials are trying right now to convince North Korea to freeze it's nuclear weapons programs. This diplomatic stance is -- some lawmakers asking why the Bush administration is taking one approach with Iraq and another, or seemingly another, with North Korean. For more on the story, we go to Kelly Wallace at the White House. Kelly?
KELLY WALLACE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESOPNDENT: Well, Anderson, one lawmaker asking that very question, the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Bob Graham. He said today that he believes North Korean could be more dangerous to the United States than Iraq. The reason for this, he says, North Korea possesses one or two nuclear weapons, and has missiles capable of reaching targets as far as 600 miles away, but he says Iraq is not believed to have a nuclear weapon just yet, so he is calling on the administration to rethink its approach. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR BOB GRAHAM, CHAIRMAN, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: If you put the two, North Korea and Iraq on the scales, and ask the question 'which today is the greater threat to the people of the United States of America', I would answer the question North Korea, and I think that needs to be part of the rebalancing of our foreign policy priorities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: But to that, Bush administration officials say they believe Iraq poses a greater threat. They say Saddam Hussein has invaded other countries, and has used weapons of mass destruction on his own people. They say Iraq's history makes the threat of military force necessary, but they say North Korea's interests in improving economic relations with the west, means that diplomatic efforts with Pyongyang might be more likely to succeed. Now, as for North Korea, the White House is not publicly saying that it is scrapping a 1994 agreement with the country. But President Bush and his aides are making it clear that North Korea two weeks ago, said that that agreement was nullified. This is an agreement in which North Korea gets energy assistance from the U.S. and other countries in exchange for freezing its nuclear weapons programs, so U.S. officials are saying this agreement is essentially dead, and they are consulting with U.S. allies about next steps.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICE: This is a big deal, because North Korea has in effect told us, that a political arrangement between the United States, North Korea and several other parties, has been nullified. They are the ones who have blown a hole in this political arrangement, and in the most brazen fashion, admitted that they have been looking for an alternative path to a nuclear weapon from the plutonium path that we thought they were on. It's a very serious matter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: But administration officials are really hoping with intense diplomatic pressure, North Korea will pull back and freeze its nuclear weapons program. A top U.S. official was meeting with Japanese officials today in Tokyo, and President Bush plans to take up the issue with the leaders of China, South Korea, Japan and Russia later this week. Anderson?
COOPER: Kelly, you mentioned that North Korea may have one or two nuclear weapons. Does the administration feel like they have a firm handle on exactly how many weapons North Korea have? Do they know -- Does Kim Jung Il have his hand on the button somewhere?
WALLACE: They don't know. You have Secretary Powell saying today, what really Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said later last week, that they believe North Korea possibly could have one or two nuclear weapons, but that no one, no U.S. intelligence officer has been able to touch these weapons just yet. So there's a lot they don't know, but they believe they do possibly have one or two weapons. They obviously believe they've had this active program dating back to the late 1990s. So there is a great deal of concern, Anderson, but again, they believe there's more leverage here with North Korea than with Iraq. The country's economy is ailing, people are starving. They believe that diplomatic and economic pressure on the country might force Pyongyang to pull back. Anderson?
COOPER: Alright. Let's hope so. Kelly Wallace, Thanks very much. We are anticipating a press conference in Montgomery County, Maryland. We will bring that to you live, of course, so Daryn Kagan is also standing by for that. That's a life shot of where the press conference will take place. We hope to hear the latest on the investigation into the sniper shootings. We have a panel of experts standing by. Eric Haney, Kelly McCann, and we will be right back after this short break.
COOPER: We are awaiting a Montgomery County press conference just literally a few minutes from now. We are hoping that will get started. That's a live shot right there.
We will bring it to you, of course, live. Daryn Kagan is standing by for that. But first, we're going to get a quick check of the top headlines.
Investigators say they're going on the assumption that the shooting of a man outside an Ashland, Virginia restaurant was the work of the suburban sniper.
A 37-year-old man who would be the sniper's twelfth victim is listed in critical condition - excuse me - at a Richmond hospital. We anticipate a press conference from the hospital also in this hour.
Other news. School officials in the Richmond area say classes will be held as scheduled tomorrow with a strong police presence visible on each of the campuses, for in the light of last night's shooting, they are canceling all outdoor activities at area schools.
A tire fire at a landfill near Houston shot flames as high as 1,000 feet in the air. About five acres of tires are burning. The good news - officials say they're just going to let the fire extinguish itself. The bad news - that could take a few weeks, and it's going to smell really, really bad.
Which country poses the greater threat to the United States, North Korea or Iraq? It depends on who you ask these days. Senator Bob Graham, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee says North Korea, with its recently admitted nuclear weapons program poses a more immediate danger than Iraq.
And we are rejoined now by Eric Haney and Kelly McCann, security analyst for CNN. We've just been discussing all the latest on both last night's shooting and the investigation as its been going so far.
As you look, Eric, at all the police work, trying to work together, what goes through your mind? I mean, it has got to be an extraordinarily complicated task, coordinating federal, state, local law enforcement like this.
ERIC HANEY, SGT. MAJOR, CNN FIREARMS ANALYST: Well, it certainly is. Any joint operation is tremendously difficult. I am just astounded at how well they're doing it.
There's some really adult, intelligent people in charge of this at every level. And the coordination has just been magnificent. And you see, they're getting better and faster every time.
COOPER: Kelly, who is in charge of this investigation, as far as you understand it? I mean, we've - obviously, the base of the operation still seems to be Montgomery County, Maryland. Are they running the show here?
KELLY MCCANN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Here in the bureau, they keep referring to it as a coalition, almost, in that there's joint cooperation between all agencies. And everyone's been very careful to designate a lead agency.
If there had to be a lead, I'd call it Montgomery County. But at some point, if this starts to burgeon into other areas and other things, there's going to have to be developed a central repository where all these subordinate agencies will have to go to a carefully identified lead agency. I guess that's going to be the next step.
COOPER: We're joined right now by Gary Tuchman, who is in Ashland, who was there last night at the shooting. We talked to him an awful lot last night.
Gary, I understand you are near the woods, and you can show us a little bit of some of the area.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NEWS, ASHLAND, VIRGINIA: Well, Anderson, right now for the first time, we're getting a look at the back of the Ponderosa restaurant where the shooting happened.
This is the parking lot where the 37-year-old man and his wife walked out of the restaurant. That's the restaurant right there, the green and white building. And this is the back parking lot.
They walked out here and that's when he was shot, shortly before eight o'clock Eastern time last night.
This part of the parking lot is relatively dark. There are a few lights up here, but it is kind of dark.
What is believed to have happened is that the shooter was in the woods next to the restaurant. We've been showing you the woods for the last 17 or 18 hours. We are now going to give you a look at where it's believed the shooter fired the one shot that hit the man in his stomach.
You can see it's a heavily wooded area. It's about one or two acres. But there is a path that you can take, and as you walk along the path, you can see from here there is a clear look at the parking lot that we just came out of.
But as you walk down you see a lot of garbage, and that made it hard for the people - and there scores of people here searching from eight o'clock last night until noon today. You can still see the yellow police tape that's up right here.
But there were dogs back here during the nighttime hours and the early morning hours that came with searchlights, and they meticulously combed these woods to look for evidence.
And we have been told affirmatively, they did find forensic evidence in the woods here. But we haven't been told yet what the evidence is. It's at the lab.
About 500 feet behind me is a road that is under construction right now. That particular road is (INAUDIBLE) to come here and gotten away from. The road's under construction for some stores that are in the area, but it's a dirt road.
We walked over to that dirt road before. We saw some tire tracks. We also saw some paw prints from the dogs who were being part of the search.
So at this point, we do not know affirmatively if this is the man who committed the other shootings in the Washington, D.C. area. Police here say they are operating under the assumption that, indeed, it was the sniper. But at this point, they're not positively sure.
But what makes this worse, if it is not the Washington sniper, then you have another sniper here. And it's not clear what would be worse, if it's a copycat, or if it's the man who's carried out these shootings since October 2 for the last 18 days.
So, it was almost about 24 hours ago when the shooting happened, and police believe it came from the woods we're standing in right now.
COOPER: Gary, you ...
TUCHMAN: Anderson, back to you.
COOPER: It's really creepy, I know, just to see you there on that scene. Is there any way - and I don't know if this, technologically you can do this - but is there any way to pan back to get the view of the parking lot from the area you're in right now?
TUCHMAN: Absolutely, we can. Let's give you a bird's eye view. I'm going to have John turn around and walk, and give you a bird's eye view of walking up this path.
And as you walk up this path, you're in the woods. You're covered completely, and you could see all these parking spots in the back of the Ponderosa lot.
So, if it would have been the gunman who was in this spot - and it's believed this is where the gunman was - he would have had a clear shot at someone who was walking out. And as you can see, it's a good distance from the restaurant. So you may not have seen other people. This couple may have been by themselves with no witnesses anywhere nearby at this point.
It's a very busy street. And we've been on the other side of the street noticing how busy it was for the last 15 hours. But when you come here to this part of the parking lot where this happened, you see that it's a busy area, but they could have been the only two people standing here when this all happened.
COOPER: And it happened, Gary, about an hour and 20 minutes or so from now, 24 hours ago.
Gary, stand by. I'm joined - Eric Haney's here. So is Kelly McCann. I just want to get their perspectives on what you've just shown us.
Pretty scary stuff. I mean, it's - there's something very ominous about seeing it from that perspective, Eric.
HANEY: Well, it is. And it always is when you go to a site of a catastrophe where human lives have been lost, or in this case, a man has been wounded.
I think what's striking, again, as we've seen in a number of the other sites, in almost all of them, is that a shot was taken from the back portion of a parking lot, possibly here. But it has over and over again, the places where people don't park. They like to park up close to the front.
And in this case, this man and his wife were isolated back there as they walked back to their vehicle - only ones there. It's, you know, it's perfect for that sort of a catastrophe.
COOPER: Because - perfect because it's lit. It's - and it looked like there was a pretty large field of fire there.
HANEY: Well, it was a large field of fire. And, it would probably be the case if the man was at his door, of his vehicle, standing still when he was hit by the bullet.
COOPER: Kelly, as you looked at those pictures, I assume you were able to see those shots that Gary Tuchman showed us. What went through your mind?
MCCANN: I'm, well, you know, the ambient light, of course, is created by the sodium iodide lights. And also, of coursed, beyond the Ponderosa, there's even more light coming back.
So it was an easy job for him to backlight his target and be in a recess in a dark area, not revealing his position, and being able to profile on his either open-sights iron sights or a scope weapon.
So, as I think everyone has almost unanimously agreed, there's little doubt that this guy is, in fact, surveilling his area first, making careful choices about his final firing position, placing himself appropriately, and executing a plan.
COOPER: Gary, as you hear what Kelly and Eric were saying, what are your thoughts?
Gary Tuchman, I don't know if you were able to hear what Eric and Kelly were saying, but were you able to?
TUCHMAN: Anderson, yes, I'm sorry. I did hear what he said, and very good points he made. And one thing I want to bring up. Right now, it is 6:40 Eastern time. This happened shortly before eight o'clock. So right now we're at dusk in the sky.
And his point is even made more clear, because it was completely dark when this happened. But this man did have the lights of the restaurants, the hotels. And he was in complete darkness back in the woods. So, ...
COOPER: Gary, let me ask you ...
TUCHMAN: ... that point was (ph) made (ph) very clear.
COOPER: ... about how big an area is this wooded area? I had heard last night it was approximately an acre deep. Do you have any sense of how deep it goes? And how close are those back roads on the other side of the wooded area?
TUCHMAN: I would say, based on my inexact measurements, based on backyards I've had - or backyards I wish had - this is about one or two acres, these woods right here.
But on the other side of the one or two acres, there's that mud road. It's a dirt mud road that's being built now, and you can drive on it. But there would be no one around there at night if you wanted to get away very quickly.
We're making an assumption here that this is what happened. And they also could have run away. But there is a road back there which he could have gotten away - he or them - could have gotten away in a vehicle.
COOPER: Well, Gary Tuchman, great work. Our first shot of - our first look at that wooded area that we have been wanting to look at really since this began last night.
Thanks very much for bringing us that. We will come back to you very shortly. We are waiting for this press conference in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Standing by with Kelly McCann, security analyst, and Eric Haney, firearms expert, among many other things.
That's a live shot of the Montgomery County location where the press briefing will take place.
We will be right back after this short break.
COOPER: Special coverage - Sniper On The Loose. We are anticipating a press conference from Maryland, Montgomery County police officials.
Any moment now we will bring that to you live, as well as a press conference later on from the hospital, where the latest victim of a shooting has been taken, last night's shooting, a 37-year-old man.
The small community of Ashland is certainly not used to this kind of a spotlight, never expected to find itself in what's become the epicenter of a massive police investigation.
Among residents we're told there is shock, of course. There is disbelief. And certainly, of course, there is fear.
CNN's Bob Franken is there.
BOB FRANKEN, CNN NEWS, ASHLAND, VIRGINIA: It may not be altogether a surprise. Since this is the next major interstate exit south of the last shooting in Virginia.
But in Ashland, just down the road from the highway, a town the residents themselves call Mayberry, the shooting was still a shock, a loss of innocence.
BRENDA HERRING, ASHLAND RESIDENT: I feel like, you know, we've had the rug pulled out from underneath us. And, you know, Mayberry has turned into other city that's full of crime.
FRANKEN: Ashland mayor, Angela LaCombe, presides over one of those rural communities that has considered itself a cocoon, a shelter from the violent problems that seem so far away.
ANGELA LACOMBE, MAYOR, ASHLAND, VIRGINIA: My concern is making sure the residents feel safe again, and that they feel secure, and that we don't live in a cloud of fear until this guy's caught.
FRANKEN: The cloud of fear hovers over gathering places like the Whistle Stop ice cream store by the railroad tracks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE RESIDENT, ASHLAND, VIRGINIA: Here you go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE RESIDENT, ASHLAND, VIRGINIA: I guess we knew the possibility of it, coming to the Town of Ashland. But I don't think that it seemed like a likelihood.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE RESIDENT, ASHLAND, VIRGINIA: This is such a small town, everybody knows everybody. It's kind of unnerving.