CNN BREAKING NEWS
Two People in Custody Near Richmond, Virginia
Aired October 21, 2002 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We're actually expecting three different briefings this afternoon. The first one, as you mentioned, coming out of Richmond, Virginia, and we'll be going live there in just a moment. Also, after that one takes place in Henrico County, we expect a subsequent news briefing right here in Montgomery County, Maryland, this police agency being lead agency on the task force as the search for the sniper goes on. Also, some time this afternoon, we're expecting a news briefing from the hospital where the latest shooting victim continues to recover, and that is also in Richmond, Virginia.
First, we want to go right to our Washington, D.C. Bureau and that's where we find our Kelli Arena standing by with the latest on these two people taken into custody earlier today.
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Daryn. Our sources tell us that one of the individuals that was taken into custody is a 24-year-old male of Mexican origin. What apparently led investigators to that area was a phone call into the tip line, as you know that's being manned at FBI headquarter here in Washington on Saturday night after the shooting. The caller indicated that if police were to look near the Ponderosa restaurant where the shooting occurred, they would find a note.
Police did look, they did find a note. One source described the caller as having an accent of unknown origin. That call was traced, the call to the tip line, was traced to 4400 block of Broad Street in Richmond, Virginia. That is right near, in the vicinity of, the phone booth where one of the individuals that was taken into custody was apprehended earlier today.
The note, we are told, is a handwritten note of some length, and sources say that it hinted at a demand for money. So, we were cautioned by our sources that this may be a copycat situation or an extortion situation and these individuals may have absolutely nothing to do with the sniper attacks that have been terrorizing this area for weeks now.
That's the very latest, hopefully we'll get more clarification on what role, if any, these individuals played out of these press conferences, Daryn.
KAGAN: Kelli, since this is breaking news, I just want to make sure I understand here. So what you're saying is, as we go back to Saturday night, the night of the latest shooting and the night that this most recent note was found, you're saying that this phone call was made to alert authorities to go look for this note that police have been reacting to?
ARENA: That's right. After the shooting, a phone call comes into the tip line, says, hey, look for a note in the woods by the Ponderosa. Police go, they find a -- they do find a note. In the note, there is a hint at a possible demand for money. I have not been told the exact language, but the language used to me was "hinted at a demand for money." That call was then traced back to the area where the person was apprehended in the phone booth today. It was not that exact phone that that call was made to the tip line but a phone that was very near to that area. And so, investigators, we had U.S. Marshals, ATF, local police, standing, waiting in that area, surveilling that area, to see if an individual came forward. But we're also told that there were agents in other locations as well, surveilling today. This person came, was apprehended, as you know, but there has been no official confirmation from anyone at this point, even on a sourcing level, that these individuals had anything to do with the sniper attacks, Daryn.
KAGAN: And what about the second person who was arrested? Do we know anything about him or her?
ARENA: No, just that it's another male, waiting to see if we can get more information, but obviously taken in using the same intelligence that was used to take in the first individual at the pay phone booth.
KAGAN: All right. Well, very interesting. You're right, it does sound like it could be related or it could be people who are just trying to take advantage of a very difficult situation in Virginia and D.C. and Maryland. Kelli Arena, thank you so much. We will be checking back with you.
As Miles mentioned off the top, we're waiting for this news briefing to begin in Henrico County in Richmond, Virginia, and our Jason Carroll is standing by where that briefing should begin just about any minute.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, a lot of us are standing by waiting for that press conference to begin, a lot of us waiting for some definitive information about who these two people are and if they do, in fact, have any connection to the sniper shootings. We're standing here in front of the Henrico County government center. Just to give you the lay of the land, it's located just a few blocks from that Exxon station where we saw all of that activity just a short while ago.
If you take a look behind me, you can see that what they're doing out here is blocking off the entrance to the center, which sort of gives you an indication of how they're treating this. Whoever they have in custody, they are treating it very, very seriously.
We are told that state, local and federal officials will be present during the conference. H.W. Stanley Junior, chief of the Henrico County Police Department, will be here. He will be one of the people speaking during the conference. We're hoping that when it begins -- again, it was scheduled for 1 p.m. Eastern time, but we've seen in many situations that these press conferences, once they're scheduled for a particular time, oftentimes they're delayed for quite a bit while they get their information together, decide what information they're going to release to the media. But we're hoping that when the press conference does get under way, we're finally going to get some clear, definitive information in terms of who they have in custody and why.
KAGAN: All right, Jason. We'll be going back to you as that news conference begins and bringing it live to our viewers here on CNN. Thank you so much.
Not too far from where Jason is standing is our Ed Lavandera. It is the site of a gas station where one of those people was taken into custody early today, a lot of action around there, and Ed has been there to cover much of it.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Daryn. Well, a lot of what eyewitnesses told us here just around the Exxon gas station seems to match what Kelli Arena was talking about, about how there were already agents in this area, surveilling and working the area closely, because what a lot of people here report is that when this caller, or perhaps when this car arrived at that pay phone, that this area was instantly swarming with officers. And about 20 or 30 police cars rolling up on the scene in a very quick fashion. In fact that's what -- the impression a lot of people here were left with, just how quickly, how many, and the high number of officers that showed up here so quickly.
And what happened here was that about three or four hours ago, just that yellow and white canopy behind me, underneath there is a pay phone and there was a white Plymouth Voyager, white minivan, pulled up next to it. And what was described to us was as a team of officers rolled up on the passenger side of that car, pulled out of the one of the suspects that has been arrested today, put him down on the ground, cuffed him, and took him away. And now authorities here, the witnesses says that they got a good look -- several witnesses say they got a good look at the person that they were talking about, and we can listen to them and how they described this particular suspect.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON NEILSON, WITNESS: It all happened very quickly. They approached the vehicle from the right rear and at the first attempt to open the door, I don't know if it was a wet handle, because it was raining at that time, not just damp, it was raining, the officer's hand slipped off the handle, whether it was wet or locked, I don't know. But on the second attempt, the door opened, the sliding door. That officer reached in the van and quickly had a slightly built man in dark clothes on the pavement. LAVANDERA: Can you tell us what he looked like as far as race or ethnicity? Or was it too quick?
NEILSON: I've repeated this before, he was not black, but his skin was dark. Black hair and dark clothes, no white clothing at all.
QUESTION: He didn't appear to be armed?
QUESTION: Did he appear to be surprised or kind of frightened at what was going on?
NEILSON: Well, it happened so quick, if you can imagine reaching inside of a van and grabbing something very quickly. And it happened -- by the time that door opened, it couldn't have been two seconds by the time the guy was on the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: Now, the scene here at the Exxon gas station is returning back to normal. This is a very popular intersection, a very busy intersection on the western side of Richmond, Virginia. The traffic here has opened pretty much back to normal, at least heading this way, from where the press briefing is just down the street from here, things starting to return a bit back to normal, and as one officer described here, kind of almost in a tongue in cheek kind of way, that it was an incredibly interesting morning -- Daryn.
KAGAN: That would be an understatement, I would say. What is that that we here buzzing above you? Is that a helicopter doing some surveillance, or what is that?
LAVANDERA: Actually, news helicopters have been hovering around...
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sheriff Stewart Cook with the Hanover County Sheriff's Office. He is going to read you a brief, but I'm going to get all the sheriffs and stuff and the county administrators and all those names for you, OK. So after he's done, I'll come back and give you all the names and spellings.
QUESTION: Could you spell Stuart V. Cook now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, S-T-U-A-R-T V. as in Victor. Cook -- C- O-O-K. He's the sheriff of the Hanover County Sheriff's Office. OK, so they're going to come over in about five minutes.
There will be several chiefs of police. Can you move over?
KAGAN: All right. It looks like that was just a little preparatory announcement about who we will be seeing, and it's much of what we anticipated. The sheriff of Hanover County, we first saw him on Saturday night when the last shooting took place. Also several members of the task force are down there, including representatives from police agencies, and from federal agents who are working on this case. It sounds like we're getting about a five-minute warning. My thanks to Ed Lavandera. We'll be checking back with him.
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