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Sniper on Loose: Interview With Lou Palumbo

Aired October 21, 2002 - 12:12   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Protecting against snipers and other security threats is Lou Palumbo's stock and trade. Palumbo is a former NYPD investigator who heads up The Elite Group, a private security firm, whose clients range from heads of state to the Academy Awards. He is joining us now live from New York.
Lou, thanks for joining us.

Well, right off the top, give us your little immediate reaction to these very, very dramatic developments over the past few hours.

LOU PALUMBO, THE ELITE GROUP, LTD.: Well, I'd say they're very encouraging, Wolf, quite frankly. I mean, my perception on this is that there's been some very good police work done, both on the local and the federal level. But I think it's too early to really -- you know, how would you say? Forecast exactly what this all really means.

Hopefully at 1:00, there will be a little bit more information that will fill in some questions that we have. Are these people taken into custody the shooters? Are they witnesses perhaps?

We really don't know what their relationship is with these shootings at this juncture. This is all merely conjecture, and we have nothing to support anything, still, conspiracy, multiple shooters, Middle Eastern shooters -- we have nothing. And quite frankly, this is a fruition of our law enforcement agencies keeping their cards kind of close to the cuff.

BLITZER: And as we await those news conferences at the top of the hour, another one in Rockville, Maryland, where the task force is headquartered. I your experience -- and forget about this particular case, in your experience, are there cases where killers want to be picked up, want to be stopped, and do something to try to get themselves arrested in order to stop the carnage?

PALUMBO: Absolutely. I mean, to have a correspondence from a serial killer or a sniper of this type, asking the police to help him stop himself is not really that unusual. Better equipped to answer that question, though, quite frankly, Wolf, would be a psychological profiler, either from the federal government or a forensic psychologist or psychiatrist.

But it's not uncommon to have a dialogue, written or other, with someone who is looking to have someone help him stop his act.

BLITZER: All right, we're going to try to do that, Lou. But I've got some e-mails. I want to read a couple to you and get your response.

Wendy from Atlanta is writing this: "No matter what the cooperation, the buck has to stop somewhere. What agency should have ultimate responsibility for the sniper killings?"

As you know, this has been a task force, a lot jurisdictions -- local, state and federal authorities. Is it time -- assuming that this is not the end of this case, is it time for the FBI, for example, to take over all charge?

PALUMBO: Well, quite frankly, the minute this started crossing state lines, there is no doubt in my mind that the FBI has been the lead agency in this investigation, just by the nature of the acts and the fact that, as I stated just a second ago, it has crossed state lines. ATF, since there are weapons involved, are clearly right up there in the forefront with the FBI.

It's been interesting that all of the press conferences, for the most part, have avoided the FBI or the ATF really briefing the media, and subsequently the public, as to what their involvement is. And, you know, what it really does, Wolf, is it enables them a little layer of insulation or protection in that area of the integrity of their investigation and the fruition of crime scene searches and other things of that nature.

BLITZER: We've got another e-mail from Tom in Quebec, wants to know this to you, Lou: "Do you think that the man who gave the false police report in the sniper killings did it to collect the $500,000 reward? And do you think that offering such a large amount of money could encourage others to do the same?"

I guess it's a double-edged sword there.

PALUMBO: The answer is yes and yes, you know, obviously. I mean, the money is a motivating factor, and obviously, you know, especially people who are bit more destitute or indigent, if they have an opportunity to collect this money, and they think it's going to be easy, I think they're willing to roll the dice, as they would say, and take a chance.

The only thing is that apparently they were unaware of the ramifications of filing a false police report, and they're fairly serious, especially when the incident is as serious as this one is.

BLITZER: All right, Lou Palumbo, thanks you for your insight. We'll be checking in with you periodically as well. Lou Palumbo, former NYPD investigator with us.

PALUMBO: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you.


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