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Talk with Captain Nancy Demme of Montgomery County Police

Aired October 22, 2002 - 08:43   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Patty, we're going to have you stand by because we have Captain Nancy Demme of the Montgomery County Police Department on the phone with us now. Thank you very much for joining us.

ZAHN: What can you share with us about what you think you're looking at in Silver Spring, Maryland this morning. Is this connected to the sniper's spree?

DEMME: At this point, we're investigating as if it is, but I cannot tell you whether it's actually linked yet at this point.

ZAHN: And how long do you think it will take to figure that out?

DEMME: ATF will have to do some work, as well as the FBI and some other members of the task force. When we have enough information that actually links it, we will inform you, as we have in the past.

ZAHN: Captain, have you gotten information from the hospital yet on the condition of the patient and whether they were able to remove a bullet from his body or whether it was discharged from his body?

DEMME: Actually, at this point, that's what I told the other members of the media here, I'm on my way back to the demand post to get more information on the victim.

ZAHN: Give us a sense of the kind of resources that are in place in Aspen Hill this morning. The shot is pretty extraordinary. We're seeing some investigators on foot that appear to be searching the woods. What else is going to there that we can't see.

DEMME: Actually, I think all resources that can be brought into play, all of the ones, whether it's manpower or planes, or helicopters or vehicles, everything that we need is here, as it has been previously.

ZAHN: And we were just talking to Patty Davis, our correspondent, who said that the schools are considering going to code blue. Explain to us exactly what that would mean. We know outdoor activities are already restricted. What would be the next step?

DEMME: Code blue is what I think they have been on for some amount of time here, but that means restricted access in or out, escorted only, and the kids don't have recess or recreation or lunch, but I'm not sure whether or not the school has done that or not. I'm on the scene myself right now, so I'm not sure what could be in place by the school system.

ZAHN: Have you heard talk because of the level of concern here that schools might have to be closed.

DEMME: Unfortunately, as I said, I'm on the crime seen, I have no information on the school system. Sorry.

ZAHN: You also mentioned in your news conference about 10 minutes ago that there was a police officer injured that perhaps sustained back and neck injuries employ what was that all about?

DEMME: That may have been an accident en route to here, but I am not sure. The media was just concerned about his status, and I was giving that report, but I don't have information yet at this point as to how or if it was related to the response to the scene.

ZAHN: In the meantime, just describe us to what you're seeing on the scene so we can better understand the pictures here. You said the FBI, ATF and local police are all involved here?

DEMME: Yes. All federal, state and local resources that we have been using and called into play are present and playing the parts they would play in this strategic and tactical response.

ZAHN: And someone reported to our Mike Ahlers that it appeared as though police were checking some evidence markers that led towards the woods from this bus stop. Can you tell us anything about that?

DEMME: No. I can't give you any information on what they are doing in terms of evidence collection or marking. I'm really down at the media command post. Sorry.

ZAHN: And if you could give us some perspective, as you say you're investigating as though it is related to the sniper's spree, just what kind of a day you had yesterday when it became public that the sniper had left a note behind the Ponderosa restaurant, and there were a series, I guess, of phone interactions between the sniper and investigators.

DEMME: I appreciate your question. Unfortunately, I'm am only going to be dealing right now with this scene, and I do have to get back to the command post, but thank you.

ZAHN: OK. Captain Nancy Demme. Just quick question for you, is Chief Moose on the scene, too, or is he still back at police headquarters?

DEMME: Actually, I'm not sure. I haven't had the opportunity to communicate directly with him. I'm not sure.

ZAHN: Well, we respect how much work you have to get done, and we are all hoping and praying that you get some sort of break here. Thank you very much for your time this morning. We appreciate it.

Let's go back to Bob Franken, who is standing by very close to where the shooting happened this morning. Good morning, Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning again, Paula. As you can see, I have to use a cell phone to hear you because there are a variety of technical problems, largely brought on because there was such a massive traffic backup, because police stopped the area, that it caused an overload of the system, as people were using their various electronic devices.

That said, we are about a half mile from the area, just a little bit away from where Captain Demme just spoke with you, and what we have been able to see is pretty much what she described, which is just a large squadron, a large phalanx of police officers of all types, ATF, FBI, Montgomery County Police Officers, scouring the area, the area where the shooting occur side a side road off the major thoroughfare, Connecticut Avenue, and it seems to be a gathering place for buses. On one side of the street, an apartment building.

However, it appears by some of the indications that we were seeing and that Mike Ahlers, our producer, who has a good vantage point was seeing, that they're focusing on the woods. Bloodhounds have been in the woods. There are a couple of evidence markers that lead away from the apartment building into the woods. Police of course are looking in the apartment area to see if they can come up witnesses.

And as you know, the police are saying that they would like the witnesses to step forward. They can do so by calling 911.

The area around here which had been shut down is now open. For a while, police in black fatigues and carrying automatic weapons were stopping every vehicle, searching not only every vehicle as opposed to certain ones, but also the occupants. At one point, a man on a motorcycle sat there while the armed police officials went through his knapsack.

The shooting apparently happened as the person who was hit was on the steps of the bus. We now know that to be the case. Still no identification of the person. Very little information about him. That's routine, as you know, Paula. They want to make sure that the family is notified, that type of thing.

So the police are not telling us what kind of operating theory that they are using right now, about where the shooter was. They're not even saying if they know or believe that it was the sniper.

But the premise going in, obviously, is that this is another attack by the Washington area sniper, until they learn otherwise -- Paula.

ZAHN: Bob, I wanted to add a little piece of information that comes from the spokesperson from the Montgomery County Fire Department when he's talking about the extent of the injuries of this 40-year-old victim. I guess he said, originally, it was thought that the man had critical injuries to his chest, but authorities later, as according to him, determined his injuries were in the lower rib to stomach area. We still aren't given any context of how serious his condition is, but we hope to get that more information for you, respecting, of course, as Bob just mentioned, that they're awaiting to give us more information until family members have been notified.


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