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Sniper May Have Struck Again

Aired October 22, 2002 - 09:01   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Investigators fearing the worst, that the sniper may have struck again. Let's turn to Rosetta Talley, who actually heard the shots fired early this morning.
Rosetta, thanks for coming back to talk with us.

Once again, take us back to earlier this morning, what you were doing and what you heard?

ROSETTA TALLEY, HEARD SHOT: A little before 6:00, I had taken the dog out and just came back into the apartment when I heard this loud noise, and I'm positive it was a shot. This was about 5 minutes to 6:00. So I went to the bedroom and I asked my husband, did he hear it? And he said, yes. And we agreed that it was a shot.

Well, in a matter of minutes we heard sirens. And then shortly after that helicopters and all. But when I was out early with the dog, I can see down towards that direction and there was a bus sitting there, and with the lights on, which is usual because a lot of them stop there before they go to the end of line to start a new route, and so we were sitting there looking at one news station, and then we turned on CNN. And when the reporter said no one had heard the shot or there were any witnesses, I told my husband, I said, well, we heard the shot. So that's when I called CNN to let them know that we did hear the shot, you know. I don't know about any other witnesses or seeing anything, but we did hear the shot.

And then shortly after that, we -- the police were there on the scene from all directions, and you know. And so we're in the house, and I'm just praying for the individual that was shot.

ZAHN: Yes, we all are. Could you tell us inside the apartment the direction the shot was fired. I know you are looking at that shot where police have put up evidence markers toward the woods. Could you make any sense of the direction of the sound?

TALLEY: No, I couldn't, just that it was extremely loud.

ZAHN: And have you called police yet, because they're very much encouraging anybody who heard or saw anything to call in?

TALLEY: Yes, I did.

ZAHN: Good. You were following the instructions of the authorities. And just a question for you, since you walk your dog at this time in the morning, on any given day, how many commuters sit on this bus that's sitting on a side street this morning? TALLEY: Well, that particular bus set sits from Belprey and Grand Prix. Normally, after I take the dog out for a walk, I come back in and I take my grandson to that area where the shooting occurred to the bus stop on Connecticut Avenue to catch his commuter bus. So a few minutes more, and we probably would have...

ZAHN: Rosetta, I think.

TALLEY: It's a terrible thing that's going on. And I pray that it will be ended soon.

ZAHN: We all certainly hope that. But we -- I guess I'm told we're going to hospital news conference right now. Let's listen in.


DR. EUGENE PASSAMANI: I'm not sure they've all arrived yet. He's in critical condition. He went to the O.R. immediately, and that process is still going on. I can't comment on exactly what's going on.

I'm not sure. I think you have to get those details from the police. I just can't comment on that at the moment, I'm sorry.

My name is Dr. Eugene Passamani, and I'm on the senior staff here at the hospital, and we'll be back to give you more information as it develops.

Thank you very much.

I'm the vice president for quality here at the hospital.

ZAHN: OK, we dipped into that news conference after it already started, but you just heard Dr. Passamani confirm that the 40-year-old man brought to Suburban Hospital, which is a hospital that specializes in trauma injuries, is in critical condition. That would be about all he would say. Obviously,there is great concern about family members being identified about the condition that this young man is in today. A lot of questions being asked about who this man is, where he was, whether he was a bus driver or a passenger, whether he was shot getting on the bus, getting off the bus.

About all we know at this hour is investigators were saying he was shot while standing, and they use that word "standing" on the top step of the bus platform. Let's go to Bob Franken, who's been trying to get more information from investigators on the scene.

As far as we can tell, Bob, at least we haven't heard from any witnesses that saw this, there isn't a very good description of exactly what went down?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, and remember, this happened while it was still dark. Again, whoever does the shootings relies on the element of surprise. Before anybody can act, he gets into whatever mode of transportation he uses and gets away. There are any number of big web of back roads here, and of course as you can see, it leads to major thoroughfares. So escape could be something that could happen almost instantaneously, even before the police had the very quick response that they did, and that quick response was to shut down an awful lot of the area, some of the major highways, some of the road here.

We are able to witness black fatigue-clad FBI agents and local police with automatic weapons stopping vehicles, not just a particular kind of vehicle, each vehicle, thoroughly searching it and searching the occupants.

As I mentioned before, at one point, a motorcycle rider was having his knapsack on his back searched by police officers, and they've sealed off the area, which goes up that hill, which is where the shooting occurred.

Now one thing of course that is consistent with so many of the shootings is a wooded area. This is a particular part of town there is an awful lot of wooded area, a lot of trees. You can probably see in back of me some of the trees. They're right next to where the bus was sitting, where this latest victim was hit. And as a matter of fact, authorities as we've been reporting seem to be favoring the wooded area. They put some evidence markers in an area that leads into the woods, we are told by producers. We have been told there are bloodhounds that have been going into the woods.

At the same time, investigators are going into the apartment building across the street, searching for witnesses. They've asked witnesses to come forward if possible, call 911, as they try and come up with some sort of indication of exactly what happened. It happened again in the dark of night. And so far we've only had one person that we know of who actually heard the shot. That was the person who called CNN. It happened in the dark of night. They're trying to piece this together, operating on the premise, that it was, once again, the Washington-area sniper, until they hear otherwise -- Paula.

ZAHN: Bob, can you give us a sense of how strained resources must be, particularly after the police action yesterday that went down in Richmond, Virginia.

FRANKEN: It was -- Richmond, Virginia was the focal point yesterday. Here, of course, the police resources are beefed up by the fact that there is a cooperative agreement. The unusual nature of the District of Columbia, which is the core city here, means that you have available a large near army of park police, state police, FBI, Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, et cetera. Police insist they've been able to maintain their normal duties.

Of course, as you pointed out, the shootings had gone far south. They had gone to near the Richmond area, and yesterday we had the flurry of activity, the unsuccessful arrests down there. We are now back close to the area where the original shootings occurred. Maybe you are a mile, a mile and a half away from the original five people, six people were killed in this particular area before it is spread out.

So, in this case, the shooting, if it is the Washington-area sniper has in a very tragic way come back home.

ZAHN: And Montgomery County Police Department is saying they are investigating this as, even in absence of ballistics information that might confirm just that.

Bob Franken, thanks.

Let's check in with Bill Delaney, who's standing by at Suburban Hospital right now.

Bill, we just dipped into a news conference that Dr. Passamani held, and we got into it I think a minute or two late, and we got to the point where he confirmed that the victim was in critical condition. Was there anything else he said before that?

BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paula, you are breaking up a bit. But I think you said that you got into the press conference here a little bit late. Well, it was a very, very brief briefing indeed. You probably didn't miss too much. Dr. Eugene Passamani of Suburban Hospital here in Bethesda, Maryland, coming out and saying that the victim of this latest shooting arrived here at 6:40 in the morning, he was helicoptered here, he was immediately taken to the operating room. He is still in critical condition.

The doctor told us his family is aware, obviously, of where he is and what happened to him. But the doctor would not confirm whether the family was here or not. He remains in the operating room. Dr. Eugene Passamani not telling us precisely the nature of the wounds, only promising that there would be more updates as the morning and day continues -- Paula.

ZAHN: Now, Bill, has anybody been able to confirm yet from there whether this victim was a passenger on the bus or perhaps the driver?

DELANEY: No, we have not gotten any confirmation here at the hospital, Paula, as to just who this gentleman is. It's being widely reported. I believe that police have said, although I'm not certain about it. We're somewhat isolated out here in Bethesda, but that this is a 40-year-old man, but police, rather hospital officials, as I say, are still giving us only sketchy information on the gentleman who is now in the operating room here in critical condition at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland.

ZAHN: Bill, before we let you go, I think it's interesting to know that Pete Peringer (ph) of the Montgomery County Fire Department has actually said to reporters this morning, at first they thought that this victim had sustained chest injuries, and I'm going to read now what said a little bit earlier this morning about what he believes to be the extent of this man's injuries. He described his injuries as being in the lower rib to the stomach area. I'm sure with what little Dr. Passamani said, there is no way to even confirm what this fire department spokesperson said, right?

DELANEY: Paula, again, I apologize, you are breaking up. As I said, no, we have not gotten no more details. We are now promised, I'm just being told, a 10:00 a.m., in about 45 minutes, briefing when they know more what's happening here in the operating room in Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland -- Paula.

ZAHN: Bill, thank you so much for the update.

We're going to check in with Dr. Sanjay Gupta now, our own in- house doctor, a neurologist himself, just to get an idea of what happens in a trauma center when someone is brought in.

Obviously, doctor, we know very little about the extent of this man's injuries. But walk us through the process how you stabilize a patient once they've been shot?


Yes, as a neurosurgeon, and you see a lot of trauma like this, there is no question. This is a bullet found in the torso, somewhere in the chest, maybe the lower chest, perhaps even the abdomen. One good thing about trauma, or can be a good thing about trauma, is that it's very rote. There is a strict protocol that is adhered to when a patient is brought into the hospital, and subsequently the operating room, and it is literally the ABCs. First, they stabilize the airway, which is the most critical thing, make sure the patient is getting enough oxygen, and ventilates and oxygenates well, makes sure the breathing is OK as well.

And after that is circulation, Paula. Obviously, a lot of blood loss can occur in the situation of a gunshot wound,. especially the type of gunshot wounds that we have been talking about, can be very devastating/ Lots of organs at the same time bleeding, not to mention the gaping hole that are literally left by this particular type of bullet. Once the circulation is stabilized, the blood pressure is brought to an acceptable limit, then focuses then on actually trying to stop the bleeding through an operation which is -- sounds like where he is right now.

As to the exact type of wounds for this particular victim, it is unclear at this point whether or not this is involving mainly chest, mainly abdominal. We have seen the abdominal-type wounds before. There is a lot of organs in the stomach, pancreas, the spleen. All can bleed a lot, certainly from the chest wounds as well. You have to make sure all those things are sort of in order as things proceed along.

ZAHN: And once again, doctor, investigators are proceeding as though this morning's shooting is related to the others, and let's bring their audience, remind them how devastating a .223 caliber bullet can be when you look at the Ashland, Virginia shooting over the weekend. That bullet ripped that victim's stomach apart, his pancreas, his lower intestines.

GUPTA: These are very bad players (ph). We learned about this in medical school. We know about this as doctors in trauma centers. These particular bullets go in a sometimes relatively small wound, devastate everything in their path other not only from the bullet itself, Paula, but also from a significant blast injury. It literally blasts organs, sometimes blasts them apart, and oftentimes loaves the body in a much bigger wound than the would that was created upon entry, and that is because of the sheer velocity and blast injury of this particular type of the bullet.

Very different than a sort of handgun injury than we see sometimes in urban cities. This is a high-powered rifle that we're talking about, that can give a lot of velocity, a lot of volume, a lot of blast to several different organs at the same time.

ZAHN: Doctor, we have time for just one quick more answer here to this question. I know you said there is a very strict protocol they follow at these hospitals. This is a designated trauma center where the victim is being treated. What is the level of care that he can get there that he might not get at another hospital?

DELANEY: Level one trauma center insinuates several different things. First and foremost, it insinuates that a trauma surgeon, a trauma team, a trauma operating room are all available on standby all the time. They have all the resources, including blood transfusions. everything that is needed to stabilize the patient right away and get that patient to an operating room. That's a level one trauma center. That's to be distinguish from the level two, and level three, level four trauma centers, which oftentimes don't have all of those capabilities. A level one trauma center, such as Suburban, is where this particular victim should be, because of the resources, stabilizing the patient initially and immediately is the key to getting them through this, getting them to survive.

ZAHN: Sanjay Gupta, thank you.


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