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Man Shot in Aspen Hill Area of Silver Spring

Aired October 22, 2002 - 07:10   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And I want to come back to what we now believe is part of the text of that letter that was left in Ashland, Virginia. Before we do that, let's go to Mike Ahlers, who is our own producer, who is on the ground of this latest shooting.
Mike, describe what you're looking at, and what you found when you arrived at the scene.

MIKE AHLERS, CNN PRODUCER: Well, the sun is coming up now, so I can see a lot more. When I was here, it was dark. Even though there are street lights, it's very dark at the location.

The bus is pulled over to the curb, the RIDE ON bus. And it's up against the -- it was opened up into an area that is -- it would be the blind side from the apartments. In other words, if you were in the apartments looking across the street, you wouldn't see anybody getting on or off the bus.

If you got off the bus, there is a short grassy area, a sidewalk, and then basketball courts, and then a tree line. The tree line is probably no more than 100 feet away.

So, it was very dark when I arrived.

There is what appears to be a police helicopter. It was hovering very low over the wooded area.

The residents here describe this as a very quiet community. They say the park is about roughly two blocks by two blocks.

And right now, there are an increasing number of detectives, it looks like, and investigators that are arriving at this scene.

ZAHN: Of course, this is the beginning of the morning commute. Can you tell how far back traffic is backed up at this hour, Mike?

AHLERS: Well, I am on the side street, so it really doesn't appear to be a problem at all. Connecticut Avenue I believe may be blocked off at this site at this part. It's near the end of Connecticut Avenue, so I don't think it will be a major commuter hassle.

But again, this is very unlike the other crime scenes. It's very close to at least three of the other crime scenes, but it's not commercial at all.

ZAHN: And has anybody on the scene been able to confirm whether the victim was, in fact, getting off the bus?

AHLERS: I had an investigator just tell me that it happened at the bus stop.

ZAHN: At the bus stop.

AHLERS: And it was unclear if the victim was on or off. There is nothing apparent at the bus that -- and when I arrived, there was no driver on the bus and no passengers on the bus. I suspect if there were many passengers, they were taken away to be interviewed.

ZAHN: All right, Mike Ahlers, thanks for your report.

I just want to quickly remind the audience of why we're looking at this picture in the first place. You're looking at the intersection of Bel Pre Road and Connecticut Avenue in Montgomery County, very close, as Mike just reported, to a number of the other killings of the sniper. That connection is not being made at this hour. Of course, anybody living in this area is very concerned this could be the latest in the string of shootings here.

The victim is being described as a man. He was shot in the chest. We can now confirm that he has been taken to Suburban Hospital, which is a level 1 trauma center. No one is able to tell us at this hour the extent of this man's injuries.

Let's go to Jason Carroll, who is our reporter on the scene of the Saturday night shooting in Ashland, Virginia, which is not too far from that Ponderosa restaurant where the victim was seriously injured Saturday night.

Jason -- what do you have?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, Paula, we're actually standing right across the street from the Ponderosa restaurant. This is the last confirmed sniper shooting site. The victim, 37 years old, in critical but now he's in stable condition after being operated on this past weekend.

As you said, the shooting occurred right there at the Ponderosa restaurant on Saturday evening, as the 37-year-old man was leaving the restaurant with his wife.

It's becoming more and more clear that this site has become an important part of this particular investigation. Sources tell CNN that investigators found a handwritten letter behind the restaurant, in the woods behind the restaurant. That letter becoming an important part of the investigation.

Sources telling CNN the letter threatened more killings, and that the letter hinted at money.

The letter also suggesting some sort of a timeline for investigators to act in some way to respond in some way to whatever the contents of that letter contained. And as you know, what we've been seeing is Chief Moose responding through the media to the sniper and trying to contact him.

That letter is going to be undergoing analysis through the FBI. They're going to check for DNA. They're going to be checking the handwriting, hoping, Paula, to some way come up with some sort of a solid clue or a solid lead that will help them with this investigation.

But this site, once again, a pivotal part of this ongoing investigation -- Paula.

ZAHN: Thanks, Jason.


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