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Bus Driver Shot in Montgomery County, Maryland

Aired October 22, 2002 - 09:37   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's check in with Bob Franken, who was one of our first correspondents on the scene, to see what he is learning.
Bob, I know I asked you earlier whether in fact they believe that the man injured was the bus driver. That now being confirmed by the Maryland State Police Department. Have we learned anything else?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, but I did want to report that. I also wanted to report that the police are going to allow us to move somewhat closer to the scene. We've been kept a considerable distance away, and that was probably because they were blocking off the roadways as they searched each and every vehicle, but we're going to be relocating probably about half mile up the road or something like that, where we'll probably have a better vantage point and better access to information.

What we have been able to glean through the various producers who've been able to observe for CNN and witnesses, is that the police seem to have set up some evidence markers on an area away from the bus heading towards the woods. As we described before, and as we're describing again, the bus is on a little side street. On the right side is a wooded area North Gate Park. On the left side, a complex of apartment buildings.

The police seem to be favoring the side toward the wooded area, which, of course, is not surprising.

I have to point out, again, they have not ascertained that this is the same sniper who's been responsible for the other killings, but they're operating on that premise, and of course, this is clearly something that you're able to see. They are scouring the area, there are bloodhound in the area. There are all the police agencies we come to expect to converge on the scene, trying to find out if this is the person who did it, and if so, why he decided -- ultimately, they'll want to find out has he decided to come back to the area where he began his shooting spree nearly three weeks ago.

ZAHN: Bob, based on the 500-meter perimeter area that's been set up here, is there any thought among investigators you've spoken with that perhaps the sniper fled on foot. You've given us a very good idea of the myriad of exit routes the shooter would have had here?

FRANKEN: Well, that possibility always exists. One of the theories being discussed when I was in Ashland, Virginia was that a bicycle was involved somehow. But the reality is, that he always picks an area where there is a complex of a number of roads which feed out into quick escape routes. This is somebody who's quite meticulous in his planning, without a doubt.

So there is not a general feeling he is operating on foot any great distance, but that he is able to escape. In this particular case, he would have escaped in darkness, because this happened before the light came up, a little before 6:00 Eastern time this morning. In the other shootings we have been able to observe, he is right by a quick escape, where's he's able to, in fact, disappear before the initial shock, the initial horror of the shooting has even registered.

ZAHN: Bob Franken, we're going to leave it there at this hour.

Let's turn to Rob Moroney of the Maryland State Police Department, who just confirmed to CNN a short while ago that it was indeed the bus driver who was injured earlier this morning.

Good morning, Mr. Moroney, thank you for joining us. What else can you tell us about the shooting this morning?

ROB MORONEY, MARYLAND STATE POLICE: Well, it was the driver of a ride-on bus in the Aspen Hill area. He's roughly a 40-year-old male. He was on the bus, standing on the top step when he was shot.

ZAHN: And we've had a woman in the area say that this is a staging area for bus drivers. Do you have any idea how long he might have been sitting there as he waited for the rest of his run?

MORONEY: Well, no, we -- that, we don't know at this time. That is a staging area where the buses park and prestage before they go out for their morning run. The driver was apparently standing just inside the doorway when he was shot.

ZAHN: Mr. Moroney, and can you give us idea if this was his regular route. We just had an eyewitness, a young woman, a student just describe who often gets on buses in this area, that there are a lot of bus drivers that seem to rotate into this particular area.

MORONEY: We don't have that information at this time. The investigators are still on the scene gathering information.

ZAHN: And I know we are awaiting a hospital news conference at 10:00 to bring us up to date on the condition of the bus driver, which we are told presently is critical condition. Is there anything else you can tell us about his condition or about the driver?

MORONEY: No, the only thing I can tell you he was flown there from the scene by Maryland state police medevac helicopter to Suburban Hospital.

ZAHN: And I know, Mr. Moroney, the Montgomery County Police Department reported a little bit earlier this morning, although they have no ballistic evident to show this morning's shooting is linked to the other shootings, they are treating it as though it is. Can you elaborate on that? Is that the same hunch you are going on this morning?

MORONEY: Absolutely. Just to clarify, I am here in the Montgomery County Police media office. Every time there is a shooting, it is treated as though it is a sniper shooting. So, until we've proven otherwise, we have to take these steps to try and solve this case, and that's what we will continue to do. Obviously, we apologize to the public for the great inconveniences, especially on a morning, a rush hour-like morning, there are great reasons why we do what we do.

ZAHN: And I know Bob Franken on the scene described a number of evidence markers put up in the direction toward the woods. Is there anything can you share about what that marks in particular?

MORONEY: No, there is not. The investigators are still on the scene.

ZAHN: Mr. Moroney, we have to leave you. Let's go to Dr. Passamani at Suburban Hospital.


DR. EUGENE PASSAMANI, SUBURBAN HOSPITAL: He went to the OR immediately, and that process is still going on. I can't comment on exactly what's going on.

QUESTION: How old is he?

PASSAMANI: I'm not sure. I think you're going to have to get those details from the police.

I just can't comment on that at the moment, I'm sorry.

QUESTION: What's your name gain?

PASSAMANI: My name is Dr. Eugene Passamani -- P-A-S-S-A-M-A-N-I, and I am on the senior staff here at 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: Folks, for those of you watching us, we're rolling with the punches here, too, and we got into that news conference apparently a couple seconds late. So I'm not sure what the update is from the hospital. I know a man who can give us the information, Bill Delaney, who is standing by on duty at Suburban Hospital. I know in this last briefing, which was about 30 seconds or so, Bill, Dr. Passamani confirmed that the patient's in critical condition. Is there anything new?

BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Really, noting new here, Paula. We are expecting another press conference in about 15 minutes, at 10:00 we were promised. We should realize, it's been going on three hours now that this 40-year-old bus driver. That now confirmed by police, that this is a 40-year-old bus driver. It's going on three hours now that he's been in the operating room. He was brought into the operating room immediately after being airlifted here. He arrived at 6:40 in the morning. That would be about 40 minutes or so after the shooting apparently happened. Doctors as of half hour ago or so said he was still in the operating room in critical condition.

Now, of course, anyone undergoing surgery is considered in critical condition. So we don't know what precisely what to read from that. What we can say for sure is that doctors are desperately trying to save a life here at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland.


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