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Man Shot, Seriosly Injured in Silver Spring, Maryland

Aired October 22, 2002 - 08:01   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's turn our attention back to what we're watching unfold on the right hand part of our screen, and that is the investigation over a shooting that happened just about two hours ago in Silver Spring, Maryland, not far from where some of the other shootings happened. No official confirmation that this shooting, that has left a man in Suburban Hospital with serious wounds, is, indeed, connected.
But on the phone with us now is Rosetta Talley. She was actually taking her grandchild to the very bus stop where this man was either gunned down on the bus or near the bus.

And she joins us now.

Good morning, Rosetta.


ZAHN: Can you describe to us what you heard or what you saw?

TALLEY: I didn't see anything. I had just taken the dog outside and came back into the house and was preparing to take my grandson past that particular bus stop to another bus stop, public bus stop on Connecticut Avenue when my husband and I heard this loud -- we knew it was a shot and it was just a tremendous sound.

And I waited a few minutes and then I said I'm going to call Channel 4, because that's the station I had on. And then they said they were investigating. In a matter of about five minutes we heard the sirens and everything. So I turned on CNN and I heard one of the reporters say that they couldn't find anybody that heard anything or saw anything. So I told my husband, I said, well, we heard it. And that's when I called you all to let you know that I did hear, we did hear that shot about five minutes to six.

ZAHN: And, Rosetta, it was a single shot that you heard?

TALLEY: Yes, a single shot.

ZAHN: And were you able to look at the bus stop to get a better sense of what had happened? Because it's not even clear from investigators whether this victim was shot on the bus or near the bus. All they're saying is it happened at the bus stop.

TALLEY: Well, when I take the dog out, I can see the buses that sit at that stop. A lot of times they go out of service there before they begin their new route. And when I took the dog out, I could see the bus sitting there with the lights on and that's all I saw. And then when I came back in the house, that's when I heard the shots. In a matter of minutes the police were there, the lights and everything, and, you know, they quickly had the area cordoned off with the tape and everything.

And I've been sitting glued to the TV since.

ZAHN: Rosetta, if you could, since you live there, maybe you can give us (AUDIO GAP) that surrounds the (AUDIO GAP)...

TALLEY: Hello?


HEMMER: All right, as we continue to watch this picture back here live in Rockville, Maryland, one of the greatest pieces of evidence we can point to right now as to whether or not there is a link to serial sniper is essentially the clock. It's been a bit more than two hours. The call came in at 5:56 a.m. Eastern time. Reports of a man shot on or near a bus just east of Rockville, Maryland, right around the Connecticut Avenue area, the Georgia Avenue area.

In the past what we have seen time and time again, any time there has been a shooting in this area and once police determine that there is no connection and no link, it is quickly waved off and dismissed. To this point, this shooting has not been waved off and police are proceeding, ATF agents, FBI agents on the scene, they're trying to discern and gather as much evidence as they can.

The ultimate link in this case that we're watching right now will come to, down to ballistics testing. The bullet that is either lodged in the man's body or perhaps at this point has been removed, we do not know right now, but the ballistics testing on that bullet will determine whether or not that bullet came from the same weapon and the same rifle that has been used in all the previous cases.

Until police and investigators get that link and ballistic testing back, they will not say definitively as to whether or not that bullet was fired from the rifle the sniper has been using for the past 20 days.

And Patty Davis is with me, as well, here in Rockville. Patty, we're watching this scene right now. We have not been given much indication from police, but, indeed, that ballistics testing ultimately will tell us one way or the other.

DAVIS: That's true. And it took, as you recall in that last shooting outside the Ponderosa, it took a day or two for that to come back. Now, they also had a problem that surgeons were not able to remove it during that first surgery. They had to wait for a second surgery. It was probably a day, then, until they were able to conclusively link that to the sniper.

Now, we've also been told that Gary Ball (ph), the FBI's Baltimore, from the FBI's Baltimore office, is on the scene. You'll recall that he is here for almost every briefing that Chief Moose has, standing in back of him, very involved in this investigation. We're also told by Suburban Hospital that this man who was shot in the chest is at Suburban Hospital. That is a shock trauma center, specializing in trauma, has physicians on the scene at all times that handle instances like this. So he's in very good hands there at Suburban Hospital. That's in Bethesda, Maryland.

The hospital telling us that it does plan to have a press conference at some point today to give us information. We're also told by police here in Montgomery County, in Rockville, that they plan to have something to say at some point today, as well, Bill.

HEMMER: Back to that ballistic testing, the reason why it is so critical in cases like these, is the fear out there of a copycat shooter that may be picking up along the same pattern as the serial sniper. At this point we do not know. Police have not said much. But we do know there is a man shot in the chest at a local hospital in Bethesda, Maryland.

And Bill Delaney is tracking that story for us -- Bill, what do you have?

BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bill, I'll tell you, I'll be brief. Information very thin on the ground here at Suburban Hospital. Patty Davis pointing out that we do believe the victim of this latest shooting is in the shock trauma center here at Suburban Hospital. But an official we spoke to refused to even confirm that the individual was here, giving an indication of the very serious sense of this latest incident.

Officials here do tell us that in about an hour they may have more information for us. The press are gathering here. It is believed that the individual was helicoptered here soon after the incident and as we say, is in the excellent shock trauma center here.

But at the moment, as I say, information very thin on the ground.

HEMMER: All right, Bill. Bill, listen, I apologize for the interruption. It's a quickly moving story. Police now are taking questions. Let's see what we can listen in on here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: .... I'm not sure if he's the only person or not. He was on the bus. There are other witnesses. I'm not sure where they were.

QUESTION: He was actually in the interior of the bus?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, he was on the to step platform on the bus.

QUESTION: Was he getting on or getting off the platform?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At this point, I want to leave any information regarding the victim until I know that a family member has been notified.

QUESTION: Could you tell us about the police work going on here now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're investigating similar to they have at the other shootings.

QUESTION: So when it comes to these woods with dogs...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, they are. Yes, they are.

QUESTION: There's a collision of two cars on Connecticut Avenue about a block from here. Any relation to that? Can you tell us about this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll go look into that for you, but I'm unaware of any accidents or collisions related to this or otherwise this morning.

QUESTION: What can you tell us about his condition at this point?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At this point he's at the hospital and I'm not sure what. We'll check into that, but I know that he was taken out as a priority one and I'm not sure what the definition of that is for fire rescue.

QUESTION: Have you had any communications from the sniper since the chief came to talk to us last night?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not aware of any. I haven't been in this morning. I came directly to the scene. And we didn't give out the hospital yet. I'm going to wait until I talk to the victim's family.

All right? I'd ask you all, though, please to stay back here. I know that there's media combing through the apartments and taking, trying to take photographs of witnesses and I'd appreciate it if we didn't. I'll work with you, but could we stay here for now?

QUESTION: Can you tell us anything about evidence recovered? Any ballistics in particular?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unfortunately any evidence information or witness information will not be released.


Thank you.

QUESTION: Thanks, Captain.

HEMMER: All right, not a whole lot. Not a whole lot of information coming out of there. Let's talk about what we do know quickly here in Montgomery County. What we believe to have happened earlier today, right before six o'clock in the morning, a man either getting on a commuter bus or getting off the bus was shot in the chest. He's been transported to a local hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, where he is now being treated. Police have not said much, but we do know the story now. Well over two hours old. The area, the perimeter has been sealed off, traffic, like we've seen in so many cases in the past 20 days, has been virtually stopped in a number of areas. Police are going through the cars one by one to comb that area for more evidence.

The area you're watching right now is known as Northgate Park. It's right near Georgia Avenue, right near Connecticut Avenue in the heart of Montgomery County, which is where the shooting spree all began 20 days ago, if you go back to October 2 and October 3, when the spree began north of Washington, D.C.

We'll watch it from here. And when we get more from police headquarters certainly we'll have it for you first.

Back to New York.

He's Paula again -- Paula.

ZAHN: Bill, some of the information you've given us and investigators have given us has really raised a lot of questions and I want to see if Bob Franken can even take a stab at them.

Police, as you know, Bob, have been pretty unspecific about the shooting that happened this morning, just saying it happened at the bus stop. Do you believe or is anybody saying they think it was the bus driver that might have been hit? Because we just had a witness who lived in the neighboring apartment building say that this is sort of an area, a service area where buses will often wait before they start their next shift.

Is that a possibility?

FRANKEN: First of all, forgive the phone, Paula. We're having significant telecommunications problems. The system is overloaded, apparently, because of all the people using their phones being blocked in traffic.

Now, in answer to your question, don't have any specifics about whether it was the bus driver. However, when we were allowed to be up there on the scene, we saw more than one bus parked there, which would reinforce the contention that this is an area that the buses gather before they go on their different routes.

I think at this particular point the police just don't know what they're dealing with and as I think it's obvious, they're treating this as a sniper attack and they're swarming the area, trying to find out, to determine just exactly what happened and who was the one responsible for firing the shot.

ZAHN: And, Bob, are they still saying it happened either on or near the bus or have we gotten them to clarify that for us?

FRANKEN: We have gotten very little clarification here, as evidenced by the fact they don't even want us near the scene, which, by the way, is about a half mile up the road. They are not saying if it was on or near the bus, but it was somewhere around the steps of the bus where they found the man.

In any case, may I paint the scene to you, also, Paula? In back of me you can get some feel for the backup of traffic. You can see perhaps the flashing lights in the background. Those are police cars, of course. And outside those police cars are officers from the FBI, from local police, carrying automatic weapons, stopping each vehicle, searching. They even at one point I observed had a motorcyclist and they were searching his backpack, obviously looking for a weapon or any evidence which might lead them to the person who was responsible for this shooting.

ZAHN: And, Bob, we are just having the, getting some information from the Montgomery Police Department which suggests the victim was on the step of the bus, which still doesn't tell us if it was a passenger or a driver. Bob, if you would, tell us more about the surrounding area of this bus stop or this waiting area where buses converge. You've got Northgate Park and you've got a couple of apartment complexes and then you've got a shopping mall not too far or a shopping, a strip area not too far from there.

FRANKEN: Well, and, of course, we're in that strip area. Ironically, we are near a Home Depot, which, of course, was so much the focus last week when there was a shooting in Falls Church, Virginia as part of this spree. But first of all, where the bus is, it's a side street off Connecticut Avenue. As you know, that's one of the major thoroughfares in this entire area.

Across the street from the bus is a low rise apartment building. Right next to the bus is the wooded area associated with the park and police are searching both areas very thoroughly. They are looking to see if they can find anybody in the apartment building who can provide them information.

Now, as for the surrounding area, as you said, it is a strip mall area. You will see up the road a little bit a K Mart. There is a Wendy's right up there. As I said, we are in a Home Depot.

So it is, it is a minor shopping area. It is the kind of place that you find scattered throughout a suburban area like this is.

ZAHN: And, Bob, once again, just hearing you talk about the area, depending on where the shooter was standing, there were a number of pretty easy ways to get out of there.

FRANKEN: A number of easy ways to get out of there. Remember, the police will tell you that there is an initial shot. And that is plenty of time for whoever is the shooter to get out unobserved, because people are entirely focused on the horror of what he has just done. And he would have been very quickly able to have gotten out of one of those side streets and headed down one of these main thoroughfares and been on the highway before the police could even react, even though it is very clear that they have reacted quickly.

And it is also clear that they're not just this time focusing on vans or focusing on the block type of vehicle that they have before. They are stopping everybody. They are searching every vehicle. ZAHN: Thanks, Bob.

I'm standing or sitting alongside Casey Jordan, who was just making some observations about what she's seeing unfold on this live shot from WJZ.

What is leaping out at you?

CASEY JORDAN, CNN CRIMINOLOGIST: Well, I'm just overwhelmed with the amount of woods. And certainly this has been a very consistent factor in a number of the shootings that we've linked together. When the camera pans out from the helicopter, you're really struck by how heavily wooded that area is. And that, of course, takes us right back to the latest shooting, naturally, at the Ponderosa, where it was confirmed that the shot came from the heavily wooded area with a back exit route. And just from the shot that we were able to see a few seconds ago, it appears that there is a back exit lane or route just opposite of where the bus is.

Again, we don't want to conjecture too much. But there's no doubt in my mind the police will have absolutely secured that entire park area. And the next logical step, if, indeed, they think this is a continuation of the shooter's spree or killings, that they would certainly be looking for evidence right at that crime scene, trying to ascertain the particular vantage point where a shot might have been fired from and obviously look to see if there's any further communications from the shooter so that they won't have to wait for ballistics results to conclusively link this to the previous shootings.

I have no doubt that they are looking for a note or any other type of communication so that they know exactly how to respond to this latest shooting.

ZAHN: Casey, I know you were also struck by the description that Rosetta Talley, a person who lives in this apartment complex, had to say about hearing a single gunshot. And she described this area where the bus is as an area where buses often idle as they wait to start their next shift. And you've heard the description from the Montgomery County Police Department saying they believe the victim was on the stop step of the bus.

Just analyze that for us.

JORDAN: Well, it's, if you think about it, just from a very logical standpoint, the shooter is going to want to set up. These are not very impulsive types of activities. A shooter in, whether the shooter is linked or not, the person who fired the latest bullet is going to want to lay in wait, for lack of a better phrase, and be very careful and take a very careful aim.

And if you think about it, there's a lot of rational thought behind waiting at a place where you know, you've ascertained that buses are going to pull up right next to a sign. You know exactly where the sign is. It's right next to the sidewalk and it gives them a great amount of opportunity. ZAHN: Thanks, Casey.

Let's go to Jeanne Meserve, who joins us on the telephone from Silver Spring right now with an update -- Jeanne, what have you learned?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm right here near the scene of this shooting and we've just had a briefing with Captain Nancy Demme (ph) of the Montgomery County Police Department. She's been one of the point people through this investigation, giving us some of the details that a man approximately 40 years old was standing on the top step of the Ride-On bus when he was shot.

I'm told there were not passengers here, that this was a staging area. That's why they were stopped here, doing paperwork, getting ready to do their run. And the bus driver, of course, taken to, nothing, rather, on whether this was the bus driver. But the victim was taken to the hospital. They are interviewing witnesses nearby. She cannot tell us if there are any witnesses who saw a shooter or any witnesses who saw a shooter vehicle. Also, no information for us at this point on what kind of evidence might have been recovered.

We would particularly be interested in anything like ballistic evidence because ballistics, of course, has been what have linked the various shootings to one another, all of them fired from the same gun, all the shots by the sniper all .223 caliber ammunition.

I'm still over here at the scene. I can tell you that Gary Bald (ph), who is a special agent in charge of the Baltimore field office of the FBI and the FBI's point person on this investigation is still on the scene. He arrived here about 15 minutes ago. Still a swarm of other police, ATF and FBI agents. Helicopters in the sky. Also some dogs working.

We're told they're combing through this wooded area already, looking, of course, for any possible clues as to who might have done this -- Paula.

ZAHN: Thanks, Jeanne.

I just wanted to quickly bring up to date our audience on what they're watching at this hour. As Jeanne just confirmed, it is now believed that the victim is a 40-year-old man who was standing on the top step of the bus. This area that you're looking at now is a staging area where bus drivers often do their paperwork before setting off on their bus run. It is not clear whether this man was a passenger or the bus driver, Casey Jordan pointing out that if it was the driver, you're essentially a sitting duck there, right?

JORDAN: It's a horrifying thought, but if our eyewitness -- our ear witness account, I should say, is accurate, Rosetta, who called in earlier, she indicated, of course, that this is a terminus, or at least a service area for buses, where they will consistently pull up directly next to a sign, a bus stop, and go on shift or perhaps go off of shift. We don't want to make too much of that. But this being a commuter bus, it is certainly logical that either the driver or the first passengers would be getting onto the bus to begin their commute, perhaps to the D.C. area. We don't really know.

But it would be a consistent pattern that would be buses pulling up and idling there for minutes at a time, perhaps for shift changes or for servicing. And, again, it provides an ample opportunity for someone hiding in the woods in the park or any other vantage point, of course, to sit, wait, take aim and do their destruction.

ZAHN: Thanks, Casey.

We're going to continue to watch this picture of heavily armed police doing car by car searches in the areas where they have blocked off traffic. The political have asked us not to indicate to our audience exactly where those blockages are. We will honor that request.

In the meantime, let's bring Bill Clark into the discussion here, who is a former NYPD detective.

Once again, Bill, I don't know how much of our coverage you've been watching this morning, but law enforcement is not establishing any official linkage between this morning's killings or killing -- or, excuse me, shooting -- and the other killings in this area.

What do you make of all this? Does this have the earmark of any pattern?

BILL CLARK, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: Well, I worked the Son of Sam case and the M.O. seems consistent. The other thing is that this is a .223 ammunition. That's the same ammunition that was used in Vietnam by the American soldiers. And the nature of the wound that this fellow would have suffered would be indicative of a rifle rather than a handgun, which most shootings happen with.

So I think they're pretty certain that this is the same guy.

ZAHN: Yes, we unfortunately don't have any access to that ballistics information and law enforcement is going to tell us it's going to take some while before they can establish whether this victim was hit by a...

CLARK: Well, it may take a long time...

ZAHN: ... a .223.

CLARK: Yes, but they would be able to tell by the wound whether or not it was probably a rifle round. At any kind of distance, that round starts tumbling and it does some real serious damage to a person, unlike a pistol round.

ZAHN: Let's talk a little bit about what you see unfolding on the screen with this car by car search being done right now. We have been led to believe that this is a much smaller area, a 500 meter perimeter, that has been sealed off, which, if you were to compare it to the Ashland shooting of Saturday night, that was a two to three mile perimeter. Does that mean much of anything? CLARK: Well, I think there's a little bit of profiling going on, too, because they don't seem to be going in the trunk where he would be storing a weapon. I think they have certain characteristics they're looking for in the individual and my experience with serial killers is they do their first shooting closer to their home where they're more knowledgeable about the area. And I think now he's realizing that the further away he gets from his home, the larger the percentages of him getting caught. So he's back to where he knows the area best and that's why they're probably keeping the perimeter closer.

ZAHN: So, Bill, you're saying even in the absence of ballistics evidence, there's no doubt in your mind this morning that you think this shooting is related to the others?

CLARK: Yes, I do. But, you know, I've been wrong at least twice before in my life. But I think that the police, this is definitely the same M.O. I'm sure the wound is consistent with a rifle wound. The area involved, this is a guy who's laying in wait from a considerable distance away. He's the biggest coward of all of the killers I've seen and worked on. He doesn't even want to get close to the people.

So the grassy area, the wooded area, everything is consistent with what's been happening in the past.

ZAHN: And if it turns out this latest shooting is, in fact, linked to the sniper, what does it say about his level of preparation?

CLARK: Well, what it says is that, you know, this guy is really doing these at a frantic pace. The areas involved, again, I would say he knows the area real well. And, you know, he's totally in control. And I've never seen anybody go quite as often. This is a guy that could do the whole world a favor by that beautiful gun he has, he could put it under his chin, write a big letter about everything and why you did what you did and then end this suffering that you're putting all these people through.

You know, we're getting it now where it's 10 people shot dead and two injured and, you know, the only thing that'll be remembered is his name, not all of these poor victims and the pain and suffering all their families are going through. And this is a guy that's worse than anyone I've ever dealt with.

ZAHN: Well, we certainly can appreciate that perspective and that pretty much mirrors, I think, what everybody else is feeling about the sniper or snipers right now.

Bill, if you would, stand by.

We're going to go back to the other Bill, Bill Hemmer, who is on duty from Rockville, Maryland this morning.

Bill, what are investigators telling you from there?

HEMMER: Yes, Paula, not much right now. They've responded to the scene. We do anticipate at some point they're going to have words. But a really interesting interview you just had there with Bill Clark, saying at the end this guy is worse than anyone he has ever seen or dealt with at this point.

A couple things just to pass along to you, just to give our viewers some perspective on how these stories develop here when there are shootings. Last Friday morning, Paula, at 10:00 a.m. Eastern time, there was a shooting at a supermarket down in Virginia, not too far from Washington, D.C. Within 10 minutes the police had come out here and told us no connection, no serial sniper, nothing involved that will link any of these cases to that recent shooting. That was how quick they responded.

The reason I bring that up, because right now it's 8:30 in the morning Eastern time. The shooting happened two and a half hours ago. If there was no definitive link, if there was no evidence right now that led police to believe that this might be the work of the sniper, they would have told us by now. That is what lends more credence right now to the strong possibility that if the sniper lives in the Rockville, Maryland area, perhaps he or they have come back home. This is the same area, 20 days ago, going back to October 2, where it all began.

I want to talk to Maggie O'Neil. She's a resident here in Rockville, Maryland, a resident of Montgomery County and originally we had brought Maggie out to give us a sense of what she's hearing throughout the community and what people are saying and what they're feeling.

Given the news right now, we're going to talk to Maggie again. As we say good morning, it's great to have you with us here. I wish we could talk under different circumstances.

Nonetheless, how did you get over here today? All the roads are blocked. Everything's backed up.

MAGGIE O'NEIL, MONTGOMERY COUNTY RESIDENT: Everything's backed up. Connecticut Avenue is a nightmare. We just did a lot of back roads. I grew up in the area so we just took all of our back roads that we would normally take when there is traffic. But even that took forever because everybody else is taking those arteries.

HEMMER: So you could circumvent the main roads...

O'NEILL: But it still took us a good 40, I'd say 40 minutes, when it should take 10 or five.

HEMMER: Good question, then. Is, are there police on the side roads, as well?

O'NEILL: Everywhere.

HEMMER: They are?

O'NEILL: Everywhere. HEMMER: So even if you get off the main roads it's not necessarily a clean shot for anyone who might be trying to essentially get away?

O'NEILL: Or go home. Yes. No, there's definitely police absolutely everywhere.

HEMMER: You woke up this morning, you heard this news, you thought what?

O'NEILL: It's horrible. It's just horrible because everybody's terrified. And because I'm from this area, you heard them going into northern Virginia, and it's terrible to say this, but you're like well, they're going further away from where I am, you know, locally.

But it's horrible because you know that he's come back here and you don't know what's next and it's just terrifying.

HEMMER: Day to day life right now, we know about the school kids, the high school kids essentially shut in. You're in your 20s. You work, you go about the area and you see what and hear what from people around the area?

O'NEILL: What's really unfortunate is when you just go to get gas and you see people ducking. You see people ducking behind their car to get gas. That's, you know, unfortunately you get your mass e- mails about tips, about this, that, and safety, but to see that and to actually be that terrified that you're ducking while you're getting gas or you're running into the Home Depot or you're running into the grocery store or people are walking, you know. People are leaving when they're walking. You know.

HEMMER: In a zig-zag pattern.

O'NEILL: I mean, you know?

HEMMER: What's it come to?


HEMMER: You had indicated that one of the gas stations has essentially put up some sort of sheet or sort of tarp...?


HEMMER: ... Why is that?

O'NEILL: It was on the cover of the Metro section, I think, of "The Post" this weekend that one gas station actually put a full tarp up around the entire gas station. And they're getting more business, I think, than obviously other gas stations are.

HEMMER: For protection.


HEMMER: What do you hear? Do you hear anger? Do you hear frustration? Do you hear confusion? What do you hear?

O'NEILL: I think the anger is really just based on fear, I mean, but there's a lot of frustration.

HEMMER: Is it projected toward a group of people? An individual? I mean certainly the sniper goes to the core of this, but how do people think about police right now and the job the FBI and the ATF is doing?

O'NEILL: I think their frustration lies in the lack of evidence and the fact that we are in Afghanistan, literally finding people in the middle of a mountain in a bunker there, but we can't find one shred of evidence here locally? I mean that's -- it's a frustration and a fear that how can we not have anything on this guy? And you can just keep -- I don't know. I say he, but it could be anything, I don't know. I think that's what's frustrating.

HEMMER: And police will tell you and the people that live in the community that they're trying their darndest. I mean well over a thousand agents working this story. And if they have the information, have the evidence, they're going to give it to you. Does it indicate...?

O'NEILL: They have to be careful too, you know, you know. And I think...

HEMMER: Careful how?

O'NEILL: I think people realize that. Well, I mean, with Chief Moose's statements. It's clear that it's so scripted and that they're clearly having this conversation using the media -- their catalyst -- you know, to have this conversation.

But -- and we just kind of, you know, you're an innocent bystander. You get your information from the media, but you have to watch them have this conversation and you just feel helpless. And it's even more terrifying because this person is really tapping into -- I mean the ball's in his court, or so it seems.

HEMMER: He's in control. Have you thought that if the story goes on for another three weeks, another month, has that entered your mind?

O'NEILL: It does, only because I have -- my mother's in the education system. But I have a lot of friends also, and they're actually talking about canceling Halloween. I don't know how you actually do that, but to cancel Halloween, these kids haven't had recess in weeks, they're going nuts. And they don't know what to do with them. Sports games are canceled. Everything's been disrupted.

HEMMER: You've given us a really good indication about what people are thinking and feeling and a pulse of the community and hang in there, okay?

Maggie O'Neill, a resident here in Montgomery County, Rockville, Maryland. HEMMER: Paula, we'll continue to watch the pictures. Again, just a bit past 8:30 a.m. in the East. All of this going down 2 1/2 hours ago. A man shot either on the bus or getting off the bus from a distance. We don't know how many shots were fired. Was it one? Was it more? We do not know that either.

But the bottom line will be whether or not that .223-caliber bullet was used and if it was only fired one time. That's what will set investigators off right now to think again the serial sniper perhaps has come back here again to Montgomery County.

More in a moment -- Paula?

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Alright. Thanks, Bill.

We are going to stay with these pictures because they tell us a lot about how seriously investigators are taking this latest shooting. Why they are not officially saying this is linked to the sniper. They are certainly treating it as though it is.

All we can tell you about the victim is that he's a 40-year-old man who was taken to Suburban Hospital, which is a hospital that specializes in trauma injuries. And one of the things that Casey Jordan, our criminologist and I were struck by was the description by one of our witnesses of this area you're looking at now.

Rosetta Talley, who lives not too far from this bus stop, described getting up in the morning and hearing a gun shot. And she said as she looked down a very small hill, she noticed the bus sitting there. And it happened to be a staging area, I guess, where bus drivers often go, where they do the paperwork as they get ready to head off on their next route.

And Casey, that indicated to you, what?

CASEY JORDAN, CNN CRIMINOLOGIST: Again, we always want to be careful not jump to conclusions, but the first logical thing that we need to consider, because this is a bus staging area, or service area, is that this might have indicated a bus driver getting on or off the bus. Because it's a commuter bus, of course, and not just a metropolitan bus, it's very unlikely you're going to have passengers getting on at that exact moment.

You also have to consider if it were a passenger, the bus driver probably would be sitting in the seat already. And you would have two people in close proximity. This is not consistent with the way we have seen shootings in the past. Usually when there have been two people, they've been walking side by side, not lined up vertically, for lack of a better phrase.

Again, going up the steps or down the steps, we don't know, but we probably would consider that this might be a bus company employee, either ending shift or beginning a shift.

ZAHN: Let's check in with Bob Franken, who continues to stand by the scene, and see if he's been able to learn anything more from investigators.

Bob, is anybody confirming yet whether this victim was getting on the bus or off the bus or happened to be standing there?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No. What we are hearing is that the person was shot on the steps of the bus. That seems to be the best we can do. If you see behind me now, traffic is flowing again. They have blocked off the area, obviously, leading up to the shooting scene from maybe half a mile away from that. But they are no longer stopping cars and conducting the search.

Earlier, they were stopping each car -- the policeman with their automatic weapons -- stopping each car and searching each occupant as well as the car itself. But now they've opened up the traffic except, of course, leading up to the scene.

Now let me tell you what we have learned from CNN producer Mike Ahlers, who has a vantage point over the crime scene. He looks down on the bus where the shooting occurred a little bit after 6 o'clock Eastern this morning. And he says he sees what appears to be a couple of evidence markers, what the police set down, evidence markers away from the bus toward the woods.

The bus was sitting on a side street off Connecticut Avenue, which is a major thoroughfare. And on the one side of the bus is an apartment complex, a low-rise apartment building. On the other side, North Gate Park. It's a wooded area, and the police seem to be focusing on the wooded area.

As I said, Mike Ahlers reports that he's seen a couple of evidence markers that are on the portion that goes toward the woods. In addition to which he has seen bloodhounds going in there.

That has become part of the routine, and, of course, the area is swarming with police, those in uniform, the black fatigues that you see oftentimes and also ATF -- Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms -- FBI agents -- the usual investigation as people try and determine if, if, this was once again the work of the Washington area sniper -- Paula?

ZAHN: Tell us a little bit more about how, why this perimeter area is now?

Excuse me, one second, Bob.

FRANKEN: It seems to be about all the way to Florida. At least that's the impression we get. They have set up a...


ZAHN: We're going to back and ask Demme. There's a news conference that we're going to dip into. Let's listen.


CAPTAIN NANCY DEMME, MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE: Information -- task force is on the scene; canine has been tracking; they are combing the woods. And, obviously, this may be similar, and we're investigating as if it is, and we'll let you know more information as we have it.

Some of you asked about an accident. There was an police officer who was injured and taken to an area hospital with neck and back injuries.

QUESTION: What about a new lookout for a vehicle, Nancy. A new lookout for a vehicle.

DEMME: I don't have information on that yet. As you know, I haven't been back up there to the command post.

QUESTION: At this point...

QUESTION: It was a single shot?


DEMME: I'm not going to release that yet. I'm waiting on the investigators. He appears to have been shot. That's all I'm going to say at this point on that. (OFF-MIKE)

Again, you're talking to witnesses that I'm not sure we have all of the witnesses' information yet and haven't confirmed any of that, so I'm not going to speak to the witness information. (OFF-MIKE)

Unfortunately, at this point, no. I will go back to the command post, and I'll be right back down here.

Witness called 911. (OFF-MIKE)

QUESTION: People tried to call the tip line, and on two occasions got busy signals. Recommendations, please, for anyone who's been trying to call?

DEMME: If they have information and they are witness to this incident, call 911 and let -- if they're a witness to this incident right here and they can't get through to the tip line, they can call 911 and tell them they need an investigator to talk to them in reference to this incident.

QUESTION: ... if they heard something?

It would depend on what they heard. But, go ahead. At this point, if there are witnesses who may have heard or seen anything related to this, call, give your name and address so that investigators can speak with you.

QUESTION: Is that the driver whose...?

DEMME: No. This individual is alive at the hospital.

QUESTION: Give us a sense for the response here -- how quickly you got here? (OFF-MIKE) DEMME: I think the dragnet was very, very quick because I actually got caught up in it trying to get here and I live on the east side of the county, not too far from here. (OFF-MIKE)

I'm not going to tell you that yet until I finish talking to the hospital in reference to the victim. (OFF-MIKE)

I don't know where our witnesses were. (OFF-MIKE)

QUESTION: Where's the bus driver?

DEMME: That's what he just asked me. I'm going to go speak to the command post about who the victim was, but I don't want to release that until the victim's family has been notified first. OK. I'll be right back QUESTION: Can we bring out trucks up here?

DEMME: What? Has everybody got enough -- you can go offline now. Has everybody got enough...

Let's go back to...

ZAHN: Alright. You've been listening to Nancy Demme of the Montgomery County Police Department, trying to bring us up to date on what we know at this hour, very much encouraging anybody who might have seen this shooting to call in. There has been some reluctance on the part of witnesses to get involved in reporting information to police, and then you know that was the incident, the Home Depot shooting over a week ago, where someone blatantly lied about what they had seen from inside the store.

So once again, the police encouraging people who heard anything to shed some light on what happened earlier this morning in Silver Spring, Maryland. We are not hear officially confirmed yet that the shooting is linked to the sniper's other shootings, but we'll continue to keep you abreast of that. She did confirm that a police officer had suffered back and neck injuries from an unrelated accident this morning in the area.


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