CNN BREAKING NEWS
Two People in Custody in Connection with Investigation of Serial Sniper Case
Aired October 24, 2002 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news at this hour, heavily armed police in SWAT gear swarm a rest stop in Maryland. Two people in custody in connection with the investigation of the serial sniper case.
Good morning, everyone.
It's Thursday, October 24.
I'm Catherine Callaway in Atlanta, in for Carol.
We are continuing our live breaking news coverage this morning on the sniper case and we have had amazing developments tonight. The overnight hours have been fast paced. We're following several breaking news developments in this case. Police now apparently have two, at least two people in custody, but they are not saying if they believe they have the sniper.
Police had been looking for one of the men in connection with the sniper probe.
We're going to go now to Montgomery County, Maryland, where this case first erupted way back on October 2, which seems a long time ago, Gary.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It does seem like a long time ago. It's been such a terrible, horrifying last three weeks. We can only hope this is the end of it. We don't know that yet. But this is good news today.
You know, 11:45 Eastern time Chief Charles Moose of the Montgomery County police, the head of the sniper task force, came out of this building behind me and for the first time we heard two names that they were looking for in connection with this case. One hour and five minutes after we heard those first two names, there was a private citizen and an attendant in a rest stop who saw the car that Chief Moose talked about and notified police. And that's what's led to apprehensions of multiple individuals. That's how it's being described to us.
We are being told at least two people have been taken into custody after this motorist on Interstate 70 and the attendant at the rest stop off of Interstate 70 saw a 1990 Chevy Caprice just like this one, with the license plate from New Jersey, NDA21Z. They apparently saw it on television, knew what they were looking for and an hour and 10 minutes after Chief Moose described this car and this license plate to the world, these people spotted it.
They called the Maryland State Police, who then notified the sniper task force, who raced down Interstate 70 from Montgomery County for about 40 minutes to get to the rest stop. And then at 3:19 a.m., that's the exact time being given to us by the public information officer here, the apprehension of these two men took place.
Now, they are officially not giving us an identification. They are telling us, though, that it was the car that was associated with the two men who they mentioned, John Allen Muhammad, who is 42 years old, and his stepson, John Lee Malvo, who's 17 years old. John Lee Malvo is a Jamaican national, we are told.
Anyway, a 1990 blue or burgundy Chevy Caprice we are told about, and that is the car that these two people saw in the parking lot off of Interstate 70.
We want to tell you, we were told there was massive police activity. We want to show you what it looked like at the scene. This is a video from our affiliate here in Washington, D.C., WUSA. But it was massive activity -- helicopters flying overhead and multi-agency representation at the scene. We had people from the Frederick County Sheriff's Department and you also see some federal officials there. You'll see on their backs ATF, which, of course, stands for the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms, who were also on the scene.
It's hard for us to tell, we still don't know at this point if this is before or after the arrest. It's not during because we don't see the suspects in these shots. But we are being told that John Allen Muhammad was wanted for violation of federal firearms laws. That's what officials were looking for him for. But he was also considered an important cog in solving this case. He was wanted for information in solving the case.
So we would have asked Chief Moose while he was out here if he was wanted for the sniper shootings. Chief Moose said he wouldn't take any questions, though. He said do not assume this man is involved in any of the shootings. He also did not say, though, he's definitely not involved in the shootings. So that's certainly something we're going to be asking about, because one of the things you wonder about, he read a letter when he came out here to the sniper. In the letter he said, "We understand you communicated with us by calling several different locations. Our inability to talk has been a concern for us, as it's been for you."
It was a very polite letter. It was trying to be kind to this man. So we don't know if the statement to us, do not assume he's involved in any of the shootings, was said to us because they didn't want to anger this man while they were trying to communicate with him or if he genuinely means it. These are things we'll need to find out. We hope to ask those questions when the news conference takes place at Frederick County, Maryland. We're told it will be soon. Whether soon means 10 minutes or 10 hours, we don't know for sure. I don't think it'll be 10 hours, but it could be a while because there's an awful lot to do right now.
TUCHMAN: This is a very important time -- Catherine.
CALLAWAY: Yes, just to recap, Dave Statter with WUSA had reported that that video was taken as they were converging on the scene at the rest stop, Gary.
One of the things that you and I have been talking about this evening since this happened is whether or not they're going to wait to question these individuals that have been taken into custody before they hold a news conference. If that is the case, it could be some time.
TUCHMAN: It's hard to know and we're not being told that by officials. They certainly can hold a news conference and probably should, just to alert us to whatever they can about the situation before these questions, before they question the individuals. But it's certainly up to the people on the scene what protocol they'll follow.
CALLAWAY: Ed Lavandera is standing by there where the news conference will take place. And as we've seen by that video, courtesy of WUSA, an incredible amount of authorities took part in this activity that occurred at the rest stop. We're expected, though, at this news conference, Ed, to hear from the state police, the Mississippi and the Frederick County Sheriff's Department, right?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. We're told that a spokesperson for the Maryland State Police will be one of the spokesperson here at this press briefing. We're still not exactly sure when exactly this is expected to start. We haven't been given those details yet. But we do know that there were state troopers and FBI agents and local police out at the scene of the arrest at the rest stop along Interstate 70, which happened about 10 miles northwest of where we are, which is 35 miles northwest of the Washington, D.C. area.
So a lot of, a flurry of activity here in these overnight hours -- Catherine.
CALLAWAY: Ed, we should tell everyone that CNN has independently confirmed now that those taken into custody there at that rest stop were, indeed, John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo. Those are the two suspects, or the two individuals, we should say, that police have been looking for since yesterday, wanted on apparent firearms violations. And John Allen is 42 years old. He is apparently the stepfather of John Lee Malvo, who is 17 years old. We've heard their names over and over. It will be interesting to see what authorities have to tell us at this news conference about exactly why they were taken into custody.
LAVANDERA: Well, I think Gary Tuchman has probably pointed out here over the last hour or so that these people, that Police Chief Moose has been very careful to point out in last night's briefing that although these people are not official suspects in this case, that they are wanted for questioning, you know, I wonder if we will hear more of that here this evening or we'll be able to hear, or actually I should say this morning, or we should be able to hear a little bit more detail about exactly why they were so interested in these people. But that information still needs to be forthcoming.
CALLAWAY: All right, standby, Ed. We'll get back with you soon.
CALLAWAY: Let's go back to Gary quickly. Gary, least we forget, all of this so-called evidence that was taken last night or yesterday out of this home, out of this backyard in Tacoma, Washington, will we hear from officials today exactly what they were looking for? We know they removed a very large stump, which apparently could have been used for some type of target practice. But any chance that Chief Moose or any of those officials will be telling us exactly what they were looking for in Tacoma?
TUCHMAN: Well, that's a good question because we had a day yesterday, now going into today, that we had all these important developments in the story and one seemed to top another as we went along. And now we have two men into custody and now CNN has officially confirmed, and we went through a lot of sources to make sure this was the case, and we've heard reporting on this earlier, but we just wanted to confirm it, we have confirmed that it is John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo who were found sleeping in a Chevy Caprice on the rest stop on Interstate 70 and were spotted by a motorist and an attendant who notified police and brought the two men into custody.
So, the two men whose names were mentioned at the news conference, 11:45 Eastern time, were spotted an hour and 15 minutes later sleeping in a car 45 miles away from Washington, D.C.
So, as far as the other incidents go in the states of Washington and Alabama, where there's related incidents, where investigators are just checking out things that they think are related to the case, those are questions we'll still have. Those are investigations that are still going on. And we have a tree stump traveling from the State of Washington to here in Maryland to be investigated. So there's a lot of stuff going on.
CALLAWAY: So many questions. So many questions. It will be interesting to hear what they do have to say about questioning these two individuals that were taken in custody, as the nationwide search apparently has ended.
And, Gary, as you had said, by the good work of an alert citizen.
As Gary said, we do now know that the federal agents searched the grounds of a home in Tacoma, Washington. That is just south of Seattle, and Bellingham High School, that's north of Seattle. Federal authorities say that both searches are in connection to the D.C. sniper investigation.
On the phone with us now from Seattle, Lou Pate of 710 KIRO News Radio. Lou is, of course, the host of Overnight Reality Check.
Major developments in the last few hours now.
LOU PATE, KIRO CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Catherine.
Yes, a major, major story that you think is a continent away ends up in your own backyard.
CALLAWAY: Twenty-four hundred miles away from where these shootings -- and I'm sure in your opinion thankfully, but nonetheless disturbing that this investigation took officials so far away to the opposite coast.
PATE: You know, many people here, although concerned and had a lot of sympathy for the victims and their families and the whole region, well, they felt safe. You felt removed. We're up here in the left hand corner of the country and you didn't think that it could affect you and here it is within hours. It's right in your own backyard, with evidence being taken away and the FBI digging up people's yards in what is for all intents and purposes just a quiet community.
CALLAWAY: And Bellingham High School, this is just north of Seattle, very close to the Canadian border there, another search underway in connection with the sniper case. What are you hearing about that?
PATE: Well, Bellingham, about 60 miles north of Seattle, about 30 miles from the Canadian border. John Lee Malvo, the 17-year-old Jamaican man, he was, he went to Bellingham High School there. He was described by other students as a quiet student, although opinionated in history class for some reason. They remember him speaking out a lot in history class. He lived at a mission there and oddly enough nobody remembered him at the mission.
And an irony there, Catherine, is that the Hillside Strangler case from the Los Angeles serial killers was broken in Bellingham when Ken Bianci (ph) killed two local girls up there. So just another connection that brings a national story all the way home.
CALLAWAY: Let's talk a little bit about the fort there in Tacoma and the close proximity there to where the search took place at that home. Tell us a little bit about that area.
PATE: Well, Fort Lewis, a major military base just 15 or 20 minutes away from Tacoma, it's much closer to Tacoma than it is the City of Seattle, a military town, where obviously, you know, Boeing is one of the main industries here and also is the military. A lot of families serving there. And John Allen Williams, he was a Gulf War vet, actually served in the military for 10 years.
We don't know yet if he did all of his 10 years at Fort Lewis.
CALLAWAY: But obviously there are reports that he spent time there. I'm wondering Lou, have you talked to anyone yet who remembers him? PATE: Oh, yes. It really is a strange, a strange response you get from people, Catherine. You have people, it's almost like a Jekyl and Hyde is the best way to describe it. You have people saying he was very violent and he had karate classes that he taught. And he did have a restriction order with his first wife and their two children there, because there was a lot of domestic violence there. Yet you have other people who say he was the politest guy on the block, he was non-violent, he coached a local kids' football team, he ran a business fixing cars out of his garage. And it's perplexing to see that you're actually talking about the same person when you speak to people who lived on the same street with him.
CALLAWAY: And the information that you had about John Lee Malvo, 17 years old, right?
PATE: Seventeen years old and he's not an American citizen. He's from Jamaica.
CALLAWAY: We've been reporting that the last few hours.
What about this area in Bellingham? What kind of community is that?
PATE: Well, the area of Bellingham, it's just, it's just a quiet suburban community. It's spread out, but there's not a lot of people up there. It takes up about seven exits on the freeway. It's just a quiet, typical, American suburban community with your Denny's and your I-Hop and a lot of people stop over there on their way to Canada.
It's actually a very nice place to live as opposed to, you know, down in Tacoma, where they dug up the houses yesterday, this is actually Southwest Tacoma. That's where the houses on South Proctor Street (ph) were located. That is where the shooting was taking place, the target practice that allegedly done by John Allen Williams, he did not live in that house. We wanted to make that clear. A lot of people thought that the yards that were dug up is where he used to live.
The houses that we've been seeing pictures of all day, he did not live in those homes.
CALLAWAY: Has there been any reported connection, then, between that home and him?
PATE: Oh, yes. He has been reported as being there, but he is not connected there in the way of being a renter or a lease. We do not yet know the connection of the people who did live in there. But what has been reported is that back in January for about a two week period, at just about ten o'clock or so every night, neighbors reported hearing rapid gunfire, but just two or three shots in a row and then it would stop. And every night about ten o'clock, that's what they were reporting, this odd behavior. And they reported it to the police.
But, you know, there was nothing -- you can't do anything unless people are actually caught in the act. And local police are speculating that that might have actually been target practice.
CALLAWAY: Right. Christopher Waters, one of the residents there near that home in Tacoma, we heard from him earlier this evening, or this morning, I should say now. He was one of the people who actually called the police concerning these rifle sounds, the sounds of a rifle going off late at night. Certainly not something you're used to hearing, and I'm sure quite loud.
There has to be shock among the community there, or those that you're speaking with, to see these two individuals, at least one of their photographs up, plastered across televisions around the nation, that they're looking for them, people that they know.
PATE: You know, shock and intrigue. Even with the people, even the people who have, who know of his violent background, who have experienced his violent background, they're even surprised for him to be involved in this, a case on this grand scale. It's just amazing.
CALLAWAY: I'm sorry, I missed the last part of what you said. I had my producer speaking with me. We have some information to give in a moment coming out from Frederick County, where Ed Lavandera is.
But let me ask you one more question before you go, Lou.
What do you think is going to be the reaction now that these two have been apparently taken into custody?
PATE: Well, once, well, right now, you know, things are still very tense. Once they, if they can possibly link them as the shooters or maybe can lead to the shooter from these men...
PATE: But I don't think the time has yet come to relax.
CALLAWAY: Right. I just wondered if there was fear in that community that they might be there, if there was, indeed, concern at all.
PATE: No, because they haven't been seen here for months, so there was no fear. And the mayor of Bellingham and also the community leaders in Tacoma came out tonight and stressed the point that these communities are safe because these guys have not been in this area for a long time.
And we also know, Catherine, that the FBI probably will not be back in Tacoma tomorrow because after they left the scene, they just allowed neighborhood people to swarm the yard and, you know, kind of satisfy their curiosity.
CALLAWAY: All right, don't go away, Lou. If you could stay with us for just a little bit longer.
I do need to get over to Ed, who has some information for us.
Ed Lavandera in Frederick County, Maryland, where this news conference is going to take place. And, Ed, I understand you've been able to speak again with Dave Statter with WUSA.
LAVANDERA: Absolutely. We've got him standing by here with us. And Dave is a 30 year veteran of this news part of the world.
And, Dave, let's go back and rehash it. It's been quite a long night already.
How did all this start coming about?
DAVE STATTER, WUSA RADIO CORRESPONDENT: Well, police got a tip from a rest stop attendant we're told now, to correct some information we had earlier. A rest stop attendant on the I-70 rest stop just west of Frederick, Maryland in Myersville, Maryland. He spotted that Caprice that they had the lookout for, where Mr. Muhammad and Mr. Malvo, I believe it is, were supposedly in. And that lookout had been broadcast to police. We don't know if the rest stop attendant saw it on TV, the Caprice lookout, or heard it from troopers who stopped there.
But he found it and called police. Then an alert Maryland state trooper, we are told, arrived, cordoned off the area. They believed the two men were sleeping inside, which apparently was the case. There may have been other people, we are told, at the rest stop, who got into the cordoned off area. They were told to remain calm, apparently contacted by cell phone or they contacted Maryland State Police, told to remain calm.
This was about one o'clock when this all started to break, Eastern time. It was about three, close to 3:30 this morning, we are told from our sources, that the FBI hostage rescue team, joined by Maryland state troopers, moved in on the vehicle. They used what's called flash bangs, which are diversionary devices which are often used by these hostage rescue teams. And they used the diversionary devices, moved in on the car, grabbed the two men without incident.
At this point, we are told by our sources, a weapon has not been found in the vehicle.
LAVANDERA: OK. You said this started about one o'clock, ended about three...
STATTER: Close to 3:30 this morning.
LAVANDERA: Two and a half hours there. Was that set up time to set off that device?
STATTER: Well, I think getting everybody in place. They had to get the FBI hostage rescue team up here. They had to get the officials who were going to run the operation in place. The Maryland State Police the lead agency at the scene, but they were working very closely throughout with the lead agency in Montgomery County and the task force, and they brought task force members up by vehicle and by helicopter to help run this operation and assist in this operation.
LAVANDERA: You know this area very well. Give us a sense of what's around here, how remote of an area is it in relation to Washington.
STATTER: We're in Frederick City now. We're just on the outskirts of Frederick. And Frederick is the largest town in Frederick County. And it's a pretty urban area, it's become. The rural area is where this occurred, west of Frederick, toward Washington County and the rest stop, and that's pretty rural around there. But it's, you know, it's like your typical rest stop on an interstate highway. And they had stopped there apparently to take a nap, from what we were told.
LAVANDERA: How close were you able to get and did you get a sense of how tense it was out there?
STATTER: We've only got up to the exit where they blocked everybody and up at the roadblocks. They would not let us beyond that. And they had the roads cordoned off. We were also told to keep media helicopters out, that they were going to restrict the air space there. I think one media helicopter was able to get there for a little while and then they chased them back.
But we got a sense that traffic was stopped, that's for sure. They shut down the interstate for those many hours that they were out there and the back roads of U.S. 40 that runs through there, and Route 17, were clogged. People couldn't move for quite a while.
LAVANDERA: You know, it's amazing to think this calls for these two men and the license plate and the call information didn't go out that long ago.
STATTER: No, it was, what, 11 o'clock Eastern time, some time after that? So within two hours of it going out publicly, probably police had it a little bit more than that, a little bit more than that. That's when it happened.
LAVANDERA: All right, Dave, good work tonight and we'll be talking with you, I'm sure, throughout the morning.
STATTER: Right. Sure.
LAVANDERA: Catherine, that's the story from here. Awaiting, of course, as we've been talking about, this press briefing. Major Greg Shipley from the Maryland State Police is supposed to be conducting this press briefing at some point this morning. And, of course, as you might imagine, there is, as I say, a flurry of activity happening around this part of Maryland -- Catherine.
CALLAWAY: All right, Ed, we'll be back with you in a minute.
And incredible video that we received from WUSA on what did exactly take place there on Interstate 70. As we have told you, the two suspects that police have been looking for, John Allen Muhammad, also known as John Allen Williams, and John Lee Malvo, now in custody. Police found them apparently sleeping inside that 1990 Chevy Caprice with the New Jersey license plates that the nationwide search went out for last night. It was found, apparently, there off of Interstate 70 on a rest stop, the individuals sleeping inside now in custody. We are waiting for a news conference from Maryland State Police and the Frederick County Sheriff's Department to tell us exactly what took place and what is going to be done with these two individuals.
Police had said earlier, we heard Chief Moose say that these individuals were wanted for firearms violations.
Gary Tuchman standing by there at the headquarters in Montgomery County, where I'm assuming they're await, just all the media there is waiting just like we are to hear what they will announce in Middletown.
TUCHMAN: It's fair to say, Catherine, we are all eagerly awaiting this news conference. But in the meantime, I do have some interesting information for you. We can tell you that Muhammad and Malvo have been brought back to Montgomery County, where as we speak, they are in custody in an undisclosed location in the county and they are being questioned.
Now, we've been talking about all day what's been going on in different parts of the United States in relation to this case. You have investigators checking out a murder that occurred 11 days before this spree began on October 2nd, the murder of a 52-year-old woman. Another woman was critically hurt when she was shot. We also told you about what's happening in Tacoma, Washington, when they searched a house and dug up a tree.
Some very interesting information in this morning's "Baltimore Sun" explaining, perhaps, why investigators are interested in these two locations. The "Baltimore Sun" says that investigators here in Montgomery County got a break in the case when during one of the phone calls from the sniper, the sniper said, "You should take me seriously." And then he told police they should check with the people in Montgomery. At first authorities didn't know what that meant, but then they realized maybe he wasn't talking about Montgomery County, but perhaps another, a city named Montgomery.
So they started checking, authorities here, in Montgomery, Alabama, to see if there were any murders or shootings that took place there. They eventually found out about this shooting that happened on September 21 and the reason they thought it was relevant is because, according to the "Baltimore Sun," a flier or a piece of paper that was found on the scene of the shooting had a fingerprint of Mr. Malvo, the 17-year-old.
At that point they started tracing Malvo and found out that Malvo had a house in Tacoma, Washington, where he lived with John Allen Muhammad. And that, according to the "Baltimore Sun," is the connection between Tacoma, Washington, the shooting in Alabama and what's going on here right now.
We also need to point out something very important, that authorities are not saying that this man or these men are responsible for the sniper shootings. They say they're wanted for information. But we'll have to see what happens now that these two men are in custody and they don't have to be careful, perhaps, with their language, with the communications they're doing with them -- Catherine.
CALLAWAY: So many pieces to this puzzle, Gary. Some of them starting to fall in place here. I know you mentioned the shooting that took place in Alabama. Can you give us some more information on that for everyone who, this is another one of the pieces of the puzzle that we found out about yesterday or yesterday evening as the searches were going on up in Washington State. Another investigation taking place deep in the South in Alabama in, oddly enough, Montgomery.
TUCHMAN: Right. Investigators were looking at a possible connection between that shooting we just talked about and this case. And also, in another part of Alabama, a place called the Ground Zero Training Ground, investigators are checking if there's a connection between this training ground and what happened here. According to some sources, the Ground Zero Training Ground in Marion, Alabama, near Montgomery, is a training camp linked to Islamic militants.
However, the guy who runs the training ground says it's actually a place to train security guards and policemen and he wasn't even aware that police were investigating and strongly denied that it had anything to do with Islamic militants.
CALLAWAY: Right. This is, you're speaking of Mark Yates, who I spoke with earlier this morning, head of Ground Zero USA, saying that he knows of no search that took place at his facility. He's about an hour away from there. He said he thought the police were there for security reasons. But local police there and some federal officials saying that they, indeed, did search that facility called Ground Zero USA. No information on what was taken there.
We do know a great deal of information was taken from this home in Tacoma, including a very large stump loaded onto the back of a U- Haul, now headed your way, Gary, for, to investigators to pan through for more evidence.
TUCHMAN: Right. The research laboratory where this type of evidence is checked is just up the street from the Montgomery County police headquarters. And a tree stump was put on that van because it's believed that this tree stump was used for target practice. The assumption they're going to compare the ammunition found inside the tree stump with the ammunition used in this spree of sniper shootings over the last three weeks in Washington, D.C.
CALLAWAY: I'm hearing now that that news conference that we're waiting for in Frederick may be taking place here in just a moment.
Why don't we go to Ed Lavandera -- oh, we can't go to Ed.
All right. Well, Gary, we'll stay with you until that news conference begins. A lot of things we want to hear from officials about what exactly took place tonight in the, in taking into custody these two individuals that they were looking for. You have to wonder, though, Gary, how much information they will be able to give us.
We'll have to find out.
Let's go to the news conference now.
MAJ. GREG SHIPLEY, MARYLAND STATE POLICE: Good morning.
My name is Major Greg, G-R-E-G, Shipley, S-H-I-P-L-E-Y. I'm a spokesman for the Maryland State Police.
Shortly before one this morning, the Maryland State Police at the Frederick Barracks received a telephone call, a 911 call from an individual who was a motorist passing through the area. He was at a rest area west bound on Interstate 70 about 11 miles west of Frederick. The gentleman reported to state police that he saw a vehicle in the rest area that matched the description of a lookout given by the task force last night.
This was a 1990 Chevy Caprice. A Maryland state trooper responded to the rest area, verified that that was the vehicle and verified the tag number that had been given out by the task force. The trooper immediately established a perimeter with other state police. The task force was immediately contacted and a joint tactical response team responded to the area.
Shortly after 3:30 this morning, the tactical response team arrested two individuals from that vehicle who were sleeping in the vehicle. They were taken into custody without incident. They are described as African-American males, one approximately 20, one approximately 40. That's the only description we have at this point. They have been transported to Montgomery County to task force members there. A search warrant, a federal search warrant is being applied for. The car remains at the rest area in the custody of police there. The Maryland State Police, a police academy class will be responding to the rest area this morning to conduct a careful grid search of the area. The vehicle, once the search warrant is obtained, will be searched and taken back to Montgomery County.
That is all the information we have at this point from here. Any further briefings on this issue will occur in Montgomery County at the usual location.
QUESTION: Were there any weapons, sir? Any weapons?
QUESTION: Why are these men being taken to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Montgomery County and have you been able to verify that they're (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?
SHIPLEY: They are being taken to Montgomery County. Their identities are being, attempts to verify their identities are being made right now. So we don't have a positive identification.
QUESTION: Did you find any identification in the car?
SHIPLEY: I don't have any information on that.
QUESTION: Were there any weapons found in the car?
QUESTION: Any weapons, sir?
SHIPLEY: I don't have any information on weapons. Again, a search warrant is being applied for and will be served on the vehicle. A search will be conducted.
QUESTION: How long (UNINTELLIGIBLE)? Do you know?
SHIPLEY: I do not know. The call came in to us shortly before 1:00 a.m. Again, that's something that would be looked into. We don't know how long they were there. But they were sleeping in the car.
QUESTION: So they were there at least two and a half hours before they were picked up, correct?
SHIPLEY: That's correct.
QUESTION: Can you describe what this task force did as they moved onto the scene there? Who was involved and what exactly happened?
SHIPLEY: The tactical response team included the FBI, Maryland State Police and Montgomery County Police, possibly others. But for certain those three agencies. And, again, these are specially trained law enforcement officers who know how to react in tactical situations like this in order to ensure as much safety as possible. They simply, they approached the car. I don't know the specific tactical maneuvers they used, but they did it very carefully, very quickly, very efficiently and these two individuals were taken into custody without any problem.
QUESTION: Can you confirm a report that this vehicle was stopped in Baltimore on October 8?
SHIPLEY: I can't confirm that. I don't know.
QUESTION: What was their reaction when the officers actually woke them up? Do you know if they had any reaction?
SHIPLEY: No. They were, I was told they were taken into custody without incident. That means there was no resistance, there was no problem.
QUESTION: Can you describe the...
QUESTION: Were they sleeping the entire two and a half hours that it took to get everyone into place and make everything happen?
SHIPLEY: I assume so. I don't know that for certain.
QUESTION: Was this at a restaurant or a rest stop? SHIPLEY: It's a rest area, a State of Maryland travel information center area, located on west bound I-70 about 11 miles west of Frederick. It's just a couple of miles east of the Washington County line.
QUESTION: Was the vehicle running at the time, sir?
SHIPLEY: I don't know.
QUESTION: Were there other people in the rest area alongside those cars, as well, or?
SHIPLEY: There were other cars in the rest area. In fact, the individual who saw the car and called us was, you know, a motorist passing through.
QUESTION: Did they express surprise? Did they have any reaction?
SHIPLEY: I don't know what their reaction was. Again, it wasn't an aggressive one. They were taken into custody without incident.
QUESTION: Did that person, that witness stay on the scene the entire time talking to police?
SHIPLEY: Yes, he did.
QUESTION: The motorist did?
SHIPLEY: Yes, he did.
QUESTION: Would that person...
QUESTION: ... in a field in Frederick. Do you know if that has anything to do with this arrest?
SHIPLEY: I do not. No.
QUESTION: Greg, did that motorist call 911, do we know, or call the tip line or what?
SHIPLEY: I believe it was a call to 911 that came in to state police here at the Frederick barracks.
QUESTION: So that person would be eligible for the reward, I guess, at this point?
SHIPLEY: I have no idea on that. OK?
QUESTION: Greg, how quickly did -- excuse me. (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
SHIPLEY: It was within minutes a trooper was there. I don't have the exact time, but it was just within minutes.
QUESTION: And then notified the task force?
SHIPLEY: And notified the task force immediately, correct.
QUESTION: Do you know if either of these two men have prior records at all?
SHIPLEY: I don't know. Again, we're working on the identity of these individuals, the task force is, and that'll be information that's forthcoming.
QUESTION: Is there any indication how long they've been there?
QUESTION: Did one of them fit the description of the guy they released a picture of today? Did you actually see the person?
SHIPLEY: I did not, no.
QUESTION: Greg, do you know how they'd been there?
SHIPLEY: No, I do not. I know, as was mentioned earlier, when shortly before one when the motorist spotted the vehicle they were in it and they were taken into custody shortly after 3:30.
QUESTION: How would you characterize this bystander who did this? I mean have you talked to the person?
SHIPLEY: I've talked to him. He's a very responsible individual who we greatly appreciate his observations and his assistance to police.
QUESTION: Do you know where he was from?
QUESTION: Was that motorist from the area and if not has that person been told he is free to leave the area?
SHIPLEY: He has been told, certainly. He's been talked to by police and I believe he has left the area. I don't know where he's from or where he was headed. I believe he's from the Maryland area, though.
That's all the information we have here. We'll see everybody back at Rockville.
QUESTION: Thank you, sir.
SHIPLEY: Thank you.
CALLAWAY: Major Greg Shipley with the Maryland State Police saying that an alert motorist traveling west bound on I-70 in Maryland led to the apprehension of these two suspects at a rest stop there on Interstate 70 about 11 miles west of Frederick, Maryland. This taking place around 3:30 this morning, this motorist saying that he had spotted a vehicle in the rest area that matched the description of the Caprice that officials had been looking for since yesterday evening. That Caprice is a 1990 that looks similar to this one, a Chevy Caprice with a New Jersey license plate. Officials had been looking for this vehicle, NDA21Z, and also looking for two individuals that were believed to be inside that vehicle. They, John Lee Malvo and John Allen Muhammad, also known as John Allen Williams, we, CNN has been told that the two individuals taken into custody in that vehicle were, indeed, these individuals. However, we did not hear Major Greg Shipley say that. He said that they are still trying to identify those individuals and are now on their way, or at least in Montgomery County to be questioned.
We have Ed Lavandera there at the scene, where we were waiting for his news conference.
A lot of questions still to be unanswered, I mean still to be answered, Ed.
LAVANDERA: Obviously a lot of questions still remain to be answered and, of course, the overwhelming feeling here is still the major unanswered question as to whether or not it is these two men that have, that are responsible, that, we don't know if they are responsible, but that is what so many people want to know, is whether or not they are responsible for these sniper attacks that have terrorized the Washington, D.C. and Maryland and Virginia areas over the course of the last two and a half weeks.
So that is the over riding question and in a lot of these press briefings that have occurred as each one of these developments have transpired in this sniper investigation, a lot of the authorities that are in the immediate area kind of give the initial briefings as to what exactly has happened and what transpired. And then from there, the flow of infor -- the official flow of information moves back to Montgomery County and the officials in the immediate areas where these events transpired kind of let those folks take over and let them take it from there.
But at least the initial flow of events as to exactly what transpired here in the last couple of hours are shared by the local authorities here.
CALLAWAY: Ed, we know that these individuals were wanted for firearms violations. We heard the Major ask whether or not there was a weapon found at the scene. He said not that he knew of. But the Chevrolet is still there at the rest area.
LAVANDERA: And I would gather that it would probably be there for a while just based on what the Major just said, is that they have a team of cadets that will be brought into that rest area in the morning, probably waiting for sunlight to show up here and that will give them a better idea and allow them to do a much more comprehensive and much more accurate search of that area as they start to comb that area, just like they've done at so many of the other sniper shooting scenes, where they send in these cadets and they go in and look, look over the grounds and any kind of, any nook or cranny for any kind of clues or evidence in this situation.
It appears that they will, are planning to do the same when the sun comes up here this morning, as that rest stop still is the site where the car is at this point, and they'll continue to do that.
I think one of the interesting things that the major pointed out is that this call came in shortly before 1:00 a.m., not too long after the authorities in Montgomery County had put out the information of the two men that they were looking -- or the one person that they were looking for and the car information that they were looking for. It's a testament to just how quickly information has been flying around, especially this part of the U.S., not only nationally, but here, as well.
Local radio stations carrying all of this information repeatedly through the night and perhaps, as the major pointed out, that this person was in the car, so many of the radio stations in the Washington, D.C. area have been playing over and over all of the information that authorities have been passing along and perhaps that might have been one of the ways that has been, one of the flows of information that's been so useful to authorities.
As I think I heard you mention a little while ago, they've been counting on a tip from the public that would help them break this case and if this does, indeed, turn out to be the shooters in this case, and we don't know that for sure, I think they will support that argument again -- Catherine.
CALLAWAY: The motorist was apparently paying attention. But we have word that the suspects were sleeping inside the Chevrolet.
Let's go now to CNN's Bob Franken, who is actually there across the street from this rest area -- Bob, can you tell me what's taking place there at the rest area now?
BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the rest area is closed off. As we heard in the news conference, the car is still there, although the two who were arrested have been taken to Montgomery County. But all of this, of course, and I'm going to be repeating some information, they were at this rest area, we don't know how long, sleeping in their vehicle, when a motorist spotted at a little bit after one o'clock.
It was two hours before the tactical unit was able to move in, the state trooper tactical unit. They swooped down on the car. It then, there was an element of surprise, apparently, and they were quickly able to take these two away.
Now, of course, investigators are still pouring over the car, not telling us what the contents are, not telling us what relationship that has to the sniper case. But in any case, up here on Highway 70, not far from the Pennsylvania border, not far from Frederick, Maryland, about 10 miles from Frederick, Maryland, I would place it about 15 miles north of Washington, the break in the case has come and the police officers now are going to continue to investigate what they have here as they continue to try and unravel this case -- Catherine.
CALLAWAY: Can you tell me what the scene looks like now? Who is still there? We know that Maryland State Police, the Frederick County Sheriff's Department and federal officials, the FBI, all took part in this. Who is there now? Can you tell?
FRANKEN: All I can tell you is there's a lot of police cars. They are not letting us into the rest stop. So I'm not able to tell you exactly which units are doing what at the moment. But there are an awful lot of police cars there, of different makes and models, of course, which suggests that there are a variety of agencies there.
CALLAWAY: Waiting for daylight to canvas this area and investigate this vehicle. Has a large area there been closed around this rest stop?
FRANKEN: No. The rest stop itself, I would say, is an area of maybe, oh, how big is a rest stop usually? Five hundred yards, something like that, 500 yards long. That's a total guess, but that's what I'm assuming it is. That's closed off. And, you know, there's nobody's moving in, nobody's moving out except official vehicles.
CALLAWAY: All right, Bob, thank you.
That's Bob Franken right across the street there from the rest area where these individuals were taken into custody.
Gary Tuchman still standing by at the headquarters, where the activity is actually not taking place today. Rather unusual. We normally see the officials coming out there in Montgomery County and announcing what has happened.
Nonetheless, we've been told by the major that the suspects are being taken to Montgomery County for questioning.
TUCHMAN: Right. And unfortunately we didn't learn a lot from Major Shipley. But we do know the suspects are already here in Montgomery County being questioned. One thing Major Shipley said is subsequent news conferences will happen at the headquarters where we are right now in Montgomery County. We've been told by the police here in Montgomery County that it would be at least a couple of hours before we have such a news conference, that questioning will be undertaken, will be finished, or more substantially undertaken with these two gentlemen before they talk to us here in Montgomery County and we get more important information.
Now, normally we would be a little more patient with getting that information. But what you have here in the Washington, D.C. area since October 2 is people waking up every morning wanting to hear what the latest is, deciding whether or not to send their children to school based on the information. So that's why it's so important to get that information as quickly as possible. Obviously they want it to be accurate, they want it to be important, they want it to be relevant. But the quicker we get it the better it is for so many people here, who've suffered for so long.
And it's now been exactly 48 hours, almost to the minute, that Conrad Johnson became the 10th victim of this sniper, just a few miles away from here. And maybe, just maybe he'll be the last -- Catherine.
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