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Public Reacts With Relief, Anticipation to Sniper Arrests

Aired October 24, 2002 - 13:41   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: For more than three weeks, the D.C. area has been in a deadly grip of terror and fear. There's now word of two arrests in the sniper case -- must have some residents breathing a lot easier.
CNN's Jason Carroll is in Silver Spring, Maryland, in Montgomery County. He's talking to a lot of people over there.

What's the general reaction to what's going on -- Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: First of all, I can tell you, Wolf, that the level of fear was extremely high in this particular area. This is the spot where Sarah Ramos, 34 years old, was killed back on October 3. It had an emotional impact on the community. It had an economic impact on the community people as well. People were afraid to come out, go to the gas station, go shopping, afraid to go out and run errands. But boy, how things have changed.

Joining me right now, I've got two community residents. I have got Lillian Wolf (ph) -- I know you prefer to go by Lil -- and also Joe Brown (ph).

Joe, I'm going to start with you.

You were talking about how this area used to be a ghost town. But boy, how things have changed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On Thursday morning on October 3, it was slow; there was nothing going on here. It was roped off by the police. They had a drape over top of the bench over there. And in the last three weeks, you just could literally walk into any store, get service -- there were no lines -- find a parking space; not today: You can see it's very busy, very active; people aren't afraid to come out and shop and be normal again.

CARROLL: Lil, is that what you're sensing here, as well, the change?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Definitely. I've been up to Olney, which is about two, three miles up, and we went for lunch. And there was considerable joviality amongst the lunch people. They were smiling -- smiles that we haven't seen in weeks.

CARROLL: Quite some time.

Tell me about your reaction to hearing there were two suspects who are in custody now. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm really pleased if these are the real suspects. But I'm also concerned about the upcoming trial and the length of time that's going to be involved. And mostly for the victims and their families. They're going to be exposed some more notoriety and more unpleasantness about their loved ones and all that they've experienced. Hopefully, these guys will confess, which is probably remote, and make our life a lot easier over the next coming months.

CARROLL: Joe, I know you're relieved as well. And thoughts about the community getting back on track at this point?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like I said earlier, it is getting back on track. Everybody I've talked to in the post office or at Giant or inside (UNINTELLIGIBLE), they're thrilled and relieved that this person or persons have been caught. It's a shame they didn't catch them sooner, but it's better now that nobody else can get hurt, hopefully, and we can solve our problems without using violence.

CARROLL: Joe and Lil...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could I make -- I also wanted to say that we believe -- is it Sheriff Moose?

CARROLL: Chief Moose.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... has done a fabulous job...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... as far as my opinion. I know a lot of people have been a little concerned that he wasn't letting out enough, especially the media has been (UNINTELLIGIBLE) concerned that he wasn't giving out enough information. But we indeed are grateful to have such a persistent man who was able to even at one time shed a few tears.

out enough, especially the media has been concerned he wasn't giving out enough information, but we, indeed, are grateful to have such a persistent man who was able to even at one time he said a few tears.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And also our thoughts go out to the families.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, indeed, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And all the members that have been hurt -- and for no reason at all that they've been hurt and have to suffer now for the rest of their lives with their loved ones who aren't here now because of the tragedy we've experienced here. But let's hope this is all behind us now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to thank all the press and the media and the ATF and everybody who has brought this to some conclusion.

CARROLL: Both of you, we want to thank you. Thank you very much for joining us. We certainly appreciate that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're welcome.

CARROLL: Hopefully, the suffering not only for families, but for the community is finally about to end. It's definitely been a long three weeks for people in the surrounding communities of Washington, D.C. But you heard it here, Wolf, thanks to Chief Moose and thanks to a lot of others who saw the community through this trying time -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jason Carroll, thanks for that report. Thanks to your guests as well.

We had hoped to hear from Chief Moose and others from the task force earlier today, around noon Eastern. We are told that perhaps they will emerge around 3:00 p.m. Eastern, right here where I am, in Rockville, Maryland. We, of course, will have live coverage, the Montgomery County Police Chief, Charles Moose.

Getting a lot of praise here from local community leaders throughout this day. We'll continue to monitor what's happening here, but for now, let's go back to Miles O'Brien at the CNN Center, in Atlanta -- Miles.


This investigation quite literally all over the map. We've been talking about the Tacoma area of Washington state, certainly about the area where you sit, Montgomery County and D.C. environs. But one of the other places that has been the focus of attention, another Montgomery, Montgomery, Alabama.

And that's where we find CNN's Brian Cabell.

Brian, what's the latest from there?

BRIAN CABELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Miles, for the last day or so we've been wondering what the possible connection might be between the sniper attacks in Washington, D.C. area and Montgomery, Alabama. And now we know: About two hours ago or so, it was confirmed there is a fingerprint match between John Malvo, the 17-year-old sniper suspect, and someone who apparently committed a crime here at this beverage store behind me back on September 21. A man apparently came up behind two women who were closing up the store here on September 21 at night, shot both of them -- apparently in the back -- one of them was killed, one of them survived.

There was a chase that ensued. An officer almost caught the guy, but he managed to escape. But did come up with a composite picture of that suspect that night. And we can see how it compares with John Malvo. There are some who say there is a resemblance, others who are wondering about that.

Now as to how the connection was made initially, apparently it came from a phone call, an anonymous phone call, to the snipers task force. And according to the mayor here, the caller made some rather revealing remarks.


MAYOR BOBBY BRIGHT, MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA: Brian Cabell,Nothing more than that he was involved in the shootings there in the D.C. area, and that if they didn't believe he was serious about it, that he could call Montgomery, Alabama, and talk with the investigating team here to verify that he means business, that he's killed before and he'll kill again.


CABELL: So we have his fingerprints here, apparently. Was John Malvo here for any period of time? We don't know. I asked the police chief that a little while ago, he said they are checking into the possibility of his residing here for a period of time. But right now they don't know exactly when he might have left for the D.C. area. Again, they don't know. They are investigating that.

But once again, the fact that fingerprints, fingerprints tied to John Malvo, were found here, a major break in the case -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: CNN's Brian Cabell, one quick question: That caller -- are we to presume that that caller is either Malvo or Muhammad? Are authorities saying so, or are they just leaving that an open question?

CABELL: I don't think they want to presume on any of this, but that call certainly leads you to believe that might be the case.

O'BRIEN: But no one said definitively just yet.

CABELL: Absolutely not.

O'BRIEN: We'll leave it at that.

Brian Cabell, thanks very much, from Montgomery, Alabama.


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