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Sniper at Large in West Virginia

Aired August 18, 2003 - 20:21   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Residents of a small city in Appalachia are wonder how the same sort of horror that happened in and around the nation's capital last year could be happening to them.
A sniper has shot and killed three people in the Charleston, West Virginia, area over the past week: Gary Carrier Jr. at a pay phone outside a Go-Mart store August 10 on Charleston's west side, then Jeanie Patton at a Speedway filling station south of Charleston Thursday night, and Okey Meadows an hour later at a Go-Mart east of the city. People in that city are outraged and terrified.


WILLIAM SCHWAB, COUSIN OF SNIPER VICTIM: This guy is just on a rampage. He's going to take anybody's life that he wants to. And it is a game to him. He has an old God complex now. This guy is going to take the next person out and he's going to keep doing this until he gets caught.


ZAHN: Joining us now from Charleston is the county sheriff, Dave Tucker, and Donna Huffman, sniper victim Gary Carrier Jr.'s aunt.

Thank you both for being with us this evening.

DAVE TUCKER, KANAWHA COUNTY SHERIFF: It is a pleasure. Thank you.


ZAHN: We know how stressful it is for you and your community.

Sheriff Tucker, I know that you have so far questioned over 100 people. Do you have any new leads after those interviews?

TUCKER: Well, we've had -- to clarify that, we have had all types of interviews and information that has come in. And we have narrowed it down to -- we have 100 people that we're actually looking at, at this present time. And out of this 100 hopefully will come the suspects.

ZAHN: Do you think you're any closer to having a suspect tonight as a result of those interviews?

TUCKER: Well, we're very close, but I can't give a time count on it. The leads that we have, it is a total of about 100. And that's out of many, many calls. Say roughly 400 to maybe 500 a day is what we have had here.

ZAHN: I know, sir, you say you can't give me a time count. I'm just curious whether you are optimistic enough that you think you can get to the person responsible for this before he potentially strikes again, if you think that is a possibility.

TUCKER: Well, what we've done, since the very beginning, we have set up a response force, a task squad -- a task force. And with that, we have the local police departments, the state police, and we have several federal agents in here. And I'm speaking of the FBI, ATF, U.S. Marshals.

And all this makes up a team. And this team is out in the communities. We're working very hard. So can we actually predict something coming out of this? Yes. I have the utmost confidence in the investigators that's actually doing this.

ZAHN: Donna, that must be greatly encouraging to you. I know the sheriff can't give us a timeframe here. But your response to what you've heard him just say, that they might indeed find the person responsible for the deaths of these three people?

HUFFMAN: Well, I'm sure they will -- yes, I'm sure he will -- they will -- because they are working really hard at it. But it just will be a matter of time, like he says. They're working hard. They'll find him. I have all the faith in the world in Sheriff Tucker and the rest of them.

ZAHN: Donna, we're so sorry about your family's loss. How did you find out?

HUFFMAN: I found out from my brother, Gary's dad.

ZAHN: And when it became clear to you there could potentially be a pattern here, how disturbing was it to you and your own personal sense of safety?

HUFFMAN: Well, you can't go around in fear, just like Sheriff Tucker said. You watch. You're cautious, but not afraid. I just feel for the other families of the other two also.

ZAHN: And, Sheriff, when you talk about this very broad net closing in on this potential suspect, are you pretty convinced this evening that these three deaths are indeed related?

TUCKER: Well, I can do that by the surroundings, what actually occurred. They occurred at a convenience store. They occurred at night.

The bullets that we have recovered with the work that is being done by the West Virginia State Police, they say that these bullets are similar. Now, that is not to say they're exact, but they're similar -- and the fact that these victims were all shot in the head. They were head shots.

ZAHN: And, finally, Sheriff Tucker, I know you say you're hopeful that you're closing in on a potential suspect. What kind of help do you need from the public at this point? You've talked about the broad array of law enforcement help you're getting.

TUCKER: Well, it is great. And the public has been -- there has been an outcry from the public. They have been working very close with us, as long as this task -- along with this task force.

And I think the most important thing is, as my friend here says, we've got to go on with life, don't live in fear, but live in cautious. And I stress everyone, we are creatures of habit. Like, when you go into pump the gas to get your gas, do the 360 degrees. And by that I mean to be able to turn around, look around you, look at your surroundings and see what has happened. And if you do have to go into one of these convenience stores to get gas late, don't go by yourself. Go with someone else, until we can actually solve this.

ZAHN: Well, Sheriff Tucker, very good advice for the folks who live in the region of your state who are very concerned about this. We wish you the best of luck with your continuing investigation.

And once again, Donna, we very much appreciate your joining us at this stressful time for your family. Good luck to you.


HUFFMAN: Thank you.

TUCKER: And we want to thank you for your concern. Thank you.

ZAHN: Thank you.


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