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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Tennessee Police Responding to Hostage Situation

Aired September 17, 2003 - 15:29   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Some breaking news to report to you coming out of Tennessee, Western Tennessee, Dyersburg, to be specific -- actually, Dyer, Tennessee, at the Dyersburg State Community College, 70 miles northwest of Memphis.
The Dyer County sheriff confirming there that a man is holding an entire class hostage -- unclear the number of students involved.

With us on the line right now to give us, hopefully, some details on all this, Buck Tarpley, who is with Dyersburg State Community College.

Mr. what can you tell us?

BUCK TARPLEY, DYERSBURG STATE COMMUNITY COLLEGE: Well, there's not very much that we know right now.

We do know that we have a classroom that is in jeopardy right now, that we have a group of students, and we do have a hostage situation. It's not clear to us yet whether the person who is holding the group hostage is a student or someone else from outside the college. But, right now, we're just holding on and hoping for the best.

O'BRIEN: You say whether it's a student or someone else outside the college. Could it be a member of the faculty?

TARPLEY: No, it would not be a member of the faculty.

O'BRIEN: OK. You can confirm that categorically at this point?

TARPLEY: Yes.

O'BRIEN: OK. And what do you know about the number of students inside this classroom right now?

TARPLEY: I do not know how many. I know there are approximately 18 on the role. But I don't know how many were actually in the class at this time.

O'BRIEN: So 18 are enrolled in this particular class?

TARPLEY: Yes, that's my understanding.

O'BRIEN: OK. And do we know the whereabouts of the teacher who would normally be there, or do you suspect he in fact might be a hostage? TARPLEY: The teacher is part of the group.

O'BRIEN: OK. And if you could just set the scene there for a moment, as to where this is, and on the campus. And how authorities have responded to it.

TARPLEY: It is in the Eller Administration Building, which is the home of the central administration. The upper floor is a classroom environment and faculty consult offices. The police and sheriff's department have responded very well so far. And they are taking it slowly and cautiously and working through this very well.

O'BRIEN: Do you know if there's any communication at all with the hostage-taker?

TARPLEY: I do not, sir.

O'BRIEN: And do you know one way or another if this hostage- taker is armed, and if so, in what way?

TARPLEY: We believe he is armed, sir.

O'BRIEN: OK, do you know how he's armed?

TARPLEY: No, sir. I'm not clear. But I understand it's a firearm.

O'BRIEN: All right, I didn't hear the last part of that. But...

TARPLEY: I said I understand it's a firearm of some sort.

O'BRIEN: OK. A firearm of some sort. And I would guess then you don't know anything about any demands that have been made?

TARPLEY: No, sir, I do not. To my knowledge, there have been none so far.

O'BRIEN: All right, Buck Tarpley, who is with the Dyersburg State Community College, appreciate your time. I know you've very busy. you've got your hands full there. We appreciate the information. We're obviously watching this story very closely.

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