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Wisconsin Police Hold Live Press Conference

Aired March 13, 2005 - 11:00   ET


RUDI BAKHTIAR, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to CNN, everyone. You are looking at live pictures now out of Brookfield, Wisconsin. We've been waiting for a presser on that deadly shooting spree during a church service at a hotel that killed seven people. Let's listen in.
CHIEF DANIEL TUSHAUS, BROOKFIELD POLICE DEPT: Good morning, I'm Chief Dan Tushaus with the city of Brookfield police department. I have with me this morning Assistant Chief Dean Collins, Captain John Philip Porter, our investigation division commander, Captain James Adlem, our patrol division commander and Waukesha County district attorney Paul Bucher.

What I'd like to do is provide you some information up front and then turn it over to this staff and the DA for any follow-up or specific questions. In addition to the agencies that I thanked and noted yesterday, I need to give additional thanks to some of our partners in law enforcement that assisted us and are still assisting us today. And that is the New Berlin police department, the Waukesha County sheriff's department and the Milwaukee County sheriff's department. They've done a wonderful job and it's very rewarding to know that we have these professionals in our backyard and as neighbors at a time of need.

I'd like to describe for you the breadth and depth of our investigation up to this point. As you are aware, we have 11 victims, seven of which are deceased. We also have a suspect who is deceased. We had been in contact -- in contact with 50 to 60 witnesses that were present at the time of this tragic crime. We have interviewed every single one of them to some degree.

As you can imagine, we have a significant amount of evidence to be collected at the crime scene and that is still ongoing. To add to the complexity of the sheer numbers and volume of information - of victims and witnesses we're working with, our victim and witnesses are from all over the state of Wisconsin and Illinois. As you well are aware as well we executed a search warrant in New Berlin and our dealing with that evidence that was accumulated.

We are continuing to work with the medical examiner's office and as we speak, some of the autopsies of the victims are being performed. We have continued to work with and we will continue to work with the victims of this tragic crime and their families. We received an awful lot of support from the Waukesha County victim assistance program and the FBI and Federal victim assistance program through the Department of Justice and we also appreciate their assistance. And our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the families and to the victims. Yesterday, the Living Church of God had rented the room at the Sheraton from approximately 12:30 in the afternoon until 3:30 p.m. and at 12:51 we received a call, the initial call, of a shooting in progress, multiple victims. We responded and the captain, one of the captains will be able to give you response times, if you wish that later. But our officers responded to an active, rapid shooter. In a very short period of time our team of three officers entered the room where the shootings occurred and ascertained and -- that the suspect was in fact dead and secured the scene.

From that point on, EMS arrived and we evacuated the victims and began securing the crime scene and proceeding from there with our investigation. Through that investigation, I can give you the following information. It appears that the suspect entered into the room during the service. He entered from the back of the room. He did not give any warning or provided any verbiage before firing a handgun. At this time, we believe 22 rounds were fired by the suspect. He reloaded the weapon once during the exchange of gunfire.

And then as witnesses have reported to us, shot himself in the head. At this time in our investigation, we have no clear motive. We have not uncovered any clear documentation as to motive. We have not uncovered any clear documentation as to motive. We have not found a suicide note or any documentation from the suspect to give you a clear and concise motive for the shooting.

There's a lot of speculation out there. We are working on that speculation. We are working with the victims and witnesses to try to ascertain that motive and we are hopeful that sometime into the future in our investigation, we'll be able to provide that motive to you and to the victims.

At this time, there is no evidence to lead us any other suspect or individuals. We have no evidence of a conspiracy or any other organized plan to carry out what happened yesterday.

I can give you the suspect's name and verify the suspect's name. Suspect's name is Terry Ratzmann, 44 years of age of New Berlin. At this time, we are not releasing the names of the victims. And we have a number of reasons for that. I know some news agencies have put those names and date of births and addresses or locations out there. At this timing we are continuing to work with the medical examiner's office in notifying families and extended families of the events of yesterday. We also have a number of juvenile victims, under aged victims that were involved and we're trying to be very sensitive to their protection and to the feelings of their family.

BAKHTIAR: You are watching that live presser that we've been waiting for this hour about yesterday's shooting spree at a church service in Brookfield, Wisconsin. A gunman opened, firing on the congregation gathered there, police say. He killed at least seven people, wounded four others before turning the gun on himself. The suspect, they've released his name. He is Terry Ratzmann, 44 years old. They are not releasing the names of the victims yet. Another piece of information that came out is that there are 50 to 60 witnesses that have been interviewed, significant evidence still being collected at the crime scene. And no clear motive yet, no suicide note, just speculation right now, talking a lot to witnesses who were there.

They say that the gunman entered in the middle of the service and opened fire from the back of the room, firing 22 rounds before reloading his gun and shooting himself in the head. Again, that presser out of Brookfield, Wisconsin about the tragedy that occurred yesterday at a church gathering in Wisconsin. More details as we get it.

Let's move on right now to the other story we were covering for you all day, Brian Nichols, subject of the tremendous manhunt is now in custody this morning. He is suspected of killing four people, injuring another in Atlanta. Nichols surrendered just hours after holding a woman hostage in her apartment. She managed to talk her way out and call police. We're learning more about that woman today and for that, let's turn to Kimberly Osias. Kimberly, what have you learned?

KIMBERLY OSIAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I can tell you this community, certainly in this area, we are in Gwinnett County, about 20 minutes north of Atlanta and Fulton County courthouse where everything, of course took place back on Friday. And this man, I mean, it is a collective, just huge, huge sigh of relief, a triumphant ending, rather grizzly story. 26 hours after it began, this man, Brian Nichols, 33 years old, finally, finally caught.

I want to show you the cover of the "Atlanta Journal and Constitution", the local payment here. Basically it says it all in big bold faced type, captured, the 26-hour reign of terror ends after four killings and a rather unlikely tipster. In fact it was Nichols' own hostage as you were saying, Rudi, a young woman, really managed to finesse her way out. We do know that she is relatively new to this area. She's a young college student. She is not home. She is believed to be staying with friends. And, of course, certainly the community this area here as well as police, are really touting her as a hero.


DANNY PORTER, GWINNETT CO. DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Apparently there was a forcible entry into the apartment. She was forced into the apartment, held for some period of time and then either escaped or was allowed to leave. And at that point, she contacted 911. Gwinnett County police responded and conducted a very brief initial investigation to confirm her statement and at that point, uniform secured the scene and SWAT deployed and as I understand it, he came out with a white flag and surrendered without incident.


OSIAS: I was actually at the FBI field office where Nichols was taken. He was fingerprinted. It was an amazing scene, of course, SWAT team members, sheriff's deputies, everybody converged there because they did not want to make the same mistake twice and let this man go. Brian Nichols, of course, is in Federal custody right now. He faces a number of Federal and state charges, as well. Rudi?

BAKHTIAR: All right. Kimberly Osias here in Atlanta. Thank you very much for that report.

And for more on Nichols capture, there's a special two-hour edition of CNN's Larry King live hosted by Nancy Grace. Guests include Nichols' cousin, his former attorney and the newspaper reporter who came face-to-face with Nichols when he was car jacked. That's all coming up tonight at 9:00 Eastern only here on CNN.


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