CNN BREAKING NEWS
Maryland, White House Respond to Sniper Assaults
Aired October 7, 2002 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We've been following this breaking news as well out of Maryland and involving the school shooting.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. This school shooting this morning, as you've been watching it unfold here on CNN, a student boy who was shot on his way to Benjamin Tasker Middle School there. Police there are not saying whether or not this shooting this morning is related to last week's deadly sniper attacks; however, they aren't just -- they aren't sure just yet. Still lots more information to come in this morning. And as we said here, now just to recap, a 13- year-old boy shot outside his school in Bowie, Maryland. And this all happened not far from last week's series of sniper killings.
KAGAN: Details still sketchy on this one. Investigators working the sniper shootings, they have been dispatched to nearby Rockville to Prince George's County. They're trying to determine if there is a link. Last check, the boy was in critical condition with gunshot wounds to his chest and his abdomen.
Now early this morning, long before this particular shooting even took place, our Jeanne Meserve was on the story, and she joins us now with the latest.
Jeanne -- hello.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Daryn.
As you mentioned, investigators from Montgomery County have gone over to Prince George's, both to the scene of the shooting, also to the hospital where the boy was taken. They are trying to gather some more information to figure out if there is any link between the shooting this morning and those that took place late last week. At this point they do not know if there is any connection whatsoever. They will, of course, be looking for fragments of the bullet to figure out if they can make any forensic link there. They also will be looking at some of the specifics of the circumstances around this shooting.
We do not know at this point if there was any sort of altercation that took place, if this was a shooting that might have taken place at close range. Those are the sorts of things that authorities here want to know as they try to figure out is -- if this is a continuation of the very gruesome pattern that began to be established late last week.
A bit earlier, we did have a briefing from the police chief here in Montgomery County, Charles Moose. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES MOOSE, POLICE CHIEF, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND: Clearly this is a crime scene in Prince George's County. We're in contact with Prince George's County police. We have sent Montgomery County police investigators to the school. We've sent our personnel to the clinic, and we've sent our forensics technicians to assist, to be of anything they can provide to the forensic technicians in Prince George's County. Clearly this is an unfolding, evolving situation. It will be monitored. We don't want to jump to any conclusions. We don't want to make any irrational decisions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: Police investigators are continuing on many fronts this morning. They now have more than 900 credible leads that they're following up on. They have some personality profiling information that was provided to them over the weekend by the FBI. They are not making that public because they want to preserve the integrity of this investigation. Also, some geographic profiling which may give them a hint as to where this individual might live or where he might work.
And as the investigation continues, the funerals begin. There was one yesterday for the 54-year-old cab driver that was gunned down as he refilled his taxi with fuel here in Montgomery County. There is another funeral scheduled for today and a memorial service scheduled for tonight.
If there is any good news to be found in any of this, it is that the woman who was shot last Friday down in Spotsylvania County in Virginia is improving. Her condition has been upgraded now from serious to fair.
Daryn, back to you.
KAGAN: Jeanne, you were -- you were talking about the geographic profiling. We'll work on getting a picture back there. You were talking about the geographic profiling. I think we now have a map to show folks not familiar with this part of Maryland the counties and how they neighbor each other, if you could talk a little bit about that.
MESERVE: They do neighbor one another. Also -- sure. They do neighbor one another. They also both border on D.C. So we're talking about a fairly limited geographic area.
Let me tell you a little bit more about the geographic profiling. They presume that any individual who was committing this sort of crime would not want to operate too close to his own home, to preserve his anonymity, but he wouldn't want to operate too far away because he'd want to operate within what's called his comfort zone. And so they have provided authorities here with a map with what might loosely be described as concentric circles, which might give them some idea of where this individual might work or where he might live.
But once again, actually we don't know if we're talking about one individual or more than one individual. This investigation still very much in its formative stages. And the situation continuing to evolve this morning as they look at the situation in nearby Prince George's County and try and determine if the shooting of the 13-year-old boy there has any relationship at all to the shootings late last week. There was an expectation that this individual who was doing the sniping last week would strike again and there was also extreme nervousness that they might strike at the beginning of the workweek, which the police chief described this morning as a "target-rich environment" -- Daryn.
KAGAN: Well, and, Jeanne, you make a good point in that police have not said for sure that the shooting this morning is linked to these other shootings and yet something very suspicious and disturbing about this young boy being shot.
We're going to --we're going to check back with you, cut you loose for a little bit.
Leon has more.
HARRIS: Well, as a matter of fact, we have on the phone with us right now the mayor of Bowie, Maryland.
Mayor Fred Robinson, are you there?
FRED ROBINSON, MAYOR OF BOWIE, MARYLAND: Yes, sir.
HARRIS: What do you have to say about this incredibly tragic event happening this morning in Bowie?
ROBINSON: Well that's a good way to describe it. I don't have too many details right now other than the fact that a young man was shot as he attempted to enter the middle school this morning. He's been transported to Shock Trauma Center, I think, in Baltimore. Police have not been able to talk to him as yet, as I understand it, because of his condition.
But the police are on the scene, the building area is calm and it's under control. There are some parents here that are taking the children home. I don't think the school board has made a decision yet about, you know, closing the facilities in and around the area, but -- so I'm waiting to hear from them on that.
HARRIS: Well have the police told you whether or not they believe that the shooter is still in the area?
ROBINSON: Have not heard that. You know they're taking all the precautions. Actually, they have a wide area roped off around the school, and they're doing, obviously, some patrol efforts in the immediate area. They set up a command post (INAUDIBLE) which is a block...
HARRIS: We -- I'm sorry, your honor, your phone is sort of crapping out there just a bit. Let me ask you about the wider community. Do you have a message for the wider community there in Bowie which -- who may... ROBINSON: I would just -- I would just say you know to remain as calm as you can. The situation at the school is as controlled as it can be given the circumstances. Like I said, the police are on the scene. The school officials are on the scene. The children in the building are safe.
HARRIS: Can you imagine what it must be like for a mother to have to transport their bleeding child to the hospital? And have you talked to this mother at all or do you plan to?
I'm sorry, it appears as though we've lost the mayor's phone line there.
Again, incredible story continuing to break here this morning, story of this 13-year-old boy shot outside of his Benjamin Tasker Middle School.
You're seeing here pictures of parents who have arrived there at the school to take their children home. They do have the option of doing so today.
One parent did show up to pick up their child, and our affiliate WTTG did manage to get some time to ask them exactly what was going through their minds this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They wouldn't tell us anything. They was -- they were just saying that -- they was just saying that something happened with the teachers. They were saying like the teachers and everything. They made it seem like teachers were fighting and shot somebody.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But what was the situation inside? Did they tell you to stay in your classrooms?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did they have everyone in the gym? What was the situation inside?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, we first got in the gym and they told us to get in our classrooms. So our teachers came and picked us all up. We went in our classroom. We couldn't go anywhere.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I imagine you guys must have been scared not knowing what was going on?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So what -- you came down here immediately to pick up your son?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right away.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you -- do you -- did you hear about the shooting? Did you hear anything that -- did any of your friends hear anything this morning?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, my friends hear some stuff. What my teachers told them not -- my teacher told them not to say anything and he took them and sent them to the -- he took the people who knew and sent them to the office.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, Kim Estrada and Michael, thanks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were just telling us to be quiet and be calm because a little boy got shot when he --when his mother was dropping him off from home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So a teacher actually told you that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he was in there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where you concerned? What was your situation at the time?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was worried, because I -- because this never happened like this before at my school. And I was worried because I ain't -- because I ain't wanting to die like that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, it's all right.
Dad, you obviously heard the news...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... and came down. What -- you know what prompted you? Obviously the news prompted you, but tell me what was going through your mind?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's crazy. It's just -- I don't know what this world is coming to. This shooting in broad daylight like this and that 13-year-old boy that got shot, I mean it's just crazy. And I was just concerned about my son, you know. I'm glad he's all safe, you know, and pray that the young guy that got shot, hopefully he make it, you know, and he's in our prayers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your son just said he was concerned for his own safety because nothing like this has ever happened before. We don't think as parents when we send our kids to school in the morning that this is how they'll end up coming home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This -- it's just -- I'm at a loss for words. You know it's just...
(END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS: And we resume with our live pictures now from Benjamin Tasker Middle School there. As you see, more and more parents there arriving to take their children home.
KAGAN: Leon and I were just in here shaking our heads as we were listening to that young boy talk saying I don't want to have to die like that. A 13-year-old boy, a young child going to school, escorted by a parent, that is the last thing in the world they should be thinking about, that something like that...
HARRIS: Exactly, and with...
KAGAN: ... could possibly happen.
HARRIS: ... and with this being a suburban area, a very well-to- do suburban area, we should -- we should also add, these are the kind of parents and families who have moved out there to get away from these sort of inner city sort of events that you would normally associate with happening in an inner city somewhere.
KAGAN: Looks like we have a news conference going on in Bowie. Let's listen in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Code blue as we discussed I think it was on Thursday. That means that there will be no afternoon kindergarten, no outside activities whether it's recess or lunch. There is a decision pending as to evening activities, and we'll be (INAUDIBLE) you know that as soon as possible.
KAGAN: Just a short update there on the status of the schools in that county. And it looks like they're restricting no recess, no lunch period, but not necessarily sending all the kids home. And still going to be evaluating as to what will be happening with nighttime activities. A lot of the school facilities being used at night, as well.
We continue to watch the live pictures. Parents showing up, obviously anxious to find their kids and meet up with their kids and find out answers to what is going on. The same kind of questions that we're asking.
Let's bring in the former FBI profiler Clint van Zandt, who's joining us on the phone now, to somehow help us understand what has been happening in this part of Maryland.
Clint, good morning.
CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Hi, good morning.
KAGAN: Talking a lot about geographic profiling this morning, and of particular interest because we're talking about adjoining counties here. What do you get -- and again, we have to stress that this shooting has not been verified by police to be connected to...
VAN ZANDT: Sure.
KAGAN: ... the other shootings. Still, of course, suspicions arise on a morning like this.
VAN ZANDT: Well there's going to be a number of things going on. The geographic profilers will be trying to add this into the equation should it turn out to be the same shooter. The behaviorist, psychological profilers will try to determine if it's the same shooter, is he really starting to lose it, is he disassembling, is he meeting the challenge of law enforcement, putting police officers at schools and, therefore, he's taken the battle right to us?
One of the things they'll be looking for, of course, is the signature aspect of this crime. Just like a Picasso who would do a work of art, a serial killer who would do something, many times there is a signature. It appears the signature is this crime has been No. 1, this 223 caliber rifle, No. 2, a relatively long shot and so far, only one shot fired at a victim.
Now, today this 13-year-old boy who was shot at 8:09 a.m. this morning, we're told initially he has multiple gunshot wounds. In essence, the first report said both chest and stomach. Should it be the same shooter, this is the first report we've had of him firing more than one shot at any single victim. Regardless of who this person turns out to be, I mean this is terrorism when we have this happen at the school. If it turns out to be the same shooter, this is someone who is doing exactly that. He's trying to create an act of terrorism, he's trying to terrify this whole section of the country and it's going to take all the resources of law enforcement to find him and bring him to justice.
KAGAN: Well, if that is in fact the case, he has -- he's already succeeded in that, a lot of scared people there this morning. What about the possibly, though, of a -- of a copycat shooter?
VAN ZANDT: Sure. Sure, I mean that first arose down in Spotsylvania County on Friday when we had the shooting of the 40-year- old mother who was just loading her van at a shopping center. Initially there were those that thought that might have been a copycat. And then when it turned out to be the same shooter, there were those who thought that it's evidence that the shooter perhaps was fleeing south down 95, leaving this area.
I think there are those of us who were on the outskirts as profilers looking at it and saying if it's the same shooter, which it turned out to be, it's more likely a red herring. In essence, he would come down to show that he could range anywhere he wanted to. He might be trying to indicate that he was fleeing south, but he appears -- the geographic center of this activity and probably the area that he's most comfortable in is going to be in and around Montgomery County. So that's where the investigation should continue to be focused with the, you know, realization, of course, that 25 percent of the shootings have happened at the same type of store.
The first shooting and the last shooting took place at the same type of store, but you know, that may just be a fluke. However, you know law enforcement officials, news media and psychological profilers, we don't like coincidences, we want answers, and that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to understand this language of murder that this shooter or shooters is speaking right now and we need to understand what he's trying to tell us.
HARRIS: But, Clint, Leon Harris here...
VAN ZANDT: Hi -- Leon.
HARRIS: Hi, Clint. Listen, this morning you were on the "AMERICAN MORNING," and I'm sure at the time when you were talking about what happened last week, were you even imagining that there would be another shooting today?
VAN ZANDT: Absolutely. Leon, I mean I was asked by someone else why not the weekend? And I said because it wasn't as "target rich of environment." This guy likes it and like -- Leon, like you and I come to work and sign in or punch in or whatever people do today to come to work, this guy left over the weekend but I believed he was going to come back to work today and his work is killing human beings. I think this guy likes it, I think he gets an enjoyment out of it. Folks, I think this guy is playing God. And I think when he looks down the barrel of the rifle and he makes a decision who lives and who dies, he enjoys this. This is an aphrodisiac psychologically for him, and I don't think he wants to give it up.
And if it turns out to be the same person and, again, the police are -- you know you've got to get the ballistics back, you've got to find out for sure, if it is the same person, this is a direct affront to all of us right now. It's one thing, of course, you shoot an innocent adult. But when you take it to our children, there is no one safe and this is going to take a concerted 24/7 effort on law enforcement. And the only way we're going to stop him is to arrest him or kill him. I mean in all honesty I have to say that that's the only way you're going to stop somebody like this.
HARRIS: Yes, I'm glad you brought that up -- that fact up about the children. And speaking of the children, we are being notified, and you probably have noticed on the bottom of the screen, that Montgomery County has now issued a lockdown on its schools, which is the neighboring county...
VAN ZANDT: Sure.
HARRIS: ... in relation to this Prince George's County.
Let me ask you about the fact that this did happen at a school.
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
HARRIS: The shootings that we talked about last week, they all happened around retail outlets.
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
HARRIS: This did not. Does that tell you anything? VAN ZANDT: Well, again, Leon, you know, you and I will keep and your colleagues will keep qualifying this until we finally find out if it's the same round, if it's the same weapon.
VAN ZANDT: But what the shooter in the past has looked for, Leon, is what we'd call a "target-rich environment." He's looked for an area where there's not one or two people but where there's a large number. And, again, I think this is -- psychologically this individual determining life and death, you live, you die when he looks down the scope of the rifle. So I think he likes that "target-rich environment" so he can choose his victim at random. And I think he looks for an area with a lot of traffic going in and out so once he -- once he does his shooting, he can then blend in with the traffic and leave the area very quickly.
KAGAN: Which brings me, Clint, to my next question. Does it not surprise you or perhaps it does surprise you that with all these attacks taking place pretty much in broad daylight that there aren't more clues, more eyewitnesses, especially in this day and age when so many of us are more alert to what just does not look right around us?
VAN ZANDT: Sure. You know why I think he's stayed with that so far, I'll give you two reasons psychologically and just logistically. No. 1 is I think the shooter prides himself in one shot, knocking someone down with one shot. I think he feels good about that.
Number two, sound-wise. If the three of us are outside and we hear a loud sound, a car backfire, someone knock over a tray of dishes, we have to kind of look around because the sound is echoing off buildings and we're not sure where it is. When a second shot or a second loud sound comes up, that gives us the ability to focus in and see where that sound came from. I think so far he's been able to deny us the ability to look for that second sound.
Whereas today, if the reports are correct, we've got the multiple gunshot wounds, the chest and the stomach, it's either he wanted to make sure that he caused severe damage to this victim or he's really starting to lose it. He's starting to fire multiple shots, he's not worried about being heard, about being seen; and if it's the same shooter, he may be starting to unravel on us psychologically.
KAGAN: Well, and also if you -- if you think about this target again, if indeed this is related, this is a very difficult target as this is a child, a 13-year-old boy, walking with a parent. That's a much more difficult target than someone who is just sitting by themselves in front of a -- in front of a store or loading up gas by themselves.
VAN ZANDT: Very much. So you have to assume -- I mean you're not going to have a moving vehicle and a moving target at the same time, that's a tremendously hard shot. So you have to assume the shooter, whoever this shooter was this morning at 8:09 a.m. who shot this child, had a stable position and he was sitting there looking at children going to school, mothers taking children to school. I mean there I can think of no more horrific an act. It sounds like something that we hear take place in the Middle East where a -- where a child is shot and in his or her mother's arms, and that's what this individual did today.
HARRIS: Quickly, Clint, let me ask you something if I can quickly before we move on, you're talking here about this shooter. If it is, again, if it is the same one,...
VAN ZANDT: Sure. Yes.
HARRIS: ... but we were talking originally here about two people being involved with this. I can see a situation where you might have one person unraveling, but here is a case where if there is -- if this is the same shooter now going after a child, you're talking here about two people having to unravel at the same time then.
VAN ZANDT: Well what we're talking about, Leon, is coming to -- now should there be two, and of course the reason we're looking at two is because one of the original eyewitness reports suggested two individuals in a vehicle.
HARRIS: That's right.
VAN ZANDT: So that's what law enforcement has to go with until they're able to determine otherwise.
There is a very utilitarian purpose, one person drives, one person shoots. And in this particular case today, Leon, one more time, if it's the same individual or the same two people, if you are driving, Leon, and I'm shooting, you have no way that I'm going to fire two shots. You may just assume I'd fire the one shot again. So as we're driving away, you may say, Clint, what have you done? Why did you shoot two shots? And I might have to explain that should there be two shooters in this situation.
HARRIS: Very interesting. Clint van Zandt. Thank you once again, Clint, we sure do appreciate the expertise, the insight.
VAN ZANDT: Thanks -- Leon.
HARRIS: Take care. We'll no doubt be calling you again.
In the meantime, let's move on now, we have someone joining us on the phone from a WTOP. Judlyne Lilly is on the phone with us.
Miss Lilly, are you there?
KAGAN: Judlyne, are you with us?
HARRIS: We've lost that call.
KAGAN: All right. Well while we try to find out, why don't we go ahead, for our viewers who are joining us, recap what it is that we know. As you heard Clint Van Zandt saying, 8:09 this morning at Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie, Maryland, a 13-year-old boy shot as his mother is bringing him to school. This, of course, getting so much attention not just because of the tragic nature of a 13-year-old being shot at school in the accompaniment of a parent, but if you look at the map, you can see where that county -- well, we had the map up for a second, but we -- how Prince George's County is right next -- right next door to Montgomery County and that's the shot where those -- the spot where those mysterious shootings took place late last week with a sniper still on the loose.
HARRIS: That's right. And again, we cannot say for sure because the police cannot say for sure and are not saying whether or not the shootings from last week are related to what's happened this morning in Bowie. However, considering the proximity, considering how close they all happened together, the police have got to examine that as a possibility. So there is no confirmed connection as yet. However, as a precaution, Montgomery County has locked down its schools today. The schools -- the children are not being instructed to leave or the parents are not being instructed to come pick up their children but the schools are being locked down in Montgomery County along with this lockdown we have seen here in Prince George's County at Ben Tasker Middle School.
KAGAN: Let's try one more time, Judlyne Lilly joining us from WTOP Radio.
Are you with us -- Judlyne?
JUDLYNE LILLY, WTOP RADIO: Yes, I am.
KAGAN: Good morning to you. What can you tell us about the latest taking place there?
LILLY: Well, of course, Monday morning was the first Monday since the shooting started to happen. And everything was supposed to go back to normal until this shooting happened at a middle school in Bowie, Maryland, which is in Prince George's County, and that's about 20 miles east of Montgomery County where the shootings happened last week. This little boy was standing in front of his school with his mother who had dropped him off. He was shot in the chest and abdomen. He then -- his mother then took him in her car, went to a small hospital, and now the child has been transferred to children's hospital here in Washington because he has extensive blood loss and is in critical condition.
HARRIS: Well, Judlyne, has anyone had a chance to talk with his mother yet?
LILLY: No, no one's had a chance to speak with the mother, as far as the reporters are concerned. Police certainly have had a chance to speak with her. They are not telling us what it is that she said. One can imagine that if your child is injured you're not looking around, you're trying to be concerned about your child. So, therefore, but police in Montgomery County have sent investigators to Prince George's County to the scene of the shooting at this middle school to determine whether or not this is related at all to the sniper shootings of last week.
KAGAN: And as I understand it, the schools in Montgomery County are now on lockdown to protect the kids there?
LILLY: Yes, and lockdown means that the schools are literally locked. There is no outside recess. Older kids are usually allowed to go off campus for lunch that will not happen today. At the middle school where the shooting happened, parents are lining up to get their children and bring them home, even though the school system has assured them that the school is on lockdown.
HARRIS: Yes, and we're watching pictures right now of that process of parents coming out to pick up their children. How about the other schools in Prince George's County, has there been any announcement of...
LILLY: That's as well is on lockdown. Because originally they were not going to do that, because when these first started happening last week, all the schools in the area, Montgomery, Prince George's County, D.C. and even some in Virginia, all went on lockdown because no one knew anything. And now -- and this morning, originally, Montgomery County schools were supposed to be a little looser, not anymore. Everybody's on lockdown right now.
KAGAN: Judlyne Lilly from WTOP Radio, thank you. Very informative this morning. We appreciate your input.
Want to bring in our White House correspondent Kelly Wallace now as she tracks the story -- Kelly.
KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Daryn, we can tell you Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, saying that President Bush was informed earlier this morning about this school shooting in Maryland and that the president has been closely monitoring the situation. Again, of course we continue to stress not clear if this school shooting is connected to these other shootings that we've seen in the Maryland area, but that the president has been closely monitoring the situation.
We asked Ari Fleischer if this administration has received any information indicating this could be the work of a terrorist or a terrorist group? Fleischer saying there's no information to his knowledge that has come to the administration indicating that. But he said, of course, law enforcement officials still don't know who or the individual or individuals that could be responsible. He said, of course, Justice Department officials, officials from the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agency are involved and are assisting local officials as they try to deal with the situation -- Daryn.
KAGAN: Kelly, help us with the geography lesson here, Bowie, Maryland, Prince George, Montgomery County, how far is that from the White House?
WALLACE: Well you're putting me on the spot, of course.
KAGAN: Sorry about that. WALLACE: Here we -- I would say about -- that's OK -- 45 minutes to an hour...
WALLACE: ... so not very, very close. It's, I'm told in my ear by my great producer colleagues, about 20 miles from the White House. So close by, not in the immediate vicinity. And I can tell you also with speaking with the Secret Service spokesman earlier today, also asking if that agency has received any information to indicate this could be the work of terrorism, that spokesman saying no. I asked if the White House, any extra security precautions going on around the White House complex? This official saying no. Of course this is a very secure place, but no information right now that this could be the work of terrorists, according to those officials -- Daryn.
KAGAN: And, Kelly, while we have you here, just tack us a little bit more news, this coming on a day when President Bush is heading out of town to make a major policy to the -- a major speech to the American people later tonight.
WALLACE: Exactly, and he will be spending much of that day -- the day rehearsing that speech. He'll be traveling to Cincinnati, Ohio. His focus, trying to educate the American people to make the case for a possible war with Iraq. And we expect the president to really try to answer some questions that the American people might have, lawmakers might have, about his policy such as why now, why does he think Iraq poses such an imminent threat?
The president also hoping, Daryn, to put maximum pressure on lawmakers to get the widest margin of victory in the House and in the Senate as lawmakers prepare to vote on that resolution giving him the authority to use force if necessary -- Daryn.
KAGAN: Kelly Wallace at the White House. Kelly, thank you.
HARRIS: Very interesting as we're watching this picture that's up right now coming in from our affiliate WJZ, You notice this police car has pulled into this area here behind that I believe that's a Wal- Mart location, and you notice...
KAGAN: Well we've heard of a white truck.
HARRIS: Exactly. That's exactly what I was thinking. You notice -- the reports are that were coming in all last week and they were basically alerting to the public to this -- the possibility that the shooter and maybe with a driver or someone else driving around in a white box-like vehicle. And the vehicle being described at the time was, they were told, was an Isuzu vehicle, and it matched the description of the two vehicles we see right on the screen.
HARRIS: And police now...
KAGAN: Problem is, I mean how many of those do you see when you're just driving on the street?
HARRIS: That was the problem...
HARRIS: ... that they had all day last Thursday. As a matter of fact, we were doing live coverage of it at the time, and we were -- understanding that the police were -- had to stop so many of them. And to identify the ones that were -- already had been stopped and inspected, they had to slap some of those orange stickers that you find on cars that have been abandoned on the side of the road. So cars -- so vehicles like this that were driving around town that had an orange sticker on the back of it was -- those vehicles were OK.
This vehicle that we're seeing right here, these two vehicles here, hard to tell whether or not they've been inspected. But it's obvious that the police are actually taking that precaution right now.
KAGAN: We will keep these live pictures up. Meanwhile, we're coming up on the bottom of the hour. Some new viewers joining us so let's go ahead and recap the story as we know it so far with police investigating the shooting of a 13-year-old boy just after 8:00 a.m. today as he was making his way to school in the presence of his parent.
Let's bring in our Jeanne Meserve who has been covering this for us from early this morning to recap where we stand now -- Jeanne.
MESERVE: Daryn, it was a calm weekend. There were no sniper shootings reported, but this morning officials here in Montgomery County were nervous. The start of the workweek they felt was a "target-rich opportunity" for this individual or individuals and so they have put police presence around schools here in Montgomery County, although the schools were operating as normal, more or less. But then at 8:09, a call from neighboring Prince George's County that there had been a 13-year-old boy shot as he approached the Benjamin Tasker Middle School shot in the chest. His mother was with him. She took him to a nearby medical facility. He has since been MediVaced to a shock trauma center. We understand that he is in critical condition.
Investigators here in Montgomery County emphasizing still they do not know whether there is any connection between the shooting next door in Prince George's County and the shootings here in Montgomery County and in D.C. and in the state of Virginia. They are sending investigators over there. They have ballistics experts over there. All of them trying to figure out whether this scenario and whether the evidence would make it fit into the same pattern.
As you know, there have been a number of shootings. They started Wednesday last week. There were a total of six people who died in Montgomery County, one in the District of Columbia.
So investigators here very much concerned this morning about what's happening on. Continuing with their investigation, nonetheless: 972 credible pieces of information have come in to the police as of this morning. They're trying to investigate each and every one of them very thoroughly to see if they can crack this case and find whoever might be responsible for these shootings, which they do believe are linked possibly, but do not know whether there's any connection with the shooting this morning.
Daryn, back to you.
KAGAN: Jeanne Meserve in Montgomery County, we will check back with you.
Leon, you have interesting tape to show.
HARRIS: Yes, we got some tape from our affiliate WUSA in Washington. And reporter Gary Reals was reporting earlier this morning, and was able to talk to someone there to find out where they believe the shots came from.
Let's listen in.
GARY REALS, WUSA REPORTER: Because of the nature of the shooting, police are fairly certain that it came from the direction of that park. He had just gotten out of the car as wane literally facing left and was preparing to turn to his right to enter the school, and he fell. And that was just pretty clearly that the shot was fired from the west. Whether he was in the park, he could have been simply pulled off of route 197 and pulled over in his vehicle. We don't know that. As far as we know, no shell casing has been recovered; and if that sounds familiar, that is then the case in etch even every one of these shootings that began last Wednesday night. Not one shell casing has been recovered.
However -- and this is important -- if he was out of his vehicle and if-- the shot was fired from the woods, from the park, it's quite possible that a shell casing is -- a spent casing is over there on the ground to be recovered, because, obviously, they fly out of the chamber of the gun when they are ejected. So that's why police are so heavily focusing on the park wooded area right now. And that would be a change if he was on foot. But then again, he could have been pulled on the shoulder of 197 as well, and he could have taken aim on this vehicle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gary, thank you very much.
HARRIS: And our thanks to our affiliate WUSA, Gary Reals for that report there.
KAGAN: Showing a picture. You can see the trees and the slightly wooded area that the expert was talking about. Might sound so easy to go find a shell casing. It's like finding a needle in a haystack.
HARRIS: As you can also see, because of all that wooded area around there, plenty of places clear cover for someone who might be trying to do something like this. Pretty good work on the part so far to figure out exactly where that shot came from in the first place.
KAGAN: Once again, a 13-year-old boy fighting for his life today in critical condition, shot at his middle school in Maryland, Prince George's County, about 8:09, as he made his way to school.
Parents being extra vigilant today. This is just what makes it extra frightening. Parents being extra vigilant, taking their kids to school, to make sure they're safe. And you have to wonder what is safer than a parent escorting a child to school, and yet at that time hit by an unknown gunman.
We're not sure if it's related to the attacks that took place late last week, when five were shot and killed in Montgomery County, which is the next county over from Prince George's. That happened during a 16-hour period on Wednesday night into Thursday morning, and then a sixth victim was shot Thursday night on a street in Washington, D.C. A seventh person was wounded in Virginia.
HARRIS: A difference of these events, however, is that in this case this morning this boy was shot twice.
KAGAN: Shot twice. And we're talking about a child, instead of an adult.
HARRIS: Exactly. In the other cases, they were single shots. In this particular instance, this boy was shot twice. This is one of the reasons why he lost so much blood and is now fighting for his life, as you said.
As we try to piece together exactly what's going on on the ground there, we're getting some more information. Let's go right now to the phones.
Missy Lewis is joining us on the phone.
And I understand, Miss Lewis, that you have a child that's enrolled in a school there in Prince George's County.
MISSY LEWIS, MOTHER OF STUDENT: Yes, I do.
HARRIS: What instructions have you been given?
LEWIS: Basically, just to not pick her up, to just stay at home and not go anywhere near the school. That they are locking down the schools, so no one is allowed in there to pick up their child.
HARRIS: How do you feel about that?
LEWIS: Well, I feel like I should be able to pick up my child. Unfortunately, my child is at a field trip at Owen Brown Science Center, which is in Greenbelt, right next to Bowie, and they had already left for the field trip when the shooting took place.
HARRIS: That's got to be somewhat troubling to you, the fact that they are actually near Bowie.
LEWIS: Yes, it's near Bowie. And I'm very worried.
HARRIS: Now, are you expecting there to be some other, I guess, directives or some more communications coming from the school, from the administrators, at all to tell you what to do later on today and tomorrow?
LEWIS: Yes, actually I'm staying close to the TV. And I'm actually probably going to try to go and pick her up as soon as they get back from the field trip.
HARRIS: When you heard the news this morning about this story, what went through your mind when you heard that this was a mother -- this happened to a child who was being taken to school by his mother?
LEWIS: Just really that nobody is safe at this point. This person has no regard for anybody's life. I drove my child to school this morning; I did not let her take the bus. I had her out of school last Thursday and Friday because of the shooting. And just basically that no one is safe no matter what you do at this point.
HARRIS: Will you hold her out of school tomorrow?
LEWIS: Yes, I probably will.
KAGAN: Can I just ask you a question, ma'am. What was the explanation from the school when they were trying to explain to you and convince you your child was better off on the field trip than allowing you to go pick her up?
LEWIS: Really, I did not speak with anybody at the school directly about picking her up. I called to find out where Owen Brown Science Center was because (AUDIO GAP) that they had left for the field trip. And I really did not get any word on picking her up from school. They did not speak to me about that. I just heard that on the TV.
HARRIS: Do you know any other parents who have children at the -- at that particular school, at Ben Tasker?
LEWIS: No, I do not.
HARRIS: Have you talked to any other parents from your school?
LEWIS: No, I have not.
KAGAN: How hold is your child, if I can ask?
LEWIS: She's 6.
KAGAN: She's 6, so that's a small child. How are you balancing explaining the difference in schedule without trying to scare her too much?
LEWIS: Well, I mean, of course, I'm being pretty limited on what I am saying to her. She does know the reasonings why she stayed home from school last Thursday and Friday.
KAGAN: Which I imagine would be terrifying to a 6-year-old little girl.
LEWIS: Very terrifying. We went out to the grocery store this weekend, and it's pretty scary knowing that, you know, her mother is looking all around over her shoulder and just going to ordinary places like the grocery store and to get gas. And she's pretty shaken up, even though she is 6 years old.
KAGAN: And did she have concerns about going to school today?
LEWIS: Yes, she did.
KAGAN: She did. And how did you talk about that with her?
LEWIS: Just that, you know, everybody in the school is taking the necessary steps to make sure all the kids are protected And you know, she probably won't be allowed to play outside today and she still was kind of leery about going to school. She is pretty scared, as we all are.
HARRIS: I would imagine so. And how does this make you feel about moving around in your own neighborhood? Do you feel less safe now?
LEWIS: Very much so. I feel very, very less safe. I mean, we have -- luckily, we have an alarm system, which we've been putting on every night, but I mean it makes you very scared to even step outside your front door. I mean, you don't know where the shootings are going to take place next, and I don't ever remember anything like this happening.
And you live in an area -- this is an area that is quite far removed from an inner city. You would expect you would feel much safer.
KAGAN: Where you live so that you are safe.
HARRIS: Will you be changing your routine? Your personal routine?
HARRIS: Where you drive, where you shop, that sort of thing?
LEWIS: Well, I mean, it's kind of -- I mean, it's kind of difficult to say that, because I mean you have to go to the store and you have to -- I mean, you have to go on with your ordinary life. But I definitely will be more precautious and maybe not take as many trips as I did before until this is cleared up.
KAGAN: Well, we wish you well getting through this day. I can imagine the hug you will give your little girl when you pick her up will be one of the best.
LEWIS: Most definitely.
HARRIS: Good luck with the conversation you're going to have to have with her this evening.
LEWIS: Yes, thank you very much.
KAGAN: Thank you for visiting with us.
HARRIS: Missy Lewis, thank you very much for your time.
KAGAN: We want to mention that there will be a news conference coming out of Prince George's County at the top of the hour. And you're going to see that live right here on CNN.
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