CNN BREAKING NEWS
Two Men Arrested at Rest Stop in Connection with Sniper Killings
Aired October 24, 2002 - 07:24 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Once again, in a bulletin that just came out moments ago, the AP saying, quoting a law enforcement officer, "I'm confident that these are, indeed, the people. The evidence is there because of the things we received in the communications. It fits together with evidence they've collected in the last couple of days." CNN will continue to work with our own independent sources.
In the meantime, let's turn to James Hattori, who is standing by in Tacoma, Washington, where that search took place yesterday.
Can you give us a better idea of what they found and who these two men are that are under arrest this morning?
JAMES HATTORI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I wish I could give you the full story, but as all of my colleagues and as you've been reporting, it's very difficult to connect all the dots still, at this point. Investigators are still very tight-lipped about what happened. Nothing official about what they found here. But we do know that sources, law enforcement sources have told CNN that they came here to this home here in South Tacoma, where John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo lived for a time earlier this year, looking for evidence, including bullet fragments.
Now, the FBI agents scoured the property all day yesterday using metal detectors, heavy equipment. They removed at least one tree stump and lots of other evidence for examination. And the speculation is that tree stump may have been used for some sort of target practice. And, as we all, as has been reported and we all know, there was a, the sniper used a .223 caliber rifle. So if there is evidence to be matched up with evidence in Baltimore, that's obviously something they'd be looking for.
Now, according to a man who lives across the street, he says he remembers hearing high powered gunfire at night coming from Muhammad's property last January. He says he even called 911 and had the police come out. The police came out on a couple of occasions and apparently found nothing.
Now, meantime, Paula, up in Bellingham yesterday, investigators also checked out a high school where Malvo apparently attended for a time last year and they reportedly saw handwriting samples of Malvo. Now, there's a lot of speculation as to, you know, does this tie into possibly these notes that were left. There was references to that they were illegible or sometimes hard to read. Malvo was described as being from Jamaica and whether or not they're looking at that as a possible tie-in, that's also something to be looking out for. You mentioned the "Salem Times" reporting this morning. They also mentioned that they reported that there was a tip from one of Muhammad's friends here in Tacoma that was made to the task force in Baltimore, indicating that they had some suspicions about Muhammad and Malvo here and wanted to alert the task force about that. And Muhammad obviously, as we've reported, was stationed at Fort Lewis, which is 10 or 15 miles away from here.
In the army he was not trained as a military sniper. He served in, as the conventional forces within the army, served in the Gulf War, lived for a time before that in Louisiana, but still a lot of questions about his background still to be answered, Paula.
And as we know now, he's now in custody as a material suspect, a material witness, rather -- Paula.
ZAHN: James, I know reports out of your neck of the woods also suggest that the mayor of Bellingham has said on the record that these two, the pair he called them, have been of interest to him for a while. Do we know why? I know they left the area nine months ago.
HATTORI: Yes, this was a while ago. My impression is that the mayor got this information from law enforcement officials up there. Now, how long they've been looking at this pair is a good question and it's a question that I can't answer, quite honestly, from this vantage point at this hour here in Tacoma.
ZAHN: I know I think it's a report in the "Seattle Times" saying that there was perhaps a shoplifting charge lodged against John Allen Muhammad. We are going to continue to work on that, as well.
James, thanks so much. We would love to come back to you to hear more about that search that took place last night.
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