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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

2 Dead After Gunfire in New York City Council Chambers

Aired July 23, 2003 - 20:00   ET

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

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: As we mentioned, a double shooting today in New York City raises a lot of questions about security in every town and city in the United States. A New York City councilman and his political opponent both walked into city hall today carrying guns. They did not go through security screenings or a metal detector even in this the most security conscious of cities.
Tonight, both men are dead. The FBI says one of the men called to file a harassment complaint about the other just this morning. Maria Hinojosa joins us now from outside city hall in lower Manhattan with the very latest. Maria - good evening.

MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Paula. Well, the man, who called the FBI earlier this morning about 11:00 a.m. saying that he was feeling harassed, was the man who is being called the alleged shooter.

Othniel Askew said that he was being harassed by city councilman, James Davis. So it's a complicated situation here.

Now, let's just take it back to earlier today, 2:00, city council in chambers getting ready to do their mundane business of proclamations about any number of things, when, all of a sudden, shots began to ring out from the second floor, the balcony.

There was an exchange of gunfire with the security folks there. What we know now is the mayor here is saying that all of this needs to be re-looked at again.

How is it possible? It's because Othniel Askew accompanied the city councilman, the city councilman saying that he was with him. So, of course, that's the big question, Paula.

But what did appear to happen is that he accompanied the city councilman, the councilman perhaps not knowing that, just minutes later, he was going to be shot by this alleged gunman.

ZAHN: There is such a sense of outrage tonight that this man would even have been allowed into the building with a gun in the first place. As a result of this, what kind of changes in procedures are being talked about tonight?

HINOJOSA: Well, Paula, look, to get into city hall - anyone who gets into city hall, like myself as a reporter with my IDs, you always have to go through the metal detectors. In fact, post-September 11, all of this area has come under intense security.

So what the mayor is saying - and perhaps if we can listen to his byte - he's saying that all of this needs to be reworked and revamped.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR, NEW YORK CITY: It would appear that what happened here was that not everybody was going through the magnetometer, myself included. Starting right now, the city council speaker and I will be doing it, as will our staffs, as will all city council people. If you don't go through the magnetometer, you're not going to get into city hall, period.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HINOJOSA: Now, mourners are gathering outside the city councilman's home in Brooklyn, but friends of Othniel Askew are saying that he was an angry man, but never manifested any kind of physical rage - Paula.

ZAHN: Maria - thanks so much. We are going to move on now.

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