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Atlanta: Police Negotiating With Suspected Gunman

Aired June 21, 2001 - 10:10   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: It's time now to update a story that we've been following throughout the morning here on CNN.

Police negotiators and SWAT team officers are hoping to defuse some high drama that's happening right now in -- near downtown Atlanta, just north of it. A man possibly armed with a rifle is perched atop a construction crane some 14 floors above the city.

Our national correspondent, Marty Savidge, is on the scene. And he joins us now with the very latest -- Marty.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Leon, as you mentioned, it is high drama, but, fortunately, only because of the altitude of which is this all the playing out, not because of the any violence that has transpired.

Reportedly, there is a suspect who may be armed -- that has not been confirmed yet -- that is holed up in a construction crane. These are very familiar cranes in many large city, urban areas. It is located about 14 stories up or about 250 feet up in the air. This standoff has been going on now between Atlanta police and the suspect up there for about four hours, beginning at 6:00 a.m. Eastern time, when the crane operator showing up for work climbed the long climb up to tower, only to find that there was a man already waiting there.

Reportedly, the suspect made some veiled threats, claiming that he was with the FBI, that he was authorized to do bodily harm. The crane operator then used the better part of discretion and decided to leave, but not before reportedly handing over his cell phone. And it's been through the cell phone that reportedly Atlanta police have been communicating with the suspect up there. But, so far, the police have not alluded to any demands that the gunman has made. There have been no shots fired and no one has been injured in this ordeal.

For the past few minutes now, we have been watching as a police helicopter has been moving in very close to the crane, obviously taking a very good look at the situation.

There are three high-rise cranes in the immediate area here. Another crane, reportedly, has a SWAT officer up there armed with a weapon ready to take action, should it be determined it is necessary. So far it has not been determined that way.

There are about 450 construction workers that had been working on that building. All of them are now idle, many of them in the parking lot where we are. If there is a weapon, if it's thought to be high- powered, police clearly don't think it's a threat by the very close proximity in which the public is allowed to approach and by the fact that traffic nearby is allowed to navigate on all the streets.

That's the situation right now, Leon.

HARRIS: But Marty, just seconds ago, while you were speaking, we happened to have a shot there of the crane. Can we go back to that shot because it shows, Marty, the door of this compartment actually opening. And it looked like someone was moving around out there? Can -- have you -- since you have been there, have you seen anyone go in and out of that box there?

SAVIDGE: Well, I haven't physically seen it with my own eyes. Others in the area say they have seen the man getting out of the crane.

Reportedly, he is a white male, they think in his 20s. And he has been moving about. He has also taken some precautions, apparently, from police, by draping some sort of cover over the glass windows. There are also reports that the power to that crane has been shut off. Now, that would include the air conditioning. And it is getting warm here in Atlanta. It will not doubt get warmer throughout the day and make the situation up there very uncomfortable. That is something the police would like to see happen, hoping that the man will surrender peacefully -- Leon.

HARRIS: All right, understood. We'll get back to you if something does break over there at that site there just north of downtown Atlanta -- Martin Savidge reporting live this morning.

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