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Man Driving to Washington With Carload of Weapons Apprehended

Aired September 4, 2002 - 14:23   ET

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


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news now -- this just in to CNN. If you were watching our news early this morning, we didn't report this story, but we had received word of a man possibly driving toward Washington with a car full of weapons. We did continue to follow up on this story.
Our Jeanne Meserve is in Washington now, a couple hours later, with an update on what indeed did happen.

Jeanne, what can you tell us?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, this car was found. It was stopped. The gentlemen that was driving that car was detained. He is now undergoing questioning. Authorities then did a thorough search of his vehicle. They found no explosives, but here is what they did find: 10 rifles and six pistols. And we are told when this man was detained, he did have rifle ammunition on his person.

The Secret Service had issued an alert for this vehicle. It was described as a white Chevy Cavalier with Pennsylvania plates. According to some officers here on the scene, a citizen heard news reports about this, spotted the vehicle there at Dupont Circle, in downtown Washington, called authorities on his cell phone, tried to track the vehicle, lost it, but then the Secret Service was alerted, one of their vehicles saw it, pulled it aside. The man was taken into custody, we are told, without any incident. He is now being questioned by the Secret Service.

In addition, a woman has been detained in connection with this incident. She was traveling with this man.

Now, this location is about 20 blocks north of the White House. The president was at the White House during this entire event. He met with Congressional leaders this morning to talk about Iraq. No indications that he was under any imminent threat.

But once again, this vehicle did have in it 10 rifles and six pistols -- this according to law enforcement sources.

Kyra, back to you.

PHILLIPS: Do we know anything about this man or this woman, Jeanne? A rap sheet, any details?

MESERVE: We don't. At this point, a name is not being released by the Secret service. A name will not be released until, if and when this individual is charged with this crime. So we do not have a name. We do not know anything about this individual's background at this point and time. We are continuing to pursue it.

PHILLIPS: Jeanne, do you know what the delay was. Obviously, we got word of this a while back, but we didn't feel good about reporting it. What was the controversy behind this story?

MESERVE: I am not sure it was controversy, Kyra. I think caution is always the watchword in these sorts of situations. Threats are made against the president of the United States and other officials all the time. They are weighed very seriously by law enforcement. I think that CNN chose to proceed cautiously with this story because we weren't certainly exactly how serious the threat appeared to be.

However, it is somewhat unusual to stop one of these individuals and find in the car this sort of firepower.

I want to emphasize once again there were no explosives in the car. This is a residential neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The threat to residents here appeared never to be that great. There was no evacuation, even of the elementary school, which is a half block away from where this vehicle was stopped.

PHILLIPS: All right. Our Jeanne Meserve -- thanks a lot, Jeanne.

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