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Bus Driver Shot Dead Early Today, Possibly by Sniper; Guns and Crime in the Maryland Election Races

Aired October 22, 2002 - 16:00   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, ANCHOR: I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington.
Yet another deadly shooting in the D.C. suburbs. A bus driver gunned down in Montgomery County, Maryland. Are investigators searching for the serial sniper back to square one?


CHIEF CHARLES MOOSE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE DEPT.: We have not been able to assure that anyone, any age, any gender, any race, we not been able to assure anyone their safety.


WOODRUFF: Also ahead, Maryland Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend on the sniper spree. And the high price she and her family have paid for gun violence.


KATHLEEN KENNEDY TOWNSEND, MARYLAND LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: It is very tough to grow up without a father, and it's been very tough on members of my family. So I am very clear that we have got to make sure that we have common sense gun laws.


WOODRUFF: We thank you for joining us. As we've been telling you, we are expecting a news conference to begin any minute now with Charles Moose, who is the Montgomery County police chief. Just as soon as that gets under way, we'll take you there live.

Meantime, fear of a sniper who is very good at hiding and the deadly reality of his handiwork continue to way heavily on the Washington area, overshadowing many other things, including politics and the upcoming elections. We are waiting for that briefing by police in Montgomery County. We will carry it live.

At last word, police still were trying to determine whether the bus driver who was shot and killed in Silver Spring this morning is the 13th victim of the sniper. My colleague, Wolf Blitzer, is at Montgomery County Police headquarters -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We might find out, Judy. We may or may not find out very shortly at this news conference right behind me whether or not this bus driver was, in fact, the 13th victim of this shooting spree that has afflicted this area now for some 20 days, going back to October 2.

This morning, just before 6:00 AM, the shooter apparently did strike, although we don't have official confirmation of that. The victim this time, Conrad Johnson, a 35-year-old bus driver from the local area. Mr. Johnson, according to all of his friends and associates, was a loving family member, a 10-year employee of Montgomery County, a father of two.

He was shot in the lower rib to stomach area. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, where they made heroic efforts to try to save his life. They were not successful. The Montgomery County executive, Doug Duncan, later emerged and spoke these words:


DOUGLAS DUNCAN, MONTGOMERY CO. EXECUTIVE: This is a terrible loss of life today for one of our county employees, almost a 10-year county employee with the ride-on bus service that we provide in the county.

And I want to extend my deepest sympathies. We deeply mourn the loss of this gentleman and I was at the hospital meeting with his family, extended my sympathies to them. And it's very close to home, but with any of these murders that we have seen, any loss of life is a real tragedy for this entire community.


BLITZER: Since the early morning, CNN's Bob Franken has been on the scene in Aspen Hill in Montgomery County in the Silver Spring area. He's joining us now live with the latest -- Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well and Wolf, since the early morning, they have been scouring the area. They still are, as a matter of fact. There are still police officials combing through the woods, every minute part of the ground. And it's clear that they believe that the shooter operated from the woods over there.

You can still see the bus up there where the victim was hit. But the actual shooting, they believe, occurred in the adjacent woods right there. There is a basketball court there and a lot of the attention that they had was focused on the area just in back of that, leading one to the conclusion that that's where they believe the sniper operated. As I said, there were people going back and forth throughout the day.

At one point, we have a picture of this, they had a plaster paris impression they took on the ground. This is a way of getting evidence like tire tracks and the rest. It appeared to be a footprint that they were getting. Whether it was of huge significance, of course, we have no way of knowing. At the same time, overhead, there was a helicopter. In fact, you can hear a helicopter now, but this police helicopter swooped very low. It would be looking for evidence on the ground. Clearly, sometimes it would whoever for five, 10, it seemed to be an interminable period of time. Interminable because it was quite loud here.

The police, of course, are operating on the assumption that this was the same Washington area sniper that has so terrorized the area. He has returned to the -- the shooting occurred, at least, in an area just a half mile from where the original rampage occurred nearly three weeks ago. Police shut off the highways and thoroughfares during rush hour very quickly this morning, but once again the sniper, whoever he was, was able to escape into darkness and into the confusion that follows something as terrible as this -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Bob, we noticed that the schools in the Richmond, Virginia area are now closed for a second day, but they're not closed here in Montgomery County and the suburban Maryland area, though they are in what's called a lockdown situation, no outdoor activities like soccer or football.

What's the mood among the people there in the area where you are right now about that decision to keep the schools open?

FRANKEN: Well, people are anxious, though nobody is second guessing officials here. Of course, officials aren't explaining why they made the decision. Chief Moose, in his news conference, repeatedly said that this was not the appropriate forum to let parents decide whether the information in the note was worth considering when they decided whether they send their children to school, raising some people to wonder what would be a more appropriate forum than a mass dissemination of information like the news conferences that he held.

But in any case, for the most part, people are very nervous. It's going to be interesting tomorrow to see what the attendance figures are here.

BLITZER: Bob Franken, he's on the scene for us in the Aspen Hill section of Montgomery County. Stand by, we'll be getting back to you, of course, as this story continues to unfold.

So let me just recap, Judy, where we stand right now in this 20- day killing spree that has afflicted this entire greater Washington area. So far, 13 confirmed shootings, 12 victims, one of the shootings, the first one at a Michael's Craft Shop went errant, did not kill anyone, just went through a window. Nine confirmed deaths, three survivors, seven different police jurisdictions now that have been affected in Maryland, the District of Columbia, as well as Virginia.

Two notes have been left behind, we're told, by the sniper. One in Prince George's County with that Tarot card, a second, apparently, in Ashland, Virginia Saturday night after the Ponderosa restaurant shooting and yet again today, October 22, another shooting. We're waiting to learn whether or not this is officially confirmed as part of this sniper attack. We're standing by for this news conference here, Judy, in Montgomery County. Once it begins, of course, we'll bring that live to our viewers -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Wolf, thank you very much.

Well, these sniper killings have hit a woman named Kathleen Kennedy Townsend close to home in a number of ways. As lieutenant governor of Maryland, as a Democratic candidate now for the state's top job of governor, and a as a member of a family that has been devastated more than once by gun violence.

I spoke with Townsend today and I asked her how the sniper's case is affecting her race for governor.


LT. GOV. KATHLEEN KENNEDY TOWNSEND (D), MD. GUBERNATORIAL CAND.: Well, clearly it has raised the importance of common sense gun laws. National press comes in all the time and says, What do you think? People are wondering what the difference between my opponent and myself is and it's clearly a huge divide.

As you know, I believe that we should have a ban on assault weapons, that we should have a ban on Saturday night specials, that ballistic testing can be very helpful to law enforcement, and my opponent has not voted that way and not supported it and, in fact, over a couple months ago said we should review the laws. So we're very different on this issue.

And I think that's important for the people of the state of Maryland to know.

WOODRUFF: He says the focus should be on keeping guns out of the hands of people who do terrible things like what's going on now, rather than keeping guns out of everybody's hand.

KENNEDY TOWNSEND: Yes. Well, I think the issue is bad people with bad guns and if you have certain types of guns, it's more -- it's easier to commit even worse crimes. So let's make sure that we can get rid of assault weapons, let's make sure that we can get rid of Saturday night specials. It's not just a question of punishing bad people. I want to prevent the crimes from occurring in the first place.

WOODRUFF: Everyone is aware of your family background, the fact that your father was assassinated by someone using a gun. What does it mean to you personally, this issue of guns and the availability? What does it...

KENNEDY TOWNSEND: Well, I've, you know, I've been hoping for common sense gun laws for a long long, long time. I've fought for it since 1988 when we had a referendum here in the state of Maryland. I've seen enormous pain that when you lose somebody, in my own family. I see neighborhoods torn apart by guns. And I just believe that we can make a difference if you pass common sense gun laws. We've had a 41 percent reduction in gun- related violent crime over the last eight years, Judy. We've done it. And, you know, when my opponent says this is question of ideology, I don't see it that way. I see a question of, How do we save lives? There's a big difference and I want to make sure we're doing everything we can to ensure no other family has to suffer what I've suffered and no other community has to continue to wonder whether they're safe.

WOODRUFF:: But he and others would point out Maryland has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, and you still have something horrible like what's going on now.

KENNEDY TOWNSEND: That's right. And that's why we need national laws. I mean, we've had in Maryland a 41 percent reduction in gun- related violent crime over the last eight years. We've shown that with tough enforcement, with common sense gun laws, you can make a difference.

But this is a big country and just because Maryland is wise doesn't mean all the other states are.

WOODRUFF: Finally, how important is this to you, I mean, to Kathleen Kennedy Townsend the person, not the public figure?

KENNEDY TOWNSEND: Well, it's very, very important to me, because I've seen the devastation that guns can play on a family. I've seen it in my own family, enormous loss. It's very tough to grow up without a father and it's been very tough on members of my family.

So I am very clear that we have got to make sure that we have common sense gun laws in place. But I want to make it clear, Judy, I don't want to take away the guns of the hunters, you know, people who are not using it on the streets, but too many people are getting these guns and using it in all the inappropriate ways and we can have common sense gun laws. We can get rid of Saturday night specials, we should, assault weapons, and we can make life a little safer for our people. You're not going to get rid of all fear, but you can do a much better job.


WOODRUFF: As we wait for that news conference with Charles Moose, the Montgomery County police chief, I want to point out I did speak with Kathleen Kennedy Townsend earlier today in Annapolis, Maryland.

And I also want to point out that her Republican opponent, Robert Ehrlich recently appeared on INSIDE POLITICS. He did say, as I just pointed out in the interview, that Maryland already has many tough gun laws and he suggested that new laws would not have stopped the sniper.


REP. ROBERT EHRLICH (R), MD. GUBERNATORIAL CAND.: This is a bad guy with a gun, illegal gun. This is a crime problem and the focus of the debate, in my view, and the view of many people in this country, and the state of Maryland, should be on keeping hands off -- guns out of the hands of people who should not have guns.


WOODRUFF: More evidence today of just how close the Maryland governor's race is. A new poll has Ehrlich just one point ahead of Townsend.

There's much more ahead on the sniper investigation and on the political fallout from the killings. Is this the right picture for NRA President Charlton Heston to be starring in as the sniper case plays out? We'll check in on a tight House race in Maryland where some voters may be too scared to attend campaign rallies or perhaps even to go to the polls on election day.

Plus, with the shadow of gun violence looming over Capitol Hill, how difficult is it for politicians to stay on message? We continue to wait for that news conference.



CHARLTON HESTON, NRA PRESIDENT: From my cold dead hands!


WOODRUFF: In New Hampshire, NRA President Charlton Heston has kicked off a six-day road trip to rally gun owners in key Senate and House battlegrounds.

Outside that rally about 30 gun control supporters held a candlelight vigil last night in memory of those killed by the Washington area sniper. The NRA rallies move to Missouri and Wisconsin today, and then on to Minnesota, South Dakota and Colorado. In each state the NRA has endorsed the Republican candidate. This is Charlton Heston's most extensive road trip since announcing he has developed symptoms consistent with the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.

If today's deadly shooting in Maryland proves to be linked to the serial sniper, it will mark a return to the area where the killer or killers first struck. Montgomery County is at the heart of the shooting's investigation. It is also part of Maryland's 8th Congressional District, which features one of the most competitive House races in the country.

CNN's Kate Snow reports the candidates are finding it increasingly difficult to get their message out to voters.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Morning. How are you?

MORELLA: Very well.

KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Morning at rush hour at a subway station in the Maryland suburbs. Congresswoman Connie Morella is looking for votes. No one brings up the one issue you might expect, but it's on their minds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's awful that I have to get out of my car and duck. That I don't feel safe. I don't feel safe around here anymore.

SNOW: Montgomery County, Maryland is the place where most of the sniper's killings have occurred. It's also the site of one of the most hotly contested congressional races in the country.

CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MD. CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Hi, I just wanted to say hi. Chris Van Hollen, I'm running for Congress.

SNOW: Democrat Chris Van Hollen is trying to unseat Morella, the moderate Republican who's served 16 years in a strongly Democratic district. The latest polls show a statistical tie, the impact of the sniper still unclear.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, I think there's been a change in the mood of the entire community, I mean, since the sniper attacks again. It's the first thing people think about when they get up in the morning and go out their doors. And it's -- I turn on the news tonight to see, you know, what's happening. They tune into the radio all day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are the toughest issues right now (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Gun control a big factor in light of what's going on (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

VAN HOLLEN: It is a big issue. It's an issue I've worked...

SNOW: In a district where voters tend to favor strict gun laws, both candidates have supported gun control for years.

MORELLA: I have inch by inch worked for common sense gun control. He probably has a pretty good record on it, but I have the accessibility plus more years of experience.

VAN HOLLEN: I lead the fight in the Maryland Senate on these issues. And Maryland is the first in the country to make progress on those issues.

SNOW: Since the sniper attacks, they've gently tried to outdo each other, being careful not to be seen as taking political advantage of the shootings. Still, both opened a debate last week reminding voters of their records on gun control.

MORELLA: Just recently, like two days ago on the House of Representatives, we passed a bill that I had pushed.

VAN HOLLEN: I was proud to lead the fight in the year 2000 against the NRA in the State Senate.

SNOW: But not one question from the audience about guns. Many said it wasn't key to their vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This type of a person would get a gun anywhere he could, any time he could. So I don't think that pro or anti-gun control is really the issue.

SNOW: In fact, the biggest impact on this tight race may be more practical than anything else. Fear of the sniper means canceled public events and when the candidates do appear, getting media coverage can be tough with local reporters busy covering the sniper.

(on camera): One thing both campaigns are concerned about, voter turnout. Will voters be afraid to come out on election night to polling places like this one, just miles away from several of the sites where the sniper attacked?

KEITH HALLER, INDEPENDENT POLLSTER: We are looking at a real dampening of interest, community participation. And all it could take is a 10 percent reduction in voter contact, voter turnout here in Montgomery or the state of Maryland to turn the elections topsy turvy.

SNOW (voice-over): A race that would have been unpredictable no matter what made even more so by the actions of a gunman.

Kate Snow, CNN, Montgomery County, Maryland.


WOODRUFF: And to underscore that this Morella-Van Hollen race is a squeaker, look at these latest poll numbers. They show Morella with a two-point advantage inside the margin of error.

And just to let you know, we are still waiting for that news conference with the Montgomery County police chief, Charles Moose. We are told that it could begin any moment now. We'll carry it live as soon as it gets underway.

Coming up next, a live update on the sniper investigation.

And James Carville and Tucker Carlson will square off over gun politics with the sniper still on the loose.

But first, let's turn to Allan Chernoff. He's at the New York Stock Exchange for a market update.

Hello, Allan.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Judy. Well the bulls suffered a break in their stride today. A steep lose in shares of Texas Instruments reigned in enthusiasm for stocks after the market's rally over the past two weeks.

Semiconductor makers quarterly profit met expectations, but the company drastically cut it earnings outlook for the quarter, in part blaming weak personal computer sales. Shares of Texas Instruments were down 18 percent.

McDonalds, however, cooked up some good gains. The fast food giant said earnings fell for the seventh time in eight quarters. Investors cheered it's decision to cut new restaurant openings and raise spending on existing outlooks. McDonalds, by the way, is also raising its dividend by 4.5 percent. That gave a boost to the stock.

And AT&T posted its first profit in a year, topping expectations. But, those gains could not offset the negative tone on Wall Street. The Dow falling about 1 percent today, the Nasdaq Composite off by 1 1/3 percent.

Of course the market pullback has pretty much been expected by many traders after the recent rally catapulted the major indices off multi-year lows. Investors still debating whether the advance is simply a rally within a bear market, or the beginning of a sustained upturn.

That is the latest from Wall Street. More INSIDE POLITICS right after the break, including a progress report on the sniper investigation.


WOODRUFF: We are waiting for that news conference by police in Montgomery County, Maryland, who are investigating another deadly shooting this morning and whether that shooting is linked to the serial sniper.

Let's bring in now our Justice Correspondent Kelli Arena. Kelli, what are your sources telling you at this point about the investigation?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, in the first place, they are treating this latest shooting of the bus driver as if it were connected to the recent sniper attacks, preserving evidence and sending in the variety of federal and state law enforcement that we have seen at previous investigative sites. So, that's the first thing. Obviously, they're waiting for the ballistics evidence to come in, but the MO looks the same, one shot, someone doing their daily routine, so several law enforcement officials said sure looks like it fits the pattern.

WOODRUFF: Now, this note that the police got over the weekend, what more -- you're learning more about what was in there and what they think about it.

ARENA: Well, first of all, it's important to know that investigators are treating this as if it is a legitimate communication from either the sniper or someone associated with the sniper. The reason they are treating it in that way is because there are similar phrases or words that were in the note that matched words that were on the Tarot card that were not made public, so they do believe that the two are related and coming from the same source.

Initially, investigators said that the handwriting didn't match. Now, whether that's someone trying to disguise their writing or there was another writer has yet to be determined. In that note, there were several things that we have learned. One, which we talked about yesterday, was -- hinted a demand for money by a certain time or more killings would continue.

There was also a threat to school children if certain demands were not met by a certain time. We knew this yesterday. Law enforcement officials that we spoke to asked us to withhold that information because they were very concerned about jeopardizing the investigation or putting the community and school children at risk. We did withhold it, but several news organizations went forward with that information, and so we're releasing it today to at least let our viewers know that it is accurate, at least according to our sources. But so far though today, at this latest shooting, no new communication that we know of.

WOODRUFF: But they still haven't revealed the entire contents of this letter...

ARENA: They haven't revealed any of the contents. This is all from sources that we have been trying to gather information, but they will not make any official comment whatsoever about the note.

WOODRUFF: Kelli, one question I am hearing people ask is now that this has crossed so many jurisdictions, why isn't the federal government, the FBI, more involved in what's going on?

ARENA: Well, they're very involved, up to their necks involved. I think what people are frustrated about is they want a lead agency, and this is being done very much as a task force effort, ATF, Marshals, Customs, Secret Service, of course FBI, and all working together.

There is some discussion going on among government lawyers about whether there's a statute that would apply to make this a federal case when it comes to the prosecution end. Now, it's premature to talk about prosecution. Nobody is in custody, but that would make a difference on the prosecution side. But as far as the investigative side, there is absolutely no hint that anything is changing. Officials say that this is working, that everybody is doing what they do best. Marshals hunt down people, ATF, they do ballistics and search for evidence. So everybody is doing what they do best, and it is working.

WOODRUFF: And so far the belief is that it wouldn't benefit anybody to change the system as it is.

ARENA: Exactly.

WOODRUFF: All right, Kelli, thank you very much.

ARENA: You are welcome.

WOODRUFF: And we do continue to wait for that news conference by the police chief in Montgomery County.

We'll bring that to you as soon as it gets underway. We'll take a break, we'll be right back.


WOODRUFF: As we continue to wait for that police news conference in Montgomery County, with us now from the CNN "CROSSFIRE" set at George Washington University, James Carville and Tucker Carlson.

Gentlemen, we just a few minutes ago showed pictures of Charlton Heston. He is on a six state tour, out there campaigning for Republican candidates who are pro-gun rights. Tucker, is Mr. Heston, by waving this antique rifle in the air, is he helping his cause more, or is he energizing the gun control people?

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": The gun control people want to take your guns away no matter what Charlton Heston does. I have to say, though, I don't see Barbra Streisand spending a lot of time training people on how to use guns safely. The NRA does just that. I also will say that outside of Washington and New York and California, Democrats support gun rights. Fran Ulmer, who is lieutenant governor of Alaska, running for governor against Senator Murkowski carries a gun to campaign events. She is a Democrat. Same with Alex Sanders in South Carolina, running for Senate, running pro- gun ads. Democrats realize they can't be against the Second Amendment in the states. And they're not.

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE:: The most pro-gun Republican of all, Bob Barr, had a shot -- one went off at one of his fund-raisers. So one thing about these guys, they can bring some color and some noise to their fund-raiser. He better know how to use a gun if his campaign is a champion of guns. He probably never fired one.

WOODRUFF: So, are you both saying that, despite the sniper killings, the pro-gun rights advocates are not on the defensive anywhere?

CARLSON: Well, look, to use the sniper murders in order to gain political points, to forward a political position, as a couple of Democrats have done, is prima facia revolting. And voters don't like it.

CARVILLE: Mr. Carlson believes that it's revolting to run an ad to say you have distinction on an issue. And I think that's what they're doing. I don't find issue distinctions revolting. I find them a necessary and frankly good byproduct of democracy. And if there is an issue distinction, why not? If Charlton Heston wants to go around saying there's an issue distinction here, he has every right to do that.

However, I would remind all of our viewers that there is no Second Amendment right to own a gun. It's just something conjured up in the minds of the NRA.


CARLSON: To accuse anybody, Republican, Democrat, Green Party member, of being on the same side as the sniper...

CARVILLE: Who said that? I've read that twice for you.


CARLSON: Let me answer your question. The Brady campaign accused Congressman Ehrlich, running for Congress in Montgomery County, of wanting to put assault weapons on the streets. That's an outrageous slur and a slander. I don't think voters are going to fall for it.

CARVILLE: Of course he did. He voted against banning them. He must want them somewhere. It's a totally fair charge.

WOODRUFF: Well, what about, though, all the coverage? Let's talk about all the coverage of the sniper shooting. It is everywhere across this country. Is it going to have an effect on a single campaign, congressional, Senate, governor, anywhere?

CARLSON: It's hard to see how it does. There are only two candidates I know of, both Democrats, Van Hollen in Maryland and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in Maryland, who are stepping up their gun ads in the wake of this. It's ugly. People think it is. I just don't see it affecting the election.

CARVILLE: Well, first of all, it's ludicrous. I made Tucker run the ad twice and it said no such thing.

The second thing is, the only effect I suspect that it will have is that it is blocking out other news. I don't know if it helps Republicans or Democrats. But I think people are genuinely interested in this. Who are we to say? We're doing a whole hour on it tonight.

WOODRUFF: Well, James, what about the point that Tucker made a moment ago, touching on? And that is, we've seen Democrats since 2000, Al Gore included, back away from the gun issue, not come out and talk about it. Are we seeing a repeat of that?

CARVILLE: I am one that doesn't believe -- I'm a gun owner myself. In more cases than not, I think the issue probably doesn't help Democrats. That's not to say that, in some places, it does help. But the idea that somehow or another this is an illegitimate issue in a campaign is crazy.

And Charlton Heston has every right to run around the country. And Bob Barr, I guess he doesn't have a right to be so stupid as to have guns go off at fund-raisers, or whatever that foolishness is. But if they want to have gun fund-raisers and all of that, I think there are real issues out there. I think we have got a sagging economy. I think the environment is going to hell in a handbasket.

Frankly, our foreign policy team doesn't know whether to wind its behind or scratch its watch right now. So I think there's all kind of real issues out there other than Charlton Heston running around about guns. CARLSON: Is that right? Democrats have been saying that for the last year. Every month in "The Washington Post," you read about some new idea the Democrats have that's going to sweep them to victory in the midterms. First it was Enron. They can't settle on one. Maybe they're settling on the sniper. That's as good as any.

CARVILLE: I got a great idea. Let's folks on getting al Qaeda. How about that new idea? They knocked our buildings down. Why don't we pursue the war against them, instead of being bored with the war on al Qaeda? Why don't we focus on the economy?

CARLSON: I believe that's a bipartisan issue, James.

CARVILLE: No, because this administration is frankly not fighting the war on al Qaeda. They're bored with it.

CARLSON: So they're pro-al Qaeda. Is that what you're saying?

CARVILLE: No, they're just bored with it.


CARLSON: Put up an ad saying that. I think that will work.

WOODRUFF: We are going to leave it there, gentlemen. James Carville, Tucker Carlson, great to see you. Thanks very much.

CARLSON: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: And we'll be watching you tonight at 7:00 Eastern.

That news conference we've been telling you about with the Montgomery County police chief is now just about to get under way.

And for that, let's go to my colleague Wolf Blitzer, who is out in Montgomery County -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, they came by, it was almost 45, 50 minutes ago, Judy, and said the news conference, the statement would be made in about 15 minutes. So, obviously, they're running late.

They didn't tell us what would be in the statement. We assume the Montgomery County police chief, Charles Moose, will be walking out, will be making that statement, whatever it is. Perhaps it's confirmation that the latest shooting this morning in the Aspen Hill section of Montgomery County is in fact part of this serial killer spree that has been going on now for some 20 days. Perhaps they've concluded it isn't. We don't know the answer to that.

Certainly, all day, local, state, federal authorities have been working under the assumption that it is indeed part of this sniper attack that all of us, of course, have covered and all of us have been so concerned about for almost three weeks, exactly three weeks, to be precise. We might be getting the ballistic test results from that as well. The other times he's made appearances over the past couple days, as you know, Judy, have involved statements that he's made, very cryptic statements that seem to be part of a dialogue that he and other police have established with the killer or the killers. And, presumably, that could be part of that effort right now, why he might emerge.

We'll just have to wait and see whether it's confirmation or simply another statement that he wants to make with those with whom he's been having this cryptic dialogue with.

WOODRUFF: Wolf, typically, though, they've given more warning, haven't they, than we supposedly had during the last hour?

BLITZER: Well, sometimes they do.

But with some of those cryptic statements, the one the other night, Sunday night, two yesterday, they just come out and say there will be a statement coming up very soon. So I don't think we should necessarily read too much into that. They may have some substantive confirmation of the shooting this morning or they may just have a cryptic statement. I think, momentarily, we'll find out.

WOODRUFF: Yes, the substantive confirmation, the ballistics, so- called ballistics identification, it seems to me that's the logical next thing that they would want to announce, once they have the information. We know that it takes several hours to do that, but it's very likely that that could be coming out right now.

BLITZER: It's possible.

He said, when he was asked, Chief Moose, at his briefing that occurred around 12:30 Eastern time earlier today, he was asked when they would make the confirmation, if he would come out and make a statement. He said: "We'll make a statement. We'll be ready to make a statement."

We do know, tragically, unfortunately, the bus driver did pass away at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. So we're working under the assumption that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the ATF, does have the bullet that emerged, that was taken from his body, and that they've been able to do some testing to see if it's part of that same series of .223-caliber bullets that have killed so many others over these past three weeks.

WOODRUFF: Wolf, I was struck earlier today that Chief Moose was prepared to answer so many questions. It seems that recently the news conferences have been short. They've been very much to the point. Often, as you said, he's just come out and made a statement and walked away and said, "I'm not taking any questions."

Today, he seemed prepared to take many questions. He was talking to reporters for a number of minutes. And it was -- you know, if anything, the one point that I did hear him repeat was almost in an effort to compliment this sniper, and saying he's been able to kill people of all race, all gender, all ages, all professions at any time of day, any day of the week, and so on, in any location.

BLITZER: That certainly went through my mind as well. A lot of reporters out here in Rockville, Maryland, we emerged with the same impression when we heard the chief say, "We remain concerned about the safety of all of the people of our region. This individual or individuals, they have killed people, as you say, of all races, ages, genders, professions. Everyone has to remain very cautious."

It certainly does appear -- at least we got the impression he was trying to send some sort of message out there. Precisely to whom, we weren't convinced, but it certainly looked like he was sending a message.

WOODRUFF: All right, Wolf, I'm told that Chief Moose is stepping up to the microphones now. And, if he is, we want to go there. We've got one camera trained on the doorway. And we expect him to come out.

As Wolf said, the original alert was that it was going to be within the hour. And we see a collection of police officials coming out now, Chief Moose among them.

We'll listen.

CHARLES MOOSE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE CHIEF: We have two major points and will not be in a position to take any questions.

We have received a communication. We will be responding soon.

Secondly, there continues to be a great deal of speculation as to a reference, a threat in the message previously received. As stated earlier, everyone knows that all of our citizens are and have been at risk. The person or people have demonstrated a willingness and ability to shoot people of all ages, all races, all genders. And they've struck at different times of the day, different days, and at different locations.

We recognize the concerns of the community and, therefore, are going to provide the exact language in the message that pertains to the threat. It is in the form of a postscript: "Your children are not safe anywhere at any time."

We feel it's important to provide this information to the public. We're not providing the remaining content of the message. It does not communicate to the public. However, to share that at this point would be detrimental to the investigation. And it will be not released.

Please understand that this exact language has previously been shared with the leadership of law enforcement, community leadership, people that needed to make decisions. As a result of numerous inquiries and reporting of incorrect versions, different versions, we felt that it was important to come out and give the exact version, so that people could have it and put it in the proper context.

WOODRUFF: Charles Moose, talking to reporters, with a very chilling exact language in the last message, the communication from the sniper. And I'm going to quote it exactly as Chief Moose said it: "Your children are not safe anywhere at any time." It could not be more chilling, could not be more cold-blooded. And we just heard the chief say that this has already been shared with school officials, with community leaders.

But now for parents in the Washington area to hear this, I think will send a chill up everyone's spine and will, even more than it has before, cause families to keep their children, if not indoors at all times, to keep them protected and as safe as they possibly can.

Wolf, before the chief read that very chilling message about children, he repeated the language that you and I were discussing earlier. And that is that this person has shown that he is able to go after people of all races, gender, age, at any time of day, at any location. But to add now this particular message that children are not safe is disturbing.

BLITZER: You're absolutely right, Judy.

And it's as if the police are acknowledging to this killer or these killers: "We recognize you have put this entire community at risk. In effect, if that was your objective, you've succeeded." And they're saying that publicly, the person or persons who have been killed are of all ages, races, gender. They have been able to strike at any time, at any location, and that, certainly, earlier when he said it twice at that news conference at 12:30 Eastern time, we got the impression he was deliberately saying that to send some sort of message.

This would appear to be confirmation of that. The first part of what he wanted to say today was that, "We have received a communication and we will be responding soon," once again, this dialogue with whomever -- we assume it's with the killer or the killers -- continuing.

I just want to add one note, Judy, on that final -- the exact wording of the threat that was included in one of the communications from the killer or the killers: "Your children are not safe anywhere at any time." That apparently explains why school districts in the Richmond, Virginia, area have been closed over these past two days, but they've remained open here in suburban Maryland, in Montgomery County, Maryland.

The release of the specific words may have an impact on whether those schools remain open tomorrow. We'll, of course, have to wait and see. But, as you point out, Judy, it's a very chilling, very chilling threat that's out there.

WOODRUFF: It certainly will have an effect on the willingness of parents to send their children out. And arrangements will have to be made, I think even more than they already have been, in terms of safety.

Wolf, I want to turn now to Casey Jordan, who is a criminologist who has been talking to CNN the last few days. Casey is in New York. Casey, now that we hear this, what more are we to make of this person?

CASEY JORDAN, CNN CRIMINOLOGIST: Well, we had already had a hint that this threat had been in the letter, based on early reports to people in the Richmond area. And, of course, their reaction was to cancel school.

I have to, first of all, commend the police on releasing that precise quote in the form of a postscript, meaning, "P.S., your children are not safe anywhere at any time," because they have to very delicately balance the value of the letter's contents, the idea that, by releasing this information, they are playing into his hands, in terms of instilling fear. And they have to balance all of this against public safety issues.

So I think that this was a difficult decision, but clearly a responsible decision in terms of people's need to know. What it means, of course, is that this person -- and they pointed this out at the very beginning -- shoots without discrimination, but has specifically mentioned children not being safe. And we could interpret that as meaning children might be on the list of the next victims.

WOODRUFF: And we know that, of the 13 victims, 10 of whom are now dead, so far only one has been a child, the 13-year-old boy who was severely injured and is still in the hospital, the boy who was shot a little over a week ago.

Casey, what are we to make of this, though? Help us understand now what we're hearing. We have this new, very specific language from the threat, the postscript you mentioned. And then we also have the police chief repeating over and over again that the killer, we know he is capable of killing people of all descriptions at all times of day, day of the week, and all locations. How do you read that?

JORDAN: Well, I think that this shooter has enough insight into what American freedom is about. It is symbolic of children being able to play freely in their playgrounds and walk down the streets. And America is known not just for its freedom, but for its safety.

And to strike at the real hearts of Americans everywhere, there's nothing more innocent or precious in our society than a child. So, not just to say, "Oh, none of you are safe," but to say, "Your children are not safe" takes the threat of violence to a whole new level, because child killers in our society are the ultimate pariahs.

WOODRUFF: Casey, we want to show our viewers once again what Police Chief Charles Moose just said to reporters. We're going to air that portion of the chief's comments for you right now.

Is that ready?


MOOSE: We have received a communication. We will be responding soon.

Secondly, there continues to be a great deal of speculation as to a reference, a threat in the message previously received. As stated earlier, everyone knows that all of our citizens are and have been at risk. The person or people have demonstrated a willingness and ability to shoot people of all ages, all races, all genders. And they've struck at different times of the day, different days, and at different locations.

We recognize the concerns of the community and, therefore, are going to provide the exact language in the message that pertains to the threat. It is in the form of a postscript: "Your children are not safe anywhere at any time."

We feel it's important to provide this information to the public. We're not providing the remaining content of the message. It does not communicate to the public. However, to share that at this point would be detrimental to the investigation. And it will be not released.


WOODRUFF: And with those words just a few moments ago, Police Chief Charles Moose has put in stark relief the nature of the threat that the community around Washington is facing.

And I think it's fair to say that people knew that this person was shooting anyone at any time. But now to know that, in the message, there was this language saying, "Your children are not safe anywhere at any time," raises it to I think even a more frightening level than it was before.

With me now is Kelly McCann, who is an expert on security.

Kelly, you've done a lot of thinking, a lot of working, in terms of keeping people safe. What do you say to parents out there who must be wanting now only to draw their children close to them?

J. KELLY MCCANN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: No one should have expected anything different, Judy, because this is a killer's words, a very cold, calculating killer.

To have expected anything compassionate in the message or anything that would have given relief would have been incorrect. That's in part, I'm sure, why the police have contained that information, because it could lead to irrational or unreasonable fear or panic.

Post these murders, if that kind of language came out in the book about this story, it wouldn't be nearly as scary as it is right now, with the imminence of a threat, an existing threat that has not been contained.

WOODRUFF: If you're a parent living in this general area, geographically, and you have children, what would you do right now, in terms of how to make a decision about what to let your children do or not do? MCCANN: Well, certainly, if they've not done it already, as a prudent parent would, go to the day cares, go to the schools and make sure that the line-of-sight issue has been corrected. I know that, in a lot of schools' cases...

WOODRUFF: What do you mean the light-of-sight issue?

MCCANN: In order effectively engage a target, the shooter has to be able to see down a sight radius and see clear to the target, the same path as the bullet.

A lot of schools now are putting the buses in between any area or vantage point in where the children get let of. It might mean that they change, for the time being, the arrival point. So, instead of a right drop-off and then having to walk out and around the bus and in the school, they change the pattern of traffic, so now it's a left drop-off and the child can actually get out and go right into the building. And they effectively box off those areas of observation.

The same thing is true with the day care. Now, suddenly, people who are responsible for our children have taken it on to a next level. They have to take it on the next level. And they have to think like they may have should have been thinking all along.

WOODRUFF: But other than this, are you literally saying people shouldn't let their children out of their sight?

MCCANN: No, I'm not saying that.

What I'm saying is that everyone should err on the side of prudence. Security never goes away. Perhaps those things should have already been being accounted for. But with no imminent threat, there was no urge to make it so. Now that threat exists. And it's like, once you lose your innocent, you can't go backwards. One person has done this. How many other people have noticed it?

And that's not fear-mongering. It's reality. We won't return to bobby socks and Cherry Cokes. So the bottom line is, we now have to pay attention to security.

WOODRUFF: All right, Kelly McCann, that is, if anything, an understatement. And we appreciate your helping us understand a little bit more about what's going on here and helping parents think through this.

MCCANN: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Casey Jordan is still with us, as is my colleague Wolf Blitzer.

Casey, as you've been thinking some more about what the chief said, thinking more about this message about what the killer is capable of, anything else come to mind in terms of the person the police are dealing with?

JORDAN: Well, I guess I am struck by the wording, because -- without sounding like a broken record -- we have been identifying and analyzing this shooter as a power-control-motivated person.

I think there's something far more specific going on. But in the most general terms, this person enjoys the power that he or they are having over our community. And it's a very real power. This latest threat represents a sort of Damocles hanging over our heads. There's nothing specific. There's not a particular day or a location or an age of a child that's been specified.

It's so general that it's even more frightening in its generality. "Your children are not safe anywhere at any time," which -- the unknown for us is probably more frightening than a specific threat. And it provides perhaps a certain amount of insight into the shooter's psyche, because he is succeeding in frightening a community.

WOODRUFF: Casey Jordan.

Wolf, in listening to the police chief a minute ago, he said that another communication has been received. I think what's unclear to us is whether some of this language came in in the latest communication or may have been part of that letter that police found near the site of the shooting in Ashland, Virginia.

BLITZER: Based on our earlier reporting, Judy, the threat, the specific threat, now we have the exact words contained in that threat to the schoolchildren, that, we were told earlier, was in that letter that was found at that Ponderosa steak house just outside Richmond, Virginia, in Ashland, Virginia. That's where the specific threat came, the exact words: "Your children are not safe anywhere at any time."

And that's why we believe they did decide to shut down the schools in the Richmond area yesterday as well as today. When he said at the top of the statement just now -- Police Chief Moose, he said: "We have received a communication. We will be responding soon." That suggests that they are in a continuing dialogue.

And, as I said, this is the fourth time the chief has come out with a relatively brief statement, basically communicating with the killer or the killers or perhaps an intermediary. We don't know. We assume it's with the killer or killers. And he's trying to send some sort of confirmation that they have received the communication, and "We'll be getting back to you very soon" -- at least that's what he said.

WOODRUFF: And, so, Wolf, clarifying that we believe this language about children was a part of that message, a part of the letter that the police found on Saturday night.

Casey Jordan, just one more question to you: police very much now engaging in -- we've been saying this for a couple of days -- a dialogue with this killer, saying they've received a communication, they're considering it, they're formulating a response, and now they saying they've received yet another message.

JORDAN: Well, it's good and it's bad, because any attempt to communicate with this person would surely bring us closer, I would hope, to apprehending or to solving this horrific tragedy.

At the same time, if the communication channels have been open for last 24 hours, then it's disturbing in light of this morning's shooting, which, of course, has not been complicitly linked, but which all earmarks indicate is the continuing work of this D.C. area sniper. If the channels of communication are open -- and we don't need to know exactly what's being communicated between -- then it begs the question: Why this morning's shooting?

WOODRUFF: It certainly does.

Casey Jordan, thank you very much, and to my colleague Wolf Blitzer.

We are going to wrap up this portion of our coverage right now.

I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington.


and Crime in the Maryland Election Races>

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