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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Montgomery, Alabama Police Assisting Sniper Task Force

Aired October 24, 2002 - 11:23   ET

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

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Let's head to Tacoma, Washington and James Hattori, because yesterday, the FBI was there in droves and they recovered a lot of evidence. Give us an update on that now.
JAMES HATTORI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, investigators are undoubtedly this morning scrutinizing the great deal of evidence that they seized at this home in South Tacoma yesterday as they are begin to prepare a case against John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo. Federal agents spent the day searching the home where the suspects lived for awhile here.

Among the evidence they seized was a tree stump, which is being speculated, may have been used for target practice. Law enforcement sources have told CNN they were looking for bullet fragments or shell casings, some other sort of evidence. Neighbors say they have heard gunshots in the past from the house as late as last January. One neighbor says he even called police, although nothing ever came of those reports.

At the same time yesterday, federal agents seized documents at Bellingham High School. That's about three or four hours' drive north of here, near the Canadian border. Officials this morning confirmed that John Lee Malvo attended school there for a brief time. Reportedly the investigators were looking for handwriting samples perhaps to compare to notes that were part of the D.C. area sniper case. Malvo was described by officials as a rather unexceptional student, did not stand out in the crowd apparently. Spent a lot of time in the library.

What we know about Muhammad, he's an Army vet, served at Ft. Lewis, which is the Army base not far from here in Tacoma. He served in the Gulf War. He was not trained as a sniper, although investigators will now begin to look more closely at both men, as they not only their past, but their past whereabouts, their relations as this case continues to go forward.

That's the latest from here.

COSTELLO: And, James, we understand that while Mr. Malvo, the younger man in custody right now, went to Bellingham High School, they apparently lived in a homeless shelter.

HATTORI: That's what officials up there were saying. He showed up with no previous records of his academic past, no transcripts, anything like that. I think they admitted him on an ad hoc basis, understanding he was living in this transient situation. There was some confusion as to whether or not Mr. Muhammad was his father or father-in-law. They were under the impression that he was his actual father. Of course, that might have been just some sort of clerical error or something overlooked in that admission process. They said he was there a short time, and then moved on and did not have a whole lot more information, although they did say that there was some information that the Walcomb (ph) County sheriffs, which is the local sheriffs up in Bellingham, did have some contact with the two suspects, although they declined to elaborate on that.

COSTELLO: Yes, they're keeping a lot of things close to the vest. Thank you for the update, James Hattori.

COSTELLO: Let's head on to Montgomery, Alabama and Brian Cabell and the latest happening out of there -- Brian.

CABELL: Carol, we've just gotten word here in the last five minutes that there is a fingerprint match, that the fingerprints found at a robbery here about five weeks ago match those of John Malvo. That just came in from a federal authority in the last five to 10 minutes.

What happened here about five weeks ago, September 21st, a man accosted two women as they were closing up the store at night. He shot both of them, one of them fatally, the other managed to survive. They came up with a composite sketch of this young man, who apparently shot the two women. They actually -- he fled and they managed to pursue him for about 500 yards, got a pretty good idea of what he looked like, and they have come up with the composite sketch, and it's now on their Web site.

Now, there's also been talk about the bullets that were used here at this particular scene in Montgomery back on September 21st. Turns out it was not the same kind of bullets being used in the sniper shootings in the Washington D.C. area. There it's .223 bullets. Here, according to the police, it is not a .223.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will clear up one matter for you. I did receive confirmation from an ATF agent on the task force that the same gun that was used here is not the same gun that's being used in the D.C. area.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABELL: But again, what they are saying now, is they do have a fingerprint match. They aren't telling us yet precisely where it was found at this particular scene, but it does match that of John Malvo.

COSTELLO: I was going to ask you that, because we've heard conflicting reports. Some people say it was found on a magazine. and the magazine was about guns apparently. Others say it was found on a magazine, which holds bullets.

CABELL: Well, Carol, as you know, there's been an awful lot of bad information coming out because people need to put news on the air. Unfortunately, some of it is not all that good. Speaking of which, let me tell you about another incident here. We've heard reports over the last 16 hours or so that a gun camp, a training camp about 50 miles northwest of here in the town of Marion was searched by FBI in probably the last 24 to 48 hours. We have been told that by a federal source. We were told by the manager of that camp repeatedly last night that did not happen. There has been no search. There was no search warrant. He told us that adamantly. It turns out apparently he was correct. There was no search of that camp, and there was an awful lot of information about that. So as you know, over the last three, four weeks, a lot of bad information that has been broadcast. We're trying to correct some of that right now.

COSTELLO: Thanks for setting us straight, Brian. We appreciate it.

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