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Breaking News

Gunman In Police Custody After Injuring 5 in Pittsburgh Shooting Spree

Aired March 1, 2000 - 2:02 p.m. ET


NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Five people in Pittsburgh in critical condition after a lone gunman went on a shooting rampage there today.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Natalie Allen and Lou Waters here for another hour.

We have one breaking news story, the one that Natalie mentioned. It's taking place in the town of Wilkinsburg. It's still fluid. We can report the shootings took place at an apartment building and at two nearby fast-food restaurants. Five people shot, all critical at last report. The gunman then fled to nearby office building and reportedly has taken some hostages. We have, subsequent to that report, heard that the gunman now is in custody. Police had been evacuating the area earlier in the day. Hostage negotiators from both local, state and federal police have been in the area. The gunmen was holed up inside a massive office complex, and it's been about an hour to an hour and a half that the negotiations have been ongoing. The mayor of Pittsburgh now tells us that the gunman is in custody.

Let's check in with local television, WPXI, to get the latest on what they're reporting from the scene.

ANDY GASTMEYER, WPXI REPORTER: ... right now, and I emphasize from 2,600 feet above the scene, is that he is in that car below us, and that is only an assumption.


GASTMEYER: Yes, David?

JOHNSON: Andy, was anybody, including yourself, able to see the suspect being walked to the car? Was he indeed walking, and what do we know about that?

GASTMEYER: No, our visibility here is limited, David, because, as you may know, it was around 1:30 this afternoon that police and SWAT team ordered all helicopters in the area as far back from the Penn-West building as they probably -- as we could get. Now we're flying at 2,600 feet. We've got some rain and we've got poor visibility, so it was hard seeing exactly what was going on outside the Penn-West building at the time we did get the official confirmation that the actor, the suspect had been taken into custody. But the reason they had ordered us back, of course, was probably for concerns that if he was in that senior day care center, he had access to a television and he could be watching all the coverage.

JOHNSON: Andy, luckily you have the Sky Zoom camera which still gives us good pictures there from that great distance away, despite the mist and the fog and the rain there.

All right, Andy. Thanks very much.


PEGGY FINNEGAN WPXI ANCHOR: All right, let's go back to Amy Marcinkiewicz right now.

Amy, do you have new information?

AMY MARCINKIEWICZ, WPXI REPORTER: Peggy, I have had the time to talk to a couple police people out here who have told me that they have been told by their commander they are free to go. This person, this suspect is in custody, that he is alive and that the hostages are all alive and OK, also. That's the latest information that I could get from the scene right now.

But I've been told the police people that I've been talking to that are out here on the scene, that have been out here for hours, have been told by their commander that they are free to go, that this is over and that the suspect is in custody.

JOHNSON: OK, Amy, some good news there, and good news about those hostages as well, Peggy.

FINNEGAN: Certainly.


FINNEGAN: And they -- of course, they had the skilled hostage negotiators on the scene, and I would imagine people who were either related to or knew the suspect, so apparently it all paid off. We certainly hope to have more information that we can supply to you. But in situations like this that our happening live, the information comes in in little bits and pieces. And we'll pass it along to you as it comes in to us.

JOHNSON: Top part of your screen right there, live pictures from Chopper 11. We have been following a patrol car which Andy Gastmeyer, who is live in Chopper 11, suspects -- doesn't know for sure -- that may contain the suspect in this horrible ordeal.

And, Andy, I also want to acclimate myself to this Penn-West office building. Is that part of the large old Columbia Hospital complex?

GASTMEYER: David, I'm not familiar, but I think you may be right in terms of using that term the Columbia Hospital complex because it is a series of buildings, boxes and rectangle connected, and most of them are about four or five stories in height. So I think that may be part of the old Columbia Hospital complex. JOHNSON: OK, I'm familiar, Andy, with that street that he's heading. He's heading to the municipal building right there in Wilkinsburg, which is the borough offices and the police department and fire, as well, there in Wilkinsburg, as best as I can tell. Yes, indeed, that's the front door of it, and he should be pulling into a side parking lot right now, and indeed he is.

GASTMEYER: Yes, we're going to try to rise above the roof of that building so as to get a better look at...

JOHNSON: OK, get a straight-down shot of it if you can, there, Andy, and see if we can get a better look if, indeed, the suspect is there.

GASTMEYER: He's at the side -- yes, he's at the side door where they normally take suspects in around.

Neal (ph), if we could swing around -- there you go.

JOHNSON: Again, our choppers been pushed back to about 2,600 feet. Authorities have been asking helicopters to move away a bit more. And we're, again, lucky to have our Sky Zoom camera which can zoom right in despite the misty, rainy conditions today.

FINNEGAN: Yes, unfortunately the weather isn't cooperating or we would have a crystal-clear picture of whoever is coming out of this police car.

JOHNSON: Andy, I'm guessing we have as good a look at this as you. Someone in a white shirt is being let out right now.

GASTMEYER: Yes, David this would appear to be the suspect. And, again, we emphasize that it would appear to be the suspect. But after all, Wilkinsburg Police do have jurisdiction here, and we can assume that -- and I underscore the word "assume" -- that they are taking him in for questioning right now.

JOHNSON: I would say that was a good job of spotting by you earlier. Indeed, that appears to be -- very likely to be the suspect that was just taken from that car into the Wilkinsburg Police headquarters. And we followed that all the way along there from Chopper 11, the car now parking. And this situation obviously has taken a dramatic turn for the better with the capture of the suspect and the hostages not being hurt -- the hostages he had taken there in the Penn-West building, but not before, though, five people were shot.

FINNEGAN: Right, it might be a good idea, David...

WATERS: Connecting the dots of the story that we've been reporting for a couple of hours now with the help of WPXI in Pittsburgh, the surrender of the gunman alleged to have shot five people in the Wilkinsburg area. This is a picture of the gunmen in handcuffs being taken away by police from that office building where he allegedly was holding hostages. We understand no hostages, if there were indeed any, have been harmed. The story is over now except for the shooting victims, all of whom were last reported in critical condition at two area hospitals. WPXI is reporting one dead. We have not, however, been able to confirm that, so we're still reporting five critical in the shooting which began at about 10:30 this morning local Pittsburgh time at the Woodside Garden Apartments.

Some disagreement with a maintenance worker is what we're being told -- maintenance worker being shot and then the shooter moving down the street to a McDonald's where there were three people shot, and then to a nearby Burger King, another person shot, and then to the Penn-West Office Building which was headquarters to several medical offices, doctors offices, a day care center and such. Those folks were evacuated while the negotiators moved in to try to talk the gunman out, who reportedly had at least one bullet remaining in his gun. That situation now is over. We saw the pictures of the gunman being led away and then to the nearby police station.

So we will continue to follow developments in this story as they become available to us.


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