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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Second School Shooting Victim Dies; Teacher Reportedly Hero at Ohio School Shooting; ABC Announces New Cast of "Dancing with the Stars"; Inside Attacks on U.S. Troops in Afghanistan; What's Driving Oil Prices?; "Jesus Discovery" Revelation; First Amendment Fight

Aired February 28, 2012 - 08:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST: Hey, good morning. Welcome back, everybody.

Our STARTING POINT this morning is breaking news. A second student has now died after yesterday's Ohio high school shooting. We're learning more about the accused shooter and his dead, silent rampage.

Also, a fight for Michigan and Arizona underway today. The polls are open. The race is tight between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. And, apparently, Rick Santorum is now asking Democrats to help him out. He's trying to make Mitt Romney the loser in his home state.

Plus, the Pennsylvania judge -- we talked about this yesterday, remember? He said -- you know, there was a big debate over whether or not a guy had a right to wear a "Zombie Mohammed" costume. The guy who was the victim, alleged victim, eventually was sort of got a tongue lashing by the judge.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Had a right free of assault.

O'BRIEN: Yes. Yes. A very calm -- we're going to sit down and talk to the judge about that case because there was some sense that he didn't have a really good insight into the First Amendment. Let's talk about that.

STARTING POINT begins right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

O'BRIEN: And welcome back, everybody. Let's talk about the second victim who has now died in the Ohio school shooting. According to the county medical examiner, Russell King Jr. died at the metro health medical center where he was being treated for gunshot woods. Danny Parmertor was also killed in that attack.

There are three other students who are now hurt. It's Joy Rickers, Nick Walczak and Demetrius Hewlin. It all started, of course, when T.J. Lane opened fire at his high school yesterday. One witness to the shooting says that Lane's face was expressionless when he opened fire and, of course, all the horror was caught on emergency dispatch.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DISPATCHER: Attention, Chardon Rescue. We have an active shooter at the high school. Repeat -- active gunshots at the high school.

Chardon, we have three students down in the cafeteria at this time. We still don't know where the shooter is. Also, there's a fourth one down in room 200.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: T.J. Lane, the alleged shooter, was chased from the school by a teacher and then arrested less than a half a mile away near his car. All of it unfolding in a small town about 30 miles east of Cleveland, Chardon High School.

Let's go right to Ted Rowlands. He is live in Chardon with the very latest from there.

Hey, Ted. What's happening?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Soledad. No school here again at Chardon. People reacting, of course, to the news that another student has died. There are still two more students that are in guarded, critical, serious condition. One other student hospitalized in stable condition.

So, clearly, this community, very small community. It's a classic suburb outside of Cleveland. They're dealing with the grief and the questions of what could have forced T.J. Lane to do this.

He's described by students that knew him as a kid that was sort of part of the gang as a young elementary middle school student but then started to be more reclusive as a high school student, in the last few years.

He had a difficult childhood. According to court records , his mother and father both in trouble with the law. His father doing prison time for domestic violence. He has a brother in and out of jail. How that factored in, who knows?

He will make his first court appearance about 3:00 local time here.

O'BRIEN: Ted, give me an update on the community, how people are doing there?

ROWLANDS: There was a candlelight vigil here last night. A lot of people showed up. And, obviously, these people are in shock.

You talk about the parents that took their children to school yesterday morning and within an hour, they get a text message to come back and get their child, and that there has been a shooting in school. It just, as any parent, you stop and think about it -- just imagine your child, their whole life ahead of them either dead or fighting for their life.

This community is really rallying around those families here this morning and will in the days to come.

O'BRIEN: Ted Rowlands for us with an update on what's happening there. Thank you, Ted. Appreciate it.

Let's get to Craig Scott. He was a student at Columbine high school when that school shooting happened on April 20th, 1999. Thirteen people were killed on that day, including Craig's sister, Rachel.

Thank you for being with us. We appreciate your time.

CRAIG SCOTT, COLUMBINE SURVIVOR: You're welcome.

O'BRIEN: Not only was your sister killed, your friends were killed as well. But you survived the Columbine school shooting.

What was your reaction when you heard about this school shooting? Does it take you right back to that day?

SCOTT: You know, it just makes me feel for that community. I have -- it takes me back a little bit to that day. But I hear a lot of stories because I travel and speak in schools and meet with so many students and hear a lot of sometimes sad stories about things that students are going through, or things that students do.

And so I'm just so sad for their community right now.

O'BRIEN: I heard that you speak to 3 million students a year as you go to assemblies, the largest assemblies across the nation every single year. So if you could talk to the students at Chardon High School who aren't even in class today obviously, what would you tell them?

SCOTT: You know, I would share with them that, you know, how important it is how you treat one another. That was a big lesson that I learned after the Columbine shooting and that there really -- they really are one family in that school and one of the biggest messages that I give to schools is that kindness and compassion makes such a big difference and how you treat people, the little things that you do, the things that you say. I think that those are actually the biggest anecdotes to anger and hatred.

I think a lot of the students that go on these shootings are disconnected and feel isolated and alone, and I think that it's -- being bullied or feeling alone is never an excuse to shoot someone, or take someone's life. But at the same time, I want people to reach out to students that are on the outside, that are having a hard time.

O'BRIEN: You say that that compassion lesson was learned because the last conversation you had with your sister Rachel before she died was a fight, you guys fought, and then she was killed in the shootings.

How long did it take you, you know, before you felt like you were on a path to recovery after that school shooting? I mean, how long will it take these students before it feels like normal, if it ever gets to that again?

SCOTT: You know, it will take time. It took, you know, for the school to really feel a sense of normalcy again, it took, you know, over a year to two years. For my family, you know, getting through the loss of Rachel and going through that grieving time, that took longer. And I do think that right now with the community, it's very important for them to come together to focus on the right things to be there for each other.

And, yes, in the schools I do focus on compassion. I share my sister's story with our program, and we know that just by sharing her story, and she was a person that kind of reached out to people that were on the outside, and sharing some powerful lessons behind the Columbine shooting, we know of school shootings that have been prevented and suicides that have been presented.

But with what's happening right now in Ohio, you know, the best thing that they can do is just be there for one another. Tell each other right now how much you appreciate, care about, love one another. It's really important.

O'BRIEN: There are many people who point to Columbine as a lesson, as really what Chardon was able to do. They executed on a plan that ultimately came out of what happened at Columbine. Is that in any way, you know, a silver lining out of a horrifically terrible story?

That now, the schools know how to go into lockdown, they know how to behave, the teachers immediately spring into action. There was not that chaos that surrounded what happened in Columbine.

SCOTT: That is -- that's a great -- that shows how far schools have come, that they were able to respond so quickly. I think a lot of schools are at that place, too.

Now, what we need to continue to focus on is the culture of school and for it to be a place where there's not just teaching of head knowledge but there's character and students know what it means to really be in relation to one another, how to treat one another. I think that's a big source -- a big problem source in schools today is that focus on, you know, what it means to be a person of character.

And T.J., you know, who did this shooting, you know, there's really no excuse for it. I know that a lot of people are going to say, you know, try to figure out why did he do this, and I feel for any student that feels on the outside or feels bullied or feels picked on. But it's just -- it's not good enough anymore for me to hear -- well, he was picked on so he killed, you know, other people, usually people that had nothing to do with his pain.

O'BRIEN: Yes. We're going to learn a lot more obviously about the alleged shooter. He goes to court as you know today.

Craig Scott is a survivor of the Columbine school shooting but he lost his sister and many friends.

Thank you for talking with us, Craig. We appreciate it.

SCOTT: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: There are some other stories making headlines. And Alina Cho has a look at those.

Hey, Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Soledad.

New this morning, a British journalist escapes Syria. Paul Conroy was wounded in the same shelling attack that killed American journalist Marie Colvin. He was reportedly smuggled into Lebanon.

Meantime, French reporter Edith Bouvier who was also injured in the same attack is refusing to leave Syria. She, along with other journalists, want assurance from Syria's government that it will not confiscate photographs or recordings.

The government, meanwhile, is stepping up its shelling attacks this morning. At least 41 people have reportedly been killed just today.

Our CNN in depth this week focusing on gas prices. The national average rising another 2 cents to $3.72 a gallon. That's according to AAA. The average price inching closer and closer to that $4 mark.

Rising oil prices due to tensions with Iran are pushing gas prices up here in the U.S. And the cost of gas, up more than 12 percent since the start of the year.

We'll have much more on your gas prices later this hour from CNN senior business correspondent, Ali Velshi. Stay tuned for that.

It's primary day. Voting underway in Michigan and Arizona now. And what happens today could set the tone for Super Tuesday next week. The most recent polls showing Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in a virtual tie in Michigan, Romney's home state.

The Santorum campaign has been robo-calling Democratic voters in Michigan, asking them to come out and vote against Romney. Romney is calling that a dirty trick.

And an alarming health study to tell you about -- people who take prescription sleeping pills, even in small numbers, may be nearly four times more likely to die earlier than those who don't take them. That's the conclusion of a new study in the "British Medical Journal". Researchers also report people using Ambien, Lunesta, Restoril, Sonata are also more likely to be diagnosed with cancer.

As many as 10 percent of adults in America, Soledad, were prescribed sleeping pills just in 2010. That is --

O'BRIEN: Wow. I'm dying to know why that connection or correlation, right? Is it that people who are not sleeping have all kinds of other medical issues, that's the connection?

CHO: Really, it's interesting. The cancer component is interesting, too.

O'BRIEN: Dr. Cho, come on.

Yes, it's very interesting. All right. Thank you for that update. We're going to keep looking into that story.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, we're going to talk to Congressman Peter King about Afghanistan's future and whether he thinks the United States can still trust the forces that it's been training.

Plus, passing the time in prison with music. Inmates in federal prison now allowed MP3 players and access to a music library that's probably bigger than any of ours. We'll talk about that.

We'll leave you with Will's playlist, Tim McGraw. He said no more Willie Nelson and we get Tim McGraw. I like that. "Where the Green Grass Grows."

You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.

CAIN: Viewers should know they sing my songs during the commercial breaks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: The bodies of two senior U.S. military officers killed inside Afghanistan's Interior Ministry arrived home last night. They are victims of the violence that followed the burning of Qurans. Their alleged killer is a junior officer in the ministry's Intelligence Department.

Meantime, anti-American demonstrations have lessened. But just a little bit. Look at these pictures. Military is insisting that U.S. and Afghan relations are not in crisis.

Republican Congressman Peter King of New York, and he's a chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.

It's nice to see you, sir. Thanks for being with us. We certainly appreciate it.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Good morning, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: When you see pictures like that and then people say, well, it's not in crisis -- can we show that videotape one more time? It may not be crisis, but it looks pretty, pretty bad. How would you assess it, sir? KING: I don't know if we'd call it crisis. But it certainly is a turning point. Now I have supported the mission in Afghanistan. I believe it's important to our national security that the Taliban not be allowed to re-establish a base in Afghanistan. Having said that, if we cannot control or the Afghans cannot control their own military officers, if our top military people have to be at risk inside the Interior Ministry, then we have to re-assess our position there.

As far as the demonstrations -- demonstrations in the streets, it's partly encouraged by the Taliban, partly from provocateurs from Pakistan, but the fact is that it's important I think for our government to make it clear to President Karzai that we're not going to tolerate this. If this does continue we're going to have to re- assess our entire mission there.

Also, Soledad, I don't think it was right for the president to apologize the way he did. Because it was giving credence that somehow the accidental burning of a Quran or the mistaken burning of Quran somehow could justify any type of response like this by the Afghan people. That's all that our soldiers have done as far as building hospitals and schools. As far as providing (INAUDIBLE) for women.

O'BRIEN: Explain that to me. Why do you -- why do you think an apology gives credence to sort of the demonstrations as opposed to credence to, listen, it was inadvertent and we're sorry for an inadvertent burning, it was not intentional?

KING: Because if it -- if it rises to the level of a president of the United States, we feel the president of the United States has to go out and apologize for something that our military did as a mistake, that to me somehow equates all of the good that our military has done. I think this could have been done by a senior officer in the military to a senior officer in the Afghan military.

I think it escalated it. It gave it an importance. We were -- we were acknowledging it had an importance which I don't believe it should. We can't continue to accede to people's feelings. But burning the Quran was wrong. But also the tremendous work and the tremendous good that our troops have done, that should have been emphasized by the president. If he was going to make the apology, I think it should have been done by more of a senior military official on our -- on the American side or NATO side.

O'BRIEN: Got it.

KING: To an Afghan official.

O'BRIEN: OK. So less about the apology and more of the fact that it came from the president.

KING: Yes. Yes.

O'BRIEN: I want to play a little bit of what Newt Gingrich said. He's on the campaign trail obviously. Here's what he said about what's happening in Afghanistan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're not going to fix Afghanistan. It's not possible. These are people who have spent several thousand years hating foreigners. And what we've done by staying is become the new foreigners. The Karzai government is playing us for fools.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: First, do you think that's true? And, secondly, do you think that that is helpful?

KING: No, I don't think what Newt Gingrich as a Republican is saying is helpful at all. The fact is it should be the position of the Republican Party that we do not want the Taliban to re-establish a base in Afghanistan. I don't think we are ever going to rebuild or make a new Afghanistan. What we can provide is structure which can keep the Taliban under control or away from positions of power.

I don't think anyone is expecting a Jeffersonian democracy in Afghanistan. No one is expecting it even in a 21st century country, quite frankly. But if we can have institutions in place, the police, the military, reasonable government structures that can keep the Taliban away, that's what we're looking for.

I think that the surge that General Petraeus carried out and which is now being continued by General Allen, I think that can provide a semblance of stability. And that's what we can hope for. If it doesn't work, then we have to make a decision.

And for Newt Gingrich, again, this to me is typical of Newt Gingrich. When things go bad, Newt can always jump in and throw gasoline on the fire. It serves no national security purpose whatsoever.

O'BRIEN: All right. Let me play for you -- guys, do we have this? This is the robocall that's been going out from Rick Santorum's folks to Democrats. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On Tuesday join Democrats who are going to send a loud message to Massachusetts Mitt Romney by voting for Rick Santorum for president. This call is supported by hard-working Democratic men and women and paid for by Rick Santorum for president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: What do you make of that?

KING: You know, it's not unprecedented. John McCain did that in 2000.

O'BRIEN: No, no, I know.

KING: Yes. O'BRIEN: But what do you -- what do you think of it? I mean if you were sitting there advising Rick Santorum, what would you tell him about that robocall? Do you think it's a good thing? You think it's a bad thing? You think it's a net nothing?

KING: I think it might work. The reason I say that is that I think Rick Santorum does have a certain appeal to working class Catholics, many of whom are registered Democrats. So it can have a marginal impact. So I think it's more plus than minus for Rick Santorum. And in a close race that one and two extra points can make the difference.

O'BRIEN: OK. So what happens? Let's say if tonight Mitt Romney does not win the state of Michigan, give me the landscape from there on.

KING: Yes. From my perspective if Romney does not win Michigan, it creates real problems for his candidacy. And I think you then will start seeing more activity among the Republican establishment, whatever that is, talking to people like Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, Mitch Daniels, people like that because if Mitt Romney has not been able to break loose at all, he can't win Michigan, it raises real problems.

And Rick Santorum has had a lot of negatives over the last week. If he is still able to win Michigan, that shows a real problem that Mitt Romney has. So --

O'BRIEN: So it sounds like you're saying -- I mean because, you know, I know you're not going out on a limb to say it shows a real problem for his campaign, like, clearly. So does that mean then moving into conscripting that list that you gave? Do you think one of those guys in fact goes on to become the candidate?

KING: Well, I don't know if they will right away. I think they'll be getting lined up, they're getting recruited. And they'll try to get one of them to agree to make the run, let's say, if Super Tuesday doesn't turn out better for Romney.

I think there's going to be more of an interest, more of an emphasis on having someone ready if -- on Super Tuesday if Mitt Romney does not manage to break loose and to have that candidate ready to come in. Again, I have no inside knowledge. Just whispering and mumbling here. Again, among top Republicans who are concerned that Governor Romney has not been able to break loose. And the longer this goes on and his weaknesses show, the stronger President Obama becomes.

O'BRIEN: Wow. I want to talk about that whispering and mumbling, sir. You know hey. Listen, you need to come and hang out with us on the set here one day. You know we'd love to panel with you, Congressman Peter King.

KING: Well, thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: My pleasure. Thank you for being with us. Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, we're going to tell you about some new details in that 2008 murder of Jennifer Hudson's brother, mother, and nephew. Hear about the moment that Hudson knew that something was terribly, terribly wrong. We'll update you on that story.

Plus the economics of gasoline. What exactly is driving gas prices? Ali Velshi is going to join us to go in depth and explain it all.

We leave you with Jen's playlist. White Snake. "Here I Go Again." Look, it's you. A karaoke song.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: I do. I do. I do. I do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like that you know Jeezy. No other places Jeezy (INAUDIBLE).

O'BRIEN: Yes, you did. Yes, you did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They had Sugarland on last time.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Easy. And who's with him? Is that Andrea 3000?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's Andre 3000 and Jay-Z.

O'BRIEN: Featuring Andre 300 and Jay-Z.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: That's right.

O'BRIEN: How can you lose with that at 8:27 in the morning?

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Let's talk gas prices going in depth on it this morning. They're spiking of course. The national average rising another two cents to $3.72 a gallon. That's according to AAA. The national average prices have been going up for 21 days straight, but why?

Let's get right to CNN's senior business correspondent Ali Velshi.

So, some of the spike you have said is because actually oil prices have gone up and the gas prices haven't caught up.

VELSHI: Yes.

O'BRIEN: People have talked also about Iran and speculation and fear and others have said it is the fault of the White House. VELSHI: Yes.

O'BRIEN: What is it?

VELSHI: Probably with the exception of the last one it's all of the above. I brought my prop, Will Cain, a resident Texan.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm your prop.

VELSHI: No --

(LAUGHTER)

VELSHI: Behind Will Cain is my prop. My oil barrel which shows the price of oil selling at $108.56 yesterday. Now four months -- five months ago, the beginning of October, oil was 80 bucks a gallon. $79.20 exactly. This week $108.56. That's an increase of 40 percent.

Now go back to October 1st. Gasoline was $3.40 a gallon. It's now $3.70 a gallon, roughly that's an increase of 10 percent. If gas had done what oil had done, and most of the price of a gallon of gasoline comes from the oil that goes into it, that's the most expensive part, gas would be at $4 -- when I do the calculations, $4.76 right now.

O'BRIEN: So are you saying we're going to get to $4.76?

VELSHI: I'm saying it's entirely possible. If you follow the man, we could be substantially higher that we are right now. So that's the part to worry about.

The second part is what fuels it. Well, you said, speculation. There are two kinds of speculators, right? There are the companies like airlines who use oil, they hedge against the increase in price by buying lots of it. And then there are people who buy it, Jen, as you know, just for profit. Right? They buy it -- they're never going to take the oil but they think it's going up because Iran, which supplies two million barrels a day in wants --

O'BRIEN: Uncertainty sort of gives them the edge.

VELSHI: Right. Right. And there's a growing world. China is growing. India is growing. Even the U.S. economy is getting better. So why would you bet that oil was going anywhere but higher? And that's the issue. So, remember, we like speculators when they make our house prices go up so we can sell them. But that's because that's an asset that we live with. We don't live with our tanks of gas. We burn them up in a couple of days. But yes, it's all of the above. People are betting the price is going up.

O'BRIEN: Since it's so heavily correlated, I personally believe, to how the election could go, what do you think it looks -- I mean how do you -- is it possible to bring the price of gas down by any party?

VELSHI: All right -- no. Not in the short term. In the long term it is. O'BRIEN: OK.

VELSHI: In the long term it is. We just had news yesterday that TransCanada pipelines, the group that was going to build the Keystone XL Pipeline --

O'BRIEN: Right.

VELSHI: -- is going ahead with part of that extension. They're resubmitting their plan to go around the (INAUDIBLE). That's a long- term solution. Anybody who says they have a short-term solution to gas just lying to you.

(CROSSTALK)

CAIN: But they're going to pretend that they do, Ali, right?

VELSHI: Sure.

CAIN: They're going to suggest they should release the Strategic Oil Reserves or something like that.

VELSHI: Don't have any effect. No effect.

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: That does not have an effect. And that's the one thing that could derail this economic recovery which is real, there's no question. For all the deniers out there, this economic recovery is real, this is the thing. When you pay more for gas, you pay more for something that you got the same amount of last week.

O'BRIEN: That has been -- I am going to call you with all my financial questions.

VELSHI: He hit it out of the park.

O'BRIEN: He did, as always.

VELSHI: Did you like my prop, Will Cain? My Texan.

O'BRIEN: Will Cain is often my prop as well.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: All right, thank you, Ali, appreciate it.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, now a second student is reported dead in that Ohio school shooting. We're going to be joined again by Dr. Steve Perry and talk about how the school responded. They're getting high remarks from what they were able to do in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. We'll talk about what's been learned since the shooting at columbine.

Also, passing time in prison with music. Inmates in federal prison are allowed MP3 players and have access to a music library that's pretty terrific. We'll see if some people think that's fair and others do not.

Plus, out with last year's cast, in with the new cast of "Dancing with the Stars." It's been announced who's on the show. We'll tell you that. We'll tell you who's on the show, Kirstey Alley apparently. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Breaking news this morning. A second victim has now died in the Ohio school shooting. According to the county medical examiner Russell King Jr. died at the Metro Health Medical Center where he was being treated for gunshot wounds. Danny Parmertor was also killed in that attack and there are three other students have been hurt. I talked to a student, Nate Mueller, who described for me T.J. Lane's rampage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NATE MUELLER, VICTIM: His first shot made me look. His second shot I watched him take which hit somebody behind me. And his third shot hit me as I was turning away. His face was expressionless. It was -- I can't even explain it. It looked like he was on a mission and he knew that he was about to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: T.J. Lane is expected in court this afternoon. The classes for the roughly 1,150 students are canceled at school today and flags are going to be lowered across the state. The school shooting of course a nightmare for anybody, but for anybody who's involved in the education of students it is particularly terrifying.

Principal Steve Perry is a CNN education contributor. He's also the founder of Capital Prep Magnet school. He joins our panel from Hartford, Connecticut. You know, Steve, one of the things I found remarkable about the story, really, it was part of the heroic part of the story was response by the teachers following the Twitter accounts and the students. They said that some of the teachers, particularly two, literally ran out of the classrooms and chased down the alleged shooter.

STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR: These teachers are heroes of the highest order. Who knows how many more lives they saved because of their heroism? It's a real challenge. If you can just imagine, you're at school with children and another child comes in with a gun and begins shooting, there's nothing that we are equipped for, there's nothing that we think about that equips us to prepare for that. And they did an amazing job. My hat goes off to them.

O'BRIEN: One of the teachers apparently grabbed a bulletproof vest out of his classroom, put it on, and then ran out and chased down. That was the word we were getting last night.

WILL CAIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: He had a bulletproof vest?

O'BRIEN: In his classroom. I do not know. This is the word we were getting from some of the students and bystanders that we were talking to. So, Steve, what kind of training do you get? What kind of training do you give your teachers, because obviously you have conversations about the potential for this possibly happening? So what do you advise them to do?

PERRY: Well, we -- I don't know about a training. There isn't a full-on training. We do have conversations about it and there is a procedure, just like so many other procedures from homework on out. This is what you do when this happened happens.

I just had a conversation with our staff this morning going through, reminding them again when it's code red. This is what you have to do. You have to move the children away from the doors, put them in the center of the room where they can't be seen, drop down the shades. Make sure you do what you can to keep the children safe and do not move. Do not move until there's an all clear.

O'BRIEN: Earlier we were talking to a young man who was a survivor of the Columbine shooting. He lost his sister and a couple of friends as well. And one of the things he said, his takeaway was trying to remind everybody to treat each other kindly. He said his last conversation with his sister was a fight. They had an argument and then she was dead before the day was out. Here's a little bit of what this young man, Nate Mueller, who I was talking to, had to say about the alleged shooter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MUELLER: I heard two teachers, one, Mr. Hall, who had chased the student out. And I know for a fact our teacher, Mr. Ritchie, had already been prepared with a bulletproof vest in his classroom which he had put on and dragged anything Nick Walzack into his room while also getting other students into the room as well. But I think everybody knew what they had to get done and did it as fast as they could.

O'BRIEN: Tell me a little bit about him.

MUELLER: He was a quiet kid in the past like three years. But back in middle school he was always really nice and funny. He was like one of us, one of the guys. He was just a normal kid and we all liked him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: You know that, as you know, Steve, is what you often hear in these kinds of cases, horrifying, horrific tragedies. And everybody says they seemed quiet, they seemed relatively nice. And only later or even in court looking backwards do you start to recognize some warning signs. What do you look for in your students?

PERRY: Well, one of the things you look for in regards to boys in particular is that they're withdrawn. Boys can sometimes be quiet in middle and high school, but withdrawn means that you just can't engage them. That's a telltale sign.

Another is in their writings. Many of these children will on Facebook and other social networks, they'll say some things that they may cloak in metaphor, but they are what they sound like. When a kid is talking about killing and dying, you should do something. You should make sure that you reach out to that child.

In our school we have an advisory system where every single child is assigned an advisor and that advisor has the responsibility of getting to know that child, will meet with them every single day. What other schools call homeroom we call advisory. So it's structured so that we can engage those children.

For girls it's the same thing, but not so much withdrawn, but their writing, the communication that they have with one another and how they communicate to their friends. Children typically tell you. We have to listen to the kids. The kids tell us what's going on if we're just willing to listen.

O'BRIEN: Steve Perry joining us this morning with a perspective as a principal at a school in Hartford, West Hartford, Connecticut. Nice to see you, Steve. Thank you for your update. Appreciate it.

Other headlines, Alina has got for us. Hey, Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there, Soledad. A French fishing boat now towing a cruise ship carrying a thousand people including eight Americans. It had been stranded in the pirate infested waters in the Indian Ocean after an engine room fire on the Italian Costa Allegra cruise liner yesterday. Passengers and crew were trapped in the dark because the ship's power shut down. Everybody is OK.

New details emerging this morning in the 2008 murders of Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother, and nephew. Prosecutors say Hudson contacted her mother every day, but when she sent a text message on the morning of October 24th, 2008, she never got a response and that's when she knew something was wrong. Suspect William Balfour goes on trial next month for the murders. Not clear yet if Hudson will be called to testify.

A United Airlines plane made a belly flop on the runway of Newark International Airport in New Jersey. The pilot was forced to make that emergency landing when the plane's front landing gear collapsed. And 71 people on board including an infant actually had to slide out on those emergency chutes. But nobody was hurt.

"Consumer Reports" is releasing its list of top cars today. And the Lexus LS 460L comes out on top with the best road test score. Right behind the Lexus, Chevy Corvette, the Hyundai Genesis Sedan and Toyota Camry XLEV-6. The vehicles with the lowest scores on the "Consumer Reports" road test, that would be the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and the Jeep Liberty. The scores reflect how well a vehicle performs in areas like braking, acceleration, fuel economy, comfort, and cargo space.

Jams for jail birds, you heard me right, a new program providing prisoners with MP3 players. Eligible inmates will soon be able to buy them from their prison commissary. Then they'll even be able to download from more than one million songs in a music library at the jail. The catalog does not include any songs deemed explicit or obscene, probably a good idea. Federal officials say the program is aimed at helping inmates deal with stress and boredom in a safe way. Critics fear prisoners could use those MP3 devices as bargaining chips.

ABC has revealed the new cast of "Dancing with the Stars" vying to inherit the crown from last year's winner J.R. Martinez. A few of those joining the hit show's 14th season, "The View's" Sherry Shepherd, Jalil White, actress Melissa Gilbert, singer Gladys Knight, singer Gavin DeGraw, and "Extra" host Maria Menounos. I think Sherry Shepard will do pretty good on that show.

O'BRIEN: Gladys Knight, she probably knows more moves than anybody else there. I put my money on her. All right, Alina, thank you.

CHO: You bet.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT free speech fight, a Pennsylvania judge who said a guy didn't have a right to wear a zombie Mohammed costume will tell his side to us.

Plus the Jesus discovery. In this season of Lent the authors who say they may have the earliest proof of Christianity, the evidence of the resurrection.

We'll go back to Will and his playlist. "Jenny, Don't be Hasty."

CAIN: It's not country.

O'BRIEN: I know it's not.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is my --

O'BRIEN: Wait, let me do your introduction first before we get to it. There's a really major religious discovery that's being unveiled today. But we kind have an early look at it.

Its results of an archaeological discovery back in 2010. A biblical scholar and an Emmy Award winning film maker made a discovery in a sealed previously unexcavated tomb in Jerusalem. And they claim that the discovery is going to revolutionize the understanding of Jesus, his earliest followers and the birth of Christianity.

He detailed their finding in the new book which is called "The Jesus Discovery." And the authors are James Tabor and Simcha Jacobovici.

SIMCHA JACOBOVICI, CO-AUTHOR, "THE JESUS DISCOVERY": You did good.

O'BRIEN: I did, I got it. I practiced a little bit. You have brought in what you have found. These are what -- what's called bone boxes. Explain what those are to me.

JAMES TABOR, CO-AUTHOR, "THE JESUS DISCOVERY": We call them ossuaries. But almost like stone coffins but they're for the bones of the deceased. They were used in Jerusalem for around the time of Jesus about 100 years each way.

O'BRIEN: These are replicas.

TABOR: And those are replicas. Those are actually sealed still today in the tomb.

JACOBOVICI: The real is still underground.

O'BRIEN: So let's talk a little bit about this. Back originally you were in this finding (ph) which you called the Jesus family tomb which was believed to be the burial place of Jesus's family. And now you are able not very far from there, like 200 feet away, to get a robotic camera in to make a major discovery.

So first, tell me what the discovery is and then we'll talk about why the robotic camera.

TABOR: Well, the discovery is namely these two ossuaries. The one on the left, you can see the -- a fish. It almost looks like a whale like fish and the stick figure coming out. If you remember your bible stories image of Jonah.

O'BRIEN: Being thrown up literally by the whale.

TABOR: Exactly.

And the reason it's significant, is Christians -- it's in the New Testament. Jesus says, "My resurrection will be like Jonah". And this kind of symbol a Jonah symbol has never been found on any Jewish art of the period. So it makes us -- these are Jews, but they're Jews who probably are proclaiming Jesus faith in his resurrection.

O'BRIEN: You have replicas --

JACOBOVICI: This is 200 years earlier than any Christian icon found in the catacombs of Rome. This is the earliest Christian-related icon ever found. And next to it is a resurrection statement, the only resurrection statement ever found in an ossuary of those 3,000 ossuaries that are already found in Jerusalem.

O'BRIEN: You had to use a camera because, of course, the actual, the real ones are still underground. You had to get access through a camera. Will you ever be able to -- TABOR: Under a building.

O'BRIEN: Under a building, under a patio really.

TABOR: Under a condemned building, yes.

O'BRIEN: Will you ever be able to bring them up and bring them to the world, the real thing, not the demos that we have?

JACOBOVICI: Well, right now these are museum quality replicas. They are going to be in a press conference at 11:00 Discovery Times Square. They're going to be on display there.

O'BRIEN: They're beautiful.

JACOBOVICI: And by an act of God the ossuaries from the Jesus tomb happened to be in Manhattan in the same place.

O'BRIEN: Perfect timing.

JACOBOVICI: So --

TABOR: Nothing to do with us. They're just here.

O'BRIEN: That's amazing, instead of the --

JACOBOVICI: And the film of the discovery is going to be on Discovery sometime this spring in the U.S. and vision in Canada.

O'BRIEN: It's -- it's an amazing story. I encourage everybody to read it.

JACOBOVICI: On camera discovery.

O'BRIEN: And thank you for joining us this morning to talk about it.

TABOR: Great.

O'BRIEN: I appreciate it. They're really beautiful.

JACOBOVICI: We really appreciate it.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, the judge who dismissed charges against a Muslim who attacked a man wearing a zombie Mohammed Halloween costume is going to join us. The question of course, is it free speech or just offensive speech?

You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Follow up this morning to a story we first talked about yesterday. A man dressed as the zombie prophet Mohammed -- it was a Halloween costume -- and he's wearing it during a Halloween parade in Pennsylvania last year claimed that he was attacked by another man, a Muslim, who was offended by the costume. It was all caught on tape. And this is the tape you're looking at there. Kind of tough to tell what's going on.

But the man who allegedly assaulted the guy in the parade was originally charged with harassment. The judge though ultimately dismissed the case and then that judge went on to say this according to the defendant's own recording of the trial. Listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think our forefathers intended that we use the First Amendment so that we can speak what's on our mind not to piss off other people and cultures, which is what you did. I think you misinterpreted a couple of things, so before you start mocking somebody else's religion you might want to find out a little bit more about it. It kind of makes you look like a doofus.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: The judge, Mark Martin, joins us now. It's nice to have you, sir. Thank you for being with us. He's a Pennsylvania District Judge. You talked about the First Amendment right. And really ultimately it wasn't really intended to be able to piss off people from other cultures. Because clearly you have an extensive understanding and background of -- of Muslims. You talked a lot about it when you were giving your decision.

Tell me why you felt like you had to explain things to the guy who was originally bringing the case.

MARK MARTIN, DISTRICT JUDGE: Well, this gentleman had made a misstatement when I asked him why he dressed up as Mohammed Zombie. He -- he seemed to have the idea that Mohammed had -- after he died he rose from the dead, walked along the earth as a zombie and then ascended in heaven.

To me that clearly is a misstatement, misunderstanding of the facts so I tried applying some of my training experience I've had as the -- a member of the Armed Forces from 27 years worth of service, three deployments to the Middle East, to try and bridge the understanding gap that he apparently had. My overall intent was trying to reduce conflict between members of my community.

O'BRIEN: So what Jonathan Turley, who is a legal scholar, one of the -- he took exception with a couple of things. One, he was interested in knowing why the original charge wasn't assault. What happened was, of course, the gentleman who's Muslim ended up trying to rip the sign off the guy in the parade and all of it sort of ended up in court.

Why was the original charge not assault, why was it just harassment?

MARTIN: The -- that was police officer's discretion. The definition of harassment in the Pennsylvania crimes code is basically somebody with intent to annoy, alarm, or harass another, subject another to physical -- unwanted physical contact such as pushing, shoving, striking, kicking, things of that nature.

The reason I dismissed that charge was because the Commonwealth failed to prove to me beyond a reasonable doubt that this offense had actually occurred the way that the alleged victim had described it.

O'BRIEN: Why didn't you give the First Amendment lecture? I don't think, you know, because we have the recording, it didn't sound like you chewed them out. You sort of lectured him sternly about First Amendment rights and you gave it to the guy who brought the case, not the gentleman who was watching the parade who tried to rip the sign off the neck guy who was dressed like the prophet Mohammed.

Granted, the costume was offensive, but isn't that his right as an American citizen, to dress in any costume he wants?

MARTIN: Ok. First couple of things, we only know that the defendant attempted to rip the sign off based on the testimony by the alleged victim. I don't know what happened.

O'BRIEN: Ok.

MARTIN: It was not proven to me beyond a reasonable doubt what happened. Second, you're absolutely right. The alleged victim had absolutely a right to dress the way he did. Now just because he can exercise his First Amendment rights doesn't necessarily mean that he should. I think there is a limit to what our free speech consists of.

With our First Amendment rights comes a set of responsibilities to use those rights correctly. I wouldn't advocate ethnic intimidation which this is almost on the edge of becoming. I don't think anyone would accept any kind of ethnic intimidation. Just because you can dress up in a white sheet and a hood doesn't mean you should.

O'BRIEN: Well, I'm sure that there's lots of issues raised when we talk about First Amendment rights. We'll have to continue this conversation.

Judge Mark Martin, we appreciate your time this morning explaining your point of view in this. Thank you very much.

MARTIN: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Our "End Point" is up next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: "End Point," Jen Rogers, what have you got?

JENNIFER ROGERS, AUTHOR, "REUTERS INSIDER": I want to follow up with Ali Velshi. I was in L.A. this weekend and it cost more for me to pay to fill up the car than it did to actually rent the car.

O'BRIEN: Wow.

ROGERS: So gas prices, $5, $6 doesn't seem out of whack.

O'BRIEN: All right. Marc, what have you got.

MARC LAMONT HILL, PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Mitt Romney is the biggest loser tonight. If he wins, he was supposed to win. If he loses the Republican Party is in a big collapse. I love watching all of this. The train wreck is awesome.

O'BRIEN: All right. We're going to have to leave you out this morning.

We go to Deb Feyerick who is going to update us on some breaking news, of course, as we follow this continuing story of this shooting yesterday in Ohio. Hey Deb, good morning.