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CONNECT THE WORLD
Movie Massacre in Colorado; Syrian Rebels Take Control Of Border Crossings With Turkey, Iraq
Aired July 20, 2012 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Terrified witnesses capture a chaotic scene after a gunmen goes on a rampage in the United States. At least 12 people are killed and dozens injured in a shooting at a screening of the latest Batman film near Denver, Colorado.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My sister immediately grabbed my arm and wanted to leave as quick as possible. Yeah, it was terrifying.
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ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.
ANDERSON: Tonight on Connect the World the latest on the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. Also this hour, battle rage in the Syrian capital of Damascus. Rebel fighters claim control of several border crossings.
And the Olympic torch makes a dramatic arrival into London. Now less than seven days to go until the game begin.
It was described as a scene straight out of a horror movie. Moviegoers shot in their seats by a man who burst into a theater in the American state of Colorado. At least 12 people dead and 59 wounded. Let's get to our colleagues in the U.S. for more on this story.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: What is the very latest, Ed?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we have just confirmed with a law enforcement source as to where these four guns were purchased. We have been told by this law enforcement source that all four guns were purchased legally within the last six months.
Two of the guns were purchased at a Bass Pro Shop in the city of Denver. One of the guns was purchased at a Mountain Gander gun store here in the town of Aurora. Another one was purchased at a Gander Mountain store in the town of Thornton, Colorado, as well. Again, the law enforcement source saying that those guns were purchased legally within the last six months. We're also told by that law enforcement source that they had found a drum magazine that was connected to the AR-15 rifle. This would have given James Holmes the ability to shoot about 100 rounds with that magazine, and the source saying obviously that gave him much more capability to fire off many, many rounds once inside that theater.
And, Wolf, what we have learned from talking to witnesses who were inside theater number nine when this shooting erupted in the early morning just before 12:40, just a few minutes after the Batman movie had premiered and started playing in that movie theater, horrifying accounts of what happened. Many people simply felt trapped.
We spoke with one witness who was sitting next to a man who was shot in the chest or gut. The descriptions of what happened in there, Wolf, have simply been horrifying.
BLITZER: Right now, what's the scene like where you are? I assume that investigators are all over the place, certainly over the apartment complex as well.
LAVANDERA: Well, you can imagine it's a horrible scene still inside the movie theater, where investigators are still inside.
According to the police chief here in Aurora who spoke just a few hours ago, many of the bodies, the victims' bodies are still inside that theater while they continue to do their investigative work and do all the ballistic work that they need to do.
And really what they're trying to figure out here is motive. The police chief would not comment on what James Holmes' motive was. And interestingly enough, not a lot of specifics as to how he got into the movie theater. Presuming that that exit door -- witnesses told us he had come into the theater from the exit door, which was just to the right of the movie screen, which led to the outside of the movie theater building.
Presuming that that door is locked from the outside, police not saying exactly how James Holmes could have gotten in there. Did he have help? Did he leave that door propped open at some point? Did he -- to what degree was all this planned out?
BLITZER: Ed, stand by for a moment. I'm going to be coming back to you.
We have got a lot of reporters on the scene right now. Our own Anderson Cooper is in Colorado. He's going to be reporting later tonight, including for us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We're watching all of this unfold. It's been a horrible, horrible day, not only for the people of Aurora, but for all of the people who have been watching all of this unfold...
ANDERSON: Well, you've been listening to Wolf Blitzer there speaking to Ed Lavandera on the scene of what was the shooting in Denver, Colorado. At this hour, as you've heard, police have a suspect in custody. He is identified as James Holmes. And officers are attempting to search his Aurora apartment, but dealing with what they describe as a very sophisticated booby trap.
This cell phone video shows people screaming out of the theater just moments after the shooting, some covered in blood. They'd been watching the latest installment of the Batman franchise, The Dark Knight Rises. And witnesses reported seeing a man firing canisters into the room, then randomly shooting people as he walked up the theater's steps.
Police arrested the man shortly afterwards in a parking lot. Officers said they recovered four guns. The suspect didn't resist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF DAN OATES, AURORA, COLORADO POLICE: He was wearing a ballistic helmet, a tactical ballistic vest, ballistic leggings, a throat protector and a groin protector and a gas mask and black tactical gloves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Once again police identifying the sole suspect as James Holmes, a 24 year old student at the University of Colorado, a PhD candidate who worked in the neurosciences program. He was in the process of withdrawing. That's what we know at this point.
Some of the accounts from eyewitnesses are chilling. Our Kyra Phillips has been taking a listen.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the cell phone video, taken by someone at the scene, showing frantic people fleeing the building, some with blood on their clothes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody kicked in the emergency exit and starting throwing gas grenades and started shooting people at random.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At first it took me a second to realize what was actually going on. And as people were running away, I hit the ground so I wouldn't be hit.
PHILLIPS: At first, some of the moviegoers thought the smoke and gunfire was just a stunt, all a part of the premiere.
JENNIFER SEEGER, WITNESS: He came in and he started lighting a gas can. And he threw it into the crowd. At that point he shot if his fire into the ceiling to scare everybody and they just started scattering and mass chaos just happened.
At that point, he went from here to here and he just pointed the gun at me. I was terrified so I just dove into the aisle. And at that point he started shooting people behind me. And had bullets that were, you know, on my forehead, burning my forehead. And I just told myself I need to get out of here. I need to get out of here.
PHILLIPS: Another witness in the theater next to the one where the shooting took place saw bullets actually coming through the wall. A friend described the gunman to him.
ALEX MILANO, WITNESS: About 6 feel tall, taller than her. Kicked through the door. And he was in like she said a riot helmet. She said he was -- had a bullet proof vest on. You know, she said that he was completely covered in all black with dots. And he -- she said that after that point when she saw that he was holding a shotgun, her and her boyfriend dropped to the floor and just started to crawl to see if they could get away.
They got up and they started to run to the emergency exit. She said that when she turned around all she saw was the guy slowly making his way up the stairs just firing at people, just taking random people.
PHILLIPS: Random people. Shaken, shocked and right in the middle of the gunfire, many of them teenagers like 15-year-old William.
WILLIAM, 15-YEAR-OLD WITNESS: All I saw was a man bust open the entrance of the right corner. And he threw some tear grenades. We were thinking at that point it's part of the show, you know, but then we realized he started shooting us around me. And that when we realized it was serious. There was a lot of screaming. And it was shocking.
PHILLIPS: Outside the movie theater, those who managed to get out safely described the horrifying scene.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we got out of the building, it was just chaos. You saw injured people. There was this one guy who was on all fours crawling. There was this girl spitting up blood. There were bullet holes in some people's backs, some people's arms. There was this one guy who was stripped down to just like his boxers, it looked like he had been shot like in the back or something. It was crazy.
PHILLIPS: Kyra Phillips, CNN, Atlanta.
ANDERSON: Well, U.S. President Barack Obama described the attack as evil, senseless and beyond reason, called for a moment of silence for the victims and asked people to step aside conflicts and embrace their families.
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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If there's anything to take away from this crash it's a reminder that life is very fragile, our time here is limited and it is precious. And what matters at the end of the day is not the small things, it's not the trivial things which so often consume us and our daily lives, ultimately it's how we choose to treat one another and how we love one another.
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ANDERSON: The Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said he and his wife were deeply saddened by what he described as senseless violence.
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MITT ROMNEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I stand before you today not as a man running for office, but as a father and grandfather, husband, an American. This is a time for each of us to look into our hearts and remember how much we love one another, how much we love and how much we care for our great country. There's so much love and goodness in the heart of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Still to come this hour here on CNN, Americans and firearms, how liberal gun laws continue to polarize the U.S. society.
ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson out of London. Welcome back.
We've got a lot more this hour on the mass shooting inside a crowded movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Police say this man, 24-year-old James Holmes, a University of Colorado graduate student, was heavily armed when he opened fire during a packed midnight screening of the Batman movie the Dark Knight Rises. The toll at this hour, 12 dead, 59 wounded. The scene total chaos as the gunman entered the theater through the exit door not long after the movie started, tossed what appears to be a tear gas canister and started shooting at anyone in sight. The magnitude of the horror unfolded as police rushed to the scene.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've got another person out just shot in the leg, a female. I've got people running out of the theater, they're shot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need gas masks for theater 9, we can't get in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need rescue inside the auditorium, multiple victims.
UNIDENTIIFED MALE: 16, we've got seven down in theater 9. Seven down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got a child victim. I need rescue at the back door of theater 9 now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: 14 hours after the shooting, police are still having trouble searching the suspects apartment. Police say the place is booby trapped with sophisticated tripwires and possible explosives. We've learned that all of the guns allegedly used in this shooting were legally purchased.
Let's get more inside from Steve Rogers, shall we? A retired police lieutenant and a former member of the FBI joint terrorism task force.
This, Steve, is what we know at this point. The suspect, James Holmes, had the following weapons on him in that theater: a 12 gauge shotgun, a AK-47 assault rifle, and two handguns. And they were legally purchased. How does that happen?
STEVE ROGERS, FRM. FBI TASK FORCE MEMBER: Becky, let me say this to you. The 40 years that I've been a police officer, indeed I've seen an increase in violence, but not with guns. Look, it's very difficult to prevent something like this from happening, unless he said something to somebody and they didn't warn us. But let me say this, obviously the anti- gun lobby is going to focus on the guns. And I believe, because I've seen it over my years as a police officer, that we've become a violent society. I hard the mayor of that city this morning ask parents to talk to their children.
Well, you know what, parents needs to talk to parents. We're being fed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with violence after violence after violence with television, radio and video games. So as a nation we need to reflect on ourselves.
ANDERSON; What of the 24 year old, PhD student at the University of Colorado wants with guns of that caliber? That's the question I think our viewers want answering tonight. How can he legally purchase them? What does he need them for?
ROGERS: Well, you know what, they purchase them for hunting. They purchase them for whatever reasons. And I could agree with you on one point. I do have some feelings about making assault rifles readily available to people, but that's the law of the land, that's the second amendment of the United States. They have a right to bear arms. And the question is what do they need them for? Well, that's their personal business.
However, I could tell you this that I really don't believe the problem is just guns, I believe it's a societal problem. And what we need to do is to reflect on where we're going on this society when it comes to violence. And it -- what we're doing, I'll tell you this, between the courts being lenient on criminals and the violence being fed to generation after generation, well guess what, we're feeling it right now.
ANDERSON: I just want to set this thing in context for some of our viewers around the world. The United States not only has more guns than any other country, it has more, Steve, per capita. Take a look at just how much more, viewers, 270 million firearms are known to be in circulation. That comes out to nearly 1 for every man, woman, and child who lives there, 89 for every 100 people. Yemen is a distant second with 55 per 100, followed by Switzerland and Finland. And those numbers coming to us from the group SmallArmsSurvey.org.
It does seem absolutely remarkable. I hear what you're saying, but will anything change after what is the largest mass shooting in U.S. history?
ROGERS: Well, what -- first of all, just to get back to your statistics, that shows I think all of us that most people, at least in the United States, are responsible gun owners. We don't have the wild west every day here. But to answer your question about will anything change, what we need to change is not a political problem, it's not a political issue -- I'm sorry, we need to change the way we look at our society and what we're teaching our children, what we're feeding our children.
As a nation, we need to come together and perhaps in some cases look at Hollywood and say, you know what, enough is enough. Let's kind of tone down the violence and become a little bit more civil when it comes to whether it be speaking to each other or watching television or listening to radio.
ANDERSON: Steve, a pleasure, thanks for joining us. Steve Rogers out of New York for you this evening on a story that is fast moving. Still, details about the suspect still coming in. And police are still attempting to search his home, which they describe as a sophisticated booby trap.
Also coming up, other stories that we are following for you this hour here on CNN, of course, Syrian rebels claim to have seized key border crossings in Turkey and Iraq. We'll bring you the latest on the developing conflict there. You're watching Connect the World here on CNN. Stay with us.
ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. Welcome back.
Here's what we know this hour, after 12 moviegoers were killed during a shooting inside a theater showing the latest Batman film in Colorado. Police attempting to search the suspect's apartment in Aurora are dealing with what they describe as a very sophisticated booby trap. The lone suspect has been identified as James Holmes, a 24-year-old student at the University of Colorado.
59 people were wounded during the attack where this is reported. The gunman bursting through the door firing canisters and then shooting people in their seats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TANNER COON, WITNESS: When we heard the gunner stop for a long period of time, I saw some people starting to run and didn't hear anymore shots so I was like we need to go, we need to go. I stood up, kind of noticed somebody on the side who was just sitting there still kind of drooped over. And I was like OK he's gone -- I mean, he's dead. And then I -- I was in the fourth row from the back. I went to the third row to get to the exit. And I slipped on some blood, fell on a lady. And I saw her heels and everything. I shook her and I was like we've got to go. We've got to get out of here. And there was no response. She didn't -- so I presumed she was dead. And I just got myself out of there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: More on this story in about six or seven minutes time here on CNN. Before that, a look at some of the other stories that are connecting our world this evening.
And it's been another bloody day in Syria this Friday. Opposition fighters said government helicopters were shelling Damascus suburbs and gunfire and explosions we heard there. The military has vowed to cleanse the capital of terrorist, this after five straight days of clashes. At least 180 people have been reported killed nationwide.
Meanwhile, rebel fighters have claimed control of several border crossings with Iraq as well as the border with Turkey. CNN's Ivan Watson is on the Turkish, Syrian border and filed this report.
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A trickle of travelers are coming here to Turkey through this border gate that leads to Syria, a border gate that has been the scene of fighting between rebels and Syrian government forces for two days now. The rebels claim they captured the gate, the Bab al-Hawa border gate for a short period of Thursday and filmed what could be described as victory video trophies there as they destroyed portraits of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. But then had to withdrawal under fire from Syrian government forces.
On Friday now, the travelers who are coming through have described that the main gates of Bab al-Hawa appears to be in the control of the rebels and that the travelers coming through aren't even having to get their passports stamped on the Syrian side before they come in to Turkey.
Now this coincides with a rebel move towards the Iraqi border, the strategic border gate to Iraq called Albo Kamal. There, Iraqi government officials say the rebels have been in charge now and controlling that border gate for the second straight day. Inside Syria, opposition activists holding demonstrations against the Syrian government as is the practice on Friday. But the new theme is victory for Ramadan, especially in Damascus.
And here the government and the opposition differ as well. On the start of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, the opposition says it starts on Friday, the government is insisting that it begins on Saturday. And as people demonstrated against the government in one northern town called Binish (ph) just a few minutes drive away the town of Sarakat (ph) was reeling after a deadly clash with government forces left at least 25 people dead due to artillery strikes throughout the evening on Thursday.
Ivan Watson, CNN, at the Turkish/Syrian border.
ANDERSON: Well, the bodies of the five Israelis killed in a bus bombing in Bulgaria have now arrived home. Soldiers carried the coffins off the plane at Tel Aviv airport earlier today. The suicide attack occurred on Wednesday on a tourist bus just outside Bergas International Airport. Bulgaria's interior minister has said investigators are working around the clock to identify the suspects.
EuroZone finance ministers have now approved the terms of a bailout for Spain's embattled banks. They've also agreed to set aside additional $36 billion in emergency funds, but despite aid, Spanish stocks plunging today, at the end of the trading down almost 6 percent. In addition, one of the country's biggest regions, Valencia, has said it needs financial help from Madrid, putting an even greater burden on the government already stretched finances.
And a 20 year veteran of International Monetary Fund has accused the organization of failing Europe. In a damning farewell letter obtained exclusively by CNN, Pete Doyle says the IMF could and should have warned European leaders of the euro crisis before it blew up. He also criticizes the selection of the firms first female managing director, Christine Lagarde, whom he describes as tainted.
Well, a grand entry into London this evening for the Olympic torch. It arrived in the capital, the final stage of its long journey before the torch made its way to the tower of London in style. Royal Marine Martin Williams abseiled down a 54 meter line from a helicopter. He was injured in Afghanistan in 2008.
In the coming weeks, torch bearers will carry the flame through the streets of London before it finally takes its place at the opening ceremony in the Olympic Park. Less than seven days to go.
Still to come on Connect the World, we're going to head back to Colorado for you following the largest shooting in U.S. history and discuss why gun control in America is such a polarizing issue. Your headlines following this.
ANDERSON: A very warm welcome to our viewers in Europe and across the world. I'm Becky Anderson, these are the latest world news headlines from CNN.
We're learning more about the alleged gunman in the Colorado mass shooting. Police say James Holmes tossed teargas into a crowded movie theater before opening fire. Police say all of the weapons used in the shooting were legally purchased over the past month.
The Syrian military claims it has regained control of parts of Damascus after five days of straight clashes. More than 180 people have been reported killed nationwide today. Meanwhile, a funeral was held for three top Syrian officials killed in Wednesday's bombing.
The International Monetary Fund has been severely criticized by one of its top economists. In an open letter to the executive board, Peter Doyle said he was ashamed to work for the Fund. He claimed its lack of decisive action has left the euro on the brink.
And funerals are being held for the five Israeli tourists killed Wednesday in a bus bombing in Bulgaria. The bodies of five victims arrived in Tel Aviv earlier today. Bulgarian investigators are still working to identify the attacker.
All right, let's get you back to Aurora, Colorado for the very latest from there. CNN's Ed Lavandera joins me live. And details emerging, Ed, on who this suspect is, what he was wearing, and the guns and ammunition that he used in this deadly shooting.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, all indications, Becky, are that this at some level was a very well-planned out attack by 24-year-old James Holmes.
Authorities here tell us that he was wearing protective gear, ballistic gear, basically from head to toe and a gas mask, walked into the theater that you see behind me just before 12:40 in the morning, the movie "Batman: Dark Knight Rises" had just started playing, launched in two canisters that sent off some sort of irritant, and then began firing away.
Authorities also tell us that they found four weapons, a hand gun, an assault rifle, and a shotgun, as well -- as well as another hand gun. And we've now learned that those weapons, we've been told by a law enforcement source, were purchased legally within the last six months here in the Denver, Colorado area. So, authorities still trying to track down, kind of get the background on that weaponry.
But now what authorities here, Becky, are doing as well is the situation at the suspect's apartment. Essentially, from what we understand, he had set up booby traps inside his apartment. Authorities have been spending the great part of this day trying to get inside.
The extent and the power to which these explosives are located inside his house, they don't know, but they're proceeding with caution before they can continue to investigate who James Holmes is, but they can't get into his apartment right now, Becky.
ANDERSON: How long do they expect before they'll be able to get in, Ed?
LAVANDERA: It kind of just depends on -- they need to figure out exactly what they're dealing with. They don't know the extent to just how dangerous the explosives or the weaponry that is inside that house might be, and until they do that, they just have to proceed very cautiously.
So, they say that that could take a couple of hours, it could take days to get in there. That's where we are right now with that part of the investigation, which is not too far away from where we are here.
ANDERSON: Ed Lavandera in Colorado for you. What we understand is that the suspect will appear in court on Monday.
During a radio interview following this attack, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg called on both US presidential candidates, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, to tackle gun violence. Have a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR, NEW YORK CITY: You know, I -- soothing words are nice, but maybe it's time that the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they're going to do about it.
Because this is obviously a problem across the country, and everybody always says, "Isn't it tragic?" And we look for was the guy, as you said, maybe re -- trying to recreate Batman. I mean, there are so many murders with guns every day, it's just got to stop.
And instead of these -- the two people, President Obama and Governor Romney, talking in broad things about they want to make the world a better place, OK, tell us how. And this is a real problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Michael Bloomberg says it's got to stop. Well, these shootings are already rekindling that debate over gun control in the United States, with some critics saying President Obama has largely ignored what is a polarizing issue.
Well, let's get to CNN's political director, Mark Preston, in our Washington Bureau for more on that. Mark, what are President Obama and Mitt Romney saying today, at least?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, today, they certainly decided to suspend campaigning today, which was the smart thing to do. They both came out and made public statements, acknowledged that politics was not something to be discussed, certainly not today.
Becky, I will tell you, it probably will not be discussed for the next few days. The two candidates decided to pull down campaign ads that were running -- negative campaign ads that were running in Colorado. They offered their prayers for the family, but they didn't offer any specifics to the subject that you are talking about, and that is the whole issue of gun control.
ANDERSON: What are the latest polls telling us on how Americans view gun control, out of interest?
PRESTON: Well -- and this is the reason why we don't see the presidential candidates speaking very much about it -- if you take a look at this Pew poll that was conducted a few months ago, it shows how divided Americans are right now, Becky, on the whole issue of gun control, right down the middle.
If you were to look at those numbers, only 45 percent of Americans believe that there should be more control when it comes to gun policy, certainly, laws to control the ownership of guns, while 49 percent do not want strict guns -- strict laws concerning the guns.
But when you look at the partisan political breakdown, it just shows you how the divide widens, right there, between Democrats and Republicans. Let's take a quick look at those numbers right there.
Of Republicans, 72 percent are more inclined to say that they do not want strict laws here in the United States regarding the ownership of guns while 27 percent of Democrats would agree with them on that. So, you're talking about almost 70 percent of Democrats right there that would like to see stronger gun laws in place.
ANDERSON: Sadly, this isn't the first time, nor will it be the last time, I'm afraid, that we see a deadly, deadly event like this. To your mind -- in your experience, has anything ever changed after these mass shooting events?
PRESTON: No. And I think you're right. So, today the discussion will be all about gun control, and it's something we'll see over the next 72 hours, maybe the next week. But if you were to look at what the American public is most concerned about right now, it is not the issue of gun control.
In fact, we did a poll for CNN just a few weeks ago, where we asked what were some of the major issues, Becky. And I will tell you, only 22 percent of Americans said that gun policy in general was important to their vote.
But even after major incidents, such as the shooting we saw in Columbine, Colorado, where so many young people were killed, or at Virginia Tech in Virginia, where so many young people were killed, it doesn't necessarily change people's minds about where we are on the whole issue.
ANDERSON: So, when Michael Bloomberg says this is just got to stop, he's -- he's talking to deaf ears, is he?
PRESTON: Well, in many ways. But Michael Bloomberg is also a leader of a big campaign here in the United States and, in fact, is using some of his own money to try to have stricter hand gun laws in place.
But Becky, part of the problem that he is facing is the fact that the National Rifle Association is very powerful here in the United States. They have over 4 million members. They're very active politically, they have a lot of control here in Washington.
And I will tell you that the National Rifle Association is very much committed to trying to defeat President Obama in November. They don't see him as somebody who is supportive of their plan or their idea that there shouldn't be strict gun laws.
So, while President Obama is being criticized even by those on the left, by liberals, for not doing enough for -- to enact stricter gun laws, the fact of the matter is, the NRA really would like to see President Obama defeated.
ANDERSON: Mr. Preston, it's a pleasure. Thank you for joining us out of Washington for you this evening.
Well, coming up, it's something most of us can't fathom, so what is it that motivates a person to commit mass murder? I'm going to have a chat to a psychologist here to discuss that very issue. That coming up after this.
ANDERSON: A recap of tonight's top story for you. A gunman shot teargas and opened fire at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie in the US state of Colorado. Officials say he brought at least four guns into this theater, 12 people are dead, 59 are wounded.
The suspect, identified as James Holmes, is currently in police custody. He was arrested outside the movie theater. Authorities say he didn't resist arrest. When police went to search his apartment, they found what they are describing as a very sophisticated booby trap inside.
Well, we only know a few details about the suspect. His name is James Holmes, he's a 24-year-old PhD candidate in neuroscience at the University of Colorado. We'll be talking with a psychologist about what might have motivated such an attack in a moment.
First, though, we want to look at the mental health of others who have engaged in similarly violent acts. In 2007, 23-year-old student Cho Seung- Hui murdered 32 people in a shooting at Virginia Tech college in the US. He was ordered to undergo mental evaluation two years prior to that attack after making suicidal comments to his roommates.
In late 2009, US army psychologist Nidal Hasan opened fire at an army base in Texas, killing 13 and wounding dozens more. A military review later labeled him as a smoking gun and said that several colleagues were alarmed by his extremist views and, quote, "odd behavior."
Last July, right-wing Christian extremist Anders Breivik killed 69 people on Utoya Island in Norway. Police said initially he was insane, finding him paranoid and schizophrenic, but a later evaluation by experts said he was, in fact, sane and not suffering from any psychiatric conditions.
I take a moment to bring you these live pictures out of New York's iconic Times Square, heightened security in front of a theater showing the latest Batman movie in the coming hours this evening.
All right. That's New York tonight. You're in London with us, and I want to delve deeper into the psychological aspect of these shootings. The governor of Colorado had this to say about the suspect James Holmes' mental state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), COLORADO: This is the act, apparently, of a very deranged mine. This is a safe city in a safe state in a safe country. And we need to recognize that we can't allow people that are aberrations of nature to take away the joys and freedoms that we enjoy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Joining me now is Dr. Jennifer Wild, a clinical psychologist based her in London. It's always very sad when we have to do these stories and have to start looking into why somebody would be motivated to do what James Holmes did today.
JENNIVER WILD, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: James is a very disturbed young man. This was premeditated. We know that he was studying for a PhD and he was starting to withdraw from that program, so it could have been a sense of extreme failure and shame, which may have motivated him, or would have been one of the contributing factors to go out and prove himself in this way.
He certainly intended to survive the attack, which is different to some of the other people we may be speaking about, but certainly motivated -- one of the contributing factors would be a sense of failure and shame.
ANDERSON: To your mind and with your experience, what would the police -- what would the police be talking to him about at this stage? This is 14 hours after the event.
WILD: They'll be asking him specifics about the plans that he made that led up to what then unfolded, what was going through his mind, what he intended, because he'll be wanting to look at the extent of the catastrophe that he wanted to inflict. So, they'll be looking at that.
They'll also be starting to look at the -- get a psychologist in talking to him about his relationships, what was going on at school, drugs, alcohol, that sort of thing.
ANDERSON: He dyed his hair red and told police that he was the Joker, alluding to the Batman character. Your thoughts.
WILD: The Joker. So, this can happen in these sorts of killings where people want to emulate someone. And in this case, he may want to be emulating the Joker. So again, coming from his background of failing at neuroscience and wanting to then make a statement in which he's quite confident, like the Joker, that may be part of what's going on for him.
ANDERSON: Would people at his college, would his friends, his family, perhaps his teachers -- what might they have done to have spotted some sense of insanity?
WILD: It's so difficult to spot in these characters because they don't talk about it. They're not always open about it. Unless he had talked to people about his plans, nobody would have known. They would have known that maybe he was struggling with neuroscience. He was deciding to withdraw.
Some of the triggering factors includes chronic sleep deprivation, use of alcohol and drugs, starting to withdraw, some different sorts of behavior. So, if he was starting to evidence these types of behaviors with his friends at university, then it just highlights to people that there's been a change.
But unless he has a history of violence, it's really hard to pinpoint --
ANDERSON: Which, of course, he doesn't.
WILD: No, he doesn't.
ANDERSON: The police have said that the only history that they have of him is a speeding fine, I believe, some years ago. This, though, was pre-planned. He must have spent some time organizing himself for this.
WILD: A lot of time organizing, a lot of time booby-trapping his flat. A lot of time thinking about what he was going to do.
ANDERSON: What do you read into that story? Yes, because that's an investigation that's ongoing at the moment. The police say this is a sophisticated booby-trap.
WILD: Well, it makes me quite concerned about his mental health. This is sort of the characteristics we might see with someone with a severe psychotic episode, really feeling quite paranoid about people ganging up against him.
And maybe that was part of what had to do with his withdrawing from university, and really starting to plan a revenge attack, because of his distorted perception of what people are trying to do to him.
ANDERSON: Is he aware of what he's doing when he physically enters that theater and opens fire, killing 12 and wounding 59?
WILD: It's difficult to say without having assessed mental health. But he -- it does sound as though he had planned this for some time, so there would be some awareness of what it would have caused.
ANDERSON: The place was full of kids and young people. Would that make a difference?
WILD: to whether or not he carries it out?
WILD: Well, it gives him more of a sense of power because he's wounded and made people quite helpless, and people are less likely to be able to protect themselves the younger they are. And it's much more tragic. It's tragic anyway, but when babies and children are hurt --
ANDERSON: Clinical psychologist Jennifer Wild with me here in the studio. Thank you.
You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. When we come back, what London can learn from the Colorado theater attack. We have Mayor Boris Johnson's response. Stay with us.
ANDERSON: There is just one week until the Olympic Opening Ceremony in London, and the tragedy in Colorado is a sobering reminder that lone wolf attacks do happen.
Earlier, I spoke to London's mayor Boris Johnson, and I asked him what contingency plans are in place for every eventuality.
BORIS JOHNSON, MAYOR, LONDON: Well, in common with everybody else, we're shocked at what's happened. But we do everything in our power to maximize security at the venues, and that's working well now. The army -- the military personnel together with G4S are providing a very safe environment on the site.
Plus, there is a huge amount of work that nobody sees involving the intelligence services. You'll be familiar, I'm sure, with some of the preparation, they've been well-publicized, the surface-to-air missiles in the vicinity of the park, all sorts of contingencies have been made in the event of an attack of one kind or another.
ANDERSON: Doesn't stop somebody slipping into a cinema, does it?
JOHNSON: At no stage can you guarantee that someone won't do something moronic, violent, stupid, and tragic, not just in London, but after all, the whole of the UK is a potential target during this period, if you imagine that we are in the eyes of the world.
If you think back to what happened in 2005 when the great summit was taking place in Gleneagles in Scotland, and everybody was up there, all the police were up there. The attack actually took place in London.
So, yes of course you can never be complacent about these things. But at the moment, just for the reassurance of your viewers, the intelligence is as reassuring as it could be under the circumstances. The threat level has, if anything, slightly come down as far as we can tell in the last 12 months or so. But no one's taking any chances.
ANDERSON: Mayor Boris Johnson. Well, as the mayor and I were discussing, the buildup to the Games has been overshadowed by a security fiasco. After security firm G4S fell short in providing enough guards, extra troops will be brought in to pick up the slack. Dan Rivers has the very latest on the Olympic security situation.
DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the image the British government wants to portray on Olympic security, an unprecedented show of strength. Missiles around the capital, warships on the Thames, and aircraft on standby.
But there's also this: chaos as private security firm G4S struggles to train more than 10,000 guards for Olympic venues and fails miserably.
DAVID WINNICK, BRITISH MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: It's a humiliating shambles, isn't it?
NICK BUCKLES CEO, G4S: I cannot disagree with you.
RIVERS: We caught up with some G4S recruits in East London who were equally candid about the disorganization of the company.
KALI TURNER, G4S TRAINEE: Lots of people have just given up, and they already have their accreditation and travel passes for around London, they already have their uniform, and they've just quit because G4S has just been a complete mess.
RIVERS: One week to go and many of these young recruits still don't know where they'll be working. Some are still waiting to complete their training and get their accreditation and uniforms. Most are students or long-term unemployed. Under the current security structure, these staff are not under the command of the police.
But former senior policeman Tarique Ghaffur says that's a mistake. He drew up the initial Olympic security plan before leaving the force and says multiple private security firms should have been used, overseen by the police, not Olympic organizers.
TARIQUE GHAFFUR, FORMER ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER, METROPOLITAN POLICE: I very strongly now believe that there should be one single person who, in fact -- a uniform person, who in fact should be in charge, and that should be the reference point at which everything from routine security incidents all the way through emergencies should actually go to.
RIVERS: The man who is now coordinating Olympic security says that criticism is unfair.
CHRIS ALLISON, ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER, METROPOLITAN POLICE: I tightly reject what Mr. Ghaffur has said in relations to the command and control arrangements. What we're using for Games time is what we use day in, day out across the country. It's very successful, it delivers major sporting events every single day.
RIVERS: The army has stepped in to plug the gap. Thousands of extra troops have been mobilized, meaning about 17,000 are now involved securing the Games. They're being required to work closely with the police imbedded in every part of the police operation, including the London Security Control Center for the Olympics.
RIVERS (on camera): This is the Olympics security nerve center for London, with 20,000 cameras, 8,000 more than normal, and up to 300 staff who are able to monitor just about every inch of all of the Olympic venues.
RIVERS (voice-over): And if they do spot something, the men and women here have a formidable arsenal to call on. Typhoon jets at RAF Northolt to the northwest of London are on standby to intercept any aircraft trying to breach the strict air exclusion zone around the Olympic Village.
DAN BEST, RAF SNIPER: We've got a sharpshooter and a number one behind it to take the shot, if needs be.
RIVERS: That, of course, is the worst-case scenario in the air, but when it comes to securing the perimeter of the Olympic venues on the ground, the contingency plans have already been tested by the failure of G4S, and the Games haven't even begun yet.
Dan Rivers, CNN, London.
ANDERSON: And some news just coming into CNN: a federal law enforcement source with detailed knowledge of the investigation in Colorado -- 12 dead, remember, 59 injured in a shooting in a movie cinema -- tells CNN's Susan Candiotti investigators at Charles (sic) Holmes' apartment facing a multitude of hazards as they attempt to enter.
Among the hazards listed by the source were booby-traps and trip wires plus hazardous materials, including several gasoline containers. More on this in the coming -- in the coming hours. That'll be James Holmes, my mistake, of course, the name of the suspect in this mass shooting in Colorado.
I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching. The world news headlines up after this short break.