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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

James Holmes' First Court Appearance; Victim's Brother Speaks out; Gun Control Debate

Aired July 23, 2012 - 19:00   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon in Aurora, Colorado, in for Erin Burnett tonight who is on assignment in Africa.

OUTFRONT tonight, our first glimpse of a suspected mass murderer, James Holmes, the man suspected of killing 12 people and wounding 58 others in a packed movie theater on Friday appeared in court today, with bright red hair and dramatic facial expressions, he looked like he was out of it at times.

He looked blankly up and down and staring into space at times. And it looked like a man who was out of it. And for the first time, we're hearing about this neuroscience student. But we're about to hear his voice for the first time. We did not hear him in court.

This is Holmes speaking at a science camp in San Diego from 2006. He's 18 years old in this video obtained by "ABC News". And here he talks about a shared interest with a mentor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He also studied subjective experience, which is what take place inside the mind as opposed to the external world. I carry on his work in dealing (ph) with subjective experience.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And in jail a just-released inmate told the New York "Daily News" he saw Holmes spitting at guards and at the door of his cell. Tonight he is under a suicide watch and in solitary confinement. Also for the very first time today we heard from the suspect's parents.

A lawyer for the family saying the parents did not want to address their relationship with their son but they do stand by him. Investigators are also scouring Holmes' apartment after a robot detonated an explosive over the weekend. And while the evidence may seem overwhelming and there are no other suspects in this case that we know of, the DA says she's not taking anything for granted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAROL CHAMBERS, ARAPAHOE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I would say there's no such thing as a slam dunk case. It is a case where we will -- we're still looking at the enormous amount of evidence and we would never presume that it would be slam dunk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And prosecutors say -- they also say it could be months before they decide whether to seek the death penalty. CNN's Ed Lavandera joins me now. So Ed, it's very interesting to se him in court with that bright red hair, almost looking like someone who was possibly medicated or hadn't slept a lot. Paint us a picture of what it was like for everyone to get their glimpse of Holmes today.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was tough, I would imagine, for many people who were intently watching this. You know he appeared as you know some sort of comic book character emerging in that courtroom. But I think after everyone got over the shock of seeing the red hair, the attention really turned to his demeanor. And I think people were just stunned by his complete dazed look, bewilderment at times, confused.

He appeared sedated and completely out of it in many ways. It led to a lot of speculation throughout the day that perhaps he might have been medically sedated by authorities here in the jail in Arapahoe County. We've reached out to the sheriff's office that is in charge of that jail. They say they cannot tell us whether or not he's been medically sedated or given anything. So you know the speculation will have to continue.

But I think many people were kind of stunned by that. All of this of course, Don, significant because since he was arrested in the early morning hours of Friday, the authorities here in Colorado had refused to release his mug shot. So this was the first time that we were going to be able to get a glimpse of him and we knew very well that he was going to look very different from the pictures that we were able to initially get of James Holmes.

So you know that's what a lot of people were looking towards. Also looking for some kind of clue, some kind of signal about what is going on in his head.

LEMON: Absolutely. And also under that sort of burgundy prison suit that you see there, he's wearing a bulletproof vest, Ed. You know there were a number of victims' families in the court. I spoke to some of them. You spoke to some of them. What are they saying to you about the man accused of killing their loved ones tonight?

LAVANDERA: Well I was struck I think by one of the comments that one of the victims' relatives mentioned that had he looked like a, quote, "pathetic freak". Others were saying that look, I have no desire to look at him, talk about him, give him any more fame than he's already gotten over these last three days. So those are some of the snapshots and glimpses of emotions and reaction we're getting to what we saw today.

LEMON: And you know he had to be brought in, Ed, through an underground tunnel that they had there between the detention center and also the courthouse. And they're taking every single precaution that they can. Security is really at the utmost here. LAVANDERA: There's no question. I mean there is no single more high-profile case and more intense situation than what is going on with this particular inmate. There's a great deal of scrutiny. Anything that happens to him in custody would you know create a big situation that obviously officials and authorities here in Colorado have no interest in dealing with. So it's in their best interest to make sure that he's protected from the general population in the jail that nothing at all happens to him. And so you know that is a big issue for them.

LEMON: Ed Lavandera we appreciate your reporting tonight. Thank you.

So where does this case go from here? The top prosecutor, her name is Carol Chambers. She is tough. She's controversial. She is a staunch supporter of the death penalty and she doesn't shy away from the spotlight.

OUTFRONT tonight, a reporter who has covered her career. His name is Alan Prendergast. He's from "Westword Newspaper". He is at the Centennial Colorado Courthouse -- he's right here with me as a matter of fact, standing by with me here -- and from New York, legal contributor Paul Callan. Thank you both gentlemen for joining us tonight.

Paul, I'm going to start with you. Do the term limits, Chambers is out of office in January, so how far will this case even get under her watch?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, under Colorado law, she has to make a decision about whether she's going to seek the death penalty within 60 days of the arraignment in the case. And the arraignment could take place as early as next month, so -- I'm sorry, next week. So it's quite possible that she will make the decision. And I would also say, given her prior history and I'm sure we can talk about that in terms of the politics of it that she probably would be someone who would want to make that decision. She's made death penalty decisions many times in the past.

LEMON: And Alan Prendergast (ph), since Chambers is finishing up her term soon, how much of an effect can she really have on this case because the election will be in November. January, she'll be out. So how much on this high-profile case?

(CROSSTALK)

ALAN PRENDERGAST, STAFF WRITER, WESTWORD NEWSPAPER: She can certainly lay the groundwork for a capital case and among all the DAs in Colorado she's shown the least reluctance to file those kinds of charges. The problem is number one she will be gone in six months. And number two, not all of her cases have been successful. There have certainly been a lot of questions raised about the way she approaches the death penalty.

LEMON: Yes. You say that she is controversial. Tell me about some of her tactics. I hear that she you know starts billing cases that were part of her cases in the county she'd bill them to the state?

PRENDERGAST: This was a case involving two inmates at the state prison who were charged with murder of another inmate. She essentially wanted the state to pay for the prosecution under a very obscure statute that says the state should pay for crimes prosecuted in prison. But that case, one of those two defendants was ultimately acquitted, which I mean I can't think of another death penalty case where the defendant was acquitted.

LEMON: I also read that she's timed judges' breaks and --

PRENDERGAST: She's had -- she's had issues with judges. She's had issues with some police witnesses. You know she's had issues with disclosures in her office that should have been made and appeals raised on things where it seemed like the prosecution team was cutting corners. It may be that you know if the victims really want resolution here, you want someone who's a little more measured and isn't going to create quite as many appeal problems.

LEMON: All right. Paul, listen, despite the evidence, Chambers refused to say that this case was a slam dunk. She didn't want to say that. She said I don't want to say this is a slam dunk. Listen you have one victim here who is under 12 years old, 6 years old, as a matter of fact. Is she sort of hedging here?

CALLAN: She doesn't want to look unseemly in saying that a death penalty case is a slam dunk. I mean let's look at what she has. She has a theater full of witnesses who presumably can identify the defendant. She has the defendant's apartment thoroughly wired to be an enormous bomb. She has all kinds of forensic evidence linking him to the purchase of the ammunition that was used. This is a slam dunk.

So if you can't get a conviction on this fact pattern, you might as well give up the practice of law. Now, the death penalty is a different matter. Depending upon who sits on this jury, there are some jurors who may have conscientious objections and don't want to hand down a death penalty sentence. She could lose that part and wind up with life in prison. But, please, this is a very, very strong case.

LEMON: Yes, all but the smoking gun, really. And you can say, yes, they found him with the smoking gun. Listen Colorado has the death penalty, Paul, three people currently on death row. Chambers put two of them there. And here is what she said today about consulting the victims before deciding on the death penalty. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHAMBERS: If the death penalty is sought, that's a very long process that impacts their lives for years. And so they will want to have -- and we will want to get their input before we make any kind of a decision on that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: From what you know, Alan, about her, do you think that she will -- is going to decide upon this case, upon the families' wishes or do you think she's already made up her mind?

PRENDERGAST: I think she'll take the families into consideration. But I do think that -- I would be very surprised if she didn't seek the death penalty in light of her track record.

LEMON: Including the death penalty here, does that complicate things, Paul?

CALLAN: Yes, it does because on the one hand, you've got to obtain a conviction in the underlying charge. And then there's an entire second trial, really, on the issue of whether the death penalty is appropriate. You know you started the sentiment with that film of Holmes, you know when he was younger giving that speech at a science camp. That sort of thing will be used to try to humanize him and say that this is some bizarre aberration possibly caused by mental illness. So it really -- it does create a whole second level of trial, but nonetheless, given the number of victims and given the nature of this atrocity, it does seem like a case that almost any prosecutor would wind up ultimately seeking the death penalty in.

LEMON: Paul, Alan, thank you both very much. Thank you gentlemen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nice being with you, Don.

LEMON: Not everyone wanted to be in that courtroom today. Not all the family members wanted to be there. We're going to speak to one of them next, one of them who's making arrangements for his dead sister.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Our second story OUTFRONT tonight not all of the victims' family members wanted to be in the courtroom today when James Holmes made his first appearance. Many found it, quite frankly, too painful. Our next guest says he didn't go because he was so angry he might lash out.

Jordan Ghawi's sister, Jessica, a 24-year-old aspiring sportscaster was killed in that theater. And Jordan is OUTFRONT with us tonight. Jordan welcome back to the program. Thank you so much. It is obviously painful for you and for your family and you intentionally skipped the hearing. Why?

JORDAN GHAWI, BROTHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM JESSICA GHAWI: Like you said, I was afraid that I may have done something stupid and detracted from the victims' story and let some anger that's recently arisen come out of me and directed to him.

LEMON: Yes. You said it would haven't done you any good beyond you just worrying about lashing out, you don't think it would have done any good for you to have been there. It didn't help the process, in the process of trying to heal at all for you to see him. GHAWI: Right, I mean this guy is a coward. His face is all over the television. Why do I need to see it in person? I don't want to look into the eyes of the man who took away my sister and 11 other lives.

LEMON: He was acting strangely. You could see it there on the videotape. What would you like to see happen to him, Jordan?

GHAWI: Full force of the justice system come down on him. I don't believe for a second that this guy is sitting there acting aloof, pretending like he's not knowing what's going on. This guy is a neuroscientist. He's not an idiot. He's just a coward and a genius and he's trying to manipulate the system and manipulate the American public into thinking that this might be some sort of mental illness. The justice system will prevail and he'll spend the rest of his life in a jail cell.

LEMON: You and I spoke about your family today. I've been trying to get in touch with your mother. I haven't had a chance to speak to her. How is your mother doing now?

GHAWI: She's doing a little bit better today than the past few days, only because she's had family and friends that have been constantly surrounding her and remembering Jessica by telling stories and just reliving her life and discussing what we can do from this point further to recognize those dreams of hers and make them a reality for those who would like to be in the same field of sports journalism.

LEMON: I have to ask you this. You're making plans to lay your sister to rest with a memorial service on Saturday. We understand that she's going to be cremated and then you're going to carry her remains back to Texas. How's the family planning to honor Jessica?

GHAWI: Like you said, I'm working on getting my sister's remains back. I'm not going to leave her side until we give her a proper service. We're going to plan on bringing her back to San Antonio, 10:00 a.m., Saturday at a local church and we're going to celebrate her life. We're going to have people come out and talk about it and share stories and reminisce and again discuss what we can do to sustain her legacy and provide her dream and make it available to others.

LEMON: Jordan Ghawi, thank you again, best of luck to you.

GHAWI: Thank you, Don, for keeping this story --

LEMON: And following the shooting here -- of course, thank you very much.

Following the shooting here, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called on President Obama and Mitt Romney to do something about gun violence. And tonight Mayor Bloomberg has some new questions for the two -- OUTFRONT next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: Our third story OUTFRONT almost immediately after the mass shooting on Friday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called on President Obama and Mitt Romney to do something about gun violence in America. In an interview with Piers Morgan which airs tonight, the mayor had a few new questions for the two men running for president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK: I think the first question you might want to ask if you could get the two presidential candidates sitting here across from you, why Governor Romney did you sign a bill outlawing the sale of assault weapons when you were governor of Massachusetts, but today don't believe it's the right thing? What changed your mind? Why, President Obama, when you campaigned three years ago, you campaigned on a promise to try to enact legislation that would ban assault rifles -- assault weapons? Again, what changed your mind?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OUTFRONT now, John Avlon. John, so do you think the mayor has a point here?

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I do. And I think he's trying to point out the illogic of our non debate about guns and gun violence in this country. We have tragedies. Mass shootings like this and there's an enormous outpouring of condolences for the victim, but then it stops at the point where we should e able to have a rational conversation about trying to take small modest steps to solve the problem, respecting the Second Amendment, but embracing also the opportunity, in some cases the obligation for reasonable restrictions.

It's a debate we haven't been able to have in the past. It's what leadership is about. And by pointing out these flip-flops, it's a way of nudging the candidates into having perhaps a little more courage and to really dealing with the reality of the situation.

LEMON: I want to move on and talk about the politics of this. But some people also, John, are questioning the timing here. They're saying you know the victims haven't even been laid to rest yet and people who are talking about gun control and those issues, maybe they should wait a moment and be respectful of the people who were killed here.

AVLON: Don, I mean this is a moment to honor the victims and to celebrate their lives, that's true. But as we absorb this latest incident of mass gun violence, this tragedy, it is reasonable to start saying what could we have done to stop it? Not that individuals who are severely mentally unstable can ever be stopped, but why can't we have a reasonable conversation about maybe making a little more difficult to get assault weapons, maybe increasing background checks, enforcing existing laws more effectively. That's a reasonable conversation we should be able to have in our country and it's been considered politically incorrect to do so for too long.

LEMON: That's a political reality. Let's be honest about it. Is it a non-starter -- many people would think so when it comes to Congress?

AVLON: Absolutely. Both parties feel that the dealing with gun violence, even though 10,000 people a year may be murdered by guns in our country, that it's more trouble than it's worth politically. Why? It's in part because of the influence of the lobby, 10 to one the NRA outspends advocates on the other side of the aisle on this issue. But it's ultimately about conscience.

It's about learning from our experiences, our country, these searing experiences and recognizing that we've done this before. Bill Clinton took on the NRA in 1994. We passed an assault weapons ban. It lapsed 10 years later. So there is an example of profiles in courage. This should not be an undiscovered country.

It is about courage. It is about taking on some powerful interests. But sometimes that's necessary to have a rational debate that actually deals with the problem.

LEMON: John Avlon, thank you.

AVLON: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: And ahead tonight, more of our coverage from Aurora, Colorado, here, the suspect's family put out a new statement today. Plus we're learning more about James Holmes' past and his time in the neuroscience program at the University of Colorado.

Plus, Erin will be back tomorrow, live from Mali, from the Mali border. Here's a sneak peek for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIN BURNETT, HOST, "OUTFRONT": This is the terrain along the Mali border, hot, barren, unforgiving. A quarter million people are fleeing al Qaeda-linked extremists in Mali. Entire villages were abandoned just yesterday. People are afraid. And the refugee camp conditions are hard to see. Tomorrow, you'll hear their stories and hear from the men who are fighting from a place the world needs to watch.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: I'm Don Lemon live in Aurora, Colorado, tonight at the scene of Friday morning's deadly shooting. We're going to have more from here, the place where we first saw today the suspect in all of this. We'll get back to that in a moment. But first we want to check in with John Avlon. He's back in New York with some of the other stories that we're following tonight -- John.

AVLON: Thanks, Don. At least 82 people were killed and more than 180 wounded in at least a dozen attacks in Iraq. The bloodiest in today's attacks killed 32 people and wounded 43 when a car bomb and four roadside bombs exploded in a residential complex just north of Baghdad. (INAUDIBLE) of CSIS tells OUTFRONT the level of extremist violence in Iraq has been rising the last few months, adding that if Iraq wants to stabilize and deal with such extremism needs a government of national unity and effective leadership.

At least 14 people have died after a pick-up truck they were in ran off a highway in Texas on Sunday. Nine people were injured. Officials say all 23 people were cram into a Ford F-250. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency tells CNN the victims are from Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. Local police say there is a high probability the victims were in the country illegally.

The first American woman in space, Sally Ride, has died of pancreatic cancer. She was 61 years old. In 1983, she flew aboard the space shuttle Challenger on a mission to deploy communication satellite. She made a second trip into space in 1984 and was part of the team that investigated the space shuttle Challenger explosion and the space shuttle Columbia disaster.

She eventually went on to launch Sally Ride Science, a company that produces science-oriented teaching materials. She is survived by her mother Joyce and her partner of 27 years, Tam O'Shaughnessy.

The Government Accountability Office has put a dollar amount on the cost of the debt ceiling fight. That cost: $1.3 billion.

We looked through the report. The agency says treasury was forced to pay a higher borrowing cost while Congress tried to deal with raising the debt ceiling.

But the GAO looked at the dollar cost, but the cost of time as well. The report states the delays in raising the debt limit resulted in 5,750 hours of work, including more than 400 hours of overtime. There is a cost to hyper-partisanship.

It has been 354 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

Well, Moody's has cut its outlook on Germany's AAA rating to negative. One of the reasons is the increased likelihood that Greece could leave the euro.

Now, let's send it back to Don Lemon live in Aurora.

LEMON: Thank you very much, John.

Our fourth story OUTFRONT tonight, the family of alleged Colorado shooter James Holmes, well, he spoke out today just hours after his court appearance. The family's lawyer read a statement on their behalf in San Diego.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LISA DAMIANI, HOLMES FAMILY ATTORNEY: The family wants to reiterate that their hearts go out to the victims and their families. The Holmes family would like to maintain their privacy. So, at this time, we will not be discussing James or his relationship to the family. And we would respect courtesy in that regard. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: CNN's Casey Wian at that press conference. He joins us now.

So, Casey, why are we hearing from an attorney?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, according to that attorney, a woman named Lisa Damiani, who's a criminal defense attorney her in San Diego. She said that the family has hired her because of concerns bout their privacy. Also, she's concerned about safety issues for the family.

We also asked why would they need a criminal defense attorney and she says because she's experienced in these matters and the family has been contacted by investigators. They -- in the early days after this shooting, were contacted by local police authorities. And she also confirmed to us that they have been interviewed by the FBI.

What was interesting, though, is she says they have not yet been contacted by any authorities from Aurora, Colorado. The attorney also saying she fully expects that this will be a death penalty case -- Don.

LEMON: And the family attorney, Casey, also thought it was important to clarify something ABC News reported about the mother on Friday. What was that all about?

WIAN: Yes. That seemed to be top of mind and perhaps even the most important part of this news conference that was held. On Friday, ABC News reported that a producer contacted Arlene Holmes, the suspect's mother, and that she sort of confirmed that they had the right identity of the suspect, sort of inferring that, in fact, yes, he was the person who was suspected in this horrible shooting.

The family came out today through their attorney saying, no, that's not what the mother meant. The mother meant only that she was the right person that the ABC News producer thought he was speaking with. She was clarifying that, yes, you've got the right person in me.

ABC News coming out late tonight saying that they are standing by their reporting, that they in fact referred to the Colorado shooting before Mrs. Holmes identified herself as the right person they were speaking with. Sort of a "he said/she said" situation here, Don.

LEMON: It was interesting because most people would have thought that it would have been maybe someone the family -- a spokesperson at least here in Colorado and not hearing from the family in San Diego.

WIAN: Well, the family, of course, is based here. And we do not even know for sure whether any family members remain in Colorado. There was a report that James Holmes' father did travel there immediately after the shooting. But our understanding is that attorney is meeting with family members here in southern California as we speak, Don. LEMON: One more question for you. We talked about the clarification of that ABC News report. Did the lawyer call ABC News before that press conference today?

WIAN: We don't know. That's what ABC News claims. And we tried to get an answer to that from the attorney. She has not been reachable for the last couple of hours. So far, we just don't know.

We know what ABC News is reporting. And that is that once this attorney found out that there was no audio recording of that phone conversation between the ABC News producer and the suspected shooter's mother, she held the press conference, according to ABC News, about an hour later -- Don.

LEMON: Casey Wian, we appreciate it. Thank you very much.

For the first time, the University of Colorado is answering questions, answering some questions about the doctoral program James Holmes was in until recently. The school held a news conference just a short time ago.

And CNN's Drew Griffin of our investigative unit -- our specials unit, he was there.

So, Drew, what is the university saying tonight?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT: Well, I'll you, this news conference got a little contentious and here's why, they began to describe a program where just six students were in the actual class year that James Holmes was involved with, neuroscience, PhD degree, highly elite group, come from across the world to actually compete for these six spots. And they describe a program where James Holmes and every other person in that program would be heavily monitored, much interaction with the family, with the faculty, daily and weekly.

Now, we do know that at the end of this school term on June 10th or so, he took an oral exam. It was right after that oral exam, Don, that he withdrew from classes. And this is the process that happens because it's so highly unusual. This is what the dean says would happen if indeed a student in this elite program would drop out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARY SHUR, UNIV. OF COLORADO GRADUATE SCHOOL DEAN: I can't speak again about the specifics of this case. But I can tell you that generically the program director and other faculty leadership will sit down with that student and try to understand what their difficulties are. And, in fact, what is the traditional chain of events is that -- is that the student is offered to retake the exam with remedial coursework. They want the student to succeed. The exam is not one to throw students out if they don't have proper foundational knowledge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: So the question -- so the question was, did that happen? Did that intervention take place? School officials wouldn't say anything about what happened to James Holmes, whether there was any change in behavior, what his record was.

And it got contentious when the chancellor was asked, that's just not good enough for the victims' families out there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD ELLIMAN, CHANCELLOR FOR THE UNIV. OF COLORADO, DENVER: They're going to get something when the court case plays out. We're not in a position to impede or impact this investigation. It's just -- that's just a simple fact.

LILLY MARKS, EXEC. VICE-CHANCELLOR FOR ANSCHUTZ MEDICAL CAMPUS: We are not trying to be evasive. We're trying to be as transparent as we can in the process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: But, Don, as we've been reporting, there have been very little coming out of the university, almost as soon as the shooting took place, the dean sent out a note to all faculty and students, listen, don't talk to the news media until you talk to our media contact. And no one's talked.

LEMON: I thought it was very interesting, you did say that the university monitors the students closely for its signs of academic and emotional problems as well, right?

GRIFFIN: From the very moment James Holmes entered this school, they say that happens. They describe this neuroscience program which is in total 35 students, in total, all four years or whatever years they go, they have a monitor, they have a team that works with them.

It's a highly one-on-one faculty-to-student ratio. They meet, talk about coursework, they talk about problems. They talk about whatever issues that student is having that would make him not succeed in the program.

LEMON: Why would they want to keep all of this so close to the vest? Obviously people have their right to free speech, this is America. Are they concerned about the victims or concerned about issues with the school, getting about the program?

GRIFFIN: They are now saying they've been asked by the police, the FBI, the investigators to keep quiet about this. But in other cases, we have not seen that. We did not see that at Virginia Tech. We knew what was on record about that kid and the problems he was having. We knew it in Tucson with the community college there.

They are falling back on the fact that this is part of an investigation. The questions we asked were behavioral issues that a professor or a teacher or a student sees a month ago, two months ago, certainly should not be part of any investigation that couldn't be shared with the public. LEMON: Although he was in a program and attended the school at one time, they don't want anyone to think that what happened in that theater over our shoulder had anything to do with the school?

GRIFFIN: Well, we'll find out.

The question is, as we've been saying since day one on this story, Don, where were the warning signs? Where did it happen? Where did he, quote-unquote, "snap," if that's what did happen? We haven't seen it anywhere. Perhaps it happened in a classroom.

LEMON: Thank you, Drew. Appreciate it, sir.

Up next: another big story today involving Penn State University. The NCAA has handed down severe punishments on the school, following a scathing report on the handling of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. The president of the NCAA is going to join me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Stocks ended the day lower. The Dow losing 101 points. At one point, it had been down more than 220 points. The NASDAQ and the S&P each lost about a percent. The big concern is still in Europe.

We told you last week, eurozone officials approved a bailout for Spain's banks, but there are some real worries that it won't be enough. The bigger fear? That Spain, the country, will need to be bailed out.

New data shows the country's recession has deepened. Its economy shrunk by 0.4 percent in the second quarter, the third decline in a row. Its unemployment rate is near 25 percent.

Then there's Spain's debt and borrowing costs. In order for Spain to borrow money for 10 years, it will pay an interest rate of more than 7.5 percent, a record high.

That made investors skittish. So they started looking for a safe investment.

The number tonight: 1.395 percent. That's how much the U.S. has to pay to borrow money for 10 years, a record low.

What that tells us is that in times of global turmoil and despite our fights over the fiscal -- our fights over the fiscal cliff, well, when investors want a safe place to stash their cash, they're choosing the United States.

Now to tonight's "Outer Circle" where we reach out to our sources around the world.

We start tonight with Syria, with the Syrian government today saying it could use chemical or biological weapons against foreign attackers. An Arab League official meanwhile says President Bashar al Assad would be given a safe exit if he steps down quickly and leaves Syria.

Mohammed Jamjoom is following this story and told how the Syrian government responded to the offer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, not only has the Syrian regime already reject this had offer that was made by the Arab League. But, in fact, today you didn't see the violence in Syria go down at all. Quite the opposite. Reports from opposition activists are that dozens were killed throughout the country on Monday, and that there were more fierce clashes in the country's most populated city and commercial hub of Aleppo.

There were reports that Free Syrian Army rebels captured tanks from Syrian regime, from the military there that they were clashing with and actually forced the regime military forces to flee the scene.

This is all coming on the heels of the same day when there was a press conference by the Syrian foreign ministry, in which the Syrian foreign ministry said that Syria did indeed have chemical weapons, that they would not actually use those chemical weapons against any of the population in Syria but they would use them if faced with foreign aggressors -- Don.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Thank you, Mohammed.

Next, to Israel, where President Shimon Peres is the latest official blaming Iran for last week's bombing in Bulgaria, saying there is enough hard evidence to link Tehran and Hezbollah to the attack.

CNN's Elise Labott interviewed Peres and told me how bad tensions are between Israel and Iran.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Don, the president told me there is enough evidence linking Iran and Hezbollah to the Bulgaria attack. He said it fits the pattern of other thwarted attempt by Iran to attack Israeli targets in several cities around the world and he said more attacks are being planned. I asked him how Israel's response could escalate things further with Iran.

Let's take a listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. SHIMON PERES, ISRAEL: It's a war against Israel. Israel is not threatening Iran. Iran is threatening Israel. It's not a war, it's a one-sided attack.

We don't have an initiative of terror, we don't do it. But civil defense is a right and a must of every people. LABOTT: Now, many believe this is part of a tit-for-tat over the killing of Iranian nuclear scientists, which Iran blames on Israel. Now, the president did not confirm Israeli involvement in those assassinations, but he said Israel will not stand by while its citizens are targeted and will act to keep them safe -- Don.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: All right. Elise, thank you very much.

Our fifth story OUTFRONT tonight: the NCAA announced major penalties against Penn State University today, including a $60 million fine and a ban on any postseason bowl games for four years. Penn State also loses 20 football scholarships a year for four years and all of their wins from 1998 to 2001 are vacated, stripping former head coach Joe Paterno of the title winningest coach in major league football.

The NCAA sanctions are part of the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky child rape scandal. Sandusky was convicted late last month on 45 of 48 counts related to this sexual abuse of 10 young victims.

NCAA President Mark Emmert who levied the sanctions is OUTFRONT with us tonight.

Welcome.

Tough penalties, sir. But a lot of people wanted to see you go further by canceling the football season like in 1987 when SMU was found guilty of paying players under the table.

Raping children and a possible cover-up is far worse. Why not cancel the season?

MARK EMMERT, NCAA PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, the two cases, of course, are extraordinarily different. Everyone looks at the Penn State case in its entirety and its one of the most egregious acts that I think any of us have ever witnessed.

But the NCAA doesn't get involved in criminal violations or criminal penalties. Our question that we asked ourselves was: what was the involvement of the athletic department? And so, we only worry about the athletic department, control over the athletic department, the culture of the athletic program.

And so, we imposed a series of sanctions, both -- some of them punitive and some corrective, to make sure the football program and athletic department doesn't find itself in the position again where anything like this could ever happen.

LEMON: Dr. Emmert, the victim advocacy group SNAP had this to say about the sanctions. They say, "Vacating wins is a hollow punishment that will be forgotten by the time the next season begins. Bans from bowl games have been issued in the past because players traded championship rings for tattoos. This is not a punishment equal to the horrific crimes that happened at Penn State." What do you say to the victims?

EMMERT: Well, we've made very important points about our concern for those victims. The NCAA is not in the business of criminally penalizing Jerry Sandusky for his crimes. Our job is to worry about the overall impact of the university's athletic programs.

We fined the university $60 million with all those proceeds to go toward the victims of child sexual abuse and the prevention of that abuse. That's 100 times greater than any fine ever levied in the history of the NCAA. We have imposed significant penalties on a competitive end of the football program.

The university has been very, very responsive in the openness of providing all of the information about these horrific acts.

LEMON: So essentially --

EMMERT: And so, we feel very comfortable where we are with these penalties.

LEMON: So, essentially, you're saying -- you're saying that it's enough.

Listen, I want to move on now and talk about Joe Paterno, the legendary coach. You know, his statue has been removed from the campus. We saw them removing it earlier, during the week, last week. His family says the penalties you announced defame his reputation.

And his son, Jay, told our Erin that the findings -- Erin Burnett -- that the findings of an independent investigation claiming a cover- up should not be a legal indictment.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY PATERNO, SON OF JOE PATERNO: I think everybody in this situation, whether it's Penn State, whether it's my family, and certainly, most of all, the victims, deserve to have the truth come out and not necessarily make decisions based on what Louis Freeh himself called reasonable conclusions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Do you think you should have waited for all the court cases to end before announcing your decision?

EMMERT: Yes, obviously not. Again, we're not -- we're not involved in the court cases, nor is the Paterno family or anyone else. Those are the activities of the criminal investigation system.

We and the university both found the Freeh report information incredibly compelling. They interviewed more than 460 individuals, examined more than 3 million documents and e-mails. They provided an examination that was more exhaustive than anything any of us have ever seen in the university.

So with the university accepting those findings, we've found that that body of information to be more than sufficient to impose the penalties that we put into place.

LEMON: Dr. Emmert, why didn't the NCAA board hand down the sanctions as it normally does? Why did you get the power to penalize the university?

EMMERT: Well, it actually was the board and the executive committee that did hand down these penalties, in working with the executive committee and the Division 1 board, myself. They authorized me to impose these penalties. We worked together to determine what those penalty are. And, in fact, it is the power of the executive committee that's being enforced here that brings these penalties to bear.

LEMON: Let's talk about the amount of the fines again: $60 million fine. Your $60 million fine. It sounds like a lot of money to most people. But it's only about a year's revenue for the football program.

If it's a four-year sanction, shouldn't it be four times the amount? Shouldn't it be $240 million?

EMMERT: Well, again, we need to put this all in perspective. So the largest fine that's ever been imposed by the NCAA is literally 1/100th of that. This is an enormous fine in any context in the athletic world.

The university's football program does generate gross revenue of about $60 million a year. But of course that's not its profit, that's its revenue. This is a very, very large amount of penalty. The Big Ten has also added a penalty on top of that in terms of fines.

And we'll be able to provide a lot of support to a very large number of individuals through that fine.

LEMON: You say that's not its profit, that's its revenue. So, you know -- but still, I'm wondering if the merchandising factors into this. Really quickly, can they keep the money from the merchandising?

EMMERT: Their revenue from their athletic program, they can use as they determine. But we are fining them $60 million and they'll have to determine from whence that money comes.

LEMON: Dr. Mark Emmert, appreciate it. Thank you.

EMMERT: My pleasure.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: A quick reminder, Erin will be back tomorrow, OUTFRONT from the border of Mali, a country that's seen an alarming rise in extremist groups.

Here's a sneak peek at tomorrow's special.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIN BURNETT, HOST, ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT: I'm standing just a few miles from the Mali border, 250,000 people have fled al Qaeda and other Islamic militants, and through dusty border towns like this one. And they've told us what the Islamists say about America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Islamists said before this war and now, Americans are not good. They are like animals.

BURNETT: Like animals?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like animals.

BURNETT: Tomorrow, we'll share the stories we've heard and seen from a place some say could be the next Afghanistan. Please join us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: You can catch more of Erin's reporting from Mali tomorrow night, 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Thanks for joining us tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

"ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts right now.