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Massacre Suspect Due in Court; NCAA to Penalize Penn State; McCain: "Show Me Proof"; U.S. Gives New Aid To Syrian Rebels

Aired July 23, 2012 - 05:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The search for answers. So far, no cooperation from the Aurora shooting suspect, with his first court appearance just hours away.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hope and healing. Some victims of the massacre still struggle to survive their wounds as the community gathers to pay tribute to those lost.

BERMAN: Punishment for Penn State -- a day after Joe Paterno's statue comes down, unprecedented penalties are due for the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

And good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: We're happy you're with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

It's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

Also ahead for you, a closer look at the arsenal police say Aurora shooting suspect James Holmes amassed, including something called improvised napalm. We'll talk to an FBI bomb expert, trying to get you some more answers on that.

BERMAN: Also, it was a very tense weekend in the Middle East, with the U.S. stepping up its presence around Syria, providing more help to the rebels. How far will our government go? We'll have a live report from the Middle East.

SAMBOLIN: But first, of course, our top story here. The man accused of one of the worst shooting massacres in U.S. history will make his first court appearance in a few hours. And police say it could take months before we know why he carried out this senseless act of violence, during a midnight movie premier.

Twenty-four-year-old James Holmes accused of killing 12 people, wounding 58 people including mothers, fathers, members of the military, even a 6-year-old girl. Eight are still in critical condition this morning.

BERMAN: And we are learning that budding scientist allegedly had been planning this for months, his apartment was rigged with trip wires, gas canisters, that a gun range owner was so scared by him that he rejected him a month ago, and it could have been a lot worse had a rifle well a 100-round drum magazine not jammed.

SAMBOLIN: We begin our coverage with Jim Spellman. He is live outside the courthouse in Centennial, Colorado, where we'll see the shooter appearing in court.

The big question still is why. We still have no answer there right, Jim?

JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. He's not been cooperating with police while he's been in jail here over the last three days. He's in essentially a solitary confinement for his own protection over these last few days.

Now, we don't expect a lot to happen at today's hearing. It's called an initial advisement. Generally, these are very short. The next step will be the state will have to decide what exactly to charge him with. We know that he'll probably face at least 70 charges, one for each shooting victim. He'll then have a competency hearing, to determine whether he understands the proceedings, and they can go forward with a trial. That's different than any kind of insanity defense.

Now, while this is just the beginning. Police here, of course, are still investigating and building their case. Here's Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates speaking about that.


DAN OATES, AURORA POLICE CHIEF: We're focusing on anyone that knew him and statements he may have made. We're building a case to show this is a deliberative process by a very intelligent man who wanted to do this.


SPELLMAN: Now, it wasn't until Saturday evening that they were able to clear the apartment and get in there and begin really treating that as a crime scene, get whatever evidence they can. We know took a laptop computer. They'll sort through that to see if there were other people involved and what other aspects of this case might become part of the legal case they're putting together in the courthouse -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Jim, I know in the very beginning, his family released a statement. And we did see his father who had traveled to the area. Do we know if his family is with him now?

SPELLMAN: Well, we know the father has been here over the weekend. We may see him today in the hearing. We know that later this afternoon at some point, the family's attorney in San Diego is planning to have some sort of press conference. We may learn a little more from their side. We haven't heard anything from them yet. So that will be interesting to see if they come out and speak.

SAMBOLIN: And anything from his mother at all?

SPELLMAN: She put out a paper statement a couple days ago. I don't believe we've heard anything from her. I believe she's still in southern California. We haven't seen her here that we witnessed at least anyway.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Jim Spellman live outside the courthouse. Thank you very much.

And, of course, we have much more ahead. Coming up at the bottom of the hour, we'll speak to Ray Lopez, a retired FBI agent, an expert on bombs and bomb disposal, about what was inside the suspect's booby trapped apartment and how much damage it could have done to police, firefighters, and his neighbors had they tripped the wrong wire.

SPELLMAN: And with so much attention on the alleged killer, it is important to keep the victims in our hearts and minds. President Obama visited the community of Aurora, Colorado. The message: the country is thinking of you. He met with the victims and families yesterday.

This White House photo showing the president hugging Stephanie Davies who helped keep her friend Allie Young alive after she was shot. The president saying he's there as a father and husband, not just as the president.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I had a chance to visit with each family and most of the conversation was filled with memory. It was an opportunity for families to describe how wonderful their brother or their son or daughter was, and the lives that they had touched and the dreams that they held for the future.


SAMBOLIN: The community now beginning to heal. When we left you Friday, we only knew the number. Now we know the names and we know their stories.

BERMAN: And thousands gathered at a vigil overnight to remember the victims and pray for those who were still injured this morning. One of those recovering in the hospital right now is 25-year-old Ashley Moser. She had taken her own daughter, 6-year-old Veronica, to the midnight movie.

Tragically, as we all know, little Veronica was killed. Her mother who was slipping in and out of consciousness had no idea about her little girl's death until this Saturday when her family finally broke the devastating news. So sad. Moser's friend says she was crushed. She is expected to recover from her injuries.

CNN's Poppy Harlow is live in Aurora right now. Poppy, this had to be very emotional overnight.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was incredibly emotional. It was also uplifting, John. I've been here since Friday covering this tragedy. And yesterday was different. The vigil was different than anything else. As you said, thousands turned up.

And they have, I think for a lot of people begun the healing process. We saw heart shaped balloons released into the air, candles being lit. The family members were present there on the stage. They did not speak, interestingly. That was left to representatives of the government and also different pastors who gave prayers for the people. We didn't hear from family members.

But what stood out to me is something that Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan said. He said, "The pain is still raw, but we will reclaim our city in the name of kindness and compassion." And that makes you think, John, of the process of forgiveness. How does that begin here?

So, I talked to different people at this vigil last night about just that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forgiveness isn't always only for the person that you're forgiving, that committed the crime. That is also for yourself and it's part of that healing. If you can't forgive someone, you hold in your heart, and then you're going to stay angry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think of the little girl that was killed since my daughter -- my daughter is 1 year old. I have a 3-year-old daughter myself. So I don't think it can be forgiven.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Part of the prayers this morning were not only for victims and their families and for first responders and for everybody that's helping but for the shooter and his family because for me personally and for our belief system, it's not our place to judge and not forgiving only puts us in a place where we can't move forward.


HARLOW: So a variety of emotions when it comes to forgiveness. I was pretty blown away that most of the people I talked with said, you know, we have to forgive not only, you know, for all of the victims but for us as a community to move forward.

And also as you mentioned, the president some remarks that stood out to me, reading from Revelation 21:4. He said, "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and that shall be no more."

So, the message here from government officials, from those individual is we need to start healing. We need to start moving forward. But we will never, ever forget this.

BERMAN: Poppy Harlow in Aurora, where they are showing an enormous capacity, extraordinary capacity for forgiveness. Thanks, Poppy.


SAMBOLIN: A lot of courage, right, to be able to face that.

So, if you want to help out, you can go to There you can find several nonprofits supporting victims and families of the Aurora movie theater showing -- shooting, excuse me.

BERMAN: We do have a lot of other news today, Zoraida.

First off, the hammer set to fall on Penn State. Just a day after the statue of legendary coach Joe Paterno came down -- coming up, what the NCAA is expected to do in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. It is now 12 minutes past the hour. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: Thanks for joining us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

Just hours from now, in an unprecedented move, the NCAA will announce penalties for Penn State University. A source tells CNN Penn State is expected to be hit with more than $30 million in fines. But the school's football program will not face suspension.

Yesterday, a campus statue of late football coach Joe Paterno was taken down. You're taking a look at a picture of that there, that moment. The school's president called the statue a, quote, "reoccurring wound to victims of child abuse."

The Paterno family released a statement saying, quote, "Tearing down the statue of Joe Paterno does not serve the victims of Jerry Sandusky's horrible crimes or help heal the Penn State community. We believe the only way to help the victims is to uncover the full truth."

CNN's Susan Candiotti is live in State College.

And, Susan, what kind of impact did these sanctions on -- have on Penn State's football program?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, good question, Zoraida. Good morning.

And, you know, we're right across the street from where that statue had been. There is no doubt about it.

According to our source, the NCAA is really going to hammer Penn State with sanctions. So bad, as a matter of fact, that even though they are not getting the so-called death penalty, not being able to play football this fall, the source said Penn State might have wished for the death penalty given the sanctions were going to impose, which include significant and unprecedented actions, fines of more than $30 million, a loss of a number of scholarships that could really hurt in terms of recruiting players for many, many years to come.

We're also talking about the loss of postseason action, bowl games, for example, and much more than that. They are going to try to do this according to the source with as little impact on players as is possible because they realize they had nothing to do with the Jerry Sandusky scandal -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: I'm sure there's going to be a lot of dialogue about which one would have been worse, the death penalty or the sanctions announced.

In the meantime, you mentioned the fact that right behind you, they took the statue down. What's in its place?

CANDIOTTI: Yes. All you can see now, of course, is a tarp and people have, you see the image of where writing was on the wall before the statue, where the statue had once been. You are also seeing a few signs of support for Joe Paterno, some flowers left behind.

So it is clearly still huge source of controversy on this campus and will be for many years to come. We'll hear that NCAA announcement at 9:00 Eastern Time, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: We're looking forward to that.

CNN's Susan Candiotti -- live in State College -- thank you very much.

BERMAN: And it is now a quarter past the hour. Let's get you up-to-date on all the news, and there is a lot of news out there.

Christine Romans is here with the headlines.


The man accused of one of the worst shooting massacres in U.S. history will make his first court appearance in just a few hours. Twenty-year-old James Holmes accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58. He's being held in isolation right now.

Police say he is not cooperating. But they continue to uncover some twisted new clues.

A deadly accident, 100 miles southeast of San Antonio, 11 people killed, 12 others injured when police say one pickup truck veered off U.S. Highway 59 and slammed into two large trees last night. Police say it was a one vehicle accident. Twenty-three people were loaded inside both the truck's bed and cab. Border patrol will assist with this investigation.

Radioactive fallout from Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant may cause as many as 250 cancer cases worldwide, 1,300 cancer deaths. That's according to a study by scientists at Stanford University.

And there's an investigation by Japan's ministry of health, labor and welfare into reports that workers at the damaged plant were told to use lead covers over their detection devices to hide the severity of the radiation release.

Now you see it. Now you don't. The implosion of an old 17- story hotel in New Orleans known as the Grand Palace -- look at that -- captured in dramatic video from several different angles. It took 400 tons of explosives to bring this down in a matter of seconds yesterday. Demolition took place to make way for the new university medical center to replace Charity Hospital.

Remember Charity Hospital? It closed after Hurricane Katrina -- John and Zoraida.

BERMAN: Everyone loves a good implosion.

SAMBOLIN: I'm always fascinated by it. But all that smoke and all that stuff in the air, I don't know.

ROMANS: Controlled destruction.

BERMAN: Controlled destruction. Like us here.

ROMANS: Exactly.

SAMBOLIN: Thanks, Christine.

BERMAN: All right. It is now 17 minutes past everyone -- hour, everyone. We're getting a look at the morning papers around the country right now.

In the headlines everywhere about the shootings in Colorado. One thing that many people are asking is, you know, the weapons this guy used. It turns out that one of the rifles, an AR-15 assault weapon might have been banned more than 10 years ago under the assault weapons ban signed under President Clinton. It was allowed to expire in the year 2004.

Something else people are talking about, the magazines. He had an extra 100-round magazine he used on that assault weapon. There has been some legislation discussed the last few years to ban magazines like that, to allow so many rounds to be used at once. Again, that legislation has gone nowhere in Congress.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, this is going to start up again, right? Everybody is really upset about this. And police also say the Aurora shooting suspect James Holmes was able to assemble an arsenal of over 6,000 rounds by shopping online.

The newspaper that's reporting this, "New York Times", and what he had was over 6,000 rounds that he ordered on the Internet, 3,000 rounds of handgun ammunition, 3,000 rounds of assault rifle ammo, and 350 shells for a shotgun. He all purchased it within four months.

You know, they were talking a lot about premeditation here. It was an estimated cost of $3,000. Police say it was easy as ordering a book from Amazon.

Critics say the ammunition sellers are not required in most cases to report sales even large ones. The question is, is this a large one?

BERMAN: "New York Times" has interesting stats overnight. One gun owner saying he can burn up 500 rounds on an aggressive round on the shooting range. And that same man had a quote in the "New York Times" saying I consider 6,000 rounds running low --


BERMAN: -- on ammunition.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. We're all shocked by it. But, you know, this seems pretty common, actually.

BERMAN: And you can get an extended look at all of our top stories. You can head to our blog

SAMBOLIN: And coming up, gas prices creeping back up again. Have you noticed? And timing is everything in an election year. Christine Romans back with a much closer look.


BERMAN: All right. Minding your business this morning. U.S. stock futures trading lower and it's going to be a messy week, it looks like on the market.

SAMBOLIN: Europe's debt problem a big concern this week.

Christine Romans is here.

Why will Europe be the focus?

ROMANS: Well, last week, I was so concerned about the fiscal cliff. I am still concerned about the fiscal cliff. I'm also very concerned this morning about Europe, because we're seeing a lot of developments in Europe that are worrisome.

And you've got global markets down, mostly because of what we're seeing happening in Spain right now. Spain, two Spanish provinces say they're having trouble raising money. That they might need some new loans. That's raising concerns about Spain, the 14th largest economy in the world.

The euro's value is dropping here, $1.21. That is below the lifetime average for the euro since it's been a currency. It takes $1.21 to buy one euro.

Here is Spain's borrowing costs and why we're seeing this in credit markets this morning. It cost Spain 7.55 percent to borrow money. That's danger zone, big flashing yellow signs. Compare that with the U.S., where because the whole world is such a mess, people keep throwing their money into U.S. bonds. It costs only 1.44 percent for the U.S. to borrow money.

So, it shows you that Spain is having a little bit of trouble here. This is going to be very important to watch for the week.

I'm also watching gas prices and oil prices, you guys. Because oil prices are falling around the world again overnight. That's because they're concerned about a slowdown. If the world slows down, you use less oil. So oil prices have been coming down.

But what's that going to mean for gas prices? We have the most recent gas price reading from AAA this morning. It's $3.47 a gallon. This has been moving up a little bit.

Still, however, well below last year, $3.70 you were paying last year. Today, you're paying $3.47.

We've been talking to analyst about what to do expect into the election. And some of those earlier call for below $3 by the fall, maybe not.

BERMAN: How can the gas prices be moving up when oil is dropping?

ROMANS: Because in the U.S. in particular, at least one economist we talked to said that things aren't quite as bad as they thought they were even a couple weeks ago. You know, we just got a Fed Beige Book report that said all 12 of the Federal Reserve districts in the country are growing. The U.S. economy is growing.

This week, at least, we're really, really watching what is happening overseas. A lot of earnings this week as well, too. So, this could be messy is the technical --

BERMAN: Exactly, clinical.

ROMANS: -- trader term. Your clinical analysis of markets this week, messy. I think it could be interesting and messy.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Christine.

BERMAN: It is now 25 minutes past the hour.

And one tragedy was avoided in Aurora, Colorado. The shooting suspect's apartment was rigged to be a death trap. We have an expert who looks at what police found inside coming up.

If you're leaving the house right now, you can watch us any time on your desktop or mobile phone. Just go to


SAMBOLIN: An apartment designed to kill. Coming up, a new look into the apartment of the suspect in the Colorado movie theater massacre.

BERMAN: New fears at the movies. Frayed nerves lead to a stampede at a Batman screening, this time in Pennsylvania.

SAMBOLIN: And how to prevent another Aurora. Both sides debate whether gun control would make a difference.

Welcome back to EARLY START. Thanks for being with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is 5:29 right now. Thanks so much for being with us.

We've been talking all morning about the massacre in Colorado. And it does seem that one tragedy was prevented. When the horror inside Aurora's cinema 16 was over, law enforcement were quickly to prevent this other disaster.

Suspect, James Holmes, told officers at the scene that he set up booby traps in his apartment. But bomb disposal units had no idea the extent of firepower they'd be facing. Trip wires, over 30 repurpose fireworks shells, jars of gas, and something that an official called improvised napalm.

Ray Lopez is a retired FBI. He's retired from the FBI and expert on bombs and bomb disposal. And ray, you hear that list of things in the apartment, that arsenal. How bad could this have been?

RAY LOPEZ, RET. FBI AGENT: Good morning, John. It could have been much worse had they not been able to get inside that apartment and identified those chemicals and the other components that they found in there. You think about it.

You have lay people such as neighbors and other people that might have gone in that apartment and done something that while, quite frankly, could have killed other people. So, it would have, you know, it would have gone on had the police officers not acted so quickly.

BERMAN: And in fact, a neighbor, we understand, Kaitlyn Fonzi, who lived in the building had been hearing some loud music, and she actually went to check out that apartment. I think we have some sound of this very lucky woman here to listen to.


KAITLYN FONZI, NEIGHBOR OF JAMES HOLMES: And I went upstairs and knocked on the door quite a few times and realized that it was possibly unlocked. And so, I thought about peering my head in there and had my head on the door handle and just yelling at them to say, hey, turn it down.

And I just decided -- I decided not to do that. I just had a trepidation. And a little voice told me, no, just let the cops handle it.


BERMAN: Thank goodness. Thank goodness she did not go in that door. And Ray, had she gone in though, I mean, are we talking an explosion just that apartment? Are we talking the whole building going down?

LOPEZ: I'm not really sure. We don't know the quantities or the way they were exactly set up. But at the very least, she could have got herself hurt in a good scenario or a worst case scenario, she could have got herself killed and potentially destroyed the entire apartment and who knows the -- the fire could have ensumed (ph) the entire apartment complex.

BERMAN: Based on what you've heard of this arsenal, the jars, the different chemicals being used and also the length of time that the alleged killer used to put this together, is this something that anyone could have done? We know he was involved in neuroscience. Obviously, a very smart guy. Do you have to be that smart to do this?

LOPEZ: Well, I think it comes down to a couple of things. It comes down to his motive, his ability to get these components and his education. Now, he's quite educated. And in today's world, you know, he's a smart kid. He probably went on the internet and learned some of these compositions and how to create some of these things.

And finally, just putting them together. The problem with any improvised explosive device is that you're dealing solely with the mind of an imagination of the bomber. At the end of the day, you know, military ordnance is a whole lot easier in a sense that you kind to know what you have. You have rockets, you have bombs, you have grenades which are known, and there are schematics for them.

The problem with improvised is that itself, it's improvised. And the bomb technicians had to think almost like the bombers think of what it is exactly he wants to put in there, what he's trying to do. So, you have to kind of -- it's a cat and mouse kind of game. So, it's a very delicate situation. They did an excellent job getting into that apartment and making it safe for all the people there.

BERMAN: Anything on that list of things that he had in there? Anything that you see that was illegal to have? Or is this all stuff that anyone can just go online and get ahold of?

LOPEZ: That's a great question, John. Sadly, most of the stuff that he had in there, you could either get at a pharmacy, a chemical store. You could go -- I mean, he had access to a laboratory where he was working a university that has chemicals like this for, you know, good purposes for research.

And it's quite easy to get some of those things and take those things out. So, all the stuff and all the components are quite easy to get.

BERMAN: All right. Ray Lopez, retired FBI agent, thanks so much for being with us. And again, it's a good thing that none of that stuff went off. Thanks, Ray.

LOPEZ: Absolutely, John. Take care.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: I think the craziest part is that they say that you can -- anybody can get access to this, right? And if you know how to assemble it, then the consequences are horrific.

Thirty-four minutes past the hour here. Thousands gathered Sunday outside the municipal center in Aurora to remember the victims of the movie theater shooting.



(CHANTING) We will remember.

HICKENLOOPER: A.J. Boyce (ph).

(CHANTING) We will remember.

HICKENLOOPER: Jesse Childress (ph).

(CHANTING) We will remember.


SAMBOLIN: Colorado governor, John Hickenlooper, read the names of the 12 people killed in the shooting with the crowd responding each time, "we will remember." And the crowd drawing strength from one another.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It means we're coming together. It means a lot. All the people that turned out showing love to everybody and much respect and see how much it hurt us and how much it's bringing us together as a community.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like "The Dark Knight," we will rise again because we are all Colorado.


SAMBOLIN: The mayor of Aurora and many of the people who attended the vigil sounded the same theme. They are determined that the massacre will not define their city when history looks back on the events of this week.

And prayers from the pope as well. In his traditional Sunday blessing, Pope Benedict XVI said he was deeply shocked by the senseless violence. Sharing the distress of the families and friends of those who were killed and those who were wounded.

BERMAN: And we have some new video overnight, some really nice video. Members of the Denver Broncos visiting with shooting victims and emergency room staff who treated many of Friday morning's massacre victims. They're doing their part to raise everyone's spirit.

The entire community there really coming together. New Broncos quarterback, Peyton Manning, he wasn't there, but he did call in speaking to four patients.

SAMBOLIN: Very nice of them to do. And so, what made a brilliant science student snap, claim he was a joker and unleash terror on that movie theater? Investigators now are trying to piece together who the suspected gunman, James Holmes, is. By many accounts, friends say he was a normal guy, maybe a bit nerdy, but as recently as a month ago, he applied online for a membership to a gun range.

But when the owner of the range called his home to follow up, he says the message he heard on his answering machine freaked him out to the point where he said Holmes was not allowed anywhere near his range.

BERMAN: It was something about his voice.


BERMAN: He said the tone of his voice was guttural and somehow strange. Threat assessment, expert, Barry Spodak, spoke to Candy Crowley yesterday and talked about the very inexact science of profiling a mass murderer.


BARRY SPODAK, THREAT ASSESSMENT EXPERT: Some of the people who carry out these acts, you know, are loners, but some of them have a lot of friends. Sometimes, in some cases, we've seen in school shootings, they've talked to friends. They've engaged other people in their thoughts.

So, there is no one pattern in terms of traits. But in terms of behaviors, we want to be able to look at these behaviors. And this is how these federal law enforcement agencies work cases on this. If it comes to their attention, they start looking for this pattern of behavior and then intervene and make sure that this person doesn't carry out what their intentions are.


BERMAN: These are the questions we're all asking. We're going to have much more on profiling a mass killer ahead. It's at 6:50 eastern. We're going to speak to Dr. Helen Morrison, a forensic psychiatrist and one of the country's leading experts on serial killers.

SAMBOLIN: But the movie theater shootings in Aurora resurrecting the debate over gun control. Senator John McCain says he wants to see evidence gun control laws can actually lead to a reduction in gun violence. He says tightening them is not the answer. While New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is calling on the president to take action.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR, NEW YORK CITY: Somebody's got to do something about this, and this requires, and particularly in a presidential year, the candidates for president of the United States to stand up and once and for all say yes, they feel terrible. Yes, it's a tragedy. Yes, we have great sympathy for the families. But it's time for this country to do something.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: We had a ban on assault weapons that expired some years ago. It didn't change the situation at all, in my view. To somehow lead to the conclusion that this will somehow caused by the fact that we don't have more gun control legislation I don't think has been proved.


SAMBOLIN: Senator McCain also raising the constitutional right to bare arms to make his case against tougher gun control.

BERMAN: And with the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, fresh in everyone's minds, some Batman fans found themselves in a stampede at a theater thousands of miles away from the massacre. Find out what sparked that panic coming up.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. It is 42 minutes past the hour. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We are happy that you're with us this morning. We're also happy that we're going to check in with Rob Marciano now. Hopefully, he's got some good news for us.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: More heat. There you go. But for the eastern third of the country, not too shabby. Good morning, guys. We'll start you off with some record highs from yesterday. A 110 plus in Wichita Falls, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Iowa. You're going to see it again today.

In fact, see for the next several days. Here are the four-day forecast for Kansas City and Wichita. Wichita, you stay above 100 for the next four days. Slight cool down if we head towards the end of the week, but this is right in the middle of the heartland here in the drought stricken area. So, only exacerbating the drought problems.

Most of the jet stream energy with any sort of real moisture is going to be north along the border. Actually, there's some moisture down across the south in Florida. Watching a little disturbance here. Probably won't develop into anything significant as far as tropical activity is concerned, but it's dumped a ton of rain across Florida yesterday and will do so again today.

Miami, see thunderstorms rolling in there, Hollywood, Florida, Ft. Lauderdale as well. Also, a few pop up thunderstorms across the northeast and the lower great lakes. Some thunderstorms rolling across the Hudson right now may make it into Westchester and eventually Fairfield County later on this morning.

And this is a sliver where we might see some thunderstorms later on today that could produce some large hail or some damaging winds. Had some thunderstorms that could produce some gusty winds across Phoenix. Over the weekend, check out this dust storm video. Winds gusting to 60 miles an hour. Technically, we call this a haboob, a name derive from the Middle East where they get these a lot. And we also get in the desert southwest. The monsoon will kick off thunderstorms that don't typically drop a whole lot of rain, but they'll kick up the dust, that's for sure, lowering visibilities in Phoenix. Temperatures there holding near 100 degrees.

SAMBOLIN: Hey, Rob, did you tell us --

MARCIANO: Eighty-six degrees.

SAMBOLIN: Did you tell us that that was a haboob?

MARCIANO: I did point that out. I kind of just cruised through that. People like to make fun of the name. Yes.


BERMAN: I can't imagine why.

SAMBOLIN: We had somebody talking in our ear. So, we really couldn't hear it. But yes, that's one of those words you just love to say. Haboob. Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. Thank you, Rob, with all the news about the haboobs this morning.

It is now 44 minutes past the hour. We're going to get you up to date on the headlines. Here's Christine Romans with the top stories.



ROMANS (voice-over): The man accused of the worst shooting massacres -- one of the worst shooting massacres in U.S. history will make his first court appearance in just a few hours. Twenty-four- year-old James Holmes accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 others. He's being held in isolation right now.

Police had recovered key items from a PC from his apartment but only after they disarmed several trip wires and booby traps inside that heavily fortified apartment.

With the Colorado movie massacre, fresh in their minds, a panicked crowd rushed for the exits at a multiplex in West Homestead, Pennsylvania after a fight broke out during a showing of "The Dark Knight Rises." Thankfully, no one was injured.

Police say the audience was extra jumpy because of what happened in Aurora. That same West Homestead theater, by the way, was the site of a deadly shooting back in 2005.

A wave of deadly attacks on Shiite neighborhoods rocking Iraq on the second day of Ramadan. Thirty people were killed, including 15 soldiers. The violence started yesterday morning when a car bomb exploded outside a restaurant about 100 miles south of Baghdad. Five people were killed in that blast.

Three roadside bombs in the southern outskirts of Baghdad killed at least 15 more people and injured 60.

A violent weekend on the streets of California. A police involved shooting left an unarmed man dead in Anaheim. Hours after chasing the suspect on foot and shooting him, then protests broke out. And angry residents clashed with police throwing bottles at police, setting a dumpster on fire. The two officers involved in that shooting have been placed on leave.

The FBI turning to the public for help to find two young missing cousins from Iowa. Law enforcement officials now consider the disappearance of 10-year-old Lyric Cook Morrissey (ph) and eight-year- old Elizabeth Collins. They say it's an abduction.

After draining a lake where the girls' bicycles were found last week, investigators are confident those girls did not drown in that lake, and they're offering a $50,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.

A California teenager had to be airlifted to a hospital after a cliff jumping accident near San Diego. Authorities say a friend jumped off the cliffs and landed on top of him while he was in the water. Friends were able to pull the injured teen out of the water and on to a rock ledge until rescuers --

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): My goodness.

ROMANS: -- right -- arrived.

And Astronomers studying Saturn's largest moon called Titan say it's, quote, "weirdly earth-like" --

BERMAN (voice-over): Nice.

ROMANS: -- when it comes to geology. Yes. They point to Titan's landscape being shaped by rivers much like our planet. Although, it's rivers of methane, not water. So, you know --

BERMAN: Not nearly as refreshing --

SAMBOLIN: Big difference.

BERMAN: Even if it's weirdly earthlike.


ROMANS (on-camera): Weirdly earth-like. I think Earth is weirdly, you know, Saturn-like.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): All right. Thank you very much, Christine.

BERMAN (on-camera): And we do have a lot of news all over the world this morning. A lot is going on in the Middle East. The rebels in Syria back on the offensive this morning and getting a little more help, it seems, from the United States. We're going to go live to the Middle East coming up.

And if you're leaving the house right now, you can watch us any time on your desktop or mobile phone, just go to


BERMAN: And welcome back, everyone. The United States seems to be giving up hope on a U.N. peace plan for Syria. U.S. officials are now giving new aid to the rebels providing more communications and training equipment.

This morning, the strengthened rebel groups launched new attacks in two key Syrian cities, the capital of Damascus and the business and fore hub (ph) of Aleppo community, but government forces are fighting back. Mohammed Jamjoom is in Abu Dhabi this morning live. Mohammed, as we wake up this morning, what is the situation on the ground?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, opposition activists are telling us that there is another day of fierce clashes going on in Aleppo, that's the most populated city in Syria. It's the commercial hub of the country, traditionally a strong hold for Bashar al-Assad.

They're saying that today, more clashes in at least two neighborhoods between rebel free Syrian army fighters and Syrian regime forces.

Also, we're told that in Damascus, that there have been military reinforcements sent in to several suburbs where there has been a presence from the free Syrian army rebels where they have been clashing with the Syrian regime military forces the last several days as for a battle for the capital of that country -- John.

BERMAN: There is a political debate going on right now in the U.S. about possibly arming the rebels. The U.S. giving weapons to the rebels. Is this seen as a real possibility?

JAMJOOM: Well, John, the Obama administration has reiterated many times that they prefer to only provide nonlethal assistance to rebels in Syria and humanitarian aid to the Syrian people. Hillary Clinton and other administration officials have said many times in the past that they don't want to further militarize this conflict, even though they've said that all options are open.

But there've been a growing number of voices, critics of the administration's policy toward Syria, many from Congress, including Senator John McCain who's urging the Obama administration to step up support and give weapons to the rebels in Syria.

Now, yesterday, speaking to Candy Crowley on "State of the Union," he also blasted the ineffectiveness of the U.N. to be able to do more in this crisis. Here's more of what he had to say.


MCCAIN: Kofi Annan's plan has been an abject failure. We keep supporting that. We keep pushing this reset button with Russia that somehow they and China will -- we are now bound by the decisions of the U.N. Security Council which are dictated by Russia and China.


JAMJOOM: McCain said that the Obama administration really needs to step up its efforts. It really needs to provide more aid, more weapons. It needs to intervene militarily in some way in Syria to end this crisis -- John.

BERMAN: Mohammed, waking up also to what seems to be a proposal from the Arab league for some kind of safe exit for Bashar al-Assad, is this something that the rebels would ever allow there and today have some kind of plan for leadership in place if he does lead?

JAMJOOM: Well, the rebels have said in the past that they don't like these plans that would give Assad safe passage, that would give him an exit, some sort of way out of that country without facing repercussions for the brutal crackdown that's been going on since the uprising began. But this Arab league meeting that happened yesterday, it was significant.

It was five hours. At the end of it, they said that Assad should step down. He should leave. But they also said that the Syrian opposition, the pre-Syrian army, the rebels and also the opposition groups there need to unify to create some sort of post Assad plan. This has been the real question and concern.

The opposition in Syria is a very divided and divisive and fractious group. It's been so since day one. The international community would like to get more solidly behind one united opposition group, but it hasn't been able to do so because there is continued to be in fighting amongst these various different groups.

So, that's been the concern from the international community, still a concern from the Arab league even after this meeting they had last night when they said that they wanted Assad to step aside and they would allow him to leave that country safely -- John.

BERMAN: Mohammed Jamjoon with the rapid developments in Syria. Thanks so much for being with us.

SAMBOLIN: Fifty-five minutes past the hour. Coming up, our coverage of the Aurora shooting tragedy. In the hours ahead, the suspect's first court appearance, the first word from his family, and the latest on the conditions of the wounded. You're watching EARLY START.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Aurora, Colorado and America asking why. So far, no answers from the shooting suspect with his first court appearance just hours away now.

BERMAN (voice-over): Hope and healing. Some victims of the massacre still struggling to survive as the community gathers to pay tribute to those lost.

SAMBOLIN: The ultimate penalty for Penn State. A day after Joe Paterno's statue comes down, unprecedented punishment is due for the Jerry Sandusky scandal.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. Thank you for being with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN (on-camera): And I'm John Berman. It is 6:00 a.m. in the east. Thanks for being here.

Also ahead, as investigators search for answers in the Aurora massacre, we're going to get a unique look from one of the country's leading experts on serial killers.

SAMBOLIN: She spent some time with John Wayne Gacy and a lot of serial killers. It will be interesting to talk to her.

And Obama's campaign burning through money at an eye popping rate these days. We'll get into that with CNNs Peter Hamby a little later.

BERMAN: But first, Colorado. The man accused of one of the worst shooting massacres in U.S. history will make his first court appearance in a few hours. And police say it could take months before we know why he carried out this senseless act of violence during a midnight movie premiere.

Twenty-four-year-old James Holmes accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 people, including mothers, fathers and members of the military, even a six-year-old girl. That's --

SAMBOLIN: It's tough to see that picture, isn't it?

BERMAN: Eight people still in critical condition this morning.

SAMBOLIN: And we are learning that the budding scientist allegedly planned this for months. That his apartment was rigged -- you're taking a look at the victims there, I want to point that out.