Return to Transcripts main page


Could Colorado Shooting Have Been Prevented?; Remembering Colorado Victims

Aired July 25, 2012 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It's 10:00 here on the East Coast.

A major new development in the Colorado shooting that hints at the possibility at least that all of this might have been prevented -- might have, we should say -- if somebody at the alleged shooter's former university had just gotten a piece of mail in time.

We're just now learning what was in that parcel and why seeing it could have been so vital. In addition tonight, our first look at the chaos that first-responders were facing when they arrived at the theater Friday.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do I have permission to start taking some of these victims via car? I have a whole bunch of people shot out here and no rescue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, load them up, get them in cars, get them out of there.


COOPER: Police with too many victims and not enough ambulances.

We will show you what they were up against, all the factors big and small that spelled the difference between life and death.

Also tonight, as we continue to remember the victims as they lived, not just as they died, tonight we speak to the mother of Rebecca Wingo, a young woman with her whole life ahead of her. She mastered Mandarin by the age 20, was raising two daughters, and working her way through school, training to help troubled teenagers. As I said, Rebecca's mom joins us later.

We begin though with the breaking news. A package from the alleged shooter found in the mailroom at the University of Colorado. According to "CBS This Morning" senior correspondent John Miller, he mailed it days before the massacre, addressing it to one of his professors at the University of Colorado's campus in Aurora.

It arrived days before the shooting, but was not discovered until Monday afternoon, when police found it in the mailroom. They sent in the bomb squad, handled it by robot and before opening it X-rayed the parcel just in case.

Sources telling John Miller, who joins us now, that the letter inside spoke of shooting people and included crude drawings of a gunman and his victims.

Do we know, John, from your sources, have you heard why this letter wasn't discovered sooner?

JOHN MILLER, CBS NEWS: Well, we have a little conflict there, which is what we were told by law enforcement sources earlier in the day.

And I have to say, this has been made extremely more difficult than it needs to be by a gag order that's been placed on all of the investigators and a district attorney who's not commenting. So getting information is like pulling teeth, even in an issue of public concern.

But to update that, what we're told is it was mailed before the shooting, possibly days before the shooting. What the university is saying now is that it arrived at their facilities services building on Monday, July 23, that it was in the mix of mail there, and that when they found it, investigators were called.

They looked at the package. They brought in the bomb squad. That caused the evacuation of the building right around 12:30. So it appears as pressure from this story builds, people are digging deeper for the data. The college is saying it got there Monday.

COOPER: And do you know anything about the relationship between the accused shooter and this professor? I mean, was this somebody who taught him? Was this somebody that he actually sought counseling from?

MILLER: If it's the professor that we believe it to be, it was somebody who taught a series of courses that he attended, including neurological disorders and, ironically, schizophrenia.

But we don't know what their relationship was. There are real questions there about there is information that he failed on an oral exam and that caused his withdrawal from the program. But we're far from knowing, was the professor the person who he failed in the oral exam in front of? Was it somebody else? Again, because of the gag order, it's a very difficult environment for reporting.

COOPER: And in terms of what have you been able to find out what was in the notebook?

MILLER: Well, very little. And there are questions that remain.

We were told there's verbiage, kind of a pent-up, was the phrase used, writings about shooting people and that there were some very rudimentary images in there of a shooter and victims. But the real question, Anderson, which I know is what we're all wondering is, A., were was there anything in there that was specific to the date, the Batman show, or something else, and, B., is there anything that gives -- that sheds any light on motive? And right now, we can't learn that.

COOPER: Right. John, stick around.

I want to bring in Northeast University criminologist James Alan Fox, who we often consult with.

Professor, you say it's not unusual for mass murderers to actually reach out to people before actually committing a crime.

JAMES ALAN FOX, CRIMINOLOGIST, NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY: Either reach out and either a threat or a call for help.

But it's also not unusual for them also to send letters timed so that they will be received after the shooting in an explanation for why they did what they did. There was a shooter at the University of Iowa who sent letters to the media timed when his rampage was committed. University of Arizona, same thing.

Frequently, mass murderers will send letters as explanations, not necessarily as warnings or calls for help or threats.

COOPER: And what does it say to you that the suspect himself apparently tipped off police to the existence of some sort of a letter to the university?

FOX: I'm sorry, that he did?

COOPER: Yes, there's a report that he had said to police that he had mailed something to the university.

FOX: I can't really comment. I don't know exactly the context in which he said it. He -- you know, oftentimes they're trying to intensify their persona by becoming larger than life, or they could just be telling the police some of the details that will not interfere with their defense.

COOPER: Professor, you have studied a lot of mass murderers. Is there ever an explanation that satisfies people, that makes -- I don't want to say makes sense, but, you know, even if somebody puts into words why they did what they did, does it really make sense?

FOX: Well, frequently, they do say exactly why they're doing what they do. Oftentimes, they identify who the villains are, who they're trying to get even with specifically.

But what people really want to know is enough information so that we can identify these individuals before they go on rampages. And we will never get to that point. Sure, I understand that people want information and maybe we can know more about this case and this person as a guidebook.

Well, that's wishful thinking. If other people -- if you have in your life a son or a neighbor, a co-worker who's in trouble, who's suffering, you know it. You don't need a document, an instruction manual based on the Colorado shooter to tell you that this person needs help. COOPER: John, you have actually talked with investigators who used special equipment to try to kind of recreate what occurred. What's the purpose of that?

MILLER: One of the things that's going on in this case is they have such a complex crime scene, with so many -- ballistic evidence, so many bodies, so many elements over -- just so much to collect, that they have actually held the crime scene longer, because they want to get the bullet trajectory and all of this evidence in.

And it's not a scene where one or two people were shot and it's kind of what they do with photographs and charts. So they have brought in some of the most sophisticated equipment. I talked to Hal Sherman from the NYPD crime scene unit. I said what's the best stuff out there? He said, you know, the top of the line is ARAS 360. It's a Canadian company. They have developed the software where you can combine this.

So you take a 360-degree digital image with laser measurements that collect up to 30 million points of reference. Then you lay the ARAS 360 software over it and it allows you to recreate the scene to exact scale, introduce the victims where the witness statements tell you they were, put the gunman where they placed the gunman.

If they are using this weapon and the shell casings eject out to the right and fly eight or 10 feet, you find where those shell casings are, you can extrapolate that the gunman was eight feet to the left of that. And then you can actually snap on what they call a trajectory tool and using the witness statements and everything else, you can see where bullets were fired, where they ended up, where victims were. And it's powerful in front of a jury.

COOPER: Professor Fox, I was reading...


COOPER: Sorry. Go ahead.

FOX: When you need that.

COOPER: Yes, when you need it.


FOX: When you need it.

COOPER: What do you mean?

FOX: What I'm saying is, this is really an open-and-shut case when you look at it.

It will not be hard for the prosecution to document and prove who the shooter was. That kind of technology is extremely useful when there's kind of some doubt as to what really happened and who is responsible.

MILLER: I would disagree with the professor on the following, which is -- and I will defer to him on the legal matters.

But the crux of this case is going to be a battle between whether the suspect is this lolling person we saw in court the other day falling asleep and seemingly out of it, or whether he was a cold, calculating individual who was capable of putting together this extraordinarily layered and complex plot.

When you bring evidentiary tools like this that bring the crime scene back to life as alternative theories, new information comes, and you can adjust that new data into it without losing your scene, what you're able to demonstrate to a jury is, he may say he was incapable of complex thought as he sits here today, but watch his actions, watch his tactical planning, watch his prowess. So, you actually can need it.

COOPER: Professor Fox, I appreciate...


COOPER: Oh, sorry. Go ahead, professor.

FOX: But, also, you have a crime that's timed perfectly to the premiere of this movie. You have the level of planning involved.

This was not a difficult case to show that someone is clear- headed. I mean, I understand what you're saying. Certainly, we would like to gather as much evidence as possible to present to the jury. But a case like this, the likelihood that a jury is going to return anything other a guilty verdict is frankly extremely slim.


Professor Fox, I appreciate your time.


FOX: Obviously, we want to still presume he's innocent.

COOPER: Yes, of course.

John Miller, thanks for your reporting. Appreciate it.

Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper.

Coming up, a new perspective on the chaos inside and outside the theater that terrible night. Emergency dispatch tapes paint a picture of what it was like for the victims and the first-responders who were trying to help them. That's next.


COOPER: Welcome back.

By now, we have heard a lot about the rush to get out of the theater number nine following the mass shooting Friday in Colorado and what happened later at area hospitals, but less about the vital moments in between, moments that must have seemed like hours out in the crowded parking lot which that night became equal parts crime scene, triage area and traffic jam.

Tonight, what it was like for victims and first-responders, much of it caught on emergency dispatch tapes.

The report from Randi Kaye.


RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Aurora police arrive at the scene of the shooting within three minutes of the emergency call. Five-and-a-half minutes later, police make their first request for a ambulance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need rescue inside the auditorium. Multiple victims.

911 OPERATOR: Copy.

KAYE: About two minutes later, another call for first- responders, this time to treat a child who is critical and inside theater nine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have got a child victim. I need rescue at the back door of theater nine now.

911 OPERATOR: Back door of theater nine, we will start them.

KAYE: Unable to wait longer, police start moving victims outside on their own.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're bringing out bodies now. Get someone to the back as soon as you can. Rescue personnel. I got like three to seven hits.

KAYE: Medics are again requested for the child police are worried about.

911 OPERATOR: Again, P.D. is requesting medical personnel in theater nine. They have a child down and cannot evacuate.

KAYE: Quick-thinking police start transporting those critically injured to hospitals in police cars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Metro 10, Lincoln 25, do I have permission to start taking some of these victims via car? I have a whole bunch of people shot out here and no rescue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, load them up, get them in cars, get them out of there.

KAYE: At this point, more than five minutes have passed since the first request for paramedics to treat the critically injured child inside theater nine. Still no first-responders. Another plea for help from police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have one we cannot move in theater nine. Get an ambulance crew in here as soon as they're available.

KAYE (on camera): The Aurora Fire Department's first-responders are on the scene just five minutes after the shooting, but for far too long they are blocked from getting to the theater and those most critical by those less injured. A sea of wounded victims streaming into the parking lot stops paramedics in their tracks, leaving the most critical patients at the theater untreated.

(voice-over): Aurora Fire Captain Al Robnett wouldn't go on camera with us, but told "The Denver Post" -- quote -- "They were overwhelmed with patients. Patients were running towards them. They were covered with blood. We cannot move past a patient to get to another patient."

Remember the child police say is in desperate need of a medic? Another request for help goes out.

911 OPERATOR: P.D. is again requesting emergent medical to the back of the theater.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I copy that. I'm just trying to get things under control here.

KAYE: And another.

911 OPERATOR: Sir, I apologize. Again, P.D. is asking for emergent medical to the back of the theater. I believe that they have another party inside theater nine that they can't evacuate which is a child. But they have 10 parties down behind the theater is what they're saying.

KAYE: At this point, they're about 20 minutes into the shooting chaos, still no rescue teams on site at theater nine.

Emma Goos managed to escape the theater. She told Anderson Cooper about one critical victim she saw wandering the parking lot untreated.

EMMA GOOS, EYEWITNESS: He was asking for help. And no one would stop to help him. And I thought, well, I have to at least talk to him. I'm not trained in paramedics at all, but I should talk to him. And I went over. And he had been hit in the head.

KAYE (on camera): Dispatch tapes also indicate a breakdown in communication between police and fire. Police clearly knew there were dozens shot, but a fire commander tells dispatch there are perhaps just 20 victims.

911 OPERATOR: Do we have an approximate patient count at all?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just trying to sort it out right now. I'm hearing 10 here, four here. I'm going to go with 20 for right now. Let's just go with 20 people, until we get this verified. KAYE (voice-over): Twenty-two minutes into this, rescue teams and the fire department are still clearly overwhelmed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have nine shot. If we can get any ambulances to stage unstable, we can get them over to the ambos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, just stand by. Let me get this sorted out. I will be with you just a minute. Just hang on.

KAYE: Finally, nearly 24 minutes after shots fired, ambulances arrive at the theater's back door.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, they're rolling in now.


COOPER: Really gives you a sense of the chaos there.

Randi joins us now live from Aurora, Colorado.

On the dispatch tapes, did they ever identify the child that they were trying to save?

KAYE: No, Anderson, they never I.D.ed her. They never said who she was, but we can only guess that it was Veronica Moser-Sullivan. She was the 6-year-old who died in this theater shooting.

There were no autopsy results released, so it's hard to know what her injuries were and what maybe possibly -- if she could have been saved if they had reached her sooner.

COOPER: And any response from emergency responders about the delays in treatment? Because the police seemed to be on the scene immediately.

KAYE: Right.

The police were there within minutes. We did get a statement just moments before we went on air from the city and from EMS telling us that they also arrived within minutes, that they started treating patients immediately. And that's true.

We reported that in our story. You just heard that. But what they don't identify is which patients. It could have been the patients in the parking lot. It wasn't the patients who were critically injured who were at the theater, because you have to wonder why would the police be calling for ambulances over and over and over again, Anderson, for more than 20 minutes if they were staring at an ambulance right there in front of them?

So, clearly, they weren't there. They did say though that all of the patients were en route to the hospital within 55 minutes.

COOPER: Yes. Well, a lot of confusion obviously.

Randi Kaye, appreciate it -- Randi talking with the people who worked to keep a horrible trying from being even worse. And so many people responded so quickly, as we have said.

Now, because we have made a promise along with the people of Aurora to remember the lives of the fallen, we want to remember tonight Rebecca Wingo, the mother of two. She was multitalented, her friends say, multilingual. She devoured books in a single sitting and was putting herself through school again. She was just 32 years old.

Her mother, Shirley, joins us now.

Shirley, I'm so sorry for your loss. And I can't even imagine what you're going through and what your family is going through. We have been trying to just talk to as many family members, and we just want to hear about what Rebecca was like. I heard so many people describe her in such glowing ways. What do you want people to know about Rebecca?

SHIRLEY WYGAL, MOTHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM: We want Rebecca to be remembered for the loving, giving, brilliant soul that she was.

We want her life in the military to be honored. She was in the Air Force for 11 years as a Mandarin Chinese linguist. She was going back to school. She wanted to work with foster children who are aging out of the system and have nowhere to go.

She was just the best-hearted person you ever would meet. And we also wanted to thank everyone who's helped us so much. And we wanted to clear up some confusion about the 529, that's fine, and also the (INAUDIBLE) Web site.

And we want you to know those funds are being used to bring in people from all over the world that love Rebecca and want to say goodbye to her. So thank you so much for letting us all get together.

COOPER: You're joined also by Kate Wodahl, a great friend of Rebecca.

Kate, you were Rebecca's best friend. What was it about her that drew you together? I heard one person say that she was like a catalyst when she entered a room. She sort of lit up the room.


I met her at a music show. Music was one of her favorite things. And she just -- she was so vibrant. And everybody was drawn to her. And we just -- it turned out we had so much in common. And we just became friends instantly. And we spent a lot of time together going to shows. And she was always there for anyone that needed her all the time. She was the most giving person and the most brilliant spirit I have ever met.

COOPER: She has left behind two daughters. Do they understand what's happened?

WYGAL: The 9-year-old has a better grasp, but the 5-year-old, no. And we have been told by psychologists that they're too young to understand permanence. So even if the 9-year-old understands that mommy died, she doesn't -- she can't imagine that mommy is never coming back, ever.

COOPER: I know that you have all been gathering with friends and family and just remembering Rebecca and remembering all the good things about her. And I think it's so important to remember how somebody lived their life, not just how their life ended. And so I guess, Shirley, is there...

WYGAL: Oh, absolutely in this case.


Shirley, is there anything else you want people to know about Rebecca?

WODAHL: She should be an example to everyone as the most amazing way to live a life, just go for it, and kindness all the time.


WODAHL: She always showed kindness to everyone. She didn't have a mean bone in her body.


WODAHL: If everyone lived that way, we would have a much better world.

WYGAL: That's right. We're going to do it Rebecca's way from now on.


COOPER: I know that the prayer vigil on Sunday -- I have said this before, but I thought one of the most moving moments was when a speaker would read out somebody's name and the whole crowd would roar back, "We will remember you."

And I just want to leave you with that tonight. And I think there's a lot of people.

WYGAL: Thank you.

COOPER: And we will remember her. And I appreciate you coming on and talking about her.

WODAHL: Thank you.

WYGAL: Thank you so much.


COOPER: Shirley, Kate, I wish you both strength. Yes, I wish you both strength and peace.

WYGAL: And thank everybody in the world for praying for us. Thank you.

COOPER: We will remember.

When we come back, injured survivors who are facing not only long and painful recovery in some cases, but very big hospital bills -- some hope to report on that front next.


COOPER: Well, they held the first funeral today in Aurora for Gordon Cowden, 51 years old, the oldest victim. In the coming days, 11 more families will lay their loved ones to rest.

They will be remembered.

As for the survivors and their families, many are now facing another kind of nightmare, the prospect of crippling medical bills. There's late word though on a way out for some of these families.

The story now from Ed Lavandera.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): -- battling another villain, daunting medical bills.

Caleb Medley was shot in the head. He's still in critical condition. His family says he's slowly getting better but will take years to recover. He's lost his right eye and is suffering brain damage.

Medley worked at Wal-Mart until January. At night, he chased his dream of being a comedian, finding standup gigs whenever he could.

CALEB MEDLEY, SHOOTING VICTIM: And I got one of those door frame gyms, you know? One of those things you set up in the door? And you -- you do the pull-ups and the sit-ups. I got mine all set up and I started to do one pull-up and I tore down my ceiling.

LAVANDERA: Medley's family expects medical bills to go well over $1 million. The Medleys don't have medical insurance and his wife just gave birth to their first child, so friends have started a Facebook page and Web site, asking for donations.

SETH MEDLEY, VICTIM'S BROTHER: The hospital bills are going to be insurmountable. It's extremely hard. It's very difficult but I know that we're not going to see him like this forever. It's going to be back on his feet in no time.

LAVANDERA: Petra Anderson was also shot in the head. She's required complex surgeries to remove a bullet that lodged in her skull.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What you can do --

LAVANDERA: So her sister is making a desperate plea with this video posted online.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The reality of after the hospital stay is starting to loom large. My mother was preparing to go down for a cancer treatment for a very aggressive potentially fatal cancer at the end of this month. My sister's hospital bills on top of that are making the financial reality look pretty daunting. So that's why we're reaching out to you.

LAVANDERA: The hospital bills will be staggering, the family says it will be far more than the almost $175,000 they've raised so far.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for standing with us and letting this joker know that he may have intended it as his story, but we're taking it back.

LAVANDERA: As if fighting for your life didn't require enough superhero strength, many survivors will battle another wound, inflicted by a gunman who called himself The Joker. And none of this is funny.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Ed Lavandera joins me now from Aurora.

Are the -- are the shooting victims getting any kind of financial help here?

LAVANDERA: Well, you know, there's a great deal from little -- small efforts, people collecting money as best they can from friends. There are more organized efforts like the Web sites and that sort of thing. But there's also we've heard late today from one of the hospitals, Children's Hospital Colorado, that told us late tonight that they will be waiving all of the medical costs for the patients that were brought there, for those that don't have insurance and for those that don't have -- that do have insurance, they'll have their deductibles and other -- those types of costs waived as well.

The governor's office has a fund that started that has some $2 million in it, but that was described simply as a good start. As many of these people will be facing many millions of dollars worth of medical costs in the weeks and months ahead.

COOPER: Yes. We're going to try to compile a lot of these Web sites and funds on our Web site, I don't think it's up there yet. We're going to try to get it up there by tomorrow at the very latest so people can check in and see if they want to help.

Ed, appreciate that reporting.

There's a lot more we're following tonight. Isha is here with the "360 Bulletin" -- Isha. ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, Aurora was on President Obama's mind tonight in New Orleans. He spoke to the Urban League and he talked gun control.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, like most Americans, believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms, but I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hand of criminals.


SESAY: The law banning such weapons expired in 2004 and both parties have shied away from renewing it.

A group of Penn State football players say they will not leave the program despite NCAA's sanctions imposed in the Sandusky scandal.

And North Korea's leader is no longer a bachelor. A state-run media saying Kim Jong-Un has married a woman named Ri Sol Ju. No details about her or when the wedding took place -- Anderson.

COOPER: Isha, thanks.

Tonight, a newly released video shows how close a SeaWorld trainer came to death when a killer whale he'd worked with for years suddenly turned on him during a performance, dragged him under water repeatedly. The videotaped attack it was key evidence when regulators slapped SeaWorld with safety violations after the death of another trainer in 2010. There are important details in the video that you don't want to miss. We'll be right back.


COOPER: A hospital lab technician accused of spreading hepatitis C to at least 30 people by using patients' needles to give himself pain killers. Now there's word he could have had contact with thousands of patients in at least eight states. We have details ahead.


COOPER: Tonight for the first time, we're seeing a really chilling video that federal regulators used to defend their decision to slap SeaWorld with safety violations after the 2010 death of a trainer named Dawn Brancheau at SeaWorld Orlando. The newly released video shows a 5,000 pound whale repeatedly dragging a very experienced trainer under water at SeaWorld's San Diego Park.

The trainer was injured but did manage finally to escape even though he's held under water for long periods of time. Now keep in mind this was shot four years before Dawn Brancheau was killed.

Tom Foreman now takes a closer look. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Set against the seemingly cheerful background of the SeaWorld's orca show in San Diego, the video from 2006 is chilling. Ken Peters, an experienced trainer, is swimming with a 5,000 pound female name Kasatka, an animal he's worked with for years. With no apparent warning, the killer whale grabs his feet and pulls him under water for close to a minute. Then it brings him to the surface where the trainer pets the whale, tries to calm it, only to be yanked down again.

CAROL RAY, FORMER TRAINER: It's a horrifying event to watch.

FOREMAN: We asked Carol Ray, who was herself a SeaWorld trainer for two years, what she sees that a tourist might miss.

RAY: I think that Kasatka was trying to make a point. Once they finally come to the surface that first time, she's making a point by keeping him captive like that.

FOREMAN: Ray insists that many times in her experience orcas broke off from their trainers, acting out in a sense. Usually the whales were brought back under control with no serious results. And in the 2006 video, the whale finally releases Peters who scrambled from the pool and staggers away with a broken foot.

RAY: I think he had no choice but to simply remain calm, do what he can to get her to relax. But at the same time if she had wanted to do more damage, she very easily could have. And I think it was her decision.

FOREMAN: Amid reports of Kasatka's attack in 2006 SeaWorld said this.

MIKE SCARPUZZI, SEAWORLD HEAD TRAINER: There are times like this when they are killer whales and she did choose to demonstrate her feelings in a way that obviously was unfortunate. And we are unfortunate that our guests did have to see this and, you know, we obviously do not want this.

FOREMAN (on camera): Now embroiled in litigation with the government over working conditions, SeaWorld said it could give us only a written statement about that video.

(Voice-over): Which says, in part, that it, "Clearly shows the trainer's remarkable composure and the skillful execution of an emergency response, which helped result in a successful outcome with minor injuries. SeaWorld's trainer returned to work shortly after this incident and remains a member of the team to this day."

Just as the debate continues, too, over trainers coming nose to nose with the sea's top predators.

RAY: The only reason to get in the water with them is for entertainment.

FOREMAN: Over how close man and beast should be as the show goes on.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Investigative journalist David Kirby is the author of "Death at SeaWorld." He obtained the video of the 2006 incident through a Freedom of Information request. He joins me now.

David, good to see you again. You say this whale was trying to send the trainer a message related to her calf. How so?

DAVID KIRBY, AUTHOR, "DEATH AT SEAWORLD": Her calf was in the back pool and she was being forced or asked to perform in (INAUDIBLE) show in the front pool. And this had happened several times before. When Kasatka would hear her calf calling for her from the back pool, she would break from control. Sometimes she would swim in angry circles. She had actually grabbed Ken Peters twice before this incident.

And we don't know for sure, we can't get inside her mind, but any intelligent mother wanting to be with her calf and comfort her calf would try to make her distress known to the people she works with including people she's quite close to, like this trainer.

COOPER: You know, folks who support SeaWorld say well, look, this is educational, it's informing people, a wide audience, about these incredible animals. I don't understand, though, why it is OK to take these animals out of the wild and put them in a small pool, given their size. I mean, it just seems kind of a throwback to another time, doesn't it?

KIRBY: It is a little bit like the dancing bears from the Victorian era, which now we would never permit and would abhor. Kasatka was captured from Iceland when she was quite young. As was Tilicum. He was taken away from his mother from the ocean when he was 3 years old. These animals tend to stay with their families their entire lives. They have very tight bonds with each other.

And when we separate them and put them into artificial pods, in an artificial ocean, that is maybe 1/10,000th the size of their natural range, I think it's only understandable why some of them, not all, are going to have moments of aggression, they're going to act out, they're going to snap. And I think Kasatka snapped. It was trying to tell her trainer she was unhappy. I think Tilicum definitely snapped.

Ken Peters got out of the pool alive. Unfortunately Dawn Brancheau did not.

By the way, that was just over three years after the Peters incident, and three years after that incident also a trainer was killed in Spain by a SeaWorld whale on loan to that park and there was a SeaWorld trainer who was conducting the training exercise when the Spanish trainer Alexis Martinez was rammed and killed. So three years after this incident, we had two deaths in a killer whale pool. COOPER: We have a "Digital Dashboard" question from Facebook. Sean Evans asked, "What extra safety procedures were set up after the attack in 2006 and why didn't it prevent the attack in 2010?"

KIRBY: I am not aware of any specific safety procedures that were set up after this attack except they finally removed Kasatka from what is called water work. Trainers are still no longer allowed to get in the pool with her. But the Cal/OSHA, the occupational safety organization in California, issued a very scathing report on the attack and issued several recommendations to prevent it from happening again. And they said if you don't do this, it's only a matter of time before somebody dies.

Well, SeaWorld apparently applied a lot of political pressure to get that report removed from the record and that warning and they went about their business. And three years later, two people died.

COOPER: We'll continue to follow this.

David Kirby, appreciate your being with us. Thank you.

New clue in the search for missing cousins in Iowa. A story we've been following. Surveillance video apparently shows the two little girls riding their bikes together before they disappeared. We'll tell you what we know and show it to you ahead.


COOPER: Tonight, a very disturbing story. A medical story that's raising some important questions. This man, a 33-year-old lab technician, is accused of spreading hepatitis C, which is a potentially deadly disease, to at least 30 people, and possibly hundreds if not thousands of more. He's worked in hospitals in eight states, Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania.

Authorities say he injected himself with painkillers meant for patients when he worked at a hospital in New Hampshire and left the syringes to be reused on patients. But tonight, there's troubling new information about his past.

Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins me now.

So these people allegedly got infected by these technician using dirty needles on them?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, using needles or syringes that he had already used. It's called drug diversion where a health care worker takes a drug that was meant for a patient and uses it on him or herself. In a federal affidavit says that this man, alleges that this man would take Fentanyl, which is a powerful, powerful narcotic that was meant for a patient, would use it on himself, and then would sort of quietly replace that syringe with another one that was filled with saline that he had previously used.

So far 30 people have tested positive for hepatitis C, the same strain that he has.

COOPER: So the reason, I guess, according to that, is he wasn't intentionally trying to spread hepatitis C, he was just trying to mask the fact that he was shooting himself with this painkiller.

COHEN: Right. When you read the federal affidavit it becomes clear that he was -- you know, that they seemed to think that he was an addict. I mean, when they finally found him, he was in a hotel room, intoxicated, suicidal, and so yes, he wasn't intentionally trying to kill people. He was keeping up his habit, it's what it sounds like.

COOPER: And he worked in at least nine hospitals in eight states since 2007. Were there any signs that he -- that he was stealing these drugs meant for patients?

COHEN: You know, there is. And that's what's particularly disturbing about this story, Anderson. In 2008, according to an FBI affidavit, he was working in a hospital and in the hospital, they started noticing that he was acting erratically, and so they did an investigation because an employee noticed something.

And I'll read to you exactly from that affidavit. What it says was that, "An employee in the operating room observed Kwiatkowski enter an operating room, lift his shirt, put a syringe in his pants, and exit the room. Three empty syringes bearing Fentanyl labels were found on his person. An empty morphine sulfate syringe and a needle were later found in his locker. A drug test found Fentanyl and opiates in Kwiatkowski's urine."

So you look at that and you think, well, that pretty much says it right there, but from what we can tell, this was never reported to federal authorities. He later left that hospital and moved on to another one.

COOPER: So are hospitals supposed to report incidents like that one?

COHEN: They are. They are supposed to report an incident like that to the Drug Enforcement Agency. As a matter of fact, whenever even a single narcotic is missing, if they, for example, find a syringe of Fentanyl missing, they're supposed to report that. And they're really supposed to report when it goes beyond that. But you know experts tell me that often they don't. They don't report it. They just want to get rid of the perpetrator and move on.

COOPER: And so he moves on to the next hospital in 2008, ends up at Exitor Hospital in New Hampshire. Did anyone there notice anything?

COHEN: You know, some nurses did notice something. They said that he was acting strangely. His eyes were red and puffy. And in fact it got to the point where his supervisor called Kwiatkowski in and said hey, what's going on here? And he said oh, my aunt died. I got the news last night. I've been crying since 3:00 in the morning. His supervisor said well, why don't you just go home. And according to a federal official we talked to, he said it appeared like the supervisor just kind of bought the aunt death story. Turned out his aunt didn't really die.

COOPER: Wow. Elizabeth, appreciate the reporting. Thanks.

Let's get the latest on other stories we're following right now. Isha's back with the "360 Bulletin."

SESAY: Anderson, a video surfaces authorities believe shows the two Iowa girls who've been missing since July 13th riding their bikes on the day they disappeared. The Sheriff's Office believes the girls on the surveillance video are 8-year-old Elizabeth Collins and his 10- year-old cousin Lyric Cook. And the time line matches up to when they left the house.

Tito Jackson's son T.J. has been appointed temporary guardian of Michael Jackson's children. There's been family drama playing out with conflicting reports about the whereabouts of the children's grandmother and guardian Katherine Jackson.

Baseball legend Carl Ripken's mother was abducted at gun point from her home in Maryland but is now safe and with relatives. That's according to authority. Police say the suspect showed up at the 74- year-old woman's home early yesterday, forced her into a car. Police say the suspect seemed to have used her credit card, but there's no evidence of any ransom demands.

And Anderson, disturbing video from a bar in Augusta, Georgia. A 36-year-old man you see there was hospitalized after police say he let his friends douse him in alcohol and set his head on fire during a bar bet.

COOPER: Are you kidding me? I mean --

SESAY: Yes. Yes.


SESAY: An investigator says he's seen some crazy things over the years but that tops the list.

COOPER: All right. Isha, thanks very much.

Coming up, a town in Texas that is all about bikinis. "The RidicuList" is next.


COOPER: Yes, time for the "RidicuList." Now I don't know whether you're aware of this, but there's a sports bar franchise in Texas called Bikinis. Now I'm not personally familiar with the establishment, but I would imagine it's some kind of themed restaurant involving the history of the nuclear weapons test on bikini (INAUDIBLE) of the 1940s. No? Oh, no. OK. So, yes, Bikinis Bar and Grill is a magical alternate universe in which women in bikinis serve bacon, cheeseburgers and beer. Now basically it's Hooters only without the oppressive Victorian uniforms. Plus one other major difference at Bikinis they have fried Oreos on the menu.

Mmm, Oreos.

But here's the deal with Bikinis Bar and Grill, you'd think the guy who owns it would be on top of the world, right? Having brought together fully loaded nachos and nearly naked employees. But like all visionaries who came before him, the owner of Bikinis is not content to rest on those laurels. He had new trails to blaze. So he bought a town in Texas and renamed it Bikinis. It's actually not a town, per se. The area formerly known as Banker Smith, Texas, is a couple of acres, an old building and abandoned bus, still the breasturant owner -- not my word, by the way, it's on their Web site.

Anyway, the guy says he wants to turn it into a world class destination, possibly with a Bikinis Hall of Fame.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We thought it'd be a great opportunity to put an -- sort of a headquarters for bikinis and literally put it on the map.


COOPER: Now there's actually another piece to this story. Some strings attached if you will. According to "The Dallas Observer" and other local reports, back in the '90s, a woman named Maggie Montgomery built a stage in Banker Smith and has been hosting some pretty amazing sounding live music jams there ever since.

I'm guessing it's the end of that era. Yes, in Bikinis, Texas, it is skimpy swimwear one, music zero. But the locals, they say it best.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The locals around here no matter what you change the name to from Hooters to Bikinis to McDonald's. The locals are still going to call it Banker Smith, Texas.


COOPER: Mmm, McDonald's. Very well said, by the way. Call it what you will. But in hearts of those in the know, it will always be Banker Smith, Texas, from top to bottom.

That's it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.