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Shooting at Sikh Temple Leaves Six Dead; Voting Rights Act Anniversary Recognized; Usain Bolt Sets New World Record; Interview with Bob Beamon

Aired August 6, 2012 - 07:00   ET


ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: That's a very late edition.


VELSHI: Ali Velshi is also joining Zoraida Sambolin. Good morning. I'm Ali Velshi. Apparently, everybody else is off.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: So happy to have you this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Soledad is off today.

And our "Starting Point," why? Police searching for a motive in the Sikh temple massacre in Wisconsin. Did a gunman, an army veteran, target the victims for their turbans and their beards?

VELSHI: And sticking a landing. Cheers from mission control to the crossroads of this world as Curiosity touches down on Mars.

SAMBOLIN: Still the fastest man alive, Usain Bolt blazes to 100- meter gold in London and silences his critics.

VELSHI: That was incredible.

SAMBOLIN: It was a moment.

VELSHI: Well, it's Monday, August the 6th, and "Starting Point" begins right now.

Good morning. Thank you for joining us. It is a busy, busy morning.

SAMBOLIN: It is indeed. Out STARTING POINT this morning, the deadly shooting tragedy at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. We're learning more about the gunman who killed six people and wounded three others. Law enforcement officials spent the night searching for the suspected gunman's home. He didn't know -- we don't know his identity yet, but a source tells CNN the suspect was an army veteran who may have been a white supremacist. Witnesses say he was bald, wearing a white t-shirt and black pants, and had a 9/11 tattoo on one arm. The latest victim we have confirmed, the temple leader, who was shot when he was trying to tackle the victim. Six victims dead along with the gunman.

David Mattingly joins us now from Oak Creek, Wisconsin. What is the latest?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, here's what we know this morning. We have a law enforcement source who is involved in the investigation telling us that the shooter was an army veteran and at one time, it was believed, to be a white supremacist. We know the witnesses at the temple describe him as a white male, bald, wearing a t-shirt, dark pants, with a tattoo that says "9/11." All of that together, we have a local law enforcement official saying they were approaching this as a case of domestic terrorism.

Now, late into the night last night, about five miles from here, they were searching a house believed to be the home of the shooter. They were approaching it cautiously. I was out there until very late last night watching this going on. The evacuated the houses nearby the house they were shooting -- that they were going into. They were also getting the people in nearby streets to stay in their homes. They approached this very cautiously as if there still might be someone in that particular house. But they did gain entry and they were seen coming out carrying large boxes, what was in those boxes, we do not know.

But as far as a possible motive, there are no answers yet about why this happened and why here and why now. But the point has been made from the people in that temple, that temple is open every day for people to come in and worship, and now they feel their security has been deeply shaken. Listen.


JOHN EDWARDS, CHIEF OAK CREEK POLICE: We're treating this as a domestic terrorist type incident, and therefore the FBI has the resources needed to help investigate that.


MATTINGLY: And at this point we are continuing to wait, that same source telling us that this shooter was an army veteran and possibly a white supremacist, also telling us this morning that we should be able to learn publicly the identity of this man. But as far as a possible motive right now, there's still speculation, no official word on why this happened.

SAMBOLIN: All right, David Mattingly, live from Oak Creek, Wisconsin, thank you very much. Coming up in a couple of minutes, we're going to speak to the mayor and police chief from Oak Creek for the latest there.

VELSHI: Other top stories this morning, it's being called the most important space mission of the decade, and it kicked off just this morning. NASA's Curiosity space rover has landed on mars, you are looking at the first images from the expedition. Its mission is to find out if there was ever life on the red planet and if it could be habitable in the future. I always think of creatures walking around as opposed they are looking for microbial life.

SAMBOLIN: I can't wait to talk to them. They are so wonky and excited good the landing.

Wildfires are still burning in parts of Oklahoma. One scorched almost 91 square miles between Mannford and Kellyville. Dozens of homes and buildings have burned to the ground. But many families are being allowed to return. Light rain and cooler temperatures have been helping the firefighters make significant gains.

VELSHI: Still no cause of death for the son of Philadelphia eagles coach Andy Reid. Police say 29-year-old Garrett Reid was found dead in his room yesterday morning at the team's training camp at Lehigh University. They do not suspect foul play. Garrett Reid battled drug abuse for many years. Went to prison in 2007 for a high speed crash after cops found heroin and more than 200 pills in his car.

SAMBOLIN: Political shake-up in Syria this morning -- the country's prime minister has defected and fled to Jordan. That is according to the opposition. Syria state television claims he resigned. Meantime state TV also reports an explosion at their building in Damascus that injured several people. Syrian rebels claim government warplanes have launched new shelling attacks in Aleppo. They say 44 people have been killed this morning, that is including ten children.

VELSHI: The U.S. attorneys' office won't confirm or deny reports that Jared Lee Loughner will plead guilty in the Tucson shooting rampage. The "L.A. Times" and the "Wall Street Journal" aren't identifying their sources by name, but they say tomorrow's competency hearing will be a change of plea hearing instead. The shooting killed six people and wounded 13, including then Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords last year.

SAMBOLIN: The bolt is back at the London games, Jamaica's Usain Bolt takes another gold at the 100 meter and sets a new Olympic record to boot, 9.63 seconds. He won gold in Beijing in 2008 as well. Three other sprinters finished under 9.8 seconds. The other big story out of London, hometown tennis star Andy Murray does good, winning gold on the hallowed lawns at Wimbledon and did it convincingly, drubbing Roger Federer in straight sets.

VELSHI: That was good. There is the medal count, by the way.

SAMBOLIN: It's an all-out dogfight between the U.S. and China now. This morning China is back on top, 61 overall medals, 30 gold, the U.S. right behind, 60 medals, 28 gold, Great Britain third with 37 overall.

Ahead on STARTING POINT Martin Luther king III joins us to mark the 57th anniversary of the voting rights act as continued criticism that minorities are being prevented from voting.

VELSHI: And does President Obama dislike his challenger Mitt Romney? A new book says he actually does. You are watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Alison Kosik "Minding your Business" this morning. U.S. stock futures for Dow and NASDAQ are trading higher right now. It's expected to be a choppy week of trading, but here's what's moving markets higher -- speculation that the world central banks, including the Federal Reserve in the U.S. will do something to stimulate the world's biggest economies.

Gas prices are up for the past eight days in a row and up over the last month of July in the last 12 years. Today's average, according to AAA, is at $3.62 per gallon. Prices are going up because of the rising prices in oil.

More than a dozen states are gearing up for tax-free shopping days, and I'm going to tweet this out the link to the CNN Money story on this where you can see a list of all of states shown on the map that includes the dates for the tax free shopping days. And you can see anywhere from four to seven percent, depending on where you live. Every little bit helps if you ask me.

VELSHI: I do agree with that. There's talk this week -- somebody tweeted me this because they saw something that stocks are going to be choppy this week. Why do you think that is? I'm wondering why that's different from any other week?

KOSIK: That's true. It is sort of like Groundhog Day all over again every week. Part of it the fact that not a lot of people are investing right now and vacation is happening.

VELSHI: Summer doldrums, low volume.

KOSIK: Not one factor driving the market. You see everybody kind of trying to make their money quickly. We see choppy, we mean bounce around quickly.

VELSHI: Right, right. So when fewer stocks are being traded, you're likely to see more volatility. There's nothing -- we had jobs and had the Fed announcement that didn't turn out to be anything.

KOSIK: Europe.

VELSHI: European Central Bank. This week it's end of summer. Alison, good to see you.

SAMBOLIN: Today marks the 57th anniversary of the voting rights act signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on August 6th, 1965.


LYNDON B. JOHNSON, (D) FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man. For breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible laws which imprison men because they are different than other men. Today what is perhaps the last of the legal barriers is tumbling and there will be many actions and many difficulties before the rights would haven into law are also woven into the fabric of our nation.


SAMBOLIN: With America's first black president up for reelection, the conversation about voting rights has been reignited. And 30 states are currently enforcing some type of voter I.D. law which many civil rights advocates say is an effort to suppress the minority vote. Joining me are Martin Luther King II, president and CEO of the King Center and oldest son of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as well as former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young who helped draft the voting rights acts of 1965. He is issuing an open letter to America today to mark its anniversary. Thank you so much gentlemen for joining us this morning.

Ambassador, you were there to witness history and present for the signing. America, we're wondering whether it has made any progress. What do you think the challenges are or continue to be?

AMBASSADOR ANDREW YOUNG, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: We've made enormous progress, but what happens is we still don't have the majority of Americans participating in the election. Less than a third of the American population will even bother to vote. And there's something wrong with that. That -- the voting rights problem has been replaced by financial problems. And that now it's not who has the most votes but who gets the most money. And that has totally distorted our problem.

And we need to are revise the voting rights act to do something more along the order of our European or Israeli friends. They make voting mandatory and vote on weekends when everybody can vote. And America can't be -- I think we're number 139 in terms of percentage turnout of democratic nations. And we're supposed to be the leader of the free world.

SAMBOLIN: There is a lot of apathy. Mr. King, if you can tell me about the effort now, what you're doing, what it's all about and why we should care. Why are we talking about this this morning?

MARTIN LUTHER KING III, PRESIDENT AND CEO, THE KING CENTER: My dad used to say a vote-less people is powerless people. One of the most important steps we could take is the short step to the ballot box. As ambassador young said, out of 170 plus countries we're number 138. That is unacceptable. We have to find a way to make sure access and opportunity is available for all people. And by virtue of the fact there are nearly 30 states or a little more who passed laws that might be perceived as restricting voting. I'm kind of disappointed that 47 years after the voting rights was signed on this day, that there may be some Americans who may not be able to vote because what is perceived as restrictions.

So part of what we're doing is a campaign to educate and inform the public. And this is not partisan. This is about one party. This is not about a candidate. This is far bigger than any candidate. This is for every American to be able to participate and have access in this most important process that my dad and others gave their lives so that we may have. SAMBOLIN: Mr. King, you were talking about these restrictive voter I.D. laws so I want to put information up for viewers. It's a recent study for Brennan Center for Justice, in ten states that passed restrictive voter I.D. laws since 2008, it could be more difficult for as many as 5 million voters to cast their ballot. What is the reaction to the claims about voter suppression?

YOUNG: I just turned 80 years old, born in New Orleans. Now they tell me when I want to get my driver's license renewed, I have to have a whole raft of the papers. I'm not sure I know where the papers are and can't go back to New Orleans to get them. It's more and more cumbersome to vote. And that's not the direction in which a democracy should be moving.

SAMBOLIN: You have this awesome perspective -- congratulations on the 80 years of age. Do you think that having an African-American president is actually reigniting these old prejudices?

YOUNG: I would rather say that we have a very divided nation on the way in which we should go. And frankly, I think we would have that divided nation if everybody was the same color. And so I would rather keep color out of it and say, which direction do we want the country to move in?

And I think the same thing is true with voting rights. Voting rights was a racial problem in 1965. Now it's a problem of voter participation for the elderly, for young, for college students. And the difficulties that make our vote less and less important because of the billions of dollars that are going into elections -- we will spend more money per vote on this election than any other election in our history.

And the next president, whomever that is, needs to change that and make it possible for a citizens vote to count. Next year on August the 6th, we hope to be in Washington talking to the next president about straightening out this voting procedure once and for all. First of all, it ought not be on a Tuesday in November. Chris Rock says if you want to have a party and don't want anybody to come, have it on a Tuesday in November.


YOUNG: But we can vote on weekends. Many countries vote on weekends and they get 80, 90 turnout. It's embarrassing for America to have less than a third of the people and usually that means that about 15 percent of the people elect the president. And he doesn't have a mandate, whoever he is, because you've got so many people frustrated on the other side because they did not have a place and did not have a voice. We've got to give every American a voice in the election of our president.

SAMBOLIN: I'm sorry to interrupt you, I know you don't want to break this down along racial lines, but Mr. King, I want to bring you into this election. In 2008 president Obama took the black vote, and right now he is crushing Romney among black voters, 87 to 5 percent. There are concerns about the African-American turnout. Do you think the low turnout could hurt the president?

KING: Well, think the low turnout does not just impact the president, it impacts the whole process. And the reality is the goal should be to create the climate for everyone to participate, and, as ambassador young has said, to make it as easy as possible, not to make it as complicate d as possible, maybe those as immigrants cannot vote. The goal is to make sure everyone has access.

SAMBOLIN: Ambassador Andrew Young, Martin Luther King III, thank you for joining us, we appreciate the dialogue and perspective.

VELSHI: Andrew Young, not only 80 years old, Delta has named a plane after him to celebrate his 80th birthday. He's a great Atlanta and Georgia presence.

SAMBOLIN: That's wonderful.

VELSHI: Coming up ahead on STARTING POINT, Usain Bolt sprints into Olympic history. This guy can run!


VELSHI: It was incredible.

SAMBOLIN: And fast.

VELSHI: And fast. We'll talk to former Olympian Bob Beamon about the incredible race as long as his own long-standing record in the long jump.

SAMBOLIN: You know him from "Extreme Makeover Home Edition." How Ty Pennington is now getting Republicans and Democrats involved to help veterans. You're watching STARTING POINT.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, a look at some of today's top stories. The FBI in Denver says a suicidal person who made threats against oil and gas sites in western Colorado is in custody. Investigators have be conducting sweeps of a refinery and surrounding area and haven't found public safety issues.

VELSHI: A SWAT team surrounding a building during a hostage situation in California, two workers at the sporting goods show near Sacramento were held captive for four hours by an armed suspect yesterday. Police say the man tried to rob the store but a manager was able to call 911. They talked him out in the end.

SAMBOLIN: Later president Harry Truman's grandson will attend ceremonies marking Hiroshima and go to ceremonies in Nagasaki on Thursday. It is the first time a member of Truman's family will attend ceremonies in Japan.

VELSHI: Jamaica's Usain Bolt proving once again he's the fastest man in the world, shattering the Olympic record in the 100 meter, 9.63 seconds. Watch very closely. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Usain bolt trying to come down. Tyson gay, here's bolt, usain bolt explodes and still the king of the 100!


SAMBOLIN: He's number one.

VELSHI: Look at that.

SAMBOLIN: Bolt may have the newest Olympic record, but American Bob Beamon has the oldest. In 1968 the long jumper created one of the greatest Olympic moments of all time. Seeming to defy physics he jumped 8.9 meters. That's more than 29 feet. When his shoes touched the ground he set an Olympic record that still stands today.

VELSHI: I have trouble to getting to 29 feet on a ladder.


SAMBOLIN: Bob Beamon is live from London with us. So happy to have you. Thank you very much. Of course, we've got to talk about that crazy record-breaking speed of Usain Bolt. He obviously is the greatest sprinter in history. What were you thinking when you saw him?

BOB BEAMON, GOLD MEDALIST, 1968 SUMMER GAMES: Well, I just think that once in a blue moon, we get someone with some amazing and astonishing speed. The first that I can say would be Jesse Owens and then you have the Carl Lewis and now you have the Usain Bolt. So every now and then we get a blessing of fantastic athletes doing something extraordinarily well, and Usain has done it again with 9.63, which is something unheard of.

VELSHI: Bob, we know these are supposed to be the best athletes in the world. They train relentlessly. When you look at that kind of thing and look at your jump. How much of that is just you? There's got to be some absolute innate natural ability that people can never train to attain.

BEAMON: For myself, I had an incredible day October 18th, 1968, where my horizontal and vertical just met and it was so compatible. I couldn't have it better at a better day. It happened at the Olympic Games. And the Olympic Games is somewhat kind of a mind over matter. And so we go in with some of the greatest athletes, sometimes come out with absolutely nothing in their hand.

But for some strange reason for the last eight years, this is four years have gone by, and Usain bolt has come up with incredible speed and breaking the Olympic record. Now, for some reason my record is still standing as actually the distance, two feet away, what they jumped a couple of days ago, two feet away from where I jumped eight meters.

SAMBOLIN: How cool is that, to know nobody has broken your record?

BEAMON: That's pretty cool. But you know what, maybe I need to come out of retirement and bring some excitement, you know?


VELSHI: He says my horizontal and vertical just met that day. I would love that to happen to me one day.


SAMBOLIN: Let's look at some events coming ahead. Track and field events to come, Jens Ser Looking for a gold in the women's pole vaulting final today. Which athletes do you have your eye on?

BEAMON: It's kind of for the women's pole vault, it's been quite a different ride for me because when I competed in 1968, there was no such thing. And so I'm standing right now in amazement and trying to say, wow, how can these gals go over that distance? And at one point, those jumps are at one time was for men in the Olympics that only jumped that distance back in the early 40s or the early '30s. This is a new event, that's been in play for just a couple of Olympics. And so I'm going to be watching it myself because I'm waiting for the next woman to jump 17 feet.

VELSHI: You talk about things that have changed since you've been there. Oscar Pistorius, the South African runner, the Olympics first double amputee to obviously the subject of a lot of interest at the games. He failed to qualify for the 400 meters yesterday. What were you thinking about that?

BEAMON: Well, I didn't see the event, but, however, I think it's quite an accomplishment that we have someone that has a handicap that can compete in the regular games. I think that is an absolutely outstanding. That gives hope for the younger ones that are coming along that say I have every great opportunity like this gentleman to be an Olympic champion too.

VELSHI: That was pretty impressive. I got to say, one way or the other. Qualified or not, the fact he's in that race. You know, Zoraida and I both got in on flights really late last night.

And we're trying to perk each other up because we didn't get much sleep. The rule at the Olympics no hanky panky the night before, no trouble, don't do things --

SAMBOLIN: I can't believe he's going there.

VELSHI: When you were -- when you won your gold medal, what did you do the night before?

BEAMON: Well, I just enjoyed the night. I got myself ready mentally and physically and got myself ready. I think the good word is, don't worry, be happy.

VELSHI: You didn't break any of your own rules the night before? BEAMON: No, as I said, I thought about don't worry, be happy. Because I felt so good the next day, it was just really a wonderful night.

SAMBOLIN: Words to live by. Don't worry, be happy. Bob Beamon, thank you so much, gold medalist, 1968 summer games. It's nice to have you with us this morning.

VELSHI: The news you heard here, he may come out of retirement to beat his own record. We were both out -- there was big traffic in New York and we were both in different cities, which is a risky business doing a morning show.

We're totally into it now after talking to an Olympian. We're up and ahead, so coming up on STARTING POINT, the RNC, Republican National Committee, announces the speaker's line up for the convention. Does the speakers' line up give you any insight into who Mitt Romney's running mate will be?

SAMBOLIN: And continued coverage of the shooting rampage at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin. An army veteran described as a white supremacist opens fire and kills six people. The mayor and police chief of that town joins us live next with the latest on this investigation. You are watching STARTING POINT.


VELSHI: Good morning. Welcome back to STARTING POINT. It's 35 minutes after the hour. We return now to our top story, the investigation into the Sikh temple shooting rampage.

This morning, we're hearing police radio transmissions that capture the terrifying moments.


UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: Ambulance up, subject's down! Officer is down! Bring the ambulance!


UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: We have one officer shot.

UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCH: Franklin Dispatch. Off (inaudible) 7512 South Powell Avenue, subject with a gun, white t-shirt, officer down.


VELSHI: Officer down. That injured police officer is in critical condition right now. We're joined by Oak Creek Mayor Steven Scaffidi and the Police Chief John Edwards.

Chief, let me start with you, the officer who is down. Can you give us an update into his condition?

JOHN EDWARDS, OAK CREEK POLICE CHIEF: Yes, he last night approximately 11:30 came out of his second surgery. The information I have is he's resting comfortably with his family in the ICU in a local hospital.

He was shot between eight and nine times during the shooting a lot of extremity shots, a shot in the neck, in the cheek area. None of those appear to be life threatening at this point. They have him resting comfortably and we hope he makes a full recovery.

VELSHI: Shot between eight and nine times, do you have any sense of the weapon that was used to shoot him?

EDWARDS: It was a handgun that was used. All indication is just one we recovered and it was very close proximity. That's why there were so many wounds.

He came around the officer's vehicle and approached him while he was tending to someone was hurt. He was assisting someone who had already been shot when the suspect came around and engaged the officer at a very close range.

VELSHI: Six people were killed, including the suspected shooter, Mayor Scaffidi, we learned overnight that one of the people who had been killed was the president of the temple. What do we know about his role in this incident?

STEPHEN SCAFFIDI, MAYOR OF OAK CREEK: I can't confirm that, I know that I believe the Sikh community released that community. Obviously he was one of their leaders. And if that is true, it's a sad day for that community and our community but I can't confirm the identity of any victims at this point.

VELSHI: All right, we have heard from other reports that he may have tried to tackle the gunman. Chief Edwards, sources are telling us that the suspect was recently discharged from the army. We are also hearing reports that he may have had some connection to white supremacist groups. What do you know about the suspect right now?

EDWARDS: We have some information on the suspect as far as -- I do understand he did have a military background. As far as the white supremacist, things are being checked on his background.

All kinds of leads are coming in and I think it would be premature for me to say or confirm that was the case. I would hate to put something out right now that we would have to retract later.

We are looking into all of those claims that we've gotten and hopefully can confirm those later this morning.

VELSHI: As far as you know, no background that you know of about the suspect that was obvious or would have been obvious to your police force as you responded to this horrific crime.

EDWARDS: He lived in a community neighboring ours and we're doing a 24-hour back-check to just get any idea what he was doing and right now, there are no indications that there were any red flags at this point.

VELSHI: Mayor, I understand the president called you and the governor personally. What has he said about this and more importantly, was the degree of federal involvement in this investigation?

SCAFFIDI: The president called me about 4:45 in the afternoon yesterday, it was very comforting to me and the community he expressed his condolences not only himself but his family.

He offered the full support of the federal government and the agencies responsible for investigating this. We welcome that and willing to do whatever we can to make that process go smooth.

VELSHI: Chief, what makes this an investigation that would require or invite federal authorities into it? Is it -- if it becomes something we start to look at as a hate crime or the term you used yesterday, a domestic terrorism type incident. Explain to me what the distinction is.

EDWARDS: We definitely when we look at something like this with the Sikh community, obviously we have to look at that and say, is this a hate crime?

The FBI had resources that go beyond what we have and that's why we chose to go with the FBI as the lead on the investigation that we're assisting with them.

They just had more resources and had more knowledge and intel on this type of activity. So we need to look at all those things either to rule them out or confirm that's what this might be.

VELSHI: Mayor, tell us about the Sikh community in this -- in Oak Creek. What do you know about that? Have you had much interaction with them?

SCAFFIDI: We have. They've been in our community, at least their temple, has been in the community since 2006, very active, willing to help the community efforts. We have a large Indian community in the area and these are a very positive and willing to do whatever I can to help.

I grieve for that community. They are an asset. We have 23 places of worship in our city. They are one of them. And we -- we're not going to let something like this get in the way of that being the case in the future.

VELSHI: Chief, obviously, we've had a mass shooting very recently here in the United States and immediately after the shooting, the attention got focus on the shooter's residence, the place they live. You, I know are investigating this shooter's residence closely. What is it you're looking for and what is it you found?

EDWARDS: As far as what I found, I won't get into what is found, I won't get any details on that because it's an ongoing investigation. We're looking for anything to indicate motive. What this individual had been up to.

Anybody he may be affiliated with, anything that we can find at his residence. We go in there cautiously and want to make sure there's nothing left there for us as far as booby traps and clear it, that's why it takes so much time.

But basically, we're looking for anything that can give us any indication of motive on who this individual was.

VELSHI: Chief John Edwards, thanks very much for joining us and Mayor Stephen Scaffidi, the mayor of Oak Creek. We'll, of course, follow the story. We'll keep on following the story and good luck to you gentleman in finding out what you need to find out.

SCAFFIDI: Thank you.

EDWARDS: Thank you.

SAMBOLIN: Such a difficult situation, right, a place of peace and prayer --

VELSI: There's an extra element but the same thing with the movie theatre. That's a place you thought was safe, a place of worship is a place you think of as safe. To violate that I think just gives people such a great deep sense of insecurity.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, and fear. I was at the airport yesterday watching as this was unfolding and that's what everybody was saying. You're not safe anywhere anymore. That's a sad reality.

All right, ahead on STARTING POINT, could there be life on Mars? NASA space rover landed on the red planet just hours ago. Why scientists call this the most important space mission of the decade.

And former TV host Ty Pennington wants to give Congress an extreme makeover. Now he's getting Democrats and Republicans together to help our veterans.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Touchdown confirmed.


VELSHI: Cheers from NASA scientists early this morning as the "Curiosity" space rover landed on Mars. They really were excited.

SAMBOLIN: Look at this, they are hugging.

VELSHI: Crying, yes.

SAMBOLIN: It was so perfect. You're looking at the very first images from the expedition. It is being called the most important space mission in more than a decade. The goal here to find out if there has ever been life on Mars and if the planet could support life in the future.

VELSHI: CNN's John Zarrella, our resident space geek is in Pasadena, California very early in the morning at NASA's jet propulsion lab.

John, NASA scientists were able to get the "Curiosity," that's the craft through the so-called "Seven minutes of terror" using an untested parachute to propel through Mars' tough atmosphere.

This is an unusually difficult thing to do. It sounds simple the way we just described it, but it's not at all.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, in fact not at all. The "Seven minutes of terror" was aptly named because "Curiosity" hit the Martian atmosphere at 13,000 miles an hour, maneuvering itself through the atmosphere then the parachute deploys slowing curiosity to about 200 miles an hour.

Then after that, a series of pyrotechnic events to level up the "Curiosity" lander with the surface of Mars, the heat shield has to come off and back shell has to come off then it has to descend down to the surface on this sky crane apparatus. Then the three chiders have to be cut at the same time.

SAMBOLIN: Good gracious.

ZARRELLA: If any one of those events had gone wrong, the whole mission would have been lost. But it was so successful that immediately after they landed or within minutes, the entire EDL, entry and descent and landing team, came pouring out of mission control.

And started chanting as they ran across the courtyard, chanting EDL and made their way to -- there you can hear them there. Made their way to the auditorium where the news conference was about to begin.

And the president science adviser John Holdren during that press conference talked about just what a great success this was for America.


JOHN HOLDREN, WHITE HOUSE SCIENCE ADVISOR: If anybody has been harboring doubts about the status of U.S. leadership in space, well, there's a one ton automobile sized of American ingenuity that is -- and it's sitting on the surface of Nars right now and it should certainly put any such doubts to rest.


ZARRELLA: Now, Ali and Zoraida, we want to make sure the audience stays with us throughout the morning because we understand that NASA has spectacular images they are going to release in the next briefing.

One taken from the Mars reconnaissance orbiter will show "Curiosity's" parachute deployed as the vehicle is descending through the Martian atmosphere.

And other images taken from the descent camera as "Curiosity" was actually descending to the surface. We haven't seen images like that since the Apollo program so some terrific stuffs to look up today.

VELSHI: But are we going to see Martians? It's the question on everybody's mind, John.

SAMBOLIN: Not everybody's mind, Ali.

VELSHI: Some people's minds.

ZARRELLA: Well, the reality is, what they're doing, Ali and Zoraida, is they're going to look for the signs that life existed or perhaps still does. They've landed in the crater where they believe water once probably flowed.

They're going to look for that water. They're going to look for carbon and all of these signatures of life. They can't detect if life exists for this vehicle, but they can detect if the environment was proper and right for life to exist then and perhaps now.

SAMBOLIN: Very exciting.

VELSHI: And we will all stay tuned and we will watch this. But if there are signs of Martians I guarantee it is going to be breaking, freaking news on CNN all morning. A big banner will be going across the bottom. Just saying.

SAMBOLIN: All right, John Zarrella live for us on Pasadena, California. Thank you for that.

VELSHI: Even for us jaded journalists, if they find Martians, I am all in.

All right, coming up next on STARTING POINT, he's not a Martian, but this is pretty interesting.

SAMBOLIN: This guy is great.

VELSHI: Ty Pennington, bringing a divided Congress together for the sake of our veterans. How you can get involved. Good to see you.


VELSHI: Breaking news to tell you about now. We know the name of the alleged shooter in the Wisconsin Sikh temple attacks, Wade Michael Page, 40 years old.

That is according to multiple law enforcement officials speaking to CNN. Two officials have said Page had served in the army, but had left. Another official said he owned the gun used in the shooting legally. The shooter's name is Wade Michael Page. That is according to multiple law enforcement officials who have told CNN who the shooter is. We'll have more on that coming up. We continue to follow the story very closely.

SAMBOLIN: It is 55 minutes past the hour. It is a staggering number, more than 60,000 U.S. veterans are homeless and the Veterans Administration estimates they make up 14 percent of the homeless population. And while Congress can't agree on much, helping those veterans is a priority for both Democrats and Republicans.

VELSHI: So in a bipartisan effort, celebrity home builder Ty Pennington will be visiting both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions as part of the "Craftsman House United Project."

Now this brings volunteers and elected officials together to build a house from scratch for one deserving veteran and their family. He's unveiling the project here on STARTING POINT this morning. Ty, we are all big fans of yours.


VELSHI: Thank you for being here. The Democrats and Republicans have been able to do basically nothing together. Will you be supervising them very, very closely because they're going to fight over what nails to use and where to put the beams.

SAMBOLIN: I think he's separating them, right, Ty?

PENNINGTON: What's really cool about this project, we've done some pretty amazing things the last 10 years, renovating homes, moving that bus. One thing we've never done is build two parts of a house and then bring those parts together in one city and give a deserving military family a new home.

And that's really what the Craftsman House United Project is all about. And so what is really neat about this, yes, we're sort of working on both sides. Craftsman had a great idea to work with organizations they've been working with donating thousands of projects here at home.

We build it together and we have next gen home and bank of America came onboard. We're urging everybody to go to and what you can do is click on the house united tab and then you can help register your delegate to come out and join us in building two sides of a house.

And then bringing that together and we've already got like 100 delegates signed on. It's going to be great. Well, we're going to build a home for a positive -- something very positive, which always gets my vote.

VELSHI: Right.

PENNINGTON: It's a really cool thing to do.

SAMBOLIN: And you have elected officials onboard as well? Do you have commitments?

PENNINGTON: We have commitments, yes. We have commitments.

VELSHI: Just may not get it done on time two parts of the house, is one to do with the Republican convention and one with the Democratic convention?

PENNINGTON: We'll be going to both the Republican convention in Tampa and also the Democratic convention in Charlotte. We'll be building half a home there in Tampa and one in Charlotte and then we'll bring it together.

So people are welcome to come out to the convention, help out as well, sweat some bullets with me. But it'll be a lot of fun because, you know, you really will see people really doing something positive.

What's great is both sides will be part of the building process and in the end a really deserving family, a military veteran will get a new home.

SAMBOLIN: We've watched you build homes in the past and they're pretty amazing homes. Have you decided who gets this home?

PENNINGTON: Well, that's the beauty of it. Well, we wouldn't want to spoil the surprise, but yes, I can tell you it will be a military veteran family.

VELSHI: This is a big issue though because a lot of these military service men and women went overseas right at a time when the economy was very difficult. They served their country.

They come back and walk into this horrible economy. They leave the service they find it very hard to get a job. How does this figure into your selection of who gets the home?

PENNINGTON: I'm sure that weighs a factor as well. One thing for sure over the years with extreme we built a lot of homes for military families and we were part of that initiative of raising awareness of the fact there are so many of our military service men and women who come back.

And it is tough to not only adopt back to whatever, but also to get a job and sort of keep a family together and all of that. And so I think this is a great way that we can all show our respect for people who serve our country. It will be fun. We'll be in the mix and the political, this side and that side. What's great about this --

SAMBOLIN: It brings everybody together.

PENNINGTON: Which I think is really important.

VELSHI: Get some bills in there.

SAMBOLIN: If you can accomplish that, Ty -- VELSHI: How about the budget while you are at it. Ty, thanks very much. I wonder if they can do it under budget.

PENNINGTON: We'll have to see. Right, good idea.

SAMBOLIN: He's all about extreme, though, all about extreme.

VELSHI: STARTING POINT is back in just a moment. Stay with us. It's 8:00.