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Gunman Kills 2 at Oregon Mall; North Korea Launches Long Range Rocket; Fiscal Cliff Still Looms

Aired December 12, 2012 - 05:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Act of defiance. North Korea ignores all international warnings and launches a long range rocket.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Chaos at the mall. A gunman kills two before taking his own life in front of horrified shoppers.

BERMAN: Close encounter. An asteroid ekes up on astronomers and buzzes right between the earth and the moon.

SAMBOLIN: I'm a little scared about this.

BERMAN: Did you feel that? It happened. It's really horrific.

SAMBOLIN: I hear that's super dangerous.

BERMAN: Big time dangerous.

All right. Good morning and welcome to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And, up first, it was an afternoon of horror for holiday shoppers at a packed mall in suburban Portland. Police in Oregon say 10,000 people were inside the Clackamas Town Center yesterday when a gunman opened fire. Mass chaos followed. When the shooting stopped, three were dead, including the gunman, and a young woman was left critically wounded.


CRAIG ROBERTS, CLACKAMAS COUNTY SHERIFF: The mall is supposed to be a place that we can all take our families, feel comfortable that this is a great place, especially the holiday season like this. And these things aren't supposed to happen.


SAMBOLIN: Let's get right to the scene of the shooting. Dan Simon is live from suburban Portland this morning. What can you tell us?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hey, Zoraida. The main question this morning, and it's really the question anytime you have one of these shootings, is who was the shooter, what was the motive, and were any of the victims targeted or was this simply random. At this point, we don't know any of that.

What we do know is that this started about 3:30 in the afternoon, the shooter carrying some kind of rifle. He was seen jogging through the Macy's and the shots rang out somewhere near the food court area. He was wearing dark clothing, some kind of hockey mask. When it was all over as you said, three were dead, including the gunman, who took his own life.

Here's how one witness described the scene.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was in the elevator going downstairs and people start saying, "Go up, go up." And then, I -- we just didn't know what's going on. We just tried to climb on the elevator and try to escape. It was scary. It was shocking experience.


SIMON: Well, authorities say they have tentatively identified the shooter, but they're not telling us who he is. He's reportedly in his 20s. They're not telling us anything about the victims.

We can tell you that the mall will be closed today. One thing I should tell you, you might see all the cars here in the parking lot. The reason for that is, people just kind of left their belongings, including car keys. We're told that mall management will have some sort of procedure for people to pick up, you know, their purses and everything they left behind today or maybe sometime tomorrow -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Dan, we heard a lot of reports about someone who was taken to the hospital, a young girl. Do we know anything about her condition? I know she went through surgery.

SIMON: Yes, she's apparently 15 years old. We're told she's in stable condition, but this is a serious injury. She's expected to live. Obviously, a horrifying situation for her and we hope to get more details about her condition as the day progresses -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: So they still have not identified who she is either?

SIMON: No. There are some reports on social media. Apparently, her family may be identifying her. At this point, we're waiting until authorities give us the green light and then we'll release that information.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Dan, I know you're working really hard on the who, what, why, all of that. We really appreciate it this morning. Thank you.

In the next hour, we'll be joined by Sergeant Adam Phillips of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office. And at 6:30 Eastern, we'll talk to Kira Rowland. She was inside the mall when the shots rang out and she was holding her six month old baby. BERMAN: There was some big news overseas overnight, while you were sleeping. North Korea appears to have successfully launched a long range rocket that happened this morning -- a move the United States has labeled a highly provocative act that threatens regional security. It's believed it blasted of the west coast and the U.S. military which monitors the activity of that isolated nation says it looked like an object was placed into orbit.

So, let's get up-to-date with these overnight developments. Chris Lawrence is standing by at the Pentagon. Good morning, Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Yes, we're getting some better and new information about that North Korean launch. U.S. officials now saying that the satellite that North Korea put into space is now in polar orbit. NORAD has been monitoring it with its space sensors.

This is a big development for North Korea. Remember, they tried a rocket launch earlier this year back in April. They did not have much success. This is the first time they have seen all three stages of that rocket launch work and be able to put a satellite into orbit.

It sounds very benign, putting a satellite into orbit is not something that you would think of that has military connotations. But the same technology that you use to put a satellite into orbit is really the same kind of technology that you would use to build a long range nuclear missile at some point, John.

BERMAN: And the timing of this appears to have been some kind of surprise to U.S. officials. How worried is the Pentagon right now after this launch?

LAWRENCE: Well, one official that I spoke with said it is a step up in North Korea's capability. And this has been condemned all around, from allies like South Korea and Japan, all the way up to the White House. But they say there are several still big stages to go through before the U.S. has to be seriously worried about North Korea's ability to extend its range to the United States.

They've got to work on heat sensors, because getting something up is one thing. But to get the weapon for re-enter the atmosphere and not burn up, that's quite another. They also have to work on accuracy issues. You know, just shooting something out, again, one thing. Having it hit your intended target, something much more difficult.

BERMAN: All right. Still, as you said, Chris, a big deal. We'll be talking to you again later this morning.

Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon, thanks very much.

SAMBOLIN: Six minutes past the hour. The United States is officially recognizing Syria's opposition coalition as legitimate representative of the Syrian people. That announcement doesn't mean America will be arming the rebel forces though, but it should provide a psychological lift.

President Obama telling ABC's Barbara Walters why that decision was made now.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Syrian opposition coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime.


SAMBOLIN: The U.S. joins Britain, France and Turkey in recognizing the Syrian opposition.

BERMAN: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is recovering from cancer surgery in Cuba this morning. The vice president of Venezuela told his country that the operation was complex, lasted more than six hours and was completed correctly and successfully. This is the fourth cancer related surgery for Chavez since the summer of 2011.

SAMBOLIN: Scorched by this wall of fire, at least four homes destroyed by a gas line explosion. This is just north of Charleston, West Virginia. A local station reporting five other homes were damaged, as well. That fire so intense it damaged an interstate. Several people were treated for smoke inhalation. West Virginia's governor says no deaths have been reported, thankfully.

BERMAN: All right. So, did you feel it? It turns out we got a cosmic close shave yesterday. Two asteroids buzzed Earth, one of them passing inside the Monday's orbit. NASA says the 120-foot wide rock within 145,000 miles of our planet. That's pretty close.

SAMBOLIN: Should I be worried?

BERMAN: Yes. Here's the cool part. No. Here's the cool part of it, though. It caused an eclipse only visible to astronomers. This is the scary part, though. It was only discovered a couple days ago. There are apparently like thousands of these asteroids that come in and out, but had this hit earth, it could have caused damage of about 800 square miles. That's a big --

SAMBOLIN: So I should be concerned about this, that they discovered it at the 11th hour.

BERMAN: Perhaps the fact that they discovered it so late is problematic, but it wasn't -- 140,000 miles is pretty close in cosmic terms. But that's still a little bit of a distance.

There's a much bigger asteroid by the way coming over the next few days, one about three miles wide. It's called Toutatis asteroid. It's about 4.3 miles wide. It comes like every four years. It's 3 miles wide. If that were to hit the earth, we're talking like extinction. But that's about 4.3 million miles away.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, all right. Well, there you have it. No need to worry. But you are well informed.


SAMBOLIN: The phone lines are open. Coming up, more fiscal cliff talks between the two most powerful men in Washington right now.

BERMAN: Plus, he was supposed to be parking an NFL star's car, but he made a bit of a detour. This is like "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". It's amazing story.

SAMBOLIN: It's a crazy story.

BERMAN: We'll bring it to you straight ahead.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. Good morning to you.

President Obama picking up the phone to give House Speaker John Boehner a call after both trade fiscal cliff proposals. Neither sealed a deal, so we're now 20 days away from almost $500 billion in automatic tax hikes and spending cuts -- I sound like a broken record -- along with the potential for a new recession.

Shannon Travis is following the sniping and deal-making that is happening in Washington. Shannon, do we know what was in the proposals?

SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, we're getting details in drips and drabs, Zoraida. Obviously, these discussions are private. But we know that the White House, from the White House perspective, they offered, according to a source telling CNN, to basically revise their revenue target, OK?

President Obama originally proposed, said that he wanted $1.6 trillion in new revenue, right? He wants to raise the tax rates on the wealthiest Americans. Now, we're being told that he's revised that number down to $1.4 trillion. That's obviously a difference of $200 billion.

A White House aide -- a Democratic aide also telling CNN, I'm just going to read this quote, "that offer was coupled with a serious spending cut number with real entitlement reform."

So that's from the White House side. On the counterproposal that was sent over Tuesday to the White House from Republicans, we don't have a whole lot of intels or details on that, but we do that from Boehner's office, House Speaker John Boehner's office, that Republicans are basically awaiting spending cut specifics from the White House.

Meanwhile, as this goes on, you can imagine that lawmakers here in Washington are still sniping as you mentioned publicly. Take a listen at the latest from John Boehner.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Now, if the president doesn't agree with our approach, he's got an obligation to put forward a plan that can pass both chambers of the Congress, because, right now, the American people have to be scratching their heads and wondering when is the president going to get serious.


TRAVIS: On the other hand, Democrats are saying that any deal shouldn't be made on the backs of the poor. Take a listen at Tom Harkin, Democrat from Iowa.


SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: Why is it that now somehow we have to couple cuts to the poor and the disabled and the elderly and those out of work with raising taxes on the super wealthy in our country? Why is it that Republicans are saying that if you're going to make the wealthy pay more in taxes, we have to take more out of the hides of the poor in our country?


TRAVIS: Obviously, Zoraida, therein lies the impasse that Democrats say that any deal should include higher rates on the wealthy and Republicans say will that it should be entitlement reform -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thank you very much for that.

BERMAN: Yes. In the meantime, just 20 days to go until we fall off the fiscal cliff.

SAMBOLIN: The same story every morning.

BERMAN: While awaiting for that, we have more headlines to tell you about. Here's Christine Romans with that.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning you two. A terrifying afternoon for holiday shoppers at a mall outside Portland, Oregon. A gunman opened fire yesterday inside the Clackamas Town Center. Three people are dead, including the unidentified shooter and a young woman -- she's fighting for her life this morning. Police have not revealed a possible motive.

Here in Manhattan, police are trying to solve a murder mystery. A killing that may be a professional hit. A gunman walked up behind a man on Monday right on a midtown Manhattan sidewalk and shot him in the head. The victim had an arrest record on the West Coast. Mayor Bloomberg said his killing was not random. You see him there texting the very last month of his life.

Ravi Shankar, the sitar player, who became famous around the world through his association with the Beatles, he has died. The 92-year- old Shankar passed away Tuesday in southern California after undergoing heart valve replacement surgery last Thursday. He brought Indian classical music to the West, appearing at '60s rock festivals, Woodstock and Monterey Pop, and teaming up with his friend George Harrison to help stage the concert for Bangladesh in 1971. Shankar was also the father of jazz singer Norah Jones. Some big names taking the stage tonight at New York's Madison Square Garden for the 12-12-12 hurricane Sandy relief concert. Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, Rolling Stone, Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, the Who, Bruce Springsteen, you get the picture, they're all on the bill. Organizers say the show will be seen and heard in almost 2 billion homes around the world, that's billion with the B. Online streaming, all kinds of platforms. People are going to be able to see this thing.

BERMAN: I've heard some of those bands.

SAMBOLIN: I think you're going, aren't you?

BERMAN: If it weren't at nighttime, I would go. Sounds like a great line up, though. Thanks, Christine.

SAMBOLIN: All right. It is 16 minutes past the hour. It's time for your "Early Reads", your local news that is making national headlines.

And right out of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" -- you got to love this. "The Indianapolis Star" has the story of what happened when Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne left his Bentley with a local hotel valet. Twenty-one-year-old valet Gunner Belcher has been charged with stealing the Bentley and taking it for a drunken joy ride. Belcher was arrested early Sunday morning after police found him blocking traffic. The police report says Belcher was standing outside the vehicle and had a blood alcohol content of 0.13 percent. That is nearly twice the legal limit.

BERMAN: The lesson here for Reggie Wayne, and everyone really, is take care of your Bentley. You really have to go out of your way. Take care of your Bentley.

All right. We have this from "The New York Daily News". They may have found the fountain of youth and it's right here in New York. The city's health department says New Yorkers life expectancy in a record high 80.9 years for a baby born in 2010. That's 2.2 years longer than the national average of 78.7 years. So, you know, we have that going for us here.

SAMBOLIN: That's good nice.

BERMAN: Which is nice. (INAUDIBLE) the Yankees, it's not all good.

For an extended look at all our top stories, head to You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook. It's a great idea. Just search for EarlyStartCNN.

SAMBOLIN: Markets all over the word are waiting to hear from one man today. Coming up, more on what Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke could say.


BERMAN: Look at that. Now, this is a special treat. That is a live picture from our bureau, the CNN bureau in Hong Kong. Right now, it's 6:22 p.m. just getting ready to go out, have some drinks and go to dinner right now.

SAMBOLIN: Did you see the lights on the left-hand side? They stopped now just for you.

BERMAN: You have immense power. You can cause lights to stop blinking in Hong Kong. Now, it's a beautiful picture there. We have a bureau in Hong Kong. We have bureaus everywhere, because we're CNN and we can show you beautiful pictures like this whenever we want. But it is a pleasure -- a pleasure to look at that this morning. Hong Kong, of course, a giant business center in the world.

And we are minding your business this morning. U.S. stock futures are up, indicating markets could open higher today.

SAMBOLIN: And markets had a good day yesterday. The Dow rose almost 80 points. Christine Romans is here talking markets.

It's a good year for your 401(k).

ROMANS: It has. And you can thank big Ben Bernanke, the Fed chief.

Look, a lot of people saying that the Federal Reserve and its herculean efforts to keep the economy moving even amid all these uncertainties in the world, it's why stocks are up, it's why the economy is growing, and they're expecting the Fed to announce new measures, new stimulus to keep this going in the absence of any kind of coherent policy out of Washington.

So when you hear the catch phrase that the Fed is the only game in town, the Fed is the only game in town. Around the world it has been central banks who are independent from governments, central banks who have been doing so much, pumping money into the system to keep things going.

Do you know that S&P 500 is up 13 percent so far this year? All of these uncertainties we talked about, the fiscal cliff, all of that stuff, it is because of the certainty of Fed policy many people are telling me, also because they think on Wall Street the fiscal cliff is going to be avoided. They think on Wall Street, the only thing left to do is a little bit of shouting over what the top rate will be. Will it be 36 percent, will it be 37 percent? They think corporate taxes are going to come down and we know that that is in the latest sort of proposal from the White House that they will consider corporate tax.

So, look, Ben Bernanke really important and that's going to drive things over the next couple of days.

Can I tell you since Election Day, the S&P is up since Election Day? Remember that big dip right after the election, concerns about fiscal cliff? What you're seeing is that market participants are putting money on the line that they think the fiscal cliff is going to get solved.

BERMAN: So you come in here every day, rightfully so, very concerned about this fiscal cliff. And we just have 20 days left. No reason to believe this is going to happen today or tomorrow or the next day. Wall Street seems to have priced in a deal already.

So what happens if this all breakdown?

ROMANS: Huge, huge selloff. And you see, that is the big risk in the beginning of the year. If Washington doesn't follow through with what, I guess the betting money thinks, that they're going to be fighting over the top rate, that they will be lowering the tax rate -- do you remember the bank bailout? Remember when the bank bailout didn't pass? And, all of a sudden, in the heat of the crisis, the stock market was down 700 points and it was down -- suddenly Washington passed the bank bailout.

A lot of people are saying the worst case scenario is you have another thing like that. But the market thinks no one is stupid enough not to figure out in the same way how to overt the fiscal cliff.

BERMAN: Betting (ph) on Congress.

ROMANS: Right. And they think that they're in the stupid enough to be able to push this over for a long term over the cliff. And that's what they're hoping -- that's what they're hoping here.

SAMBOLIN: I know. It's a hedge, though, right?

ROMANS: Well, it is, but, you know, I think you're seeing -- aren't you seeing signs of progress, though? And sometimes in the silence I think you're seeing the signs of progress, right?

BERMAN: Fingers crossed. All right. Thank you, Christine.

Twenty-five minutes after the hour right now. What you see isn't always what you get. Coming up, the star of a popular TV reality show who says parts of the show aren't all that real.

And if you're leaving the house right now, you can watch you us anytime on your desktop or mobile phone, or your iPad. It works great. Just go to


SAMBOLIN: The search for answers in Portland, Oregon. What made a gunman snap and opened fire in a crowded mall.

BERMAN: North Korea fools the world. A successful long range rocket launch when everyone thought there would be technical delays.

SAMBOLIN: Upon further review, a new ruling for the Saints players involved in the NFL bounty scandal.

Welcome back to EARLY START. It's really nice to have you with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.