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Are Boys More Likely to Kill; Medical Examiner Looks for Shooting Answers in DNA; More Funerals Today in Newtown; More on the Newtown Police Investigation; Biden on Gun Violence.

Aired December 20, 2012 - 13:30   ET



BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At West Point and the Air Force Academy, the number of sexual assault incidents reported rose as well.

While disturbing, the survey did find at these schools women appear to be more comfortable going ahead and reporting harassment and assault, though there were many cases of unreported incidents.

(on camera): And the military is cracking down on senior officers. An Army general is scheduled to go to trial in the coming weeks on charges he committed sexual offenses. But at the Military Service Academies, commanders are under growing pressure to make sure their students are kept safe.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR; The shooting in Newtown has many debating the need for more gun control, but is a stricter gun law just part of the answer? We're focusing as well on understanding mental health. A medical examiner is looking for answers in the shooter's DNA. What this can teach us when Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us live.


MALVEAUX: Some of our country's worst school shootings, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, they have something in common that is obvious, but it might be overlooked, and it is that all of the killers were young men.

We're joined by William Pollack, an associate clinical professor of psychology at Harvard. He also consults on mental health of men, adolescent men and boys at the Cambridge Mental Health Alliance.

Thank you very much for joining us here.

Talk a little bit about the biology here. Why is it that you have these killers that are all men? Is there something about their biology that is different than women that make them act out and, in this case, kill? WILLIAM POLLACK, ASSOCIATE CLINICAL PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Well, there's a piece that's biological. Men and young boys have more testosterone and nature plays a part. But we found in our research that it's through nurture, it's how they're brought up and it's how they're socialized. Young boys are taught to play with pain, not it to show problems or talk about their problems. They hold it all within. As one young man told me during an interview, a school shooter, told me, after a while it pops out of you and you can't stand it anymore. So there's a biological proclivity, but there are social triggers and socialization that push boys towards more violent activity. And, of course, serious violent activity, the murder of someone requires a serious weapon. There are more guns around for these boys to use.

MALVEAUX: Most men are obviously able to overcome some of these triggers and the culture --


MALVEAUX: -- the way they're raised. Why these particular men? What makes them different than the others?

POLLACK: Well, what we found in classical school shootings -- and this is far from it, it's a terrible tragedy -- these were peers in a classical school shootings -- they were more disconnected from others and traumatized m-of them were depressed before hand and they felt they had no one to go to. It's all about connection. If they had a family member or someone at school who they could talk to about their problems, who understood and got them the emotional support they need, the professional help they need, then it could be averted. If they kept it inside and then something pushed them over and they couldn't control it, well, their path to solution became violence.

MALVEAUX: Is there a way of preventing that from happening? Is there a way of seeing a young person, a young man, who needs people to reach out to him and to establish better social connections?

POLLACK: Yes. There's no one profile, but most thoughtful human beings out there can see that a young man is in pain, can see he's struggling with his family, can see that he's not going to school, can see he's acting strange, may known he has some severe emotional disorder and doesn't seem to be getting better, and they can reach out. They can reach out to people in the community. They can reach out to the family if they're open to it. They can reach out to a school. There should be a safe place to go where everyone can go and report it. Not to snitch on someone, but to get help before that person hurts themselves huts others.

MALVEAUX: You say that most people --


MALVEAUX: Sure. You say most people can see this, but some can't see it. They don't know what they're looking for. What should you look for if you know or you're trying to make a distinction between someone who might be shy or quiet or socially awkward and someone who might have a very serious problem?

POLLACK: Well, it's a shift. If someone has always been shy, you won't be able to tell, and it's likely not a problem. But if, all of a sudden, they become more shy or more agitated or, all of a sudden, they're speaking oddly or start talking about how they'd like to die or they really want other people to be hurt, well, that's the kind of thing that anyone can notice is a problem and can report to someone to get help.

MALVEAUX: Dr. William Pollack, thank you so mush. We appreciate your perspective.

We want to bring in our Dr. Sanjay Gupta to talk more about something very unique and fascinating.

The fact that the medical examiner in Newtown, they're now bringing in a geneticist to look at the DNA of this gunman. What can they learn from the DNA?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You'd like to think they'll find some real answer by doing this, looking at someone's actual DNA. The problem is, my guess, is unfortunately it won't yield much. The reason is a lot of these types of mental illnesses, if there are any genes associated with them, there's usually lots of different genes. It's hard to put one specific gene and say, this is the gene for schizophrenia. We're not there yet.

Also, another part of that is there are people who carry the genes for various mental illnesses but never have the behavior. So simply having it doesn't mean you will develop the behavior. That weighs into this as well. So it's hard to connect the dots on a genetic sort of basis.

MALVEAUX: At this point, we don't have the kind of information or the kind of technology or science to take a look at somebody's DNA, their genetics, and say this is evidence that this person would act out in this way? We just don't know?

GUPTA: Right. Maybe the point that we may get to ultimately is finding precise genes for mental illnesses. But there's an idea of what you have in terms of what you're born with, but how you behave is always sort of dependent on your environment and nurture. That's a hard thing to assign strictly to DNA.

MALVEAUX: What do we know or what do we learn from the fact that these killers, the gunman, they're often -- this was a murder suicide. Does that tell us anything about the mental state of the gunman, of the troubled shooter?

GUPTA: You know, everyone will say there's no hard and fast rules. But this is interesting because I think this whole notion that, if you know right from wrong, you decide to commit suicide -- in this case, he killed himself -- give some inference that he knew what he was doing was wrong. That may sound like a simple thing but if you look at what happened in Arizona and Aurora, in both cases they didn't shoot himself. In the case of Arizona, it was unclear to him why he was arrested. The idea they knew the difference between right and wrong just wasn't there. So it does start to narrow down the list a little bit in terms if you're thinking mental illnesses, the types of illness that cause that.

MALVEAUX: Over time, we've learned a lot about the killer, the shooter in Columbine. Is it a matter of time we will have a more complete picture of what this gunman did in Newtown, what his thinking was, what his mindset was?

GUPTA: I think we're going to have a much more complete picture than we have now. I think this is collected in a very -- there's a consistent way to collect this. They have ideas of the types of patterns they're looking for. Was there psychotic behavior or was there psychopathic behavior, had he been traumatized in some way? Those are the three big categories people look into. And then they talk to friends and family. If he was visiting doctors and taking medications, that's very important. At the end, you get a more complete picture. Whether it's completely satisfactory and say, aha, this explains it, I mean that depends on who you are and how you look at it. But I doubt we'll ever get there.

MALVEAUX: Sanjay, the one thing, when we look at this shooting, is there something that it leaves you some question, some lingering question? What is the one thing that you really want to try to understand in this?

GUPTA: Well, you know, it's funny because I think there's some things that are inexplicable, whether it's factual or moral or financial or spiritual, whether it's emotional. That's the context of the world in which we live. You try to explain that in that context for yourself -- and I was up there. There's nothing -- in some ways, it seems silly to try and find explanations because it was just so awful.

MALVEAUX: It's hard to understand.


MALVEAUX: All right. Thank you, Sanjay. Appreciate it.


MALVEAUX: While we search for answers, of course, the police investigating the shooting there, also searching for answers. We'll be back with the investigation. They're looking at the gunman's home, again, looking for clues.


MALVEAUX: In Newtown, Connecticut, today, four more families are saying good-bye to their loved ones. An education board official calls it an assembly line of funerals and wakes, as the town gets ready to mark one week since the elementary school shooting.

Deborah Feyerick is in Newtown today.

I know this is still a very difficult time for this community still. DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a very, very difficult time, and everybody is still very much in mourning. Wherever you go in this town, you can see signs of what has taken place not just in the center where you see the memorials but elsewhere. When you go and get a coffee, there are people dressed in mourning clothes. They've just come from a funeral. When you drive the streets in this area, you can see police cars that have been positioned in front of homes.

Four people today are buried, one of them the teacher, Lauren Rousseau, she is being buried. Her family is saying good-bye. Also three of the students, Allison Wyatt, Benjamin Wheeler and Katherine Hubbard, all will be laid to rest today. They were in the first grade. They're roughly the same age as the gunman when he moved here, and when he began his career at Sandy Hook Elementary School. So, there's a direct Connection there. Those children, however, everybody, everywhere you go, everyone is on the verge of tears. It will take a long time until everyone here gets over what has happened, if, in fact, that's even possible -- Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: Deb, you're standing outside of the home of gunman. What are investigators looking for? What's the latest?

FEYERICK: There was a lot of activity first thing this morning. There were about eight to 11 detectives from the major crime squad unit from the Connecticut State Police. They were here on the premises. They've been here three and a half days. About a half hour ago, Suzanne, all of them pulled out, all of the detectives and mobile crime unit, all pulled out.

We spoke with Detective Vance, with the Connecticut State Police, and he tell us that the crime scene is done for now. They have processed all the information that they've got from inside. They went through documents and files and whatever they could find, whatever videos were in the home, anything that could give them a suggestion of what was happening. So the home is still a crime scene. It is still sort of under search warrant and still seized, basically, by the police. But right now, the processing is done. If they have to come back, they will come back. But right now, they have a lot to go on. They'll try to re-create what was going on in the gunman's mind -- Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: We know that the Attorney General Eric Holder is going to be in Newtown tonight. What is the purpose of his visit?

FEYERICK: Well, he is -- right now, he's meeting with the vice president on the newly appointed gun task force. Then he comes here. He's not going to any of the funerals and not taking any public appearances. He wants to meet with law enforcement as well as first responders to talk to them and to understand from their perspective what's happening and what's going on. Again, he's just coming here as part of this task force, trying to kind of get inside. So he will arrive later this afternoon. But again, it will be very private and very quiet as he gathers information -- Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: All right. Deborah Feyerick. Thank you, Deb.

Bulletproof bookbags is just one thing kids can wear to stay safe at school. We'll see if they work. Protective school gear is up next.


MALVEAUX: We want to go directly to Washington. We are just getting pictures here and turning tape. This is the vice president, Joe Biden, charged with heading up this White House effort to address gun violence. They just met with top law enforcement leaders from around the country as well as cabinet members. Let's listen in.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- represented here have been my friends and allies for over 35 years.

And the president asked me to convene this meeting with you and we will be talking with other stakeholders as well because we have to have a confidence in a way to respond to the mass murder of our children that we saw in Connecticut. But that's not the only reason. I want to talk to you all about the way we have always talked in the past. We sat down years ago and everyone thought that was an exercise to reach out and pretend we cared about what you thought. You, the police organizations, were the organizations that came forward and not only dealt with the punishment/incarceration, but you came up with the ideas about community policing. You can up with the ideas about reaching out and having drug courts. You know better than everyone what is needed our there. And I think what the public has learned about you is you have a much more holistic view of how to deal with violence on our streets and in our country than you are given credit for. I know you all. I know you well. And so you are the first group with whom, when the president giving this charge, along with some our cabinet colleagues here, you are the first group I wanted to speak with.

So what I would like to do is, the president is absolutely committed to keeping his promise that we will act, and act in a way that is designed, even if, as he said, we can only save one life, we to take action. There a number of things you know because I have spoken with you all and we have continued that relationship over the past four years, that there are things we can immediately do. We are going to need your help. We see no reason why the assault weapons ban -- quite frankly, you guys helped me write in the original crime bill. It passed the Senate and it didn't get pass the House and we were back at again with Dianne Feinstein's leadership. She convinced people to put it back in the bill.

You know, we've worked on everything from cop-killer bullets to the type of weapons that shoot people off the street and a whole lot else. So that's what I want to talk about today. I want to hear your views. Because for anything to get done, we will need your advocacy. We'll need the advocacy of the law enforcement organizations in this country.

And so, with that, I'd like to disinvite the press --

(LAUGHTER) out of the room. We will have a frank discussion. And as these women and men in uniform are around this table know, we are never not frank with one another. So I'm anxious to get to a discussion.


MALVEAUX: The vice president and the task force. You can see members of the cabinet, representing Homeland Security, the Justice Department, Education and law enforcement officials gathered with him. He has about a month or so to present with that task force to present to the president at least with some concrete ideas, some plans, moving forward when it comes to gun policy as well as looking very closely at other aspects of this, the culture of violence in our country as well as the state of mental health.

We will have more after the break.


MALVEAUX: Nervous parents are looking at a way to protect their children. The Newtown school shooting is fresh in their minds. Well, one outcome, there is a surge in demand for little-known products that can bulletproof kids, things like backpack inserts, even a blanket that can stop a bullet.

Here's Miguel Marquez.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a disturbing sign of the times.

(on camera): You guys make inserts for children's backpacks?


MARQUEZ: Bullet-resistant inserts?

BRAND: That's correct.

MARQUEZ: This is one of them?


MARQUEZ: Show us how this works.

BRAND: This is our military-grade product.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): COO Rich Brand says in the last week sales have jumped 500 percent and they're still climbing, desperate parents trying to protect their kids in the most extreme situations.


MARQUEZ: The material will not stop high velocity rounds like the up ones used in Newtown, but three shots with a .9 millimeter at point- blank range --

BRAND: All of the kinetic energy and penetration was absorbed with the armor.

MARQUEZ (on camera): Three small holes, the armor is a little stiffer. The rounds are inside here?

BRAND: That's correct.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): And Amendment II is not alone. In Boston, Bullet Blocker promises "your peace of mind is our business." In Austin, Texas, says sales are up 50 percent. New customers are schools and day care facilities.


MARQUEZ: Even the Colombian designer of fashionable protective clothing has a request for bullet-resistant garments for a toddle.

(on camera): People do say you're profiting off of terror and horror.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that's the last thing we wanted to do. This is something we put out there at the request of parents trying to meet the neat.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Amendment II says its proprietary carbon-nano 2 material lends to a product some teachers have asked for, a protective blanket.

(on camera): Because of the lightweight nature of the material that the company uses, they say it could be used as a mat in a school, for instance. In an emergency, for protection.

(voice-over): At Salt Lake City, Get Some Guns and Ammo owner, Stuart Wallin, says protective gear won't stop a killer, only another gun will.

STUART WALLIN, OWNER, GET SOME GUNS AND AMMO: If you knew every teacher in the school had a gun, you would think differently about your little plan.

MARQUEZ: Since 1995, Utah has allowed teachers to carry concealed weapons. The law is yet to be tested, but after Newtown, anything seems possible.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Salt Lake City.


MALVEAUX: CNN NEWSROOM continues right now with Brooke Baldwin.