Return to Transcripts main page


Famed Sniper Shot Dead; Alabama Hostage Standoff in 6th Day; Millions Displaced in Syria; Obama's Push for New Gun Laws; Secretary of State Kerry Making Calls

Aired February 3, 2013 - 19:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm Don Lemon.

Getting close to the top of the hour and topping the news right now, officials in Alabama say the man holding a boy hostage in an underground bunker is allowing the delivery of potato chips, toys and medicine. Police say Jimmy Lee Dykes grabbed the 5-year-old boy from a school bus Tuesday after fatally shooting the driver. Funeral services were held today for the driver who is being hailed as a hero for protecting the other students.

New details about that missing American woman whose body was found yesterday in Istanbul, Turkey; police say Sarai Sierra died of a blow to the head that crashed her skull. But the 33-year-old mother of two also had stab wounds. Police are questioning as many as 10 people in connection with the case. Sierra was reported missing after failing to board her flight home to New York on January 22nd.

I want you to take a look at this. A man whips out a knife at Buckingham Palace today and holds it to his own throat. This happened during the changing of the guard. A tourist caught the whole thing on camera. Here it is happening right now. Police moved in quickly and we'll show you what happened coming up.

Two men killed in Texas this weekend shot to death at a gun range -- both victims, military veterans; the suspect also a former military man. One of the men killed is a well-known former Navy Seal and acclaimed military sniper. Chris Kyle wrote a best-selling book about his life in combat. Police are trying to figure out what happened that led to the death of Kyle and his friend.

CNN's Susan Candiotti closely following this story for us; so Susan, what details can you fill us in on?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Don it's just so sad when legendary Navy Seal sniper Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield took another Marine vet, 25-year-old Eddie Ray Routh to a gun range. They never managed the weapons could be turned on them. But police say that's exactly what happened. With Kyle and Littlefield shot dead multiple times at a remote area of a gun range near Ft. Worth, Texas. Police say they were found nearly two hours later by a guide at the range.

Investigators say Routh drove off in Kyle's pickup truck and headed to his sister's house. He allegedly told her and his brother what had happened. He left and then his brother and sister called police.

When a slew of police officers arrived at his house, Routh was in Kyle's pickup truck. A hostage negotiator tried to talk him out of the car, but then he took off down the road.

Here is how a witness described it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was scared. I'm sitting below the window line. I was still peeking out, but they had him -- they had like four shotguns on him, I believe. It's dark out here so I really did the best counting I could. And next thing I know a little time passes, he starts up the truck, and all of a sudden he rushes down the road, and they all take off after him.


CANDIOTTI: Well police caught up with him and took him into custody without further incident. About 25 to 30 other weapons were found at the crime scene, including handguns, AK-47s and long guns, but police believe the murder weapon is a semiautomatic handgun that they eventually found at Routh's house. They're still waiting ballistic tests to come back -- Don.

LEMON: Any idea of a motive here -- Susan?

CANDIOTTI: You know they don't know yet and we may never know because the only witness is the alleged killer. But police believe this is the first time Kyle and Littlefield met Routh. Kyle, you know, has a foundation where he helps veterans with post-traumatic stress and the three men went to the range together in Kyle's pickup truck.

So police think maybe this was supposed to be therapy for Routh. Now, police don't know if Routh suffered from PSTD (SIC). This is what investigators -- this is how they say that all the men knew each other.


SHERIFF TOMMY BRYANT, ERATH COUNTY, TEXAS: There has been some mention of the suspect's mother was a school teacher for what we understand for a long time. She may have reached out to Mr. Kyle to try and help her son.


CANDIOTTI: Now, Routh is being held on $3 million bond, and it is a jail cell and he's there all by himself so police can keep an eye on him. He's charged with two murder counts, and he hasn't had a chance yet to enter a plea -- Don.

LEMON: But still not sure about the connection between these two men, right? They're still investigating?

CANDIOTTI: Well, yes, but they do think that the mother of the -- of the suspect in this case may have reached out to Kyle and asked him to help Routh and that's why they think they got together at the shooting range, because it may have been some sort of part of their therapy for him. And that's when this whole thing apparently happened.

LEMON: All right. Susan Candiotti, thank you very much.

As a decorated former Navy Seal, Chris Kyle was doing a lot of good work for fellow veterans. Here is CNN's Nick Valencia -- Nick.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice-over): As a Navy Seal, Chris Kyle survived four tours of combat duty. But it was at this gun range outside of Dallas, Texas, where he died around the corner from his home at the age of 38. He was known to millions of Americans as the author of the best-selling book "American Sniper" where he chronicled his combat missions. In six years Kyle said he killed more than 150 Iraqi insurgents. He became so hated by them Kyle said he had a bounty on his head.

CHRIS KYLE, FORMER NAVY SEAL SNIPER: Started every time someone would be shot by a sniper in the area, they associated that with me.

VALENCIA: To Iraqi insurgents he was known as "The Devil of Ramadi". But to his fellow Navy Seals, Kyle was called "The Legend". Born in east Texas, Kyle loved horses, but most of all, he loved his family and helping people. According to his friends, almost immediately after returning from combat, Kyle started the Heroes Project to help soldiers suffering from PTSD.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had a vision to support veterans and their needs and he was fearless in that and he gave his life doing so.


VALENCIA: His friends remember him as a family man. The emotional exhaustion of being away from his family took such a toll on them, he finally came home.

KYLE: I took it as an ultimatum, either you get out or that she and my kids were going to be gone.

TAYA KYLE, WIFE OF CHRIS KYLE: Of course, he looked at that and thought the marriage would be over. And he's probably right. I honestly didn't think that far ahead.


VALENCIA: Kyle is survived by his wife and two small children -- Don.

LEMON: Nick Valencia, thank you Nick.

Meantime in Alabama funeral service was held today for the school bus driver fatally shot trying to defend children from a man police say is holding a young boy hostage in an underground bunker. The standoff is in its sixth day.

CNN's Martin Savidge is in Midland City for us. Martin, the bus driver is being called a hero. What are people saying about him tonight?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are saying every kind of word that means "hero" when they refer to Charles Poland. That is exactly what he's being considered by just about everybody here in this community because of what he did, the fact that he was driving the school bus and according to witnesses stood up and tried to protect the lives of the 20-some children that were on that bus and that died as a result of it.

I should update you just a little bit on the standoff itself. Not a major change but of course there was a news conference originally scheduled, it's been cancelled. Not uncommon really; it just simply means that authorities haven't got anything really new to say.

Very little information coming out because these are very sensitive negotiations that are ongoing; the concern is that perhaps the suspect here may have some way to listen to news media. But then you get this very specific information from time to time from authorities and they mentioned that tonight Cheese-its, a snack food, was delivered as well as a "Hot Wheels" car which would, of course, be for Ethan as he sits inside in what must be a horrible circumstance inside of that bunker.

To the memorial service that you've talked about hundreds of people showed up today. There were co-workers, there were teachers, there were officials of all kinds and then there were a lot of strangers. People who were just so motivated by his story, by what he did that they wanted to be there and they just basically wanted to show that they paid their respects.

And there were even prayers that were made for Jimmy Lee Dykes and this is that man who is believed to be holding the five-year-old boy. So they hope that his heart could be turned by the prayers today. That remains to be seen.

Afterwards though, there were people lining the funeral procession route as it headed towards the cemetery and I talked to one woman, she is a bus driver of 23 years. She drove her bus, made sure she was on the route so the family saw her. Tomorrow her school starts again for the first time since this incident and I asked her how she felt about that.


DIANE COBB, BUS DRIVER: Now, I know there wasn't anything going to happen, but it was just the thoughts of what happened to him behind that wheel, and as I drove it further down the road, I began to settle down, you know, and then when I got out here, I saw my children out here. They hugged me. They cried with me. You know, it kind of eased my fears and I know it eased theirs, too.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SAVIDGE: Really a remarkable scene there, Don, because there is the bus driver with her bus with the children who ride the bus all supporting one another and wanting to show their support for the family --


SAVIDGE: -- Don.

LEMON: Yes what do we say? The sixth day and I mean, being down in that bunker. It's not very big even though we're getting sort of differing reports on the size of that bunker. What are you hearing?

SAVIDGE: You know, it's amazing to sort of realize that all of this attention, all of this effort is being focused. You're not hearing a lot. And as I said, I think that there is a great concern within the community, certainly within law enforcement, that they don't want to give anything away that could jeopardize, anger in some way the man who is holding the gun or jeopardize the life of that young boy.

Behind us a helicopter taking off, one of the sheriffs another asset that's been brought down here. There are a lot of people that are working to try to get that little boy free. Hopefully it will be done through words and through someone giving in and not by force. We'll see -- Don.

LEMON: Thank you, Martin Savidge. I appreciate it.

A man flashes a massive right knife outside Buckingham Palace. Ahead -- how police acted quickly to stop him from hurting himself or anyone else.


LEMON: It happened so fast. It took the crowd outside London's Buckingham Palace by surprise today, but it quickly turned dangerous. A man who looked to be in his 50s holding a large knife to his own throat broke through a security cordon. This video shot by a tourist shows him getting agitated as police close in. He starts yelling and slashing the air with his knife, finally lunging at a police officer. You see the officer retreat and then firing his taser. That knocked the man to the ground where he was handcuffed.

Pakistani teen activist Malala Yousufzai is awake and talking after successful operations to repair her skull and boost her hearing. Taliban gunmen tried to assassinate the 15-year-old Malala in October because she had spoken out in favor of girls' education. She is recovering in a British hospital.

Millions of people are on the run in war-torn Syria. They lost their homes to shelling and bombs and now they are trying to restart their lives.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen has the latest from Damascus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: While the streets in central Damascus are fairly quiet, fierce fighting in the capital's suburbs can be heard and seen throughout the day.

This woman tells us her name is Jamila, she says her house in Aleppo was destroyed during the battles there. She fled to the relative safety of Damascus with her two children, one only a month old. But now she sees the violence closing in on her again.

JAMILA, DISPLACED SYRIAN (through translator): We are afraid. Sometimes I want to take all my things and sleep outside in the park because it is safer than being indoors.

PLEITGEN: Jamila says she depends mostly on handouts from private people to get by. The U.N. estimates that around two million Syrians have been internally displaced because of the ongoing conflict and many of those who remain in the government-controlled part of the country try to make it to this part of the capital.

That's where we meet Raida who left her husband behind in the suburbs of Damascus when fierce fighting broke out and he hasn't been heard from since. Now she has to support four children on her own.

RAIDA, DISPLACED SYRIAN (through translator): I am not the only one whose life has been destroyed or whose husband is missing. Everyone in this country has a missing person or a destroyed home or is displaced. Many, many have gone through this. We have been through so much. We have suffered and have come to hate life because of all these problems.

PLEITGEN: We wanted to show you one of the places where people like Raida are staying. Syrian government agents prevented us from doing so.

(on camera): There are many internally displaced people here in this area of Damascus and most of them stay in the lowest cost hotels they can somehow afford. We tried going into some of these hotels and talking to these people but most of them were afraid, which is also due to the fact that there's a heavy presence of plainclothes security forces that are shadowing us.

We went into one hotel and it took only two minutes for two officers to show up and say we had to stop working even though we have permission to film in all of Damascus.

We can't go into the hotel?

(voice-Over): When we asked for an explanation the undercover agent says we need an additional permission to film in hotels and then he disappears. Meanwhile the shelling and clashes in the suburbs of Damascus continue leaving more and more people fleeing for areas they hope are safer at least for a while.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Damascus.

(END VIDEOTAPE) LEMON: President Barack Obama, locked and loaded, a picture released of the President skeet shooting just as he is about to tackle gun control.


LEMON: Live look at the Capitol tonight -- a very busy and big week ahead for politics.

We could know the fate of Chuck Hagel's nomination for Defense Secretary in just a few days. The Senate Arms Services Committee could vote later this week on Hagel's nomination. Last week's hearing was a tough one for the former Republican senator. He struggled with some questions and critics in both parties have said he seemed unprepared. But so far there appears to be no major effort to block Hagel's nomination.

Also ahead this week, the next chapter in the White House push for new gun restrictions. CNN's Athena Jones previews the president's strategy to spur Congress to take action.


ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Obama heads to Minnesota Monday. His first stop in the campaign to win support for his gun policy proposals, an effort he promised in Newtown.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: In the coming weeks I'll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens.

JONES: He'll meet with residents and police in Minneapolis, a city the White House says has taken important steps to reduce gun violence.

Over the weekend, the White House released this photo of the President skeet shooting at Camp David last August, a nod to gun sports aimed at signaling law-abiding gun owners have nothing to fear.

Monday's trip follows dramatic testimony on Capitol Hill

GABRIELLE GIFFORDS, FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN, (D-AR): It will be hard. But the time is now. You must act.

JONES: Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, shot in the head two years ago, urged Congress to be courageous and support measures like universal background checks and limiting the size of gun magazines. Steps the National Rifle Association rejected.

WAYNE LAPIERRE, CEO, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals. Nor do we believe that government should dictate what we can lawfully own and use to protect our families.

JONES: Analysts are divided over how effective President Obama's campaign-style effort will be. JOHN HUDAK, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: He needs to motivate a grassroots effort, in order to combat what will be a very effective interest group effort in opposition to his goals.

ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: The President Obama has not done a very good job building relationships with Congress. He needs to do that before he starts putting external pressure on them.

JONES (on camera): The day after the president's trip to Minnesota, a bipartisan group of House members plans to introduce a bill to make firearms trafficking a federal crime and to beef up penalties for people who buy guns for those not allowed to have them.

Athena Jones, CNN, Washington.


LEMON: Meantime John Kerry is off to a busy start as Secretary of State. Kerry spoke this weekend with leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. He also made calls to the foreign ministers of Japan, South Korea and Turkey among others. Kerry was sworn into office on Friday.

LA's mayor says he's not interested in joining President Obama's cabinet, at least for now. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa shot down rumors that he might be considered to replace outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Villaraigosa says he is focusing on his mayoral job until his term ends in June.

The Boy Scouts of America could decide to lift its ban on gay members as soon as tomorrow. The group holds its executive meeting this week in Texas. But Republican Governor Rick Perry of Texas says there's no reason to change the ban.


GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Scouting is about teaching a substantial amount of life lessons -- sexuality is not one of them. Never has been, it doesn't need to be.


LEMON: Governor Perry, a former Eagle Scout, spoke yesterday before a statewide scout meeting.

This church in Kansas City, Missouri leaves no doubt where it stands on the issue of gay boy scouts. Under a rainbow banner it welcomes all scouts and says it hopes other communities around the country will, too.

But even if the national policy changes, local scout troops can decide for themselves if they want to admit gay scouts and scout masters.

And the "Washington Post", you can add it to the list of U.S. newspapers coming under attack from Chinese hackers. Just this week the "New York Times", "Bloomberg News" and the "Wall Street Journal" all reported their computers had been compromised. Security experts say China started this in 2008 targeting American news organizations to monitor their coverage of Chinese issues.

Seconds to go in the fourth quarter, the game is tied, and then something amazing happened. We'll show it to you next.


LEMON: All right. The man who invented Etch-A-Sketch has died. French electrician Andre Cassagnes dreamed up the drawing toy in his garage back in 1950. Etch-A-Sketch's popularity got another boost when it appeared in the "Toy Story" movies. It's magic screen is in the "National Toy Hall of Fame". Cassagnes was 86 years old.

You could get coffee for a nickel and a shoe shine for a dime at Grand Central Station the other day. Those are prices from 1913 rolled back to celebrate the 100th birthday of the ornate Manhattan icon. Michael Bloomberg, the mayor, told a packed hall that Grand Central Station represents not only beauty and art but the city's commerce and industry. The highlight on Friday's celebration was a presentation of a cake in the shape of the famous terminal clock and thousands of people singing happy birthday. It is a beautiful, beautiful structure.

This time singer Chris Brown apparently will not face any civil or criminal charges. Fellow singer Frank Ocean says Brown jumped him leading to a brawl over a parking space a week ago at an LA recording studio. But Ocean he is dropping the matter. Brown is already on five years' probation after assaulting his pop star girlfriend Rihanna in 2009.

Ben Affleck and his movie Argo just keep piling up the awards. The Director's Guild of America gave Affleck its top prize last night. Ironically he's not nominated for an Academy award for best director, but "Argo" is up for best picture.

You have probably seen half court shots before, but have you seen a player make it from half court to win the game from his knees?

Can you believe that? I had to see that again. Look at that. What? That was Daniel Barley with the miracle shot for Rush Henrietta High School in Rochester, New York defeating rival high school, Greece Athena, 57-54. Now, that is truly amazing. You can say amazing shot or you can say a miracle shot. Can we see that one more time before we go? Boom. All right.

That's going to do it for me. I'll see you back here at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. "GLORIA IN HER OWN WORDS" starts right now.