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Blizzard Targets Northeast; California Manhunt

Aired February 8, 2013 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Planes, trains and really life at a virtual standstill as folks are bracing for a blizzard tonight. And it is really picking up this hour.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Special coverage begins right now.

(voice-over): It is not just snow. The storm surge threatening the Northeast could hit historic levels.

Plus, the manhunt for an accused cop killer. He knows police tactics, he knows their tendencies, and he apparently doesn't fear death -- why the next few hours may be the most important in the search.


BALDWIN: Top of the hour here. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

The blizzard is hitting and it is about to get much worse. I want to take you back to our roving camera on the streets of Boston. This is CNN's Julian Cummings, one of our producers, and his crew providing us these live pictures. Want to show you another live picture.

Look at this with me, the ominous gray, this live picture from the Kittansett golf club. This is Marion, Massachusetts. Stand by for more.


BALDWIN: Let me go to Boston to Susan Candiotti, who is standing in the thick of things here.

And, Susan, it looks from the last time we talked last hour, the wind has really picked up. Susan, do you have me?


It comes in gusts. Trying to put that hood down a little bit, put it up, bring it down. We stand out here. Occasionally, we see people walking by. There is a -- what are you doing out, sir, off camera?

Just out and about, you know? We see people walking their dogs still. It is now the point where, yes, you could still pull that off if you like being out in the weather like this. But at a certain point, obviously, once the sun goes down, it is going to be very treacherous.

Certainly, the roads already are treacherous. We're standing in Columbus Park. It is like a ghost town in downtown Boston right now. We're not far from Faneuil Hall and other landmarks in Quincy Market. It is very rough out here.

And the governor of the state made it perfectly clear that this may be a record-setting snowfall and they want to make sure that people understand how difficult things may get. Listen.


GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Two or three feet of snow in this period of time is a profoundly different kind of storm than we have dealt with in the time you and I have been doing this together. And the time to recover and the -- and the demands of that recovery in some respects we cannot know until the storm is over.


CANDIOTTI: And so, Brooke, at this hour, you know, the transit system is shutting down. The schools have been closed. Businesses have shut down. And it is a time where people, by now, have cleared out the store shelves. They have stocked up. These are New Englanders, these are Bostonians, these are folks who are ready to hunker down for these storms. They have seen these blizzards before.

And this is a tough one. That blizzard warning is in effect at least until 1:00 tomorrow afternoon -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Susan, you have made a point that really made me sit up, because Governor Deval Patrick not messing around. You said it. If you are caught driving on the streets anywhere in the state of Massachusetts after 4:00 today, so in one hour, you could get fined or did I hear you correctly, you said you could go to prison?

CANDIOTTI: Well, that's right, up to one year in jail.


CANDIOTTI: And, obviously, he made the point, look, we're not trying to tell people we're going to throw you in the slammer and you better -- but they're trying to make the point that they could. That's how bad it is out there.

They want to make sure those streets are only reserved for emergency vehicles that might need to get out there and obviously to keep the streets as clear as they possibly can for as long as they can and to get the cleanup started as soon as this thing passes -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK. Susan Candiotti for me in Boston.

Let's hop to New York now.

OK. I'm hearing in my ear, Alison, we're going to come back to you in a minute. Let's go to Big Bear in California. This is the last place where they have seen any kind of tangible crews for this Christopher Dorner, this man who is accused of killing police officers. Let's listen.

JOHN MCMAHON, SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA, SHERIFF: There is about 200 empty cabins that we're going to check one by one, using our SWAT guys that I explained earlier. We're using snowcats and APCs with chains on them to get to those areas.

We're methodically searching each building as we get to it. Our guys are making great progress at this point. But the search continues. I have no new information in regards to the suspect or his location. But I do have the mayor of Big Bear Lake here today. I had a meeting with him and Jeff, the city manager, earlier. City of Big Bear Lake is solidly behind our effort.

We're continuing to reassure the citizens both via you folks as well as through the city to make sure that they know we have as many resources here as possible.

As I said earlier, Congressman Paul Cook is behind us 100 percent, as are the board of supervisors in our county, James Ramos, the supervisor for the Third District.

Let me get the mayor up here to say a couple of words, Mayor Jay Obernolte.

JAY OBERNOLTE, MAYOR OF BIG BEAR LAKE, CALIFORNIA: I'm Jay Obernolte, mayor of the city of Big Bear Lake.

And on behalf of the city, I would like to welcome you to our mountain community. I would apologize for the weather. But in Big Bear, we call this a beautiful winter morning.

I want to start by thanking the members of the law enforcement community that are taking time out of their busy lives to be with us here in Big Bear. I want everyone to know that you're making a big difference. The residents of our community feel very safe knowing that you're here. We obviously have a very substantial law enforcement presence. I want to thank you very much for being here.

The question that I have been asked movement often is, is there panic in our community up here in Big Bear because of the situation? No, there is no panic. We're very hardy residents here in the San Bernardino Mountains. Many of the people here are armed.

My fear has actually been not that panic would ensue, but more that someone up here would see something and take the law into their own hands. I want to urge anyone, if you see something, just remain vigilant, call 911, report it to the law enforcement communities, let them deal with it.

I also have been asked a lot about the decision to open the ski resorts today. I want everyone to know that that decision was made in close conjunction with the law enforcement community up here. We have been assured that the suspect does not pose a substantial threat to the ski resorts or the surrounding community. That's why the ski resorts are open. If the situation changes, obviously we will reassess that decision.

Thank you very much. Enjoy your time here in Big Bear.


MCMAHON: In addition to the mayor, we have Council Member Bill Jahn here with us as well. We're continuing the search and our plan is to continue to do that throughout the day and throughout the weekend, should we need to.

We discover any information that gives us any idea that he is neither no longer here or we're able to capture him, then things will change and we will get back to you and let you know. The vehicle I talked about earlier is in our possession in San Bernardino. We're turning over all the evidence and the vehicle to the Irvine Police Department.


MCMAHON: I do not.

QUESTION: And do you have also a sense (OFF-MIKE) I know you said earlier you brought in special equipment. (OFF-MIKE)

MCMAHON: Sure. It is still snowing. But our folks are dressed correctly and we have the right equipment to get to the search areas that we need. Certainly, it will be a little bit slower to get to each individual area on foot because of the weather, but we're continuing to push forward.

QUESTION: What are you looking for? What kind of signs could you possibly see in these conditions if you can't see tracks or anything like that.

MCMAHON: We can see tracks in this kind of condition. The snow is great for tracking folks, as well as looking at each individual cabin to see if there's any signs of forced entry.


MCMAHON: We continue to follow the footprints, as I said earlier. Yesterday, when we found them leading away from the vehicle, we followed them throughout the mountains on two different forestry roads until we lost sight of them.


MCMAHON: Some reasonable information that would suggest that he's no longer in this area.

QUESTION: Sheriff, what evidence did you find in the truck? Can you tell us what you found in the truck?

MCMAHON: I cannot tell you what we found in the truck at this point. We are going to release everything, the truck and any evidence to the Irvine Police Department and they will be the ones that will release any information in regards to that.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) someone can disappear easily in that area?

MCMAHON: Well, certainly, there's over 200 cabins that are up in those mountains that are abandoned or vacant and we're checking those one by one.

QUESTION: Are these Forest Service cabins or are they vacation homes?

MCMAHON: Some are.

QUESTION: Talk to us about resources and personnel. How many people do you have on the mountain now? Talk about the snowcats, et cetera.

MCMAHON: We have over 100 people here again today. We're staffed up and 12-hour operational periods. We're going to continue that staffing level throughout the weekend. We will reassess as we get closer to the first of next week.

We already talked about the snowcats and the vehicles we're using to get around. We're not having any trouble at all getting to the places we need to search.

QUESTION: How are they geared up?

QUESTION: How can you be sure he doesn't pose a substantial threat to the ski resorts?

MCMAHON: We have searched the entire area around the ski resort, our SWAT officers are up on that mountain looking for him. There is no information to suggest he's anywhere near the ski resort itself. And we have also searched all the houses door to door in this general area.

QUESTION: Are you using dogs also? I saw a canine unit. (OFF-MIKE)

MCMAHON: Certainly, there are dogs here as well.


MCMAHON: I have no idea.


MCMAHON: Can't tell you that. Thanks.


BALDWIN: So they were saying, that was the sheriff of San Bernardino talking about this man, they don't know where he is. They just said that he had left the area, maybe in Big Bear. They're still searching.

We have Paul Vercammen who is right there, who was listening in on the news conference.

Paul, we missed the top of the news conference. What was the biggest headline for you listening?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, there wasn't any bombshell dropped in this press conference right now. Let me assure you of that.

The sheriff continued with what he said before. He said they're covering eight square miles now in these mountains and that they're searching some 200 homes. I am right now interrupting a little bit of a press conference behind me. This is another San Bernardino County Sheriff's PIO. Perhaps we can listen to her and she will reveal more.

BALDWIN: Sure, let's listen.

QUESTION: Can you talk about how your officers are geared up right now, obviously protective gear, assault rifles, the whole thing?


BALDWIN: Lost the audio. Did we lose Paul?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... all of their -- basically their riot gear on and, of course, they're armed with their assault weapons also.



VERCAMMEN: Brooke, if you can hear me, she was saying they were armed.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're sending out messages via Nixle. Anyone who subscribes to that will get those messages and of course there is media coverage.

BALDWIN: Obviously, we're having some audio issues.

Paul Vercammen, if you can hear me, stand by, because I want to come back to you.

But we do have Dr. Paula Bloom, clinical psychologist here.

There's so much to talk about. All I can think, this reminds me a little bit of the D.C. sniper shootings. I was living in Virginia at the time. The fear everywhere, you were afraid to go outside. You have these people in Southern California. Now let me just begin with the why. We don't know the why right now. But what makes somebody so obviously full of rage and has this vendetta go from thoughts to actions?

PAULA BLOOM, PSYCHOLOGIST: No, listen, anybody who -- it is all a matter on a continuum. Anybody who has been broken up with, who has been betrayed, can identify with the feeling of rage, right? That feeling of rage and anger. You may even have revenge fantasies. That's fair to say that's sort of not an unusual thing in human beings.

BALDWIN: It is in your head.

BLOOM: It is in your head. So we have -- one of the big things that keeps us from doing these things is thinking about the consequences, thinking about all we can lose, I don't want to be in jail, I don't want to lose my family, I don't want to lose my job.

What is scary to me, I haven't talked to this man or evaluated him, but my understanding about the writing is that he fears nothing, he doesn't fear death. When you have somebody who has that degree of rage and anger and has nothing to lose and the training he has, to me that is what makes this a perfect storm and very dangerous.

BALDWIN: Dangerous combination. And then also, I can't help but think of all the people, right? He's apparently targeting per this manifesto these police officers, their family members, but if I live in L.A., if I live in Big Bear, wherever in that general vicinity, I'm going to be afraid. How do you handle that fear?

BLOOM: Right. You have to kind of trust the authorities and be reasonable and be safe. But you're right. The thing is, the feeling of powerlessness, a feeling like somebody can hurt you and kill you and it is beyond your control, it is one of the most difficult things we can experience as human beings. What we can do is stay as safe as possible, trust the authorities, keep our eyes and ears open, and be as present as we can to what is going on around us. But you're right, you're right. It is very scary.

BALDWIN: Hopefully, it ends quickly, no more lives lost. Paula Bloom, thank you.

And now back to this massive winter storm here. Two storms are colliding to create this huge blizzard mess in the Northeast. We have all angles covered for you. These are live pictures in Boston. The snow has begun to fall. We're covering it from New York to Connecticut to Massachusetts. Stay right with me.


BALDWIN: Let's go right to the storm, to Alison Kosik standing on the streets for us there in Manhattan.

Alison, set the scene for me.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has definitely changed.

There is a nice continuous hail pounding my face at this point. So, yes, yes, you can definitely feel that the snow is picking up. Commuters you can tell, they're rushing home at this point. A lot of employers, Brooke, went ahead and let their employees go home a little early today. They closed their offices early because the real brunt of this storm, the blizzard conditions, the strong winds and the real heavy snow, that's expected to start accumulating at around 7:00, so the idea was get these people home, especially since mass transit is expected to shut down when these conditions get really, really serious, Brooke.

BALDWIN: We heard a little bit from Mayor Bloomberg, had some commonsense advice for New Yorkers. Tell me what he said.

KOSIK: Yes, he said this in a nice New York fashion. He said, you know what, tonight is the best night to go home, cook a meal, read a book, watch some TV. Tonight is not the night to be walking around, walking the streets and driving around.

You know, it may not feel so bad right now, but the reality is, once those blizzard conditions blow through here, it is going to be at the complete opposite of what we're seeing now. It's going to be sort of exemplified 10-fold. Yes, his advice, stay home, it's the best thing, and the snowstorm should wrap up by mid-morning, morning time on Saturday, Brooke.

BALDWIN: And there goes the plow again behind you. They're trying to get ahead of it.

Alison Kosik for me on Columbus Circle there in Manhattan.

Want to head a little farther north now to Rhode Island.

On the phone with me, Paddy O'Neill lives in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, also a member of the state assembly.

So, Paddy, welcome.

And, you know, tell me, you're at home, I know you have two little ones. What are you seeing out your window right now?


It is pretty ugly right now. As soon as I got on hold, the plow went down my street, about five minutes ago, and the street is already covered. It is very, very sloppy driving. It has been kind of a mix all day. But now you can start to see it is turning to all snow. And we know we're in for a very, very long night.

BALDWIN: Listen, I know you New Englanders are a bunch of hardy folks, you have done this many times before. But when you hear from folks like our weatherman Chad Myers saying, in some parts of New England, you could get something like 40 inches, this is talking true record-breaking. Does it feel different to you?

O'NEILL: It definitely felt different when I was at work today.

Downtown, when I left, a little after 1:00, 1:30, it was empty. You could definitely feel there was a sense of urgency to get out of the city. The streets were empty. On the way home, there was a lot of people who were filling up their gas cans and getting home. There's definitely a sense of urgency to try to get home.

And I know they're trying to keep up here with the roads, but the roads are -- as soon as they plow them, they seem to be filling up with snow right away.

BALDWIN: OK. Paddy O'Neill, good luck riding this one out. Hopefully, we can stay in touch with you. Thank you, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

Tonight, want to let all of you know, I will be anchoring special live coverage here as the peak of the blizzard hits the Northeast, starting at midnight tonight. I will be with you all the way through 5:00 in the morning right here on CNN.

Coming up, Ashleigh Banfield live in Connecticut, she is measuring what has been falling so far. We will talk to her in just a moment.


BALDWIN: We will get you back to the blizzard in just a moment.

But we have to talk about this manhunt under way right now in Southern California. Briefly, we just heard from the sheriff of San Bernardino County in California, basically saying they have been looking for additional clues here, trying to find this man, Christopher Dorner, who is accused of killing a couple and a police officer here. And they're looking for him -- in this press conference, a couple of things.

One, they said they will not leave Big Bear until there is actual evidence that he has left the area. There are a bunch of cabins, about 200 empty cabins, they said. They're going door to door, trying to see if there was any forced entry into any the cabins. Just about 40 percent of the folks in Big Bear actually live there and are there at this time.

And also interesting, he mentioned the snow. You would think maybe that makes it more difficult for these SWAT teams, tactically, right, to get in and try to find him. Actually, he says it helps because it helps in trancing Dorner.

Back in Los Angeles, though, police are on tactical alert after a possible sighting of Christopher Dorner here, again, the ex-cop accused of killing three people, including a Riverside police officer. A civilian employee of the Twin Towers jail, it's actually not too far from the L.A. police headquarters, reported possibly seeing Dorner.

That jail is now on lockdown. The last tangible clue, as I mentioned, came from Big Bear. Here was his truck. This is a burned-out truck from just yesterday, pictures from yesterday. They're going through evidence. They wouldn't tell media yet what was found in that truck. Obviously, it had been set on fire.

There were footprints leading from it. But the trail went cold in a nearby forest. And, again, there is new hope today that the storm, some of the snow will help them track Dorner. Searchers tell us any tracks Dorner might leave will be much easier to see in new fallen snow.

Miguel Marquez live in Los Angeles, where this manhunt began. And, Miguel, what is the latest you're hearing?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that manhunt is still continuing. And across all of Southern California, there are, you know, twitchy people everywhere.

It was downtown. It was the latest one that the jail center there. A jail had to go on lockdown because they thought they saw him there earlier today in Barstow, California. We're out in front of a police station in Hollywood. This place is under heavy guard because it was mentioned in that 11-page manifesto by Mr. Dorner.

But police substations, the main headquarters, they're also under heavy guard here because they're not quite sure where he's going to hit next. Thousands of police officers not only looking for him, but guarding all of these facilities, plus guarding the families of -- the individuals and their families who are mentioned in that manifesto.

So there is widespread concern about where Mr. Dorner might strike next. One of the most shocking incidents in all of this is that, you know, police opened fired on a truck, a blue truck that resembled the truck that Mr. Dorner was in, the one that was eventually burned in Big Bear in the mountains east of here, and they shot, did not kill a 71-year-old woman and her daughter. The 71-year-old, they were delivering newspapers, she's now in intensive care.

It looks like she might survive. A few minutes late, another police officer heard those shots, rammed into another blue truck, a totally different blue truck, shot into it. That guy is OK. He was just a guy on his way to work, very, very high tension across all of Southern California Brooke.

BALDWIN: Frightening, frightening times now. Miguel Marquez, in L.A., Miguel, thank you.

Back to the blizzard, Chris Christie speaking in just a moment, talking about the good people of New Jersey because 40 million people in the path of this blizzard. We will hear from the governor right after this.