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In the Wake of Mississippi's Violent Tornado; Digging Out After Weekend Blizzard; Manhunt For Christopher Dorner; Developments in Death of 15-Year-Old Inauguration Performer; Grammy Winners

Aired February 11, 2013 - 05:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Buildings ripped and torn. Reports of major damage after a tornado strike in Mississippi.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: A rogue ex-cop, he is still on the run. The LAPD upping the ante with a huge reward for the accused killer's capture.

BERMAN: New weather worries for the blizzard weary. Rain coupled with melting snow could lead to a flood of trouble on some streets. Unwelcomed news to say the least.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: We're happy you're with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is 31 minutes past the hour, and back to our developing story this morning.

Several neighborhoods in Mississippi are picking up the pieces, literally, this morning after a violent tornado ripped through the town of Hattiesburg. That's about 100 miles south of Jackson. Multiple buildings in and around the town have been damaged, and at least a dozen people are injured as well. The University of Southern Mississippi's Campus was also hit.

So, let's bring CNN's Victor Blackwell, and he is live in Hattiesburg. Victor, what's the latest there?

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Zoraida, this building tells you most of the story. Let's look at it. This is the Ogletree House in here on the University of Southern Mississippi. This building we're told by cops who've been watching it since this tornado came through is still falling apart. Not more than an hour ago, a cop nearby says that a four-foot chunk just fell off of the building.

Now, I want to show you another building just to show you how random the damage can be. Right over here, this brick building is one of the female dormitories on campus where students were at the time of this tornado passing through. We're told that classes are out today and tomorrow for Mardi Gras, but still, you can see the damage here and nothing there. Power still on there. We're told by Mississippi Power that at the height, there were 13,000 customers without power. Now, that's more about 4,500. We'll get an update later today. The video popped up on YouTube of this storm that's described as being three quarters of a mile wide dragging through this town, we're told about eight miles away at a high school there's significant damage as well.

So, it stayed on the ground for some time. The governor of Mississippi, Phil Bryant, will be here on campus, his alma mater, at 10:45 Eastern for an update on this situation and to see the damage himself. Cars damaged, homes damaged, and debris all over this area of West Hattiesburg, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: I got to tell you, it's probably good that it was Mardi Gras, right, because a lot of the kids were not there. And this could have been far worse. Victor Blackwell, thank you.

BLACKWELL: Absolutely.

BERMAN: So, the northeast only beginning to dig out from the weekend's history-making blizzard and the danger is not over yet. Parts of the region including the hardest-hit state, Connecticut, bracing for freezing rain today. Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy warning about road conditions, saying snow piles may freeze and become the equivalent of sort of jersey barriers, comparing the snow to those concrete walls.

The blizzard dumped more than three feet of snow on Hamden, Connecticut, so much snow that the city's mayor said many roads, they are still blocked.


MAYOR SCOTT JACKSON, HAMDEN, CONNECTICUT: We have about 240 miles worth of road, and as of right now, about 50 percent of them are impassable. People open their doors, look out their windows, they see 40 inches of snow and they realize that this is not a snowstorm, this is a disaster. This is an emergency. This is dangerous.


BERMAN: So, getting around will only be tough in Connecticut. Crews closed a stretch of New York's Long Island expressway yesterday to try to clear the road by this morning's rush hour. The L.I.E., of course, is the main way into the city from Long Island.

SAMBOLIN: The north in for another slick morning. The south not out of the danger zone just yet, and the Midwest has, well, their own winter blast.

BERMAN: You're next.

SAMBOLIN: Alexander Steele is tracking the new threats this morning. What do you have for us?

ALEXANDER STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, guys. Good morning. You know, you just mentioned the L.I.E. The L.I.E. just seeing rain right now. So, here's the picture in the northeast, right, to add insult to injury, rain, sleet, snow falling, but wherever you are seeing some ice which will only be about a tenth of an inch, snow moving through top (ph), you'll see an inch of snow. So, it's pretty light.

But it should all change over to rain by noontime because temperatures will really warm up. So, we do have winter weather advisories for the most part until about noon. Freezing rain advisories until only nine o'clock this morning, and then, we're going to see a changeover. The upper Midwest, believe it or not, we've had a blizzard warning in the northern plains through the Dakotas.

That ends at around noon today, but we certainly have seen some hefty totals. These would have seemed hefty, right, compared to what we've seen. Everything is quite relative. Audubon, you can see in Minnesota, 18 inches, so between 12 and eight inches. For the most part, though, this is pretty much a done deal. Area of low pressure moving out, just some scattered snow showers around today and this morning.

But here's the story. Again, 15 reports of tornadoes yesterday. The tornado threat, you can see very strong thunderstorms, yes, but the rotation, we're not really going to see that. So, kind of a low tornado threat today. Heavy rain, really, is the biggest story. Potentially, between yesterday and Wednesday when the slow-moving system moves out, three to five inches. So, flooding in the south, guys, really the biggest story here, less so kind of tornadoes today.

BERMAN: Five inches of rain, that is a lot.


BERMAN: All right. Alexander Steele, thanks very much.


We have new developments this morning in the manhunt for Christopher Dorner in Southern California. A $1 million reward is now being offered to anyone who has information that could lead to his capture and conviction. Dorner is accused of killing three people, including a police officer. Despite his pledge to wage warfare against police officers and their families, the mayor of Los Angeles issued a stern message to Dorner.


MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA (D), LOS ANGELES: Let me be clear. Our dedication to catching this killer remains steadfast. Our confidence that we will bring him to justice is unshaken. This search is not a matter of if, it's a matter of when, and I want Christopher Dorner to know that. We will not tolerate this reign of terror that has robbed us of the peace of mind that residents of Southern California deserve.


BERMAN: Nick Valencia is in Los Angeles for us morning in the middle of this huge manhunt. So, Nick, what's the latest?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, day five, John, and no new leads in the manhunt for Chris Dorner, the ex-cop turned renegade, accused of killing three people in his vendetta against his former police department. That money you mentioned, the million dollar reward, John, it's pulled together by a group of businesses, private donors and community groups.

It is the largest offer ever in a criminal investigation in Southern California. Yesterday at a press conference, LAPD police chief, Charlie Beck, told the public why they're offering so much money.


CHIEF CHARLIE BECK, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPT: $1 million. This is the largest local reward ever offered to our knowledge. Some may ask why so large. This is an act and make no mistake about it of domestic terrorism. This is a man who has targeted those that we entrust to protect the public.

His actions cannot go unanswered. A society is defined by what it values, and we value our law enforcement family. That's why the reward is so significant.


VALENCIA: And I spoke to the LAPD this morning, John, and they say there've been hundreds of tips that have come in since that reward was offered. The latest was yesterday afternoon at a Lowe's Department Store in North Ridge. That search turned up empty -- John.

BERMAN: Nick, you mentioned the hundreds of sightings that have been pouring in to police there. I understand there is a surveillance tape that caught an image of him near San Diego Monday morning of last week. What do we know about that?

VALENCIA: Yes. CNN obtained this surveillance footage from an auto store near San Diego. The most chilling thing about this, John, is that time stamped at 9:08 in the morning. That's just 12 hours after the daughter of a retired LAPD officer and her fiance reported killed less than 90 miles away.

The video shows Dorner appearing to dump items in a dumpster. And even more surprising is that this happened right across the street from a police station -- John.

BERMAN: Wow. Interesting. Nick Valencia in Los Angeles this morning, thanks for that report.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-eight minutes past the hour. Tomorrow night, President Obama delivers a State of the Union address, the first of his second term. Administration officials say that jobs and the state of the economy will be featured prominently in the address before members of Congress and, of course, before the nation. They say the president will unveil programs to create more jobs, increase the wages of American workers, and strengthen the overall economy. BERMAN: I am headed to Washington for tomorrow and Wednesday morning to cover the State of the Union address. They're shipping me out.


BERMAN: Stay with CNN for complete coverage of the president's speech and analysis from the best political team. Of course, I said I'll be there, too. It all begins tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern Time.

SAMBOLIN: You are the best we have. Happy to have you there.

All right. It could be a break in the case of a young teenager, a performer at President Obama's inauguration who was gunned down in a senseless act of violence. We're going to go live to Chicago where suspects are being questioned as we speak. That's coming up.


SAMBOLIN: We have new developments in the shooting death of 15-year- old Hadiya Pendleton in Chicago. We have learned the police have been questioning two men, one in his late teens, the other, a 20-year-old. No charges have been filed yet. Pendleton, as you recall, was shot a week after performing during President Obama's inauguration celebration right on his backyard in Chicago on the Kenwood neighborhood.

First Lady Michelle Obama attending her funeral services over the weekend. Ted Rowlands is in Chicago. He is following all of the developments for us. And what can you tell us about these two men that they're questioning right now?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Zoraida, they concentrated on the area where Hadiya was murdered. And what they did was talk to witnesses and through saturating that area, detectives were able to come up with these two people of interest, two persons of interest. They're being questioned, being held for questioning at this hour. Whether they've actually been questioned, we don't know at this point.

We're getting more information, we hope, from a news conference which is scheduled later this morning at 11:30 Central Time. Not only will the superintendent of police be at that news conference, but we understand that Mayor Rahm Emmanuel will also be there and the state's attorney. So, we assume that we will get details as to these two individuals, these persons of interest, they're being called at this point, not suspects, and there have been no arrests.

Of course, this case has struck a nerve not only here in Chicago but across the country. You mentioned Michelle Obama was here for Hadiya Pendleton's funeral over the weekend. Well, hundreds of other people also showed up, people that did not know here. This was a young girl, a 15-year-old girl who was a good student, was going to a great school here in the Chicago area. She had an absolutely bright future, came from a great family, and she was gunned down, ending her life with such a great life to lead.

And it really has prompted people to say enough is enough. We need (INAUDIBLE) answers to the gun violence problem here in Chicago. And, the first step in that, of course, is solving this young woman's murder, and hopefully, police are on the right track in that regard. This new development is seen as a positive one in the Chicago area.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the parents of Hadiya Pendleton yesterday to inform them that they have these two persons of interest in custody.

SAMBOLIN: Let's not forget that Hadiya was actually the 42nd person in the city this year to be the victim of gun violence. Thank you so much, Ted Rowlands, live in Chicago for us.

BERMAN: The president will visit Chicago on Friday. He is expected to address the rash of gun violence there. Meanwhile, his point man on the issue will be in Philadelphia today selling the message. Vice President Biden will meet with police officials and lawmakers. The White House wants more police support for all of its gun proposals.

President Obama is expected to give some details about these proposals during his State of the Union speech. Again, that is tomorrow night.

SAMBOLIN: Forty-five minutes past the hour. So, you are just waking up and you have questions about last night's Grammys.

BERMAN: A lot of questions.

SAMBOLIN: Like who won

BERMAN: Exactly.

SAMBOLIN: And who managed to skirt the CBS dress code?

BERMAN: Even more important.


SAMBOLIN: We have all the answers for you coming up.


SAMBOLIN: Forty-nine minutes past the hour. Let's get you up to date. Here's Christine Romans.


Homes and buildings shredded, families and businesses in Southern Mississippi still assessing the damage this morning after a powerful tornado ripped through the town of Hattiesburg. A storm chaser shot this dramatic video of this giant funnel crossing the highway. The violent weather damaged parts of the University of Southern Mississippi and injured dozens of people.

Waiting and waiting and waiting for a tow. Bad news for passengers aboard Carnival's cruise ship Triumph. The liner is stranded in the Gulf of Mexico, waiting for another ship to tow it to a Mexican port. A fire broke out in the ship's engine room on Sunday morning leaving it dead in the water. There are 4,200 passengers and crew aboard.

No injuries have been reported, but we're told the patience is running short.


BERMAN: Yes, exactly. (INAUDIBLE) crews is how I would describe it.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you very much.

BERMAN: Thank you very much, Christine.

So, Sunday night was music's biggest night, and you can bet the artists were out in full force for what was really a pretty fun evening.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. There were some amazing performances, but no single artist took home all the trophies in the clean suit (ph). It seems like all the nominees walked away with something, though.

CNN's Nischelle Turner has more.


NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Single performers dominated the 55th annual Grammys. The night's top prize, Album of the Year, went to the English folk rock band, Mumford & Sons, for "Babel".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Grammy's (INAUDIBLE) and we're very grateful.

TURNER: The Grammys were in a fun mood, literally. The New York indie pop band Fun won Best New Artist and Song of the Year for "We Are Young."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know what I was thinking writing the chorus for this song. If this is in HD, everybody can see our faces, and we are not very young.

TURNER: Gotye and Kimbra took home the Record of the Year award for their huge hit, "Somebody I Used to Know."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To all musicians and people who listen to music, cheers!

TURNER: For the most part, everyone observed CBS's request to tone down the risque outfits, but presenter Jennifer Lopez did show a lot of leg.

JENNIFER LOPEZ, ACTOR: As you can see, I read the memo.



TURNER: The Grammies have always been more about performances than awards, and this proved to be a vintage year. Backed by a big band, Justin Timberlake turned back the clock for his sepia tone duet with Jay-Z. And country's solo winner, Carrie Underwood, dazzled in a dress that dance with color.


TURNER: While Sting, Rihanna, and Bruno Mars fronted an all-star tribute to Bob Marley.


TURNER: Fun weathered an indoor rain storm, Elton John and Mavis Staples led a big name salute to the late Levon Helm.


TURNER: And L.L. Cool J, who kicked things off as the show's host, ended the night leading an all-star rap session.


TURNER: Nischelle Turner, CNN, Hollywood.


BERMAN: Looks like some great performances.

SAMBOLIN: It did, and we missed it because we slept.

BERMAN: I know. You can't go to bed at 7:00 and see that kind of stuff.

SAMBOLIN: I watch it as on the way (ph), so you could watch it online.

BERMAN: I'm going to do that.

All right. Another thing we're just going to -- we just can't miss is the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. It's like the Grammys and the Oscars and Super Bowl, except it's for dogs. It starts today at Madison Square Garden. More than 2,700 dogs enter but only one leaves as best in show. I've covered about a thousand of this.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, have you really? It's fun.

BERMAN: But no, it is fun. It's something everyone should go to. So, golden retrievers are the most popular entries this year, followed by labs, (INAUDIBLE), and French bulldogs. But you know the scandal of the Westminster dog show is a lab has never won. You know, we love Golden Retrievers, we love labs, but they don't win. It's always the little lap dogs, the terriers.

SAMBOLIN: They're so adorable -- perfectly grow.

BERMAN: No, there's this unfounded dominance for the terriers at the Westminster dog show, and it's a scandal. Trust me. Take my word. SAMBOLIN: This year, a lab is going to win. Watch.

BERMAN: I hope so. Always pulling for the real dogs.

SAMBOLIN: Fifty-three minutes past the hour. Oh, you just got a lot of people really angry.


SAMBOLIN: Buzz on the web over some PDA at the Grammys between these two. We'll show you all the pictures and close-ups also coming up next.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. Fifty-seven minutes after the hour right now. I'm John Berman along with Zoraida Sambolin, taking a look at the top CNN Trends on the Internet this morning.

SAMBOLIN: We're going to start with really cozy looking picture. People are buzzing about Chris Brown and Rihanna snuggling at the Grammys, and this just a few days after Rihanna supported Brown in a probation hearing connected to the time that he beat her the night before the Grammys in 2009.

BERMAN: This really does upset a lot of people.

SAMBOLIN: A lot of people judging them this morning. You know, you decide for yourself. Lots of stories online that you can read about that.

BERMAN: All right. So, "Argo" now a pretty clear front-runner heading into the Oscars. The film continued its award season domination at Britain's Oscars, the BAFTA awards, winning three trophies, including Best Picture and Best Director for Ben Affleck. Of course, Affleck not even nominated for Best Director for Oscar -- scandal. "Lincoln" had 10 nominations at the BAFTAs, but just took home one for actor Daniel Day-Lewis.

SAMBOLIN: I'm happy for Ben Affleck.

BERMAN: You can check out all of our top stories and CNN Trends. Head to

SAMBOLIN: Want to laugh? We have some late-night laughs now and it's back to you. SNL mocking CBS Sports when the lights went out. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just received word that our own Steve Tasker on the sideline has some new information -- Steve.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know who told you that, J.B.

(LAUGHTER) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'm willing to bet that you made it up. Suffice to just say, I have no new information. Back to you, J.B.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back to you, Steve.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't back to you me, I just "back to you"-ed you. Back to you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And right back to you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, Dan, news came out this week that you fathered a child in an extramarital affair.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on. We agreed that that was off limits.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was before, Dan Marino.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a new world now. We have to fill air time. We will have to admit to some stuff.


BERMAN: EARLY START continues right now.