Return to Transcripts main page


Dorner Believed Dead; State of the Union Responses; President Calls for Gun Legislation; Carnival Triumph Gets Second Tug

Aired February 13, 2013 - 05:30   ET



SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: It was a hail of gunfire and inferno in the mountains. Police now say bodies have found in a burned out cabin where a wanted ex-cop may have stage his last stand. We've got a live report straight ahead.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The president lays out his agenda for fixing the economy leaving some Republicans to say, not so fast. Can a compromise really be found on Capitol Hill?

O'BRIEN: And this might be the worst cruise ever.


O'BRIEN: Sewage flowing through the hallways, passengers sleeping on the deck because it's too hot in their rooms. Conditions described on board that stricken Carnival the cruise ship as it's slowly being towed back to the U.S. mainland. We'll have the very latest from Mobile, Alabama, where that ship is headed.

Welcome back, everybody. You're watching a special edition of EARLY START. I'm Soledad O'Brien

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Zoraida joins us a little bit later on. It's 30 after the hour right now.

And there were new developments overnight in that massive ten-day manhunt. Authorities now say that they have found charred human remains in a burned out cabin in Big Bear, California. While we still don't have a positive I.D., law enforcement officials seem fairly confident that Christopher Dorner was killed inside the cabin where the suspect barricaded himself yesterday for one final shoot-out with police.

We're going to go right away to Casey Wian. He's live at LAPD headquarters in Los Angeles. Casey, what's the latest?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest, John, is as you mentioned, the San Bernardino County sheriff's department says that they did find human remains in that cabin where they suspected, Christopher Dorner, was hold up yesterday evening. That all began after a report of a stolen vehicle around 12:20 local time.

Down the mountain, it appeared that Dorner was trying to escape. Fish and Game -- Fish and Wildlife wardens spotted him in a white pick-up truck, heading down the mountain. They recognized him. They exchanged gunfire with Dorner not once but twice. He escaped to that cabin where he again engaged in another gunfight with San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies.

Two of them were hit, one of them suffered fatal wounds, the other one is expected to survive. He is in the hospital. A fire began at that cabin. There were some fears that Dorner may have had hostages in that cabin as the situation was unfolding. It turned out apparently not to be the case. Authorities let that cabin burn to the ground. And as we said, they have said they have found human remains, still not positively identified -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Casey Wian in Los Angeles at the LAPD headquarters.

We want to bring in Lou Palumbo right now. He's a former Nassau County, New York police officer. He now heads up a security agency. And Lou, I think our question right now is what's next? Law enforcement on the ground still there in Big Bear. What are they looking for? What are they investigating at this time?

LOU PALUMBO, RETIRED NASSAU COUNTY, NEW YORK POLICE OFFICER: Well, what they're trying to determine are whose remains they are primarily and the cabin. They want to conclusively identify that they are gone as they want to leave nothing to chance here. The other thing that they need to do is to continue to canvas the community to identify if there were any other cabins that he may have broken into, if there are any other victims at this man's hands.

He may have committed other homicides. Curious to just track him at this point. One thing that was -- that's rather interesting with this case, and I've heard everybody speak to what they thought the break in the case was. To me, the break in the case was when his vehicle became disabled, and it required him to burned it, because what that basically did is it took him out of the dynamic of his plan which needed to be carried out in L.A., not in Big Bear.

And he found himself incapable of getting back to that area. So you know, there's still more work to be done in the investigation, collection of forensics, checking his DNA, canvassing the community.

O'BRIEN: I'd be curious, too, to know what kind of help he got. I mean, who exactly helped him along the way. Ten days is a long time to be able to avoid capture when you have a massive manhunt and a tremendous amount of money offered for your capture.

PALUMBO: Well, the one thing about California, and I had an office out there for over 20 years, it's very, very spread out. And unlike New York, where we're very densely populated with pedestrians, it's not too difficult to be elusive especially if you know some of the less common traveled arteries so to speak.

And as I mentioned earlier, his plan was to go up to Big Bear and regroup, because there was no target value for him in Big Bear. It all remained in Los Angeles. So he went into L.A. He struck, took himself off the radar screen so to speak, unanticipated vehicle problems changed the whole dynamic of his plan. And it resulted in him being ultimately captured, because, once again, up in Big Bear without any real understanding of what law enforcement was doing. You know, we know they're not dripping in cable TV up there. It doesn't support it. He was kind of flying blind.

O'BRIEN: Interesting. Lou Palumbo for us. Thanks, Lou. We appreciate it.

BERMAN: The other big story we're following right now, of course, President Obama calling on Congress to work with him during his State of the Union address last night. The economy is expected to dominate the president's second term going forward and a major focus of last night's speech was on economic growth.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Most of us agree that a plan to reduce the deficit must be part of our agenda. Let's be clear. Deficit reduction alone is not an economic plan.


OBAMA: A growing economy that creates good middle class jobs, that must be the north star that guides our efforts.



BERMAN: The president also pressed Congress for tougher gun laws, saying it's not the first gun debate, but in the wake of Newtown and other tragic events, this time, he says, it's different.

So not just one, but two Republican senators pounced on the president afterwards. Florida Senator Marco Rubio gave their official Republican response, and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul provided the Tea Party reaction.

National political correspondent Jim Acosta has a blow by blow of both.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: Good evening.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Delivering the official Republican Party response to a president pressure off re-election and feeling feisty, Florida senator, Marco Rubio, was equally combative, accusing Mr. Obama of trying to tax and spend his way to prosperity.

RUBIO: The tax increases and this deficit spending you propose will hurt middle class families. It will cost them their raises. It will cost them their benefits. It may even cost some of them their jobs.

ACOSTA: And if that wasn't pointed enough --

RUBIO: So Mr. President, I don't oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich. I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors.

ACOSTA: But the spotlight may have been too bright for a moment as Rubio reached for a bottle of water in the middle of his speech. Still, the son of Cuban immigrants, now, a leading voice on immigration reform, Rubio made history with his remarks, by taping an additional response in Spanish. But Rubio was not the night's only GOP appeal to Latinos.

SEN. RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY: We must be the party who sees immigrants as assets, not liabilities.

ACOSTA: Kentucky senator, Rand Paul, struck a moderate tone on immigration in his Tea Party response to President Obama, but Paul offered up some of the movement's conservative populism as well, calling for immediate Congressional term limits if lawmakers fail to tackle the deficit.

PAUL: If Congress refuses to obey its own rules, if Congress refuses to pass a budget, if Congress refuses to read the bills, then I say, sweep the place clean.

ACOSTA: But there was one other unofficial Republican response to the State of the Union from a man who, sometimes, shoots from the lid.

Are you going to behave yourself?

TED NUGENT, SINGER: I'm so sweet I can hardly stand myself.

ACOSTA: Ted Nugent, the outspoken gun right's activist and former rock star was invited by Texas Congressman Steve Stockman to stand against new firearms restrictions. After making his way through security unarmed --

NUGENT: I'm butt naked. I've never been so naked in all my life.

ACOSTA: Nugent said his message was simple.

NUGENT: Freedom. Freedom and independence. Rugged individualism and leave us alone.


ACOSTA (on-camera): The State of the Union and the multiple responses were just the opening round of what could be two more weeks of political posturing. Both sides remain far apart on that massive round of automatic government spending cuts known as the sequester that's due to kick in on March 1st.

Jim Acosta, CNN, Washington.

BERMAN: You saw Ted Nugent in Jim's piece right there. Gun control was one of the topics covered in last night's State of the Union address. The president and members of Congress personally invited people affected by gun violence. We're going to speak with one member and her guest who came. That's coming up next.


BERMAN: Welcome back to a special edition of EARLY START live from Washington this morning. The president covered a wide range of issues throughout the State of the Union last night, but perhaps, the most emotional subject came up towards the end of his address.


OBAMA: What I said tonight matters little, if we don't come together to protect our most precious resource, our children. It has been two months since Newtown. I know this is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence, but this time is different.


BERMAN: The president and members of Congress personally invited more than two dozen Americans that have been affected by gun violence, including family members of victims in Newtown, Connecticut, and Aurora, Colorado. California Democratic Congresswoman Janice Hahn was one of those lawmakers. Her guest was Reverend Winford Bell, senior pastor of the Mount Olive 2nd Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. He founded Silver Lining of Hope after his son was injured by a drive-by shooting in 2009.

Representative, Reverend, thank you for joining us this morning.


BERMAN: I want to start with you. You've been personally affected by gun violence obviously, very close to your heart, close to your family, and you founded this organization.

BELL: Yes, sir.

BERMAN: What did you make to the president's speech last night?

BELL: I was just totally overwhelmed to hear the highest profile personality in our judicial system to begin to own the process of seeing our young create a value system that seemingly has been dissipated and make that a priority. It's just really encouraging to me.

BERMAN: His call, his emotional call to members of Congress, was to vote, to vote on these controversial issues, including assault weapons, including, perhaps, high capacity magazines. Let's listen to what he said, because it was an emotional moment.


OBAMA: Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote. The families of Oak Creek and Tucson and Blacksburg and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence, they deserve a simple vote.


BERMAN: You're both nodding while that's being played. It was an emotional moment last night. He says these people everyone deserve as vote, but is a vote enough? Because let's face it, the assault weapons ban has almost no chance of passing. So is voting on it can solve anything?

BELL: I think it's a start. There's a cadre of contributing factors that is causing this violence of our young. There's never going to be no one shot or no one man or no one organization that's going to fix this problem. It's literally going to take all of us in America to own this and to take some --

BERMAN: Congresswoman, you were there. You were in that chamber for these votes. Do you think it's better to vote on these things that probably have no chance of passing or would you like to see the focus beyond areas of agreement?

REP. JANICE HAHN, (D) CALIFORNIA: Well, I certainly think we have a lot of disagreements in Congress. We have different ways of viewing this country. But I do think last night, the president made a great point with all these victims of gun violence sitting there as our witnesses in the gallery. They do deserve that Congress takes up these issues.

I happen to believe universal background might be something we can all agree on. And I think after the speech, people like Reverend Bell and other guests of members of Congress who have suffered from gun violence will go back to their communities and their neighborhoods and be the president's ambassadors and begin a ground swell of force from the American people to call on Congress to actually pass some common sense gun restrictions.

You speak about going back to your home, back to your community. Your community is Los Angeles where, overnight, as this speech was happening, you know, we're dealing with this manhunt, a shoot-out. We don't know what guns were being involved here. Talk to me about how that felt.

HAHN: Well, you know, I had my iPhone during the speech and people were giving me updates minute by minute of what was happening. This has really gripped not just Los Angeles County, but certainly, Riverside County, San Bernardino County. I know many of the officers personally that were named in Christopher Dorner's manifesto.

So it felt very close to home. A lot of it happened within the neighborhood where I live. So it was a gripping, gripping story of, you know, someone who had all the weapons at his disposal and had the training to really cause great fear within Los Angeles.

BERMAN: Representative Janice Hahn from Los Angeles, Reverend Winford Bell, thanks for joining us. Glad you made it out to Washington.

BELL: In addition to the ribbon of awareness, and I have to give it to you, the black represents violent crime and the red and the silver represents behind every black cloud of crime, there's a silver lining of hope. And more than 32,000 people are wearing this ribbon to say that's enough of the killing of our young people.

BERMAN: Appreciate it. Thanks for joining us this morning.

BELL: God bless you.

BERMAN: Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right. John, thank you.

The mother of the little boy who was kidnapped and held in that bunker in Alabama is now speaking up. Coming up, we'll tell you what her little boy has been telling her about his terrible ordeal. That's ahead.


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to EARLY START. Fifty minutes past the hour. Just in to CNN, six more arrests stemming from a new investigation into alleged phone hacking at Rupert Murdoch's now shattered "News of the World" tabloid.

Scotland Yard detectives say six former or current journalists have been taken into custody and are part of a suspected conspiracy by staffers at the newspaper that took place in 2005 and in 2006. This investigation is separate from an earlier probe that led to the arrest of several top Murdoch executives.

And the mother of a six-year-old Alabama boy who was kidnapped from a school bus and held captive in an underground bunker for nearly a week says Little Ethan did witness the shooting death of the man who abducted him. Ethan and his mother, Jennifer, will appear today on the "Dr. Phil Show".

Here's a clip released by the program's producers.


DR. PHIL, TALK SHOW HOST: How did you feel when you heard that he might be crying or --

JENNIFER KIRKLAND, MOTHER OF ETHAN: I wanted to be there. I wanted to take his place.

DR. PHIL: Did he see Mr. Dykes shot and killed?

KIRKLAND: He absolutely did. He says the army came in and shot that man.


SAMBOLIN: Ethan's mother also says her biggest concern now is how Ethan will handle getting back on a school bus. And all public schools this Hamden, Connecticut, will remain closed again today. That is the town where a record 40 inches of snow literally buried roads, homes, and businesses. Hamden's mayor says the town is still in a state of emergency. Thirty crews are moving snow 24 hours a day until the roads are entirely passable. Some places are still digging out from a history making blizzard now.

Is there more snow on the way is what we want to know for these poor folks. Indra Petersons has a look ahead to what is, perhaps, the next mess.

We're having a hard time hearing Indra. Yes. We'll check in with her a little bit later.

Fifty-two minutes past the hour. Four thousand people on a stranded cruise ship, they can't flush. That's what one woman texted her sister to describe the stench on a stranded cruise ship. There are new details on the slow, soggy voyage home and we are going to have a live report for you coming up next.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Fifty-five minutes past the hour. Well, the toilets are overflowing, sewage is sloshing around in the hallways, and they are running out of food. Nasty new tales coming from the Gulf of Mexico where a disabled Carnival cruise ship became a bobbin 100,000 ton island of stranded people.

Here's how one passenger described how disgusting it is.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Raw sewage in the hallways, you have to cover your face. It's disgusting.


SAMBOLIN: Apparently, there is some good news to report. A second tug has arrived. The passengers say the boat is moving and we hear there are some activities planned which we find surprising.

Victor Blackwell is live in Mobile, Alabama, where the ship is expected to arrive tomorrow. What is the latest on the progress of getting the ship there?

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, no later than 36 hours from now, the cruise director here in Mobile says that no later than 4:00 p.m. local, which is 5:00 Eastern, that ship should be here and those 3,000 passengers, about a thousand crew members should all be getting out. We're told now that this second tugboat has been added.

It's moving along about six knots toward Mobile Bay, about seven miles per hour. And everyone here says they are ready. Now, this will be the largest cruise ship to pull into the cruise terminal, although, not the largest ship to come through this channel. There are large cargo ships that come here to the ship yard for repairs. We do know that there are people here who are being -- who are getting sick because of the stench of this raw sewage described there. Actually, we just spoke with two parents, Kim McKerreghan and Mary Pero (ph). They are from Lufkin, Texas. They have two daughters on this ship. The girls are with their dads. They're 10 and 12 years old.

Now, listen to what Kim says about getting that first call from her 10-year-old after that engine fire on the Carnival Triumph.


KIM MCKERREGHAN, MOTHER OF PASSENGER: She was hysterical. Mommy, it's so scary. I'm so scared. I want to come home. I love you. I want you, mom, please. Just come get me, you know? And -- sorry.


BLACKWELL: She says that on the first day, they were eating onion sandwiches. She says she pulled the mattress out to the hallway because the state room was just too warm. She has not heard from her daughter since that call on Monday, but she drove here overnight. Listen, it's five minutes to 5:00 here in Mobile. And this mother said, I wanted to be as close to my girls as possible.

So they're here waiting, although, it still will be a day and a half until they get those girls in their arms. But they're here, waiting for them to come off this ship -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: I am not surprised. I would have done the exact same thing.

Victor Blackwell live in Mobile, Alabama, expecting that cruise ship to arrive. Thank you.

EARLY START continues right now.