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Interview with Sgt. Chris Zahn; Three Marines Dead in Quantico Shooting; Twitter Blasts Chambliss' Gay Marriage Remark; Nancy Grace's Missing Cuff; UT Won't Fund "Sex Week" on Campus; March Madness Bracket Busters

Aired March 22, 2013 - 09:30   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, I'm Carol Costello. Thank you for joining us. Stories we're watching right now in the NEWSROOM, at 31 minutes past the hour. As the opening bell rings on Wall Street, stock futures get a bump on news that a bailout for Cyprus could be hours away. Investors keeping an eye on the tiny country's money problem, which could be the key to the future of the euro.

This morning in Virginia, police are searching for a motive in a deadly shooting spree at Marine base Quantico. The shooter was a Marine. He killed himself after fatally shooting two others people. Joining us now on the phone is Sergeant Christopher Zahn, a Marine Corps spokesperson. Welcome.


COSTELLO: Can you take us through how the shooting went down?

ZAHN: Well at about 10:30 p.m., last night, there was a incident that occurred, that was the first shooting between the shooter and the first victim, happened at the barracks over at officer candidate school. After that initial shooting, the base military police quickly responded along with cooperation from Prince William County police department. And isolated the suspect in the barracks. The base was locked down under threat (ph) condition delta, we closed the gates and stopped all non-official movement aboard the base. Approximately 2:30 a.m., law enforcement made entry into the room, where they discovered the shooter dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, along with a second victim. All three were Marines.

COSTELLO: The victims, the murder victims, a man and a woman?

ZAHN: Yes, ma'am.

COSTELLO: And both Marines?

ZAHN: All three involved were marines, yes.

COSTELLO: Do you suspect that this was a domestic issue? Or was it something else?

ZAHN: It's still so early in the investigation process, and that's what we're trying to figure out this morning is what happened here. What went wrong, and more importantly, how do we fix it? How do we prevent our Marines from doing this in the future.

COSTELLO: All right. Thank you so much for joining us this morning and filling us in. We appreciate it. 33 minutes past the hour.

Time to check top stories. New Jersey Chris Christie being blasted by his rivals for not taking a harder stand against conversion therapy. Christie says he does not believe in the practice, but says he hasn't made up his mind whether to sign a proposed ban into law.

A new law making its way through the South Carolina Senate would allow anyone to carry a gun, in public, regardless of whether they have a concealed carry permit. CNN affiliate WSPA reports the bill is now under review and will head to the state judiciary committee next month.

A Twitter blowback against Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss. Politico asked Chambliss if his views on same-sex marriage had changed in light of Senator Rob Portman's change of heart. Senator Chambliss' response, quote, " I'm not gay, so I'm not going to marry one."

As you might expect, the Twitterverse responded to that. I'll just read you a couple. This tweeter tweeted, "Senator Saxby Chambliss just hasn't met the right guy yet." And this one, "I'm not gay, and the gay community breathed a sigh of relief." And this one, "Senator Saxby Chambliss says he opposes same-sex marriage because I'm not gay. Will he now oppose the death penalty because he's not dead?"

This mini Twitter war comes days before the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the issue of same-sex marriage and a week since the Republican party leased its autopsy, urging Republicans to soften their tone when they talk about gay rights. Joining me now, Will Cain, writer for "" and CNN contributor, and Van Jones, CNN contributor and former White House official for President Obama. Welcome to you, both.



COSTELLO: Good morning so I'll start with Will. The GOP's report said gay rights is a way to gain young voters, because 70 percent of people born since 1980 favor same-sex marriage. So when Senator Saxyb Chambliss says I'm not gay, I'm not going to marry one, doesn't that negate what his party is trying to do?

CAIN: I don't know if it negates it, because I don't truly understand what he's saying. I mean, actually, his logic is pretty sound, right Carol? I mean if you are in fact not gay, it would be unwise to accept a marriage proposal from someone who is gay. I think that's is fairly sound logic. I don't know what it has to do with support of gay marriage or not.

Whether or not it would be wise politics, over the long haul, the answer seems to be yes, the country is moving in that direction. In the short term, we should be reminded the President of the United States just moved in that direction from the Democratic party. I think there is an argument for gay marriage that comes from a conservative, principled position. It's one that I support, and that is, it is constitutional. It is a part of the 14th amendment, it is equal protection, the state should treat everyone the same. The state should treat everyone the same. This is a conservative belief, and I think conservatives will make their way in that direction.

COSTELLO: But, Republicans are hoping the U.S. Supreme Court does not rule in favor of same-sex marriage next week when they begin to take up the topic, right, Van? I mean, they -- many of them made it very clear they want the Defense of Marriage Act to remain part of the law of the land. Federal law of the land.

JONES: That's true, though I'm happy to say that there were some Republicans who came out on the right side of this. You know there is a deeper issue here, I think, for both parties. There seems to be just a basic empathy gap. Whether you are talking about the constitution or not. And in an increasingly diverse society, you have to be able to at least empathize with people who are different from you. When you have these kinds of comments, it just seems so -- almost bone headed. Almost are you serious?

Here is what I think will happen. I think you are seeing good folks like Will and other are going to make their way to the right position. This also becomes a state's rights issue. You have now six states that are saying we're going to treat citizens equally. The federal government has to come down on the side of respecting those states rights to do this. The train has left the station there is a -- an expiration date on some of this bigotry. But I really think that when have you somebody like him coming out, saying this kind of stuff, it just sets the whole country back. Not just the Republican party, the whole country.

COSTELLO: Talking about the empathy aspect of this. Other Republicans, namely Senator Rob Portman who came out and supported same-sex marriage because his son is gay and gay rights advocates cheered, and they're using his empathy. They Put out an ad inspired by Portman to sway the U.S. Supreme Court toward same-sex marriage. Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A growing majority of Americans have some to believe it's time to allow marriage for gay and lesbian couples. Here is why:


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A couple in my ministry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: my sister-in-law.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My brother Octavio (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My business partner.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My sister Irene, a police officer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My brother, Kean (ph).



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's time to give gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's time for marriage.


COSTELLO: The question is, Will this sway the Supreme Court at all? I mean, at face value, seems like an effective ad?

CAIN: Will it sway the Supreme Court? The answer to that is I hope certainly is not. Right, there are two portals into how you approach gay marriage: there's the emotional portal and the intellectual portal. And by the way, both are important. I, Carol you and I have had many conversations about the emotional aspects of various issues. And I don't like approaching things from that perspective. But I have to be honest. It affected me on this issue. Knowing many friends who are gay, you want to see them treated equally by the government.

But I think the more compelling argument, I want to make the argument is on the intellectual side. On the idea that the constitution requires governments to have a very good reason to discriminate. And they don't have it in this case. There's not a good reason to discriminate. The Supreme Court is more likely to be influenced by the fact that they want politics to play its own role. That states, as Van said, they are beginning legalize gay marriage. And politics is better to have the debate in that arena. Abortion has proven that. We have continued to debate abortion because the Supreme Court stopped it in the political process. It's continued to be divisive.

COSTELLO: Okay, so just a quick prediction from you about what you think, Van, will happen next week with the U.S. Supreme Court.

JONES: I think that DOMA will be struck down. I think Kennedy will be the decisive player here. I think he'll do it on very narrow grounds. I do think that Will is right, you're not going to see a big case, it just ways it's legal everywhere, we're done. I would love to see that, but I don't think they're going to do that. I think we've got to let this thing play itself out. A narrow decision with Kennedy being the swing.


COSTELLO: Well we'll be following for it --

CAIN: It affects two or three states at tops. Right.

COSTELLO: Okay. Thank you to both of you. CNN contributors Van Jones and Will Cain.

CAIN: You bet.

COSTELLO: It is the mystery caper that's gripping the nation. The case of Nancy Grace's missing handuff necklace. And get this the prime suspect may be Anderson Cooper.


COSTELLO: Sometimes at CNN we embrace the lighter side of 24-hour news. Like when Nancy Grace grilled Anderson Cooper about her missing handcuff necklace. That's the subject of AC360's "The Ridiculist"


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Join me now for "The Ridiculist" and tonight, it is a full-on "Rediculist" mystery. A cold case that is near and dear to Nancy Grace's heart. Literally, as in her necklace is missing. We're going to hear from Nancy in just a moment, if she's not too emotional. But first, a little background. Nancy's necklace first caught my eye a few weeks ago when we had her on the program to talk about the Jodi Arias trial. Take a look.


COOPER: Nancy, are you wearing handcuffs as a necklace?

NANCY GRACE, HLN HOST: Yes, I am. Would you like a pair? I did it for you, An.

COOPER: I saw something shiny and the more I looked at it, I'm thinking are those handcuffs? Those really are?

GRACE: Yes, they are and they work. Just in case I need to arrest somebody.


COOPER: Now it seems that Nancy will have to use her bare hands if she has to arrest somebody, because, ladies and gentlemen, the handcuff necklace is missing. I repeat, the necklace is MIA. Sometime yesterday, Nancy lost the necklace. I spoke with Nancy a short time ago about this trying time in her life.


COOPER: Nancy grace, first of all, I want to express my condolences, what happened to your necklace?

GRACE: Well Anderson the last time my handcuff necklace was admired on the air, I'd like to point out that you were present.

(CROSSTALK) COOPER: It was shiny -- I was --

GRACE: You, Toobin and Mark Geragos. You three were the last one to admire it on air. You clearly wanted the necklace. You asked about the necklace. You showed a very unusual interest in my handcuff necklace, or Anderson, was it just me? Pow. It doesn't work, Anderson. So ask your little friend Geragos what he did with my necklace.

COOPER: Nancy, first of all, I like that you pulled a larger set of handcuffs from the twins. And --

GRACE: These are real, Anderson.

COOPER: I'm sure they are. Are you sure -- I don't want to accuse your children. Are you sure your twins didn't steal this necklace?

GRACE: No, the twins have never seen the necklace. The necklace stays at work in a vault, hermetically-sealed. They've never seen the hand cuffs.

COOPER: So when was the last time you remember -- have you retraced your steps?

GRACE: Yes, I retraced my steps, Anderson and I even put up a flier all around Headline News and CNN asking for tips. And there is a reward for the necklace.

COOPER: Now on Twitter today you did accuse me of the theft and while -- while I do find the hand cuff necklace.

GRACE: I didn't accuse you. I just made a suggestion.

COOPER: You suggested it.

GRACE: I just threw the bread upon the water to see what would bite. And you are turning red.

COOPER: No, no for the record, I do find it very fetching. I did not take it. Do you have any other suspects?

GRACE: Don't try to throw me off the scent. Don't try to throw me off you, Anderson. I've already told you, Geragos and Toobin. Toobin is too much of a straight guy to wear a pair of handcuff necklaces. He would never think to steal like you.

Now what about Geragos. Out of the three of you, I would say that Geragos would be the type to actually steal the necklace.

COOPER: I knew you were going to accuse Geragos also.

GRACE: All though you're pretty daring. I mean, look at his face? If that doesn't scream guilt --

COOPER: Where do you get a handcuff necklace? Did you get it at a regular jewelry store or do you have in like an S & M dungeon? GRACE: A what? What is that? What's an S&M Dungeon?

COOPER: What will you do if you find a perpetrator of this heinous crime?

GRACE: If I find the thief, they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and I plan to personally put these on him.

COOPER: I've got to ask this question. What has more sentimental value, your handcuff necklace or your barrette?

GRACE: The barrette is Lucy's, my daughter's.

COOPER: Oh that's nice, so the barrette.

GRACE: So I have -- I would have to go with the barrette. Hey, hey, hey, don't ask me anything else about what I wear, because next thing I know, I'm going to turn around and Lucy's barrette is going to be gone, Anderson. Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: We're going to stay on it, Nancy Grace. Thank you good luck to you.

GRACE: Anderson, thank you, friend.

COOPER: Thank you, friend.


Let me just say on the record, that I promise CNN and "AC360" will devote all of its many resources to this search, and I personally I will stay on this until the handcuff are returned to their rightful owner or at least until tomorrow's "Ridiculist".


COSTELLO: You know Anderson has that necklace, you just know he does.

Just ahead Harrison Ford returning for the next "Star Wars"? The scoop, next.


COSTELLO: At 51 minutes past the hour, time to check our "Top Stories".

The University of Tennessee's budget is in jeopardy over an event known as "Sex Week". Student organizers at the Knoxville campus say it's a chance to talk about anything related to sex.


JACOB CLARK, ORGANIZER, UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE, "SEX WEEK": We're covering sexual action health from a health perspective and sometimes from a pleasure perspective.


COSTELLO: State lawmakers, though, say it verges on pornography and they're threatening to zero out the school's budget. In the meantime, a UT official has pulled all state money from the event. "Sex Week" is set to start April 7th.

Police in Charlotte, North Carolina, test a new gunshot detection system. It uses a network of sensors to pinpoint the location of gunfire and then it sends that information to 911 dispatchers who can alert the cops. The technology was installed last year for the Democratic National Convention.


HARRISON FORD, ACTOR: Laugh it up, Fuzzball.


COSTELLO: Laugh it up, Fuzzball. That's one of the great lines from the "Star Wars" series, and Harrison Ford could be back as Han Solo. Listen to what he told CNN affiliate WGN.

FORD: I think it's almost true. I think, you know, I'm looking forward to it. I'm not in the bag yet, but I think it's happening.


COSTELLO: Ford turns 70 years old next year. "Star Wars" Episode 7 is still in the early development process. We'll keep you posted.

The sound of the brackets busting heard across the nation. Harvard sends New Mexico packing in the first big upset in the NCAA tournament. Bleacher Report, next.


COSTELLO: One day into March Madness and brackets are busting everywhere thanks to Harvard beating New Mexico. Andy Scholes is here with the Bleacher Report.

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Yes, good morning, Carol.

Is there anything worse than losing one of your final four teams on the first day? Probably not. Well that's happened to me and plenty of other people who had New Mexico in their final four. This was such a big upset that President Obama, who went to Harvard, didn't even pick them to beat the Lobos.

So this upset, a perfect example of why it's called March Madness. The Crimson played their best game of the season, shooting over 50 percent on the way to their first ever tournament win. Harvard now moves on to play Arizona in round three. After last night's upset, less than one percent of the more than eight million brackets filled out on ESPN were made perfect.

One person's bracket, who wasn't busted by Harvard, is the Crimson's most famous hoops alum, Jeremy Lin. He tweeted this pick after the win saying, "Yes, Harvard wins, ha-ha, I told you so." I guess we should have listened to Jeremy.

Well there was almost a bigger upset than New Mexico yesterday. One seed Gonzaga nearly came the first top seed to ever lose to a 16th seed the Southern University. Again the Bulldogs all they could handle. The game was tied with four minutes to go, but the Zags they closed on a 10-4 run to avoid disaster. They will play Wichita State in round three.

Top-seeded Louisville moved on as well. They'll play Colorado State in the next round the other two top seeds will be in action later today is Indiana takes on James Madison while Kansas goes up against Western Kentucky.

We did have a game winning shot yesterday. Right now it's number four in the line-up on Marquette trailed Davidson by one with under six seconds to go, Van Der Blu takes this inbound all the way for the game-winning layup with one second left. Golden Eagles avoid the upset with the 59-58. We have 16 games on tap for the day. But Carol with my bracket pretty much busted, I don't have much to look forward to.

COSTELLO: But mine's not. I'm still in the running.

SCHOLES: Good luck to you.

COSTELLO: Thank you.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.