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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Quantico Marine Base Shooting; Colorado Prison Chief Killing; Suspect Killed By Police; Biden: "I Haven't Given Up On This"; U.N. Launching Chemical Weapons Probe; Nearly 200 Air Traffic Towers Likely To Close; Communication Breakdown; Harvard Stuns New Mexico; A Wet, Cold Weekend; Miami Heat Sales Surge

Aired March 22, 2013 - 06:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: We are beginning with breaking news this morning. A shooting at Quantico leaving three dead at the Virginia Marine Base including the suspected shooter who apparently took his own life after a standoff with police. It is believed all the dead are Marines.

Shannon Travis is live from Quantico, Virginia, this morning. What is the latest here, Shannon?

SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Zoraida. We're waiting for about an hour from now, at about 7:00 a.m. for Marine base officials to come out and brief us on what more they have learned. But here's what we have so far.

The three that you mentioned, three dead, all believed to be Marines. Two of them, the shooter, and the first victim, believed to be male, and the second victim, gender unclear. Now here's what happened.

About 11:00 last night, there was a dispatch put out, basically a 911, that there was a shooting on the base. It happened near the officer's candidate school. The dispatch went out and there was a public announcement made over the P.A. system basically on base telling everyone on base in their homes to stay in their homes, lock the doors, and the base was put on lockdown.

From there, police officials began to look for this suspect. Basically apprehend the suspect. They learned that he had holed himself up, barricaded himself, in a barracks, which was obviously where the service members on base actually sleep, barricaded himself into a room.

They tried to establish communications with the gunman. Unclear if the gunman was responsive, if they were able to establish those communications. But about two hours after the point where they got the call, the 911, that there was a shooting, and that they entered the room, there was about two hours later.

Once they entered the room, Zoraida, more tragedy, the shooter dead of a self- -- apparently a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Another victim, in the room with the shooter, unclear how that person got in there, again, a lot of this is being investigated right now. Officials tell us that this is an active crime scene. One of the officials that we spoke with has a message, though, for anyone who's listening in the public.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just ask for everyone's prayers and thoughts for the families who are affected by this tragedy, and then we ask, also that you give us time to sort out the details and get you guys the accurate information that you guys want.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TRAVIS: Now, again, Zoraida, at about 7:00 a.m. we expect to hear some more information. We'll pose more questions to them. One question that we had to clear up, if there's any chance at all that there are any other victims that have yet to be found, officials tell us, no, that these victims, these casualties are limited to those three.

SAMBOLIN: I know, Shannon, that you have asked for more information on the shooter and perhaps a motive, as well and we don't have those details as of yet, right?

TRAVIS: Correct. We don't have those details as of yet. We hope to get them in this press conference that, as I mentioned, that we'll see at 7:00 a.m.

SAMBOLIN: All right, Shannon Travis reporting live for us. Appreciate it.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Police in Colorado are taking a, quote, "strong look" at whether a suspect shot debt by police in Texas is the same man wanted in the killing of Colorado's prison chief. The man was gunned down after a wild chase in a car that was similar to one seen leaving the Colorado home where Tom Clements was shot dead, as he answered his door.

CNN correspondent Ed Lavandera joins us live now from Decatur, Texas. What's the latest on this, Ed?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hundreds of miles away from where the director of the Colorado prison system was gunned down and killed at his front door, the focus is now on Texas. And specifically, the driver of a black Cadillac that ended -- that was killed after a wild high-speed chase yesterday afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAVANDERA (voice-over): This is how a high speed chase across North Texas ended, a black Cadillac with two different Colorado license plates smashed by an 18-wheeler. But the crash didn't stop the driver from getting out of the car and firing away at law enforcement officers. He was shot and killed in the fire fight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wasn't planning on being taken alive. I mean, that's obvious that he was trying to hurt somebody and he was trying to hurt the police.

LAVANDERA: The chase started when a sheriff's deputy tried to pull the Cadillac over on a remote stretch of Texas highway. Deputy James Boyd was shot twice in the chest. But he was wearing a bulletproof vest, and is expected to survive. That triggered a long, high-speed chase.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He came by me. I was say going about 100 miles an hour. Had his left arm out the window and he was just shooting. He shot four times when he passed by my car parked in the median of the highway.

LAVANDERA: The "Denver Post" quoting federal and state officials reports the suspect is 28-year-old Evan Spencer Ebell, a parolee from the Denver area. The "Post" says Ebell is the focus of the investigation into the murder of Tom Clements, the director of Colorado's prison system.

In a press release Thursday night, El Paso County investigators in Colorado did not deny the accuracy of the report but instead criticized the leak of the name by law enforcement sources.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know there's a lot of rumors going around and people wanting to know if this is connected to the Colorado shooting of the director of the prison system. We don't know that it is or it's not.

LAVANDERA: And in another strange twist, Denver police investigators also say there's a strong connection between the driver of the Cadillac in Texas, and the murder of a 27-year-old pizza delivery driver last Sunday afternoon.

Nathan Leon's body was found in a remote area outside of Denver. His family has struggled to figure out why anyone would want to kill a young father of three girls, who was delivering pizzas to earn extra money to support his family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since Sunday, we've just been a total wreck and just when you think you've cried your tears and you can't cry anymore, it's all you do.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAVANDERA: So not one but two murders that Colorado investigators are now taking a much stronger look at, and trying to see, connect the dots possibly between those two murders. Colorado investigators from each of those different murder cases have flown down here to Texas and are meeting with the investigators that were involved in that high- speed chase yesterday.

'm told by local law enforcement officials here in Decatur, Texas, that there is evidence inside that black Cadillac that those investigators also be very interested in seeing -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Ed Lavandera in Texas. Thanks, Ed. SAMBOLIN: New developments in the gun control debate this morning as well. The National Rifle Association says it will sue over the state's act, which strengthens the existing assault weapons ban in New York State.

The NRA's New York affiliate claims the law was pushed through without committee hearings for public input. The new laws include a statewide gun registry, a uniform licensing standard and a seven-bullet limit in ammunition magazines.

Vice President Joe Biden isn't throwing in the towel on the prospect of federal gun limits. Joined by Newtown families and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday he vowed to revive the battle to ban assault weapons.

And he had a message for lawmakers, as well, including Senate Democrats who dropped the assault weapons portion of a gun regulation package. He said, quote, "Think about Newtown." Here's crime and justice correspondent, Joe Johns.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With a ban on so-called assault weapons all but dead in the senate, according to top Democrat Harry Reid, the vice president said he is not giving up.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I'm not going to rest, nor is the president, until we do all of these things, all of these things.

JOHNS: He told the family of a teacher killed protecting children in the Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting, that the country needs some political backbone.

BIDEN: You know, it's time for the political establishment to show the courage your daughter showed.

JOHNS: The father of a 6-year-old also killed at Newtown said shame on the Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm really ashamed to see that Congress doesn't have the guts to stand up and make a change and put a ban on these types of weapons and universal background checks.

JOHNS: From New York's Mayor Bloomberg, a call for public pressure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you want to make a difference, you've got to pick up the phone, call your congressperson.

JOHNS: But what happened was no surprise. Conservative Democrats in the Senate, up for re-election, risk riling up pro-gun forces in an election year if they vote for the ban. Democratic supporters like retiring Michigan Senator Carl Levin are frustrated.

(on camera): Do you think it's worth just having a vote? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. I think it's important that people express their views and have a chance to vote those views and their people back home can judge whether they agree or disagree.

JOHNS: Bad for Democrats, though.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not the politics that I want to get into. It's way beyond politics.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: While the pressure from gun control advocates appears to be working, late Thursday Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid released a statement saying he wants to bring a gun safety bill to the floor after the upcoming recess including provisions on background checks.

He said he also wants a vote on an assault weapons ban amendment. So there appears to be one last chance for the senate to vote on the ban after all. The NRA saying they've always expected there would be a vote on the ban, and they say they're prepared for a lot of pressure on senators to pass it. Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.

SAMBOLIN: Thanks to Joe, there. Later on "STARTING POINT," we'll talk with Aurora shooting survivor Steven Barton. He's been working with Newtown families in the wake of that massacre.

ROMANS: All right, the U.N. are ask being for unfettered access to Syria as it launches an investigation to find out whether chemical weapons were used in the country's bloody civil war. The Assad regime and rebel forces accuse each other of chemical warfare, but U.S. military officials tell CNN their intelligence suggests neither side has used those weapons.

SAMBOLIN: Nearly 200 air traffic control towers on the chopping block. Today, the ax will fall. The FAA is likely to announce that the vast majority of 189 are up for closing today. They will shut down. They're victims of the forced spending cuts. The towers to be closed handle low to moderate amounts of air traffic and use mostly contract workers.

ROMANS: An independent analysis of the blackout at this year's Super Bowl finds fault with both equipment and the lines of communication. The power was cut off to have the Mercedes-Benz Superdome causing a more than half hour delay in the game between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers. A design defect in a recently installed relay device caused the power to trip, and then the utility had trouble reaching the manufacturer to solve the problem.

SAMBOLIN: So who had Harvard? The first full day of the NCAA tournament delivering the first big upset, 14 seed Harvard proving brains can beat brawn, pulling off a stunner in Salt Lake City by knocking off third seed New Mexico, 68-62. This happened last night. You know the Ivy League champs were dramatically undersized, but here size did not matter.

The Crimson hitting three pointers all night captured their first tournament victory ever in just their third appearance at the dance. And a big scare for top seeded Gonzaga, the Bulldogs holding off southern to avoid becoming the first 1-seed in history to lose to a 16 seed.

Check those brackets, folks. Other teams advancing, Louisville, Michigan State, Michigan, St. Louis, Marquette, Syracuse, Oregon, Memphis, Wichita, Arizona, Butler, California, Colorado State, And Virginia Commonwealth. And if you're competing against us on cnn.com, check this out. Who's in first place? John King!

ROMANS: What?

SAMBOLIN: Christine is second.

ROMANS: What?

SAMBOLIN: Berman is second to last. I love this. Where am I? I have no idea.

ROMANS: I'll get you, King. I will get you John King.

SAMBOLIN: Can somebody tell me where my bracket stands?

ROMANS: I love Berman is second to last.

SAMBOLIN: Count me down there. No, that is not good. I'm not going to say. I'm not -- I'm in the middle.

ROMANS: I did it just like I would pick stocks. I went through -- I don't know a lot about basketball. I analyzed these teams. One of my producers looked at the coach, the history. I picked them just like I would pick a stock portfolio.

SAMBOLIN: Let's see how you do. Maybe you're on to something.

ROMANS: Right now, President Obama wrapping up his mission to the Middle East and headed to his last stop as we speak. A live report coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Good morning. Welcome back. Fifteen minutes after the hour.

Let's get you up to date this morning.

Breaking news: three dead after a shooting at the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia. Police say the gunman died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound after barricading himself in a building there. That triggered a lockdown that was just lifted, just before 3:00 this morning, it's believed all of the dead are marines. Identities of the victims, and a motive still not known this morning.

SAMBOLIN: A huge traffic pileup in Canada. Take a look at this -- 100 vehicles mashed up on the main highway between Edmonton and Calgary. About 100 people ended up going to hospitals. But only one person there was seriously hurt. Police think bad weather, as you can see there, and excessive speed, set off a huge chain reaction. They hope to have the highway open again this morning.

ROMANS: Jennifer Capriati now charged with stalking and battery.

SAMBOLIN: Bizarre story.

ROMANS: Police -- right -- North Palm Beach, Florida, police say she punched her ex-boyfriend on Valentine's Day at a gym. He claims the former tennis star has harassed and stalked him since they broke up last year. Capriati has to appear in court next month.

SAMBOLIN: Congress' watchdog is saying not so fast to the plan to drop Saturday mail. The Government Accountability Office says the Postal Service legally must deliver the mail six days a week. That opinion could mean lawsuits to keep Saturday around -- or Saturday mail rounds for you. If the Postal Service's plan does go through this summer you would still get the packages, your express mail six days a week, you just wouldn't get the other mail.

ROMANS: All right. If you live anywhere from the Rockies to the East Coast, which is, you know, a big part of the country, brace yourself for some wet, cold conditions.

SAMBOLIN: Jennifer Delgado is here with all that sunshiny news this morning.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I am.

SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you.

DELGADO: I am just a ball of sunshine over here. And, you know what? Millions of people are going to be impacted by the storm system coming through this weekend. Zoraida, as well as Christine, we're talking snow and rain and right now we're still looking at wet conditions moving through Arkansas, Memphis, and spreading all the way over towards Atlanta.

You can see the lightning tapering off. We're starting to lose that energy, still some light snow moving through the Central Plains.

Now, again, that's going to be quieting down. But we have another big snowmaker out there. Despite the fact that it's spring, winter just does not want to lose its grip.

We're going to see snow starting to rise late tonight through parts of Denver. We're talking some of these locations, about seven to 10 inches of snowfall. Then it moves over towards the east, affecting Kansas, as well as into Missouri, also expecting seven to 10 inches of snowfall.

Heavy rain down towards the South, a couple inches there. We are looking at potentially some flooding as we go through Saturday, as well as into Sunday, even into Monday. But Monday, this is where things get very interesting. In addition to the snow out there, we are going to see a low moving right along the coast. We're talking very gusty winds.

All along the path of this storm, and then that snow arriving into the mid-Atlantic. I know you guys are asking -- well, how much snow are we talking about? Right now it's still too early to tell because we still have to see how much cold air is going to get wrapped up into that system. I can tell you, you are going to be affected by it.

For today, we are going to see clouds around, mixed in some sunshine up towards northeast. Severe storms down towards eastern Texas as well as into Louisiana. That includes some big snowmakers.

We'll send it back to you, guys. But enjoy the temperatures. They're going to be 10 degrees below average across the Northeast, 25 to 35 through the weekend in some parts of the Midwest, and Central Plains. Brrr!

ROMANS: Spring soccer game --

DELGADO: I know.

ROMANS: Spring soccer games wearing parkas.

DELGADO: You can't break out the spring clothes yet.

ROMANS: I know. All right.

The Miami Heat winning streak paying away from the court, too. Apparently winning is a great business decision. It pays to win. Details, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: We are minding your business this morning.

It is a big day for BlackBerry.

ROMANS: Research in Motion's new BlackBerry Z10 goes on sale today after months of delays. You know, expectations are high. I mean, this is make it or break it for this company. The company's stock price up more than 30 percent this year. The Z10 has got mostly positive reviews.

At about 200 bucks, the new device is going head-to-head with Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy S3. Blackberry has a lot of ground to make up. Android and Apple's iOS operating systems make up 70 percent and 20 percent of smartphone sales.

I mean, look at that. The BlackBerry has just a 3 percent share here. Its success -- the success of the company depends on this one product.

Another product, Miami Heat merchandise is hot! Just like it's hot streak. An industry report says sales of Heat gear are up 30 percent this year. This comes as the team's winning streak is now at 24 games and counting.

But all those LeBron James and Chris Bosh jersey's don't mean much for the heat's bottom line because proceeds from the NBA licensed merchandise is split evenly among all 30 teams. Did you know that? But, clearly, clearly customers want to wear their favorite teams on their backs.

SAMBOLIN: Some.

ROMANS: Some, right.

Protesters took to the streets in Cyprus last night. Lawmakers have come up to a plan to raise money by Monday or else the European Central Bank will stop providing Cyprus with emergency cash. If a deal goes through it will be the fourth European country to get a bailout.

Here in the U.S., investors seem to be taking it in stride. For now, Dow futures down less than five points this morning.

The one thing you need to know about your money today. Now that spring is officially here, so is the home buying season. That's right.

So far, in the first week of the spring selling season, early indications are good. The 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped last week to 3.54 percent. Which could bring in more buyers, previously owned homes are selling at the fastest pace in more than three years, Zoraida. Look at those rates. Look at the 15-year fixed.

SAMBOLIN: I saw you tweet something out that some folks in your neighborhood put their houses up and they went like hotcakes.

ROMANS: Wow, one, two, three, just like that.

SAMBOLIN: That's a little good news there.

Twenty-four minutes past the hour.

Powerful message from Yoko Ono. Thirty years after the death of John Lennon, the very personal memento she shared with the world on Twitter.

ROMANS: And it pays to come back to New York. Another reason Jimmy Fallon may get "The Tonight Show".

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Breaking news: three dead after a shooting at Virginia's Quantico marine base. All believed to be marines, including the gunman.

ROMANS: Washington's forced spending cuts affecting you. We're just hours from learning which airport control towers will have to close. It could be nearly 200 across the country.

SAMBOLIN: Late night tug-of-war. The sweet tax deal that could be designed to lure a Jimmy Fallon-hosted "Tonight Show" to New York City. Welcome back to EARLY START. Nice to have you with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

ROMANS: Good morning. I'm Christine Romans. It's Friday, March 22nd. It's about 30 minutes past the hour.

Breaking news this morning: a shooting at the military base at Quantico, leaving three people dead. It's believed they are all marines. The base was on lockdown earlier this morning. The gunman barricading himself inside the building where he apparently killed himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ask for everyone's prayers and thoughts for the families who are affected by this tragedy and we ask also that you give us time so we can sort out the details and get you guys the accurate information that you guys want.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Hmm. Wow. More details coming up in a live report from Quantico.

SAMBOLIN: And in other news today, developing story out of Texas may help solve the murder of Tom Clements. Colorado police in Texas this morning, at the scene of a police shoot-out that left the suspect dead. The dead man may have been the subject of a massive manhunt for the Colorado prison chief's killer.