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North Korea Threats; White Supremacist Manhunt; Connecticut Passes Sweeping Gun Laws; Violent Shark Attack Off Maui Coast; Missing Shipyard Worker Identified; One Hiker Found, One Still Missing; Live From New York In February 2014; Sheriff Shooting Suspect in Custody; Facebook Expected to Unveil Phone

Aired April 4, 2013 - 06:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START for you this morning. I'm Christine Romans.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman. Zoraida is off this week. It is Thursday, April 4th. It is 6:00 a.m. in the east.

And, a lot of news to tell you about this morning. More ships launching new missile defense systems deployed in the language getting flat out dangerous on the Korean Peninsula, which might just be the world's number one hot spot right now. The north threatening to block workers from the south from entering a shared industrial complex, even bound to shut the facility down.

Pyongyang also promising attacks against the U.S. with what they call smaller, lighter, and diversified nuclear force and warning that the moment of explosion is approaching fast.

The Pentagon announced its moving a ballistic missile defense systems to its U.S. bases in Guam two years ahead of schedule, but there's also word that the White House wants to dial back the rhetoric a bit.

Dan Lothian is live from Washington but, first, we want to get to Jim Clancy who is live from Seoul, South Korea. Jim, a lot going on right now.

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot going on and it just keeps happening hour by hour. You know, when you look at the latest threats toward the United States, a lot of that unsubstantiated in terms of nuclear weapons he could place aboard missile systems that he hasn't developed yet.

That's not as much of a threat as the conventional arms that are known to be in North Korea's possession and that's why there was so much interest stirred today when South Korea's defense ministry announced.

That they had detected that some of these medium range missiles had been moved to the eastern coast of the Korean Peninsula either for a drill or for a potential test that could come imminently. Listen to what the defense ministry spokesman had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are maintaining the weapon readiness posture especially after today's movement of the anti- airborne operations. I believe we are fully prepared to control the critical situation.


CLANCY: In the midst of all of this swirling propaganda, the shutdown of at least the blockade of the Caisson Industrial Park with some 53,000 North Koreans are employed by 123 South Korean firms, all of these things coming together.

That's really the only symbol that there is here in the peninsula of cooperation between the two sides. A lot of people would hate to see that shut down. That's just what the north is threatening to do.

But the U.S. and Seoul tonight are just very determined to continue their cooperation, their military exercises instead of being very afraid, they want to be very prepared.

BERMAN: All right, Jim Clancy in South Korea. It really does seem like this is getting more serious every morning, our thanks to you.

ROMANS: The question this morning is how is the U.S. administration handling it, concern at the White House this morning that the flexing of the U.S. military mite has pushed North Korea too far.

According to the "Wall Street Journal," the Obama administration has decided to turn down the volume. White House correspondent Dan Lothian is live from Washington with more. Dan, are the North Koreans very difficult to gauge?

Obviously these things are just fraught with tension. Earlier this week, the North Koreans called Americans boiled pumpkins. You know, so the rhetoric is very strange. At the same time, the U.S. has to be very careful not to back them in a corner.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That is true. You know, the sense at least according to that report is that perhaps Kim Jong- Un may have been pushed much further than they intended to push him and that's the reason that they are trying to dial things back.

Keep in mind that the U.S. has really been sort of ramping up its presence in the region starting early last month, March 8th, when the B-52 bombers were sent to fly over South Korea. U.S. officials saying that was part of a routine mission. They followed up that about 2-1/2 weeks later with another similar mission.

Then came those stealth bombers, followed that earlier this week with Navy warships going to the region to better monitor the situation inside North Korea. And then word coming yesterday that the U.S. plans to send a missile defense system to Guam.

All of this, according to the report, is part of a playbook signed off on by the administration to try and lower the temperature in the region, but now apparently dialling things back as the U.S. assesses the situation there -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Dan Lothian, live for us this morning in Washington. Thanks, Dan.

BERMAN: Happening right now, the search for a gunman who opened fire at Fort Knox killing a civilian worker for the U.S. Army. This probably is one of the most secure locations in the country. Investigators say yesterday's shooting happened in a parking lot. They describe it as a personal incident. It didn't prompt a temporary lock down. The victim's identity has not been released.

ROMANS: Also happening now, a manhunt for two members of the white supremacist gang 211 crew. They are wanted in connection of the murder of Colorado State Prisons Chief Tom Clements. The 47-year-old James Loer, 31-year-old Thomas Goulee are considered armed and dangerous.

Authorities say one or both of them could be headed to Nevada. El Paso County Sheriff's spokesman would not say whether they pair knew Evan Ebel, the man suspected of killing Clements.

And a disturbing letter has surfaced written by Ebel to a friend back in 2006. In it, he discusses fantasies about catching prison guards once he's freed and torturing and eventually killing them. The letter is signed with a swastika. He calls himself "Big Bad Evil Evan Ebel." Ebel was killed in a shootout with Texas deputies last month.

Coming up tonight on CNN's "AC 360," an exclusive interview with the wife of murdered Colorado Prison Chief Tom Clements.

BERMAN: New this morning, the state of Connecticut putting the nation's toughest gun laws on the books less than four months after the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Early this morning, the State House passed a measure that adds more than 100 guns to the list of banned assault weapons and makes buying or selling large capacity magazines illegal. Governor Dan Malloy is expected to sign this bill at noon today and much of this law will take effect as soon as the pen hits the paper.

Also new this morning, a California surfer attacked by a monster shark on a Hawaiian vacation hot spot. It happened Wednesday morning on a beach off the coast of Maui. The 58-year-old described the shark's head as the size of a basketball. He's being treated for two deep gashes to his right thigh. A fellow surfer from Detroit saw it all go down.


DAVID TUZINOWSKI, WITNESSED SHARK ATTACK: At one point, I saw a large shadow. I really thought it was a seal. A few minutes later I heard this big splash. There was another guy in the water, me and the other guy. It kind of hit me that was probably a shark.


BERMAN: County lifeguards say based on the man's injuries that shark may have been anywhere from eight to ten feet long.

ROMANS: OK, we're learning more about this morning about a shipyard worker who was swept into an Alabama River. The guard shack he was in was blown into the water yesterday as the Carnival "Triumph" was getting repaired.

Shannon Travis tracking developments live from Washington. Shannon, tell us what happened.

SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine. Literally just blowing people away, that guard shack, it was 60 to 70- mile-an-hour wind there's in Mobile, Alabama. I mean, those are near hurricane force winds. It just blew the shack into the water, sent it plunging into the water.

There were two guards in the shack, Christine. One of them was rescued. The other as you mentioned is missing. There's a full-on search under way to find that guard. The second thing that happened with these massive winds, the Carnival ship cruise -- the Carnival Cruiseship "Triumph" was yanked out of its anchors at a repair dock.

This ship, Christine, 900 feet long, 14 stories tall, just to give you a sense of how strong those winds were, just literally sent the ship adrift in the waters for a while. The Coast Guard is giving us images that it actually collided with another boat. Take a listen to one witness how he described what he saw.


BRANDON VICKERS, WITNESS: I was outside and it was a steady rain, nothing serious. All of a sudden, by the time we made it into the Maritime Museum, someone said, my God, look at the Carnival cruise ship.

I turn to look. I've seen three portalettes go flying by. That got my attention. So I turn and look this way and you could see the Carnival cruise ship starting to come out of the BAE systems.


TRAVIS: Now "Triumph" is secured right now and crew officials tell us that none of the contractors or workers on board were actually harmed in any way. This obviously, Christine, is the same "Triumph" ship that had that nightmare in February where they had the engine fire and over 4,000 people on board suffered those horrific conditions. Some people are actually wondering if this ship is cursed or not.

ROMANS: And that ship, a series of mishaps from Carnival cruise, this ship and others before.

TRAVIS: That's right. I mean, there are four of Carnival's 23 ships that have been having problems and Carnival is facing a class action lawsuit for what happened with "Triumph" in February. So yes, there's a lot going on, a lot of bad news for other cruiselines.

ROMANS: All right, Shannon Travis. Thanks, Shannon. BERMAN: It's 8 minutes after the hour. Dehydrated, confused but alive, one hiker has been found but his friend is still lost in the backcountry of Orange County, California. The two Cal State students went hiking Sunday, but couldn't find their way out.

Their cell phone died before searchers could nail down their exact location. The 19-year-old Nicholas Gendoya was found last night about half a mile from his car. Searchers say they are confident they will find 18-year-old Kyndall Jack.

ROMANS: The Rutgers basketball coach is out and the athletic director and school president could be next. Mike Rice is apologizing for his abusive behavior toward players captured on a practice video. Rice was fired after the video went viral. He calls his actions, quote, "inexcusable."

Meantime, school leaders are under fire for not dismissing Rice when the video first came to their attention last fall. Instead he was fined and received a three-game suspension instead.

BERMAN: So the kings of late night reacting to the news that Jimmy Fallon will replace Jay Leno as the host of the "Tonight Show," that will happen February of 2014. Here's Jimmy Fallon during last night's monologue.


JIMMY FALLON, HOST, NBC'S "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": So excited to just keep working hard and trying to make the best show that we can along with you guys. I got to say thanks to Jay Leno for being so gracious. I know this whole thing is --


BERMAN: So Leno is out again, but this time there appears to be no hard feelings. Still, after congratulating Fallon, Jay couldn't help but take another swipe at NBC.


JAY LENO, HOST, NBC "TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": I just have one request of Jimmy. We've all fought, kicked, and scratched to get this network up to fifth place, OK? Now we have to keep it there. Jimmy, don't let us slip into sixth. We're counting on you. We're counting on you.


BERMAN: NBC making a big move. "Tonight Show" is going from beautiful downtown Burbank back here to New York City where it was years and years ago.

ROMANS: I think they are all very classy about it, don't you?

BERMAN: I think they are great. I can't imagine. ROMANS: All right, it's 10 minutes after the hour. Coming up, a sheriff shot to death as he sat in his patrol car. More on this brazing attack and the alleged suspect in a live report.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. We've been telling you about a string of shootings of public officials lately. The district attorney and his wife killed in Colorado, the assistant district attorney in that same county also shot to death.

And the chief of Colorado's prison system also shot and killed recently. Now a shooting in West Virginia to tell you about and this morning police have a suspect in custody in this case.

Authorities in Mingo County are investigating the death of a sheriff known for his tough stance on drugs. Police say 37-year-old Dennis Maynard parked his car close to Sheriff Walter Crum's SUV and shot him twice in the head through a window.

Our Susan Candiotti is live in Williamson, West Virginia. Susan, at this point any indication of a motive in this case?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, not just yet. And frankly, John, people are wondering whether all of those other shootings that have happening around the country might have anything at all to do with this, might have prompted this, too, to happen.

We do know this, that the sheriff had only taken office about three months ago. And we have already learned that the suspect, when he was caught, said something to investigators. Now, they're not revealing what it was, but it might be part of the motive, might give them some answers.

We know that the suspect used a .40-caliber Glock and we don't know how he got his hands on it when all of this happened. About noontime yesterday just a couple blocks from the courthouse here where I am standing. The sheriff was during his lunch break. He often ate lunch in his car. When police say someone walked up to the vehicle, the suspect. Picked up a gun, pointed point blank into the sheriff's window, his marked vehicle, and shot twice, firing and striking the sheriff twice in his head.

Then the suspect took off, police say. They caught up with him, gave chase, and when he got out of his vehicle, they said he pointed his gun at him and they shot him twice in the chest. This is just stunning to this entire community.

BERMAN: You mention no motive yet. Still searching for that. Any other information about this suspect right now?

CANDIOTTI: Well, they're saying he's 37-year-old, as you indicated. If he has a prior record, they're t not telling us. His father tells our CNN affiliate WSAZ that his son suffered from mental problems, but not saying exactly what that was all about, and he also added that he might have done more. There's going to be a vigil tonight here at this courthouse to memorialize Sheriff Eugene Crum who was very loved and well-known in this community.

BERMAN: All right. Susan Candiotti in Williamson, West Virginia -- thanks this morning.

ROMANS: All right. Sixteen minutes past the hour. Let's get you up to date.

The tough talk continues for North Korea with the communist nation now threatening to block workers from the South from entering a shared industrial complex, even vowing to shut the facility down all together. The North is also pledging to launch nuclear attacks against U.S.

BERMAN: North Carolina family in shock this morning. Their mother's body found in her car days after it was pulled from a ditch and towed to an impound lot. The state trooper's report Friday said no driver was found in the car but police discovered 62-year-old Carolyn Watkins body in the driver's seat three days later after the family reported her missing.


ALGERNON WATKINS, SON: They didn't do their job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right. She laid in that car.

WATKINS: They were looking for her pocket book and the keys and when they started searching that's when she found her body in the car.


BERMAN: The trooper who missed the body is on paid leave while the state investigates.

ROMANS: Remember this?

It's the Kony 201 media campaign. Well, now, the U.S. State Department is onboard, offering $5 million for information leading to the arrest, transfer, or convictions of Joseph Kony and two other top leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army. It's, of course, a violent rebel group from Uganda, now scattered throughout Central Africa.

BERMAN: Two men are dead after a helicopter crashed in Miami parking lot and burst into flames. Witnesses say they could hear the engine sputtering before the chopper plunged straight down. An NTSB spokesman says initial reports show there were birds in the area and they may have been a problem with the helicopter's tail rotor.

ROMANS: To the guard rail off the bridge, 50 feet down to the pavement, this SUV took a terrifying plunge last night in downtown Atlanta. You see firefighters put a neck brace on the driver. I think he may have had a medical problem before this crash. All three people in the Jeep went to the hospital, but we can report they should be OK. The driver was cited for not having a license.

BERMAN: Attention, a rare Florida panther returned to the wild. Scientists hope they he will do his part to keep this species going.

They rescued this guy and his sister nearly two years ago. Their mother had died. The sister was released in February. They have monitoring collars on so wildlife experts can keep track of them.

Fewer than 200 panthers are believed to be left right now in south Florida.

ROMANS: OK. Call it a case of sheer embarrassment. I've been saying corporate transparency.

Coming up, a company forced to pull yoga pants off store shelves because they were to see-thru. The company takes action.

BERMAN: Sheer embarrassment. Sheer embarrassment.


BERMAN: The sun rising over New York City, another beautiful, yet chilly, day here.

Minding your business this morning: stock futures point to a higher opening after yesterday's sell-off.

ROMANS: Wall Street happy to hear the bank of Japan taking radical steps aimed to stop two decades of inflation. Japan is the world's third largest economy, huge trading partner of ours. So, that's what they're watching here today.

Yesterday, there were concerns about North Korea. Today, looking toward Japan.

OK, remember the see through Lululemon yoga pants pulled from store shelves?


ROMANS: Yes, heads are rolling, Berman. Lululemon's chief product officer is leaving the company. As for the pants, the company is taking some responsibility, saying the fabric did meet standards, just at the low end of its threshold.

BERMAN: The not being see-thru threshold?

ROMANS: We didn't think they'd be actually see-thru, but it turns out they were threshold. Lululemon found the testing protocols were incomplete. You think so?

OK. How much would you pay for a baseball card? You know, me, maybe a quarter if it came with gum.

But what about $1.6 million? That's how high the bidding has reached for the Honus Wagner baseball card. And the price could hit upwards of $2.5 million for a baseball card? Well, it's pretty rare. There were only 50 Wagner cards in existence.

And this one is particularly in really good condition. It's in short supply because Wagner made the American Tobacco Company recall it because he didn't want kids to buy cigarettes. So he didn't want his image to be used on something that was pushing cigarettes so he had them recall. There are only like 50 left.

BERMAN: It's a legendary card.

ROMANS: Yes, bidding ends tomorrow. A legendary investment, apparently, for whoever has it right now.

All right. A big announcement for Facebook today. The company isn't giving details, but it's expected to unveil a phone, the Facebook phone this afternoon. Rumor is the phone will be made by HTC and powered by the Android operating system.

The big goal is advertising its Facebook primary revenue source. It's struggled how to figure out how to make money off the mobile users, especially overseas.

So, the phone, the phone.

BERMAN: It will be interesting to see what they do with that.


BERMAN: So, what's the one thing we need to know about our money?

ROMANS: If you're changing jobs, I want you to be really careful with what you do with your 401(k). Not you personally.

BERMAN: I was going to say, what do you know?

ROMANS: I know nothing about you. But a new GAO study finds most financial firms encourage workers to roll their money into an IRA that's also managed by that firm. Often, it's not the best choice and it will cost you thousands of dollars in fees which aren't always up front. The firms aren't always up front about it.

So, a really interesting GAO study, you've got to be careful when you switch jobs and roll over your 401(k). You could be unwittingly paying more than you need to.

BERMAN: Take a close look at that one.

We have some new information just in to CNN at this hour on the murder of two prosecutors in Texas. We will have the latest from Kaufman County coming up.