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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Back from Havana; 14 Injured in Texas College Stabbing Attack; "Guns Under Fire"; North Korea May Launch Multiple Missiles

Aired April 10, 2013 - 08:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. Good morning. I'm Christine Romans.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman. Our STARTING POINT this morning, while you were sleeping, two boys abducted, brought to Cuba by their parents, they are now home. We are live in Tampa with the developing details.

ROMANS: And a student goes on a stabbing spree, injuring 14 people, terrifying his classmates. Was this a sick fantasy turned horrible reality?

BERMAN: Plus, maybe we're just a few hours away from a major deal, a breakthrough on background checks for people who want to buy guns. What goes into those checks? Our Chris Cuomo puts them to the test when he goes to buy a gun. It's all part of our day long special coverage of guns under fire.

ROMANS: And new this morning, intelligence report saying North Korea could launch a missile at any moment. We're live in Seoul, with the implications of that.

It's Wednesday, April 10th. STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

BERMAN: And our starting point: new this morning, the parents accused of kidnapping their young sons and sailing to Cuba, they are now back on U.S. soil and they are under arrest. Josh and Sharyn Hakken and their two boys were spotted at a Havana marina by a CNN reporter. Cuba turned the family over to the U.S. and they were flown back to Florida overnight.

CNN's Victor Blackwell is live in Tampa, Florida, where the boys, Victor, have been reunited with their grandparents.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are. Two and 4-year-old Chase and Cole Hakken, back with their grandparents. Their parents, Joshua and Sharyn Hakken are in jail. They were flown back here by Florida authorities and FBI after flying to Havana to retrieve them.

We're told that on the plane, the parents were separated from the boys. The boys immediately after arriving in Hillsborough County were handed over to their grandparents who were very grateful for all the prayers they received from their community and around the country.

Also from the work of the local, state, federal, and Cuban authorities, and this was a real quandary. A difficulty for many of the people who are trying to work out this relationship of extradition between the U.S. and the Cuban officials.

But the FBI said yesterday that this was not as difficult as some might have expected.

Listen.

(BEGIN VDIEO CLIP)

DAVID COUVERTIER, SPECIAL AGENT TAMPA BAY: In talking to the State Department and our coordination, you know, the U.S. officials with the government of Cuba, they've been very supportive and they were very cooperative, with all of our requests to make sure we got the family back safely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: And rare praise from the U.S. government for Cuban officials, this from the U.S. intersection in Havana. I want to read for you. It says we would like to express our appreciation to Cuban authorities for their extensive cooperation to resolve this dangerous situation quickly. Part of a statement released today.

Now, there are state charges filed against the Hakken parents, including kidnapping. Also, federal charge of flight to avoid prosecution. They are expected to make their first appearance here on Florida on those state charges tomorrow -- John.

BERMAN: Thanks so much, Victor Blackwell.

Again, so interesting, as he said, to see that cooperation between Cuba and the U.S. in this case.

ROMANS: Yes.

New developments this morning also in a stabbing rampage on a Texas college campus. The 20-year-old suspect Dylan Quick is accused of injuring 14 people. Officials say Quick told investigators he planned this assault and that he's fantasized about stabbing people since he was in elementary school.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is live for us this morning in Cypress, Texas, where classes, Ed, are resuming this morning, aren't they?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are, Christine. In fact, we're seeing students starting to pull into the parking lot here on the campus of Lone Star College. Disturbing details emerging, attacks happened in just a matter of minutes here yesterday, just before lunch time. But all of it, thanks to a group of three students -- because of three students, it all came to a quick end.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) LAVANDERA (voice-over): Investigators say Dylan Quick unleashed a rapid and frightening attack on 14 people as he walked through a hallway of the Lone Star College campus ion Cypress, Texas.

Cassie Foe says it was surreal to watch the horrific scene unfold. She was in a classroom when she heard students screaming.

(on camera): How in the world does someone stab 14 people?

CASSIE FOE, WITNESS TO STABBING: He used his backpack as a shield and he gets close to the person, kind of bumps into them, then stabs them at the same time.

LAVANDERA: So, it should be that quick?

FOE: So, it's that quick. Just in and out and down the other way.

LAVANDERA: So, this guy is walking and he's just leaving this trail behind him.

FOE: Basically, he's just stabbing anyone in his way. There was no pattern, there was no method. It was completely random.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Fourteen people were wounded in the surprising assault. Four had to be airlifted to hospitals. For many, it was all over before they could figure out what had happened.

The wounds were gruesome. A piece of a blade broke off in one victim's cheek. Others stabbed in the throat and face.

As students ran from the chaos, a group of three students went after the attacker. One of them was Steven Maida.

STEVE MAIDA, CHASED AND TACKLED SUSPECT: The next thing was there's a guy stabbing girls in the face. I was like, all right, got to go in there, I got to go, and see what I can do.

LAVANDERA: Maida says he and two other students started chasing Dylan Quick through the buildings and finally caught up with him outside by a parking lot.

MAIDA: I jumped back on him, and I didn't want to take a chance, so I put him on his stomach, and put his hands behind his back and that's when the cop came and put the cuffs on him and started searching.

LAVANDERA: And when you guys got on top of him, what did you say?

MAIDA: He's just like, I give up, right away, I give up. I was on top of him and just like why did you do this? What made you want to stab these girls?

LAVANDERA: Maida said he didn't get an answer. But investigators say Dylan Quick says he's had fantasies of stabbing people since he was in elementary school and had planned this attack for sometime. Investigators also say Dylan Quick used a razor-type knife and has been charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAVANDERA: Christine, last we heard from hospital officials that several of the victims were improving, upgraded to good condition. A few have been released after being treated. But there are still two victims that are in critical condition -- Christine.

ROMANS: Yes, some of those wounds are stab wounds. Some are slashes. We certainly hope everyone recovers well. Thanks so much, Ed.

BERMAN: Zoraida Sambolin has the rest of the day's top stories. Hey, Zoraida.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Good morning.

A busy day ahead for President Obama. This morning, his budget for fiscal year 2014 will be released. Copies will be delivered to Capitol Hill. And later this morning, in the Rose Garden, the president will make a statement. His budget will propose changes to Social Security and Medicare and will also call for new tax increases. Sure to be a topic tonight at the White House when the president hosts a dozen Republican senators. They're scheduled to have dinner there.

Chelsea Clinton's mother-in-law could soon be mounting another run for Congress. Former Representative Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, a Democrat, has emerged as a possible candidate for Pennsylvania's 13th congressional district. The seat is currently held by Representative Allyson Schwartz, who is now running for governor in the Keystone State. Chelsea Clinton married Marc Mezvinsky in 2010.

Beyonce and Jay-Z have been taking a lot of heat from Florida lawmakers over their recent trip to Cuba, but the U.S. Treasury says the superstar couple did not do anything wrong. The Treasury Department confirms now that Beyonce and Jay-Z's trip was approved in advance by the U.S. government.

The travel embargo prohibits Americans from visiting Cuba for tourism. But a letter sent by treasury officials to members of Congress states that their visit was part for an education exchange program, which is A-OK.

BERMAN: Thanks so much, Zoraida.

ROMANS: Thanks, Zoraida.

BERMAN: So, this morning, a CNN Democratic leadership tells CNN's Dana Bash told that a bipartisan deal to expand background checks on federal gun sales could be in the works. The first amendment attached to gun control legislation -- it could be the first amendment that is attached to gun control legislation that comes to the Senate later this week. That deal struck between Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and Republican Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. They're scheduled to hold a news conference at 11:00 a.m. Eastern today.

ROMANS: We also have a new CNN poll this mooring, which shows that nearly nine out of 10 Americans support tougher background checks.

BERMAN: All day today, we're taking an in-depth look at the legislation, the debate, and what's a stake here in our coverage, "Guns Under Fire," a CNN special report on background checks.

We're joined right now by CNN's Chris Cuomo, who puts the background check to the test himself.

ROMANS: Good morning.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. You know, we all want to do something, right? That's what the polls show. The question is, are we doing the right thing? That question is raised because for all the controversy surrounding what we need to do when it comes to background checks, we often gloss over what we already have to do when it comes to buying a gun. So, I decided to show you myself. I went out, bought a shotgun, and learned a lot in the process.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CUOMO: Chris --

MIKE MARINELLO, GUN STORE OWNER: Mike, what can I do for you?

CUOMO: I'm looking for home protection shotgun.

MARINELLO: OK. I'm going to bring you down to the shotgun section.

CUOMO (voice-over): Seems simple. But there is more to it than you might think.

Every purchase from a licensed dealer requires a federal background check.

(on camera): Are you under indictment? No. Have you ever been convicted of any felony? No.

(voice-over): Twenty-seven personal questions, including criminal and mental health history, all requiring government confirmation. Add potential state and city laws, thousands across the country, and it could feel like an obstacle course.

MARINELLO: There is a background check for the rifle. And if you live in a city, there's a rifle and shotgun card. Then, if you have a pistol, there is a pistol license.

CUOMO: But this pales in comparison to the pain the nation felt on December 14th in Newtown, Connecticut. The most vulnerable victimized by dangerous weapons in the wrong, sick hands.

CNN's latest poll shows people want it to stop.

Calls to do something, resulting in demands for expanded background checks, despite the fact that they wouldn't have stopped the Newtown shooter. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We know that background checks can work, but the problem is loopholes in the current law lent so many people avoid background checks all together.

CUOMO: Gun control advocates want all gun sales, not just those by dealers, subject to background checks.

COLIN GODDARD, BRADY CENTER TO PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE: This background check law that we're talking about is enforcing the law.

CUOMO: Colin Goddard works for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. He is a gun violence victim, shot four times at Virginia Tech six years ago.

GODDARD: How are you supposed to know if someone has a felony record? How are you supposed to know if someone's got a restraining order, or someone's got a dangerous mental illness without doing a background check? You're supposed to look at them really hard?

CUOMO: Gun rights advocates fear checking all sales could lead to a national gun registry and maybe confiscation. The larger concern, making harder to buy a gun lawfully may not stop massacres and handgun violence.

Before owning this Long Island gun story, owner Mike Marinello was a police officer for 11 years.

(on camera): In your experience as a cop, did that hold true?

MARINELLO: In 11 years, I never had a legal pistol licensee uses a firearm in a crime.

CUOMO (voice-over): Gun control advocates say the nearly 2 million people who've been denied guns is proof of effectiveness.

DAVID KEENE, NRA PRESIDENT: Most of those, in turns out, were not on prohibitive list. Most of them were false positives, or name looked like somebody else. There was records in there that were incomplete.

The first thing you to have do is take the system have you and get it fixed, and make it work.

CUOMO: Mike says the big issue isn't the law, but enforcement.

MARINELLO: If somebody comes in, and they're hell-bent on buying a gun, we let them fill out the form and they fail. And in a perfect world, Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms will go arrest that person.

CUOMO (on camera): That's the big catch, right?

MARINELLO: Current laws on the books would make the state the safest in the Union if they were enforced.

CUOMO (voice-over): In my case --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This transaction is a proceed. CUOMO: -- the system worked. After 25 minutes of completing forms and waiting for approval, I had my shotgun.

(on camera): Thank you very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Tell me, why did you choose a shotgun?

CUOMO: The truth is, it sounds like such a scary weapon. But it's pretty much all you can get right now, the list of weapons that are illegal that you can't get is expanding all the time and a place like New York City, you have to register first to get anything, and it takes time, a waiting period -- really only thing we could get. It's much more difficult than people suspect.

SAMBOLIN: I actually got one of those as a gift. I don't own gun, I didn't own a gun, I did not have a license to own a gun. Somebody said to me, look, you are out there, you're in the country and I'm going to gift this to you.

I have no idea how to use it. But, apparently, that's illegal as well, right?

CUOMO: It raises a couple of issues. One, is that considered a straw purchase? Was it a family member? There's a lot of intricacies to the law. If it's a straw purchase, it's illegal. If this a family thing, or friend's thing? The law is changing all the time.

And the other issue is, I don't know how to use it. Should you be able to have a weapon like this, and no training? Can you drive a car without being taught how? It gets very sophisticated very quickly.

And you also have to remember, if you want to figure out how to stop the violence, we have to look beyond the guns. As hard as this political debate has been, there's a lot more than just weapons.

ROMANS: And we're not talking very much about mental illness either, and that's another, big, big piece of this thing. But just looking at the background checks right now from that perspective. Stick with us, Chris, we're going to bring a couple of guests.

I want to turn to two people who are deeply invested in this national conversation. Jillian Soto lost her older sister Vicki in the shootings at Sandy Hook. Vicki was a first grade teacher, as you all know, who died protecting her kids.

And Chief Jim Johnson, from Baltimore Country, Maryland. He serves as the chair of the National Law Enforcement Partisanship to Prevent Gun Violence.

And I guess let's start with the latest news, Chief Johnson. It looks as though there could be -- there could be consensus emerging here on background checks no later today. Is that enough, your reaction to that? CHIEF JIM JOHNSON, BALTIMORE COUNTY, MARYLAND: Well, certainly law enforcement, our leadership, is anxiously awaiting to hear about this particular amendment or bill. We know in law enforcement, that a national universal background check will save lives. Nearly 40 percent of all firearms that are transferred and are transferred and sold, 6.6 million per year, are done without a background check. And we need this.

BERMAN: This would include apparently this deal, we expect, gun shows, private sales, but not family-to-family member sales in this case. There would be, I oppose you could say, some loophole still.

Would this be enough? Would it be progress?

JOHNSON: Well, certainly, reasonable exemptions for family transfer and sale are in several bills. But, frankly, a national universal background check will save lives. We need to improve the system, the data checked when the background is done and we're doing that across America.

But more needs to be done, along with amendments to once again bring back the assault weapons ban in place in 1994 to 2004. Let's put a capacity in these magazines. We know this will save lives.

BERMAN: Chief, I should say, the political prognosticators in Washington say it's highly unlikely that we'll get a deal on assault weapons, also on the capacity for magazines.

So, let me put this question to you, Jillian. Your sister, of course, tragically killed at the Sandy Hook elementary school. If the only thing -- if the only deal that we get out of Congress is on these background checks, would you be satisfied with that?

JILLIAN SOTO, VICKI SOTO'S SISTER: No. I would not be satisfied. And I would continue to speak out and let my voice be heard that that is not enough, that my sister died because someone walked in with an assault rifle and murdered her and 25 other people, and doing universal background checks is not enough. it is not justice for these families.

ROMANS: There's politics and there's a reality of politics in Washington, and worries, Jillian, that momentum might be fading. But it has only been four months and when have you so many family members like you for whom the grief is still so raw, that makes a big impact on members of Congress.

Tell me about your meeting with members of Congress and how that's been going? How the push from the families and even the president has been from your perspective?

SOTO: Having the president behind us and supporting us is a great thing, because he's showing that what we're doing is right. And he stands for what we're doing and speaking out to senators and everyone that something is to get done is what we're going to continue to do. Whether they want to listen or not, we're going to keep being here. We're going to keep speaking out. We're going to call them. We're going to e-mail them, write them letters, make meetings, sit in their offices, sit outside their offices, until they talk to us. And they hear what we have to say.

ROMANS: What's their reaction been?

SOTO: They listen and say that they're going to do what they can. They don't tell us they're for us and they don't tell us they're against us. They just listen.

BERMAN: We just showed a picture of you and the president, a sort of a silhouette. What was he telling you there?

SOTO: He was just comforting me. I flew down to Washington, Air Force One with him, and other Sandy Hook families, but I was the only one for my family who was able to make it. So, it was a hard thing, and it was hard to know that I got this opportunity because my sister was murdered.

And it was just nice to have the president there to comfort me and tell me that to keep it up, to keep staying strong and fight for this cause.

ROMANS: I know your strength is unreal. It's a real inspiration, you know? All of us who have first graders, we look at you and we think, you know, we love our teachers and it's just - that is just still too close and too raw, and we can't believe how strong you are to be able to be out there and pushing. Chief Johnson, thank you so much. Jillian, thanks.

BERMAN: Seventeen minutes after the hour right now. Ahead on STARTING POINT, new information that North Korea could be planning to launch multiple missiles, and it really could happen at any minute now. We are live in Seoul with the implications.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Just in to CNN. New and dangerous developments unfolding right now in the Korean Peninsula. A senior Pentagon official telling CNN the north may be preparing multiple missile launches that could happen at any moment without advanced warning. Jim Clancy live from Seoul in South Korea this morning. And Jim, give us the latest.

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, the world was focused on those two Musudan missiles that have been located along the eastern side of the Peninsula. Now, we get word from U.S. official who's telling us there may be multiple launches. What's the significance of this?

Well, number one, it shows that just like he's raised the rhetoric to new levels, Kim Jong-Un wants to show his actions are going to greater levels. It raises the risks of an accident. It raises the risks that one of these missiles could land on somebody's territory, might be shot down by some of the anti-missile batteries that have been positioned throughout the region. And it raises the risk, too, for more sanctions on North Korea. This is a flagrant act on which Kim Jong-Un appears to be trying to shoot his way out of the U.N. sanctions into what he considers a more favorable position for North Korea -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Jim Clancy in Seoul, South Korea. Again, the news now, we are awaiting the possibility of multiple missile launches at any minute test by the North Koreans. Thanks, Jim.

ROMANS: All right. Ahead on STARTING POINT, it's a rough job market for new grads. Why are so few unable to find good jobs that require college degrees. I'll have the answer.

BERMAN: And could Alec Baldwin beginning a new gig in the late-night lineup? That is what is trending, and it's coming up next.

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BERMAN: Trending on CNN this morning, the 3Doodler.

(LAUGHTER)

Now, take a look at this. It's built as the world's first 3D printing pen. And, as you can sort of see there, the words and images, they just jump right off the page. Holy cow. The 3Doodler was invented by Maxwell Bogue and Peter Dillworth. They're Somerville, Massachusetts. Go, Somerville.

ROMANS: It is so cool.

BERMAN: It's about the coolest thing ever. It works with melting plastic that cools instantly into any shape that you can dream up. The inventors use the fundraising site, Kick Starter to produce the 3Doodler as they were hoping to raise about $30,000. They wounded up with over $2 million. Great news could be this. The 3Doodler could be in stores by Christmas with a retail price of about $100.

ROMANS: And this 3D printing technology is so amazing. I mean, factories are doing it to do complex parts for assembly lines. I mean, it's really interesting what they've been using --

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: For your budding artist, like me, right, I would buy it for myself.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: I'm all about, oh, look how fun.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: All right. "30 Rock" star, Alec Baldwin, is being mentioned as a possible replacement when Jimmy Fallon takes over "The Tonight Show" from Jay Leno next February. "New York Times" says Baldwin is in the mix for a spot maybe in NBCs late-night lineup. It says the most likely landing spot for Baldwin is the spot now occupied by "Last Call with Carson Daly."

BERMAN: Intrigue.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: All right. Ahead on STARTING POINT, President Obama's budget about to be delivered in members of Congress. We're going to go live to the White House.

ROMANS: And an incredible feat of strength. How two girls lifted a 3,000-pound tractor off their father? That's after the break. You're watching STARTING POINT.

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