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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
Witnesses Videotape Escape from Captivity; Castro Brothers Break Their Silence; Mother's Day Parade Shooting; IRS Targets Tea Party
Aired May 13, 2013 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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, the brothers of the Cleveland man accused of kidnapping three women and holding them in horrific conditions for 10 years, the brothers speak exclusively to CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What is your brother to you now?
ONIL CASTRO, KIDNAPPING SUSPECT'S BROTHER: Monster, hateful. I hope he rots in that jail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: What they want the word and those newly freed women to know.
ROMANS: And shots and screams ring out at a mother's day parade in New Orleans. Gunfire wounds 19 people, including two children. And now, the manhunt. We're live with the latest.
BERMAN: Oh, my goodness! That is an alligator, not a happy one. Imagine waking up to that 8-foot gator at your front door. One family's terrifying surprise caught on video. We're going to talk to the man from Gator Boys who had to wrestle that beast.
It is Monday, May 13th. And STARTING POINT begins right now.
ROMANS: Our STARTING POINT this hour, captured on camera, the final moments of three women escaping from captivity. Two young women who thought they were being pulled over by the cops, they wind up as witnesses to history instead.
BERMAN: They did it by videotaping police rushing into the home of suspected kidnapper Ariel Castro last week. You're going to see it all go down in a moment.
But also new this morning, a CNN exclusive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: Do you worry now that people will always suspect that you actually did have a role?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Straight ahead, we're going to have Martin Savidge's riveting interview with Onil and Pedro Castro. Of course, they are the brothers of kidnapping suspect Ariel Castro. This interview only on CNN.
ROMANS: There's so much going on this morning. Let's get to Susan Candiotti. She's live for us in Cleveland.
Susan, the two young ladies who rolled that video at Castro's house, they have quite a story to tell this morning.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, they do, Christine and John. You have to picture this. These two women had just turned their car down the street, they see police lights flashing behind them and they think what did we do wrong? So they pull over. But quickly realize the police don't care about them. The police's attention is focused on this house over my shoulder. And that's when the women picked up their cell phone video and started to roll.
CANDIOTTI: And where did you see her, Amanda and her little girl?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Coming down the street.
CANDIOTTI: And then everything unfolded right here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
CANDIOTTI (voice-over): These two women happened to turn on to Ariel Castro's street and found themselves smack in the middle of an amazing escape to freedom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've seen Amanda walking down the street with a cop. And right when the cop asked her, "Who are you?", she passed us and said Amanda Berry.
CANDIOTTI (on camera): When you heard the name Amanda Berry and you knew exactly what they are talking about.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Me and her looked at each other and we had goose bumps and then we pulled up our hoodie and like, you know --
CANDIOTTI: Goose bumps.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It hit us quick.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When she said Amanda Berry, I saw it in her eyes and I knew it was really her. She had tears coming down her face.
CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Jasmina (ph) pulled out her cell phone and rolled video as police ran to Ariel Castro's house looking for other victims. Then her phone ran out of power.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've seen Gina coming down the steps shaking real, real, real hard, like she was cold. And they took them to the ambulance.
CANDIOTTI: They watched Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and her daughter taken away by ambulance.
On Mother's Day, special prayers of thanksgiving at Holy Family Catholic Church for the women's freedom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight, Georgina DeJesus.
CANDIOTTI: The crisis management team stepped in to represent the women at no charge, pleading for privacy, but passing along the victims' thanks.
JIM WOOLEY, ATTORNEY FOR CLEVELAND VICTIMS: I am so happy to be home with my family.
CANDIOTTI: From Gina.
WOOLEY: I want to thank everyone for all your prayers.
CANDIOTTI: From Michelle.
WOOLEY: I am healthy, happy, and safe. And will reach out to family, friends and supporters in good time.
CANDIOTTI: Castro's home now finally boarded up, sealed as evidence. A city councilman allowed to stand in the backyard, overcome by what the women endured for a decade.
BRIAN CUMMINS, CLEVELAND CITY COUNCIL: You can't help but feel like, you know, the presence of -- of this enormity of -- of the event. I mean, it's unbelievable.
CANDIOTTI (on camera): What did you picture in your mind's eye of what those women went through as you stood back there?
CUMMINS: It's just horrors. Absolute horrors.
ROMANS: All right. And now to a CNN exclusive, you're not going to see this anywhere else. Pedro and Onil Castro breaking their silence about their brother, the ten years of torture he allegedly inflicted on his victims and the impact it has had on them. Martin Savidge with the story you'll see only on CNN.
SAVIDGE: When you were arrested on Monday and brought in, were you told why you were under arrest?
O. CASTRO: Absolutely not.
PEDRO CASTRO, KIDNAPPING SUSPECT'S BROTHER: No.
SAVIDGE: You had no idea.
P. CASTRO: No.
O. CASTRO: No. Not for 48, maybe 36 to 48 hours later.
SAVIDGE: Pedro, when did you become aware?
P. CASTRO: Well, there was an inmate that didn't speak English, so I translated for her. So then I asked her now that I help you, can you help me?
SAVIDGE: This is to the officer?
P. CASTRO: Yes.
And she said sure. What you want to know. I want to know what am I being charged for? So she said, OK, I will see. So she comes back and she's got a piece of paper written down whatever I was in for.
And because I didn't have my reading glasses, I looked and I said, oh, open container. She said, no, read it again. And I said, oh, kidnapping? What's this kidnapping?
SAVIDGE: Where was Ariel?
O. CASTRO: Ariel was in the front more towards the front on suicide watch.
SAVIDGE: Did he ever go past you, did you ever see him or --
P. CASTRO: I did. Because where he was at, there is no toilet. So across from my cell, there was one open. So he came there and used it. I'd seen -- and that's when I'd seen him. And when he came out, he said peace to me.
O. CASTRO: So evidently that happened with him aware when he walked past me, he goes, "Onil, you're never going to see me again. I love you, bro." And that was it.
SAVIDGE: So when did you become aware of what he did?
O. CASTRO: Just shortly after that when the detective took me into the room and started asking me questions and showing me pictures of the girls. And when he showed me the pictures of the girls, asked me, "Do you know these girls?", showed me the first. I can't tell you which one he showed me first.
But he says, "Have you ever seen this girl?" And I said, "No, I've never seen that girl." And then he showed me the other one, "And have you ever seen is this girl?" I said, "No, I've never seen that girl." And he says, "That's Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry and my heart fell. I dropped, not physically, but I just hit the ground. After he said, "That's Amanda berry and they were in your brother's house."
SAVIDGE: You had been to the house.
P. CASTRO: Yes.
SAVIDGE: I mean, how often?
P. CASTRO: No, no, not how often. I didn't go to his house very much. But when I did, he would let me in, not past the kitchen.
SAVIDGE: Could you see anything beyond the kitchen?
P. CASTRO: No, because there's curtains.
SAVIDGE: He had the house blocked off with curtains?
P. CASTRO: Yes.
SAVIDGE: And what about, could you hear anything in the home?
P. CASTRO: No, the radio was playing all the time.
SAVIDGE: He would play music all the time.
P. CASTRO: Yes. If not the radio, the TV. Something had to be on at all times in the kitchen. So I could hear nothing else but the radio or the TV.
SAVIDGE: Did you in any way know, help, assist your brother in the horrible things he's accused of doing?
O. CASTRO: Absolutely not. No idea that this horrific crime was going on.
P. CASTRO: No.
SAVIDGE: You know there are people who will say you had to know. How is it possible for so long in that home, your brother, you couldn't know?
P. CASTRO: For those people out there, I'll tell you something, I had nothing to do with this and I don't know how my brother got away with it for so many years, because that would never cross my mind.
SAVIDGE: He fooled you.
P. CASTRO: He fooled me. SAVIDGE: Do you worry now that people will always suspect that you actually did have a role?
O. CASTRO: Absolutely.
P. CASTRO: Yes.
O. CASTRO: And the people out there that know me, they know that Onil Castro is not that person, has nothing to do with that.
P. CASTRO: Same. I couldn't -- never think of doing anything like that.
SAVIDGE: What is your brother to you now?
O. CASTRO: Monster, hateful. I hope he rots in that jail. I don't even want them to take his life like that. I want him to suffer in that jail, to the last extent. I don't care if they even feed him for what he has done for my life and my family's.
P. CASTRO: I feel the same way.
SAVIDGE: To the both of you now he no longer exists?
P. CASTRO: Right.
O. CASTRO: Yes.
SAVIDGE: He is gone?
O. CASTRO: He is goner.
SAVIDGE: Almost as if he were dead?
P. CASTRO: Yes.
O. CASTRO: Monster is a goner.
SAVIDGE: If you could talk to Gina, if you could Michelle, if you could talk to Amanda, and in a way you are I guess, what would you say?
P. CASTRO: I would tell her that I'm sorry -- I would tell them that I'm sorry that you had to go through this, that I was thinking about these girls being missing and I'm just grateful that they're home and, you know, out of that horrible house. I just tell them that I'm sorry for what Ariel done.
Because, see, I -- not much -- it's -- Felix, I know him for long time. And when I find out that Ariel had Gina, I just -- I just -- I just broke down. Because it's shocking. Ariel, we know this guy for a long time, Felix.
SAVIDGE: This is Gina's father?
P. CASTRO: Yes. Felix -- Felix DeJesus. And you got his daughter? And you go around like it's nothing. You even went to the vigils. You had posters. You give his mom a hug and you've got his daughter captive?
SAVIDGE: Onil, the same thing. I mean, if you --
O. CASTRO: The same thing. I just want also the families got justice to the fullest -- to the fullest extent. This has torn my heart apart. This has killed me. I'm a walking corpse right now.
SAVIDGE: Why are you talking to me?
P. CASTRO: I want the world to know that Onil and Pedro, me, Pedro, had nothing to do with this. It was a shock to me to learn that my brother, Ariel, was doing this.
SAVIDGE: I want to thank you both for talking to us, for sharing with us, and opening up to us.
O. CASTRO: Thank you and --
P. CASTRO: Thank you. And I hope the world listen to us and --
O. CASTRO: We want it back to normal.
P. CASTRO: You already got your monster. Please give us our freedom.
SAVIDGE: And you can tell that that is fear that you hear. I mean, the emotions that they feel, there is no anger against the police department for arresting them. They -- the brothers understand that. All of their anger is focused on one thing and that's their brother, Ariel.
Back to you.
ROMANS: And, Martin, any word from the brothers on how their mother is doing? Because she has son who is suspected of horrific crimes and two other sons were really trying to deal with what signs they may have missed over time.
SAVIDGE: Right. Their mother is 71 years of age. She also has not been able to go home. She's been in hiding because of the threats that have been made and the torment they describe for their mother is almost unimaginable. Because just as you described, you've got two sons who have been painted as being part of this and then you have one son who now allegedly is part of this. And the heartbreak between those two sides must be amazing.
ROMANS: Wow. Martin Savidge, thanks for the incredible, incredible interview.
Coming up the next hour here on CNN, Martin asks the Castro brothers about the little girl that they saw with their brother Ariel Castro. You'll be able to watch the full, exclusive interview starting at 9:00 Eastern.
BERMAN: And ahead on STARTING POINT, police asking for the public's help to find the person who started shooting at a crowd during a Mother's Day parade. We're going to the shocking moments the shots rung out. We have new video and a new look at a suspect, coming up next.
ROMANS: And then it's the job for the Gator Boys. Eight-foot alligator turns up at one family's front door. We'll talk with Paul Bedard live about how he wrestled this alligator from a Florida--
BERMAN: This is live. We hope to come back to this soon and say that they are both OK for this interview. Oh, my goodness, kissing an alligator. Much more coming up.
BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. There is an all- our manhunt right now in New Orleans this morning for the suspect or suspects that brought a Mother's Day parade to a violent end. This right now is video just released by police of the suspect allegedly shooting into the crowd right there.
You can see him, they say, running away. Nineteen people were hurt in the shooting. Police are asking for the public to help. They're offering a $10,000 reward. CNN has also obtained video of the actual shooting. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got the (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
BERMAN: CNN's Alina Machado is live in New Orleans for us this morning. And Alina, police just released pictures of the apparent shooter, those brand-new images we saw just a moment ago. What can you tell us about that?
ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, those pictures, as you mentioned, were just released. They are of a surveillance video of the scene. We want to show that to you again. Police say they show a man in a white shirt who appears to be shooting into the crowd and then running away from the scene. Police say that man is a suspect in the case, and they are asking for the public's help in identifying him.
Now, this shooting took place in a neighborhood in the seventh ward around 1:30 yesterday afternoon. This took place during a second line parade which is a traditional celebration here in New Orleans. So, there were hundreds of people out on the road for this gathering, celebrating Mother's Day participating in this parade.
Nineteen people were wounded. Two of those were children. Now, city officials are vowing to find who is responsible for this shooting. And here's what the mayor had to say. MITCH LANDRIEU, NEW ORLEANS MAYOR: we have mothers that were shot, sisters that were shot. We have little children that were shot. These kinds of incidents are not going to go unanswered. We're going to be very, very aggressive. There were hundreds of people out there today. So, somebody knows who did this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACHADO: Now, police say most of the injuries are not life threatening, and several victims were brought here to LSU Medical Center. We are still working to find out what their conditions are and how many of them remain hospitalized here this morning -- John.
BERMAN: All right. Alina Machado in New Orleans. Police by now looking for that suspect. Thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it.
ROMANS: And ahead on STARTING POINT, a scandal hits the IRS. This agency admitting it targeted groups connected to the Tea Party. Could (INAUDIBLE) be more widespread in government than we realize? A live report from Washington is next.
BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. Outrage really is growing this morning as new details emerge about how the IRS specifically targeted Tea Party groups.
ROMANS: That's right. On Friday, the IRS admitted it made mistakes over the last few years while trying to process requests from groups seeking tax exempt status. CNNs Dan Lothian live at the White House this morning with the latest on what is a growing controversy. Good morning, Dan.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine. Well, indeed, this is a growing controversy. Republican members of Congress and conservative groups are calling for an independent investigation. They're highly skeptical of the IRS explanation and they're not satisfied with an apology.
LOTHIAN (voice-over): Tea Party and other conservative groups that rose to power early in the president's first term were unfairly targeted for special scrutiny by the IRS and some agency officials knew as early as June 2011 according to an IRS audit that sources tell CNN is expected to be released this week.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R) MAINE: This is truly outrageous. And it contributes to the profound distrust that the American people have in government.
REP. MIKE ROGERS, (R) MICHIGAN: I don't care if you're a conservative, a liberal, a Democrat, or a Republican, this should send a chill up your spine. LOTHIAN: The audit will show IRS agents singled out groups, some with Tea Party or patriot in their names, that had applied for tax exempt status. Despite protests by these groups, the IRS had previously denied any unfair targeting.
DOUG SHULMAN, IRS COMMISSIONER: There's absolutely no targeting. This is the kind of back and forth that happens when people apply.
LOTHIAN: The IRS now says its, quote, "senior leadership was not aware of the special scrutiny at the time of that hearing." But with the results of the audit about to become public, the agency now says officials were just trying to deal with the large influx of new tax exempt requests, quote, "mistakes were made initially, but they were, in no way, due to any political or partisan rationale. We fixed the situation last year."
White House press secretary, Jay Carney, says the president expects swift and appropriate steps to address any misconduct if it is found.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What we know about this is of concern. And we certainly find the actions taken as reported to be inappropriate and we would fully expect the investigation to be thorough and for corrections to be made in a case like this.
LOTHIAN: Now, a Tea Party official told CNN that this is, quote, "chilling and an abuse of power." They are concerned that other groups could also be targeted if everyone who is involved with this is not held accountable -- Christine, John.
ROMANS: All right. Dan Lothian, thanks, Dan.
Ahead on STARTING POINT, O.J. Simpson asking for a new trial, blaming bad advice for putting him in prison. Does he have a chance?
BERMAN: All right. So, imagine seeing this at your front door. This is a live look at a real life alligator that was really on the front doorstep of one family for Mother's Day. Find out what they did to survive. We're going to Paul Bedard from America Planet -- of Animal Planet, "Gator Boys." He helped wrestle that alligator. He looks so peaceful right now. He's not always this way, I assure you.
BERMAN: Coming up next.