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Claims Of Massacre In Syria; Beaver Creek Wildfire Reaches 30 Percent Containment; Man Arrested in Georgia School Shooting; Tourist Hit By Taxi; Pitcher Suspended For Beaning A-Rod

Aired August 21, 2013 - 05:30   ET


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, and those image, not even the worst of it. There are many more that we actually cannot even broadcast. They are that disturbing. A lot of young victims in this most recent attack.

The local coordination committees are saying that 660 people at least were killed. We've seen atrocious videos showing the lifeless bodies of little children. Doctors desperately, in some cases, are trying to resuscitate them. We don't see any sort of external injuries. One doctor that CNN spoke to said that he does believe that this was a chemical attack.

He personally believes that it was sarin gas. No way for us to verify or authenticate that claim. But this most certainly is a dreadful tragedy of epic proportions. There have been other reported chemical attacks in Syria in the past, but none coming anywhere near the death toll we're hearing reported out of that country today.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And Arwa, this claim is coming as U.N. weapons inspectors are actually in the country, looking into chemical weapons allegations. How might that play a role in what happens next here?

DAMON: Well, presumably, they're going to ask for permission to about this area. One of the neighborhoods that was affected by this alleged attack is actually not too far away from where they're believed to be staying in Damascus. Originally, on their itinerary was an area that is in Aleppo province to the north, but the scope and magnitude of this alleged attack most certainly is going to at least merit them asking the Syrian regime to facilitate access.

It is, however, in a rebel-controlled area, would take some sort of ceasefire negotiations, but one can only assume that with the 20 men team (ph) in country, they are going to have to look into this, and perhaps, shed some light on what most certainly is a tragedy.

SAMBOLIN: Let's talk about the red line. What might this mean for the red line that the Obama administration has warned of when it comes to chemical weapons?

DAMON: Well, we've had reported chemical weapons in the past. We've heard President Obama speaking about numerous multiple red lines in the past, and nothing has really significantly changed the dynamics inside Syria. U.S. intelligence already has stated that they do believe that small-scale chemical weapons attacks already occurred in Syria. They were saying that they do believe that they are sarin gas.

The U.N.'s mission on this trip was not to verify who used chemical weapons, but if they were used. That earlier report that I was just talking about did cause the U.S. to ever so slightly shift its policy towards Syria, talking about sending in some weapons, but nothing that has really significantly changed the dynamics on the battlefield.

So again, we're going to have to wait and see how the White House decides to react to this most certain, this latest attack. Again, hundreds of people killed among them, many, many children.

SAMBOLIN: Arwa Damon reporting live for us in Beirut. Thank you.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Egypt this morning is quiet, a far cry from how it looked a week ago, as government forces sparked days of violence now said to have left upward of a thousand people dead. The U.S. is pulling back on claims it may have cut off some aid to the country.

That, as the court is now set to review the detention of former leader, Hosni Mubarak. His lawyers want him freed on bond as he awaits retrial on charges he was complicit in the killing of protesters.

SAMBOLIN: Some Idaho residence are breathing a bit of a sigh of relief now that the massive Beaver Creek wildfire has reached about 30 percent containment. Hundreds of residents were allowed back in their homes Tuesday. About 1,200 homes are still evacuated, though. And another fire, this one, about 50 miles away has led to evacuation orders in the mountain town of Atlanta, Idaho.

But some residents, they are not leaving. The little queen's fire has grown to some 7,000 acres, but folks say that they're staying put. We're little worried about them.

ROMANS: Yes. They want to fight that fire themselves. Now, a wildfire in Yosemite National Park forcing evacuation, shutting down one root to the park. The rim fire has burned more than 10,000 acres across mostly steep, difficult terrain. Residents there say they had little time to get out of the way as it grew.


CECILIA FIELD, EVACUATED RESIDENT: The fire came right over the top of us. You think you're going to have more time. Three quarters of a mile with a fire burning quickly. Not very long. Fifteen minutes was generous.


ROMANS: Fifteen minutes. Wow. At least two residents have already been lost and another 2,500 are threatened by the rim fire which is zero percent contained.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So, apparently, you're not imaging it. It winds up mosquitoes are biting a bit more this summer. Maybe they're not biting you, but there are a lot more mosquitoes. Blame the heavy rains that fell earlier this the year that gave the mosquitoes more places to lay those icky eggs, and that has led to an explosion in those very unwelcome --

ROMANS: My poor children, they close their eyes, plug their nose, and they stand there, and I just spray them when they go outside. The mosquitoes are horrible. Horrible.


ROMANS: Stay indoors -- Indra Petersons watching the weather for us between fires and floods and mosquitoes. We're seeing a lot of extreme this summer, Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, absolutely. I do want to start with Cabo. There's a lot of people vacation in Cabo, and there's actually a disturbance in the pacific right now. Forty percent chance right now than an 80 percent chance in the next five days that we see development here and expect it to move to the northwest, the west, west-northwest kind of. So, let me show you actually the track to make it a little bit easier to see.

Basically, all you need to know is right at the weekend, by Friday, we're looking at heavy rains in Cabo. Yes, it's going to stay out at shore, but it's going to be very parallel here to the coastline and eventually, by Sunday, moving it towards Ensenada and even Tijuana. So, pretty much anyone traveling in Baja, unfortunately --

SAMBOLIN: That's terrible.

PETERSONS: Yes. It does not look good. Looks like the rain out plan (ph) -- again surprise, surprise. Southeast, here we go, we're not making friends, more mosquitoes. Yes, no surprise. Look at all of that moisture that continues to funnel into the area. But I finally have good news. I need some points here, so, yes, we're talking about this dissipating.


SAMBOLIN: Bravo! Bravo!

PETERSONS: You're welcome.


PETERSONS: We're still talking about showers not going away, about one to two inches of rain possible. Eventually to dissipate but typical afternoon thunderstorms as we go through the weekend. And any improvement there is definitely welcome. What we are going to be watching, though, is another cold front producing severe weather today anywhere for Michigan kind of going back into through Iowa.

By tomorrow, the same cold front will push through Ohio Valley, but it's actually good news. Yes, we'll see some showers out there, but look at the temperature differences. This is where we're starting today a lot of 80s on the map as that heat advisory in Minnesota yesterday, but as this sky moves through, notice some 70s. By Thursday and Friday, a lot of 70s. So literally, perfect conditions for everyone at least in the northeast for the weekend.

SAMBOLIN: If you like the 70s.


SAMBOLIN: I kind of like the 80s and 90s.

PETERSONS: Oh, no. We are not complaining right now.


SAMBOLIN: I'm not complaining. I'm not. Thank you. Thank you, Indra.

ROMANS: Thanks, Indra.

All right. The accused gunman in the Decatur, Georgia elementary school shooting is behind bars. There he is. Police say 20-year-old Michael Brandon Hill (ph), a convicted felon, entered the school with an assault rifle and other weapons. Students could be seen raising out of the building, escorted by their teachers raising to safety.

The shooter exchanged fire with police before a school employee who was face-to-face with the gunman. A school employee kept her wits about her and talked him into surrendering.


VOICE OF ANTOINETTE TUFF, DECATUR GEORGIA: He actually wanted to go outside and start shooting again. And I just started telling him my life story and what was going on with me. I asked him to put all of his weapons down. And then, I told the police that he was giving himself up.


ROMANS: Wow. Remarkably, no one was injured. The grade school students will attend class at a nearby high school and return to their own school tomorrow. So thankful no one was hurt.

SAMBOLIN: That Antoinette Tuff, she is a hero.

ROMANS: Oh, yes.


All right. Thirty-seven minutes past the hour. Three Oklahoma teenagers have now been charged in the shocking killing of a college baseball player from Australia. Fifteen-year-old James Edwards Jr., 16-year-old Chancey Luna faced first degree murder charges as adults, and 17-year-old Michael Jones is accused of being an accessory to the crime. Prosecutors say they shot Christopher Lane in the back on a street as he was out for a jog. The motive, say police, was boredom. That the teenagers decided they just wanted to kill someone. One of their parents didn't want to speak to the media at the arraignment on Tuesday.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there anything you want to say about your son, ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don't want to say no more.

JASON HICKS, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I'm going to do everything that I can to ensure that we see these three thugs pay for what they did in Christopher Lane.


SAMBOLIN: Prosecutors say the 15-year-old danced and laughed when he was arrested. The 16-year-old has, so far, refused to cooperate. Both are charged as adults.

ROMANS: Oh my. In Iowa, an escaped inmate is dead this morning shot by a man he had taken hostage. Police say Rodney Long (ph) broke into a home on the town of Bedford in the southwest part of the state on Monday night. Inside were 71-year-old Jerome Mauderly (ph) and his 66-year-old wife, Caroline.

They were asleep and Long woke them up, disabled the phone, grabbed the shotgun Jerome unloaded just to protect the house from the escaped inmate. The ordeal went on for four hours until Jerome Mauderly (ph) was able to sneak into kitchen, grab the shotgun back, and shoot the escaped inmate, killing him.


VICTOR NOER, FRIEND OF JEROME MAUDERLY: You know, I hate to say it, but that's the way I hoped it would end. I think Jerry did what any honest person would do.


ROMANS: Rodney Long escaped from a state prison on Friday. Authorities say shortly after the breakout, he shot a deputy, stole his patrol car, and obviously people in the area were very, very worried about this situation. Jerome Mauderly had loaded that shotgun to protect his family.

SAMBOLIN: And that deputy is recovering, we're happy to report.

Thirty-nine minutes past the hour. Arraignment today in Nashville for a Vanderbilt University student athlete facing charges in connection with a sex assault case. Chris Boyd is accused of helping with at an attempted cover-up of a rape at a dorm on June 23rd. Four Vanderbilt football players have been charged with that rape. Police say the victim, a student, was unconscious.

ROMANS: A special session to potentially repeal the stand your ground law and Florida has been soundly rejected. The state House not getting anywhere near the number of yes votes needed for a special session. Protesters upset with the verdict in the George Zimmerman case pushed for that vote.

SAMBOLIN: And more than a month after her husband was acquitted in the killing of Trayvon Martin. Lawyers for George Zimmerman's wife, Shellie, will be in a Florida courtroom today as part of her perjury case. She faces charges that she lied about their finances during his initial bond hearing. Shellie Zimmerman is not expected to attend this hearing.

ROMANS: A spike in shark attacks that began last year prompting officials in Hawaii to study the movement of tiger sharks around Maui. There were ten shark attacks in Hawaii in 2012, another eight, so far, this year. Last week, a 20-year-old tourist from Germany lost her arm to a shark during a snorkeling trip off the coast of Maui. The two- year study which begins next month involves tagging and then racking some of those tiger sharks.

SAMBOLIN: One Nevada community has a bear problem, and they say they cannot solve it because of animal rights activists. Officials in Incline Village near Reno say a bear broke into a home there on Tuesday morning in broad daylight. And the family found the bear hanging out in the kitchen. It is the latest incident involving a bear hitting homes in that community.

The state wants to trap and relocate the bear, but the families are saying no. They're afraid animal activists will harass them.


CHRIS HEALY, NEVADA DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE: We're not going to be able to put a trap up there because we can't get permission from the landowner. And the reason we can't get permission from them is they're afraid of harassment.

CAROLYN STARK, BEAR LEAGUE: It isn't a bear problem. It's the people problem. You can kill a bear, but if the problem isn't fixed, another bear is going to come back.


SAMBOLIN: Part the problem in Incline may also be the garbage. The village does not require residents to have bear-resistant garbage cans. Kind of a no-brainer.


ROMANS: You take out the bear, but you still have an unsecured garbage. You're going to end -- you know, bears are pretty smart, getting right into the kitchen, I mean.

SAMBOLIN: And this time of year, that's what they want. They want their food and head back out.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up, Dr. Oz to the rescue when a cab driver runs over a tourist. The woman's foot -- can you imagine coming to New York, so excited about your trip to New York and then this crazy road rage accident loses her foot. And then, Dr. Oz was there. What was done to save her next?


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. Forty-five minutes past the hour. A serious accident on a busy New York street brought out a lot of unlikely heroes. Police say a taxi jumped the curb right near Radio City Music hall, hitting a tourist from Britain, severing her leg below the knee.

That's when a plumber named David Justino jumped into to help, tying his belt in a dog leash around the leg as tourniquet in order to stop the bleeding. Street food vendors brought buckets of ice, and TV doctor, Dr. Oz was at his nearby office, he rushed over to help.

DR. MEHMET OZ, TV HOST; HEART SURGEON: There was a dog leash and a belt. Basically, it two mundane (ph) -- saved her life -- to stop the bleeding because you don't have much time, you pour out blood coming out of (INAUDIBLE).


SAMBOLIN: All of those good Samaritans are being credited with helping save this woman's life by acting so quickly to stop her bleeding. That is amazing. You know, they say that New Yorkers don't care, right? Look at this.

ROMANS: I know.

SAMBOLIN: They all jumped in to help.

ROMANS: The early reports are that was it was a road rage.

SAMBOLIN: A road rage. Yes. Poor woman.

ROMANS: The worst and best of New York at the very same moment.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Let's take a look at what is coming up on "New Day." Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan join us now. Good morning.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. (INAUDIBLE). Hundreds of people are dead today. Why? Because opposition forces claim chemical weapons were used. This is all happening as U.N. inspectors are just (INAUDIBLE) use of chemical agents from a previous event.

We'll have live team coverage like no other network can with crews overseas and at the White House, trying to get some accurate information in a place that is impossible, really hard to do that.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of the information coming out of Syria from social media, and it just so happens that, today, we have an exclusive one-on-one interview with the king of social media, Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder. Now, Zuckerberg doesn't do a lot of interviews, and he is doing this one because he has a big announcement to make that he says is potentially world changing. We'll bring it to you first right here on "New Day." (CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: What does he know about changing the world? Geez! Oh, yes. He did change the world.


SAMBOLIN: Yes, he did. Thank you, guys. We'll see you soon.


ROMANS: All right. Coming up, he claims it was an accident but no one is buying it. The pitcher who pelted A-Rod punished. The "Bleacher Report" is next.


ROMANS: Major League Baseball sending a message to all of their pitchers, if you hit A-Rod on purpose, you will be suspended for it. Andy Scholes is here now with more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Good morning, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey. Good morning, Christine. Well, Yankees manager, Joe Girardi, said that it would be open season on A- Rod if Major League Baseball did not suspend Red Sox pitcher, Ryan Dempster for going after A-Rod Sunday night. And league office responded yesterday with a fine and a five-game suspension for Dempster.

The Red Sox pitcher never admitted to hitting A-Rod on purpose, but he said he will not appeal the suspension.

On the front page of, you'll find the story of Yasiel Puig up in down day on Tueday. Puig was late to the ball park in Miami last night, so he was fined and benched to start the game, but he made up for it in the eighth inning. He comes to the plate, and first pitch he sees, he blasts a solo home run to give the Dodgers the lead. They would win the game, 6-4. And puig's rough day ends with a smile.

Well, the 1972 Miami Dolphins finally got to celebrate their perfect season at the White House yesterday. The team didn't get to go after winning the Super Bowl in 1973 because President Nixon was dealing with the Watergate scandal. So, 40 years later, they got to hang out with President Obama, instead. And President Obama enjoyed this visit a little more than others.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know that some people may be asking why we're doing this after all these years, and my answer is simple, I wanted to be the younger guy here for once.


(END VIDEO CLIP) SCHOLES: Well, the minor league baseball team, the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, selected a 64-year-old fan with Lou Gehrig's disease as the winner of their free funeral promotion. The team asked fans to describe their perfect funeral in 200 words or less. The judges picked Steve Paul's (ph) essay in which he described suddenly (ph) being diagnosed with ALS and the strain it has put on his family.

Steve got a huge ovation from the crowd when he was awarded his prize. The funeral package he won was worth up to $10,000. So, Christine, Paul said he was thrilled to win this promotion, but, he obviously doesn't want to use it for quite a while.

ROMANS: I know. Best to him. Best to him and his family. All right. We'll be right back. Thanks, Andy.


ROMANS: All right. Welcome back. You have about 2 1/2 minutes to the top of the hour. A little Kanye West for you as we look at some of the top CNN Trends on the web this morning. One of them involves the hip-hop star. "US Weekly" said he's turned down a chance to be a judge on "American Idol."

The magazine quoting the source saying West worried if he took the job, he'd become too mainstream and lose his cred (ph). Producers are trying to fill the judging slot left empty by Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey, and Randy Jackson who are all leaving that show.

Speaking of TV singing shows, Simon Cowell now confirms that he's going to be a dad. The British TV mogul and "X-Factor" judge tells the BBC things are changing in his life. He's proud to take on the new role of father. There have been rumors for a while now that he was having a child with socialite, Lauren Silverman.

Cowell calls her a very special girl and says he feels good about fatherhood. That very special girl is the wife of one of his friends.

That's it for EARLY START. Time now for "NEW DAY." Take it away, Chris and Kate. Good morning.

BOLDUAN: You say -- so well at saying that with a straight face. I love that.

ROMANS: Just the facts. Just the facts. Just lay them out.

BOLDUAN: All right. Christine, thank you. We'll see you in a bit.

CUOMO: All right. Check the clock. It's almost the top of the hour. That means here on "NEW DAY," time for your top news.


CUOMO: Breaking news. Graphic footage just released. Syria accused of using nerve gas on its own people. How will the U.S. respond?

BOLDUAN: Grade school scare. Children fleeing for their lives. New details this morning on the gunman and the hero administrator who talked him into surrendering.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: TV exclusive. Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg one-on-one. His next new revolutionary idea revealed right here on "New Day."

CUOMO: Your "NEW DAY" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is "NEW DAY" with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.


CUOMO: Good morning, everybody. Listen, the good news is, after today, there is less work week ahead. That's all you need to know. Welcome to "New Day." It is Wednesday -- that makes sense -- August 21st, six o'clock in the east. I'm Chris Cuomo.

BOLDUAN: And I'm Kate Bolduan. We're here with news anchor, Michaela Pereira.

PEREIRA: Good morning.

BOLDUAN: And we do have that big TV exclusive today.

CUOMO: That's right. Mr. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, notoriously press shy, doesn't do a lot of interview. So, what made him come out of his shell? That's the question. The answer is something big to be sure. But what could be bigger than what he's already done, right? He's already got a billion people. Guess what? It's five times as big. He's going to tell us about it. A little bit of a surprise something he gives us at the end of the show.

BOLDUAN: Not any of his stock. Just warning.


CUOMO: Yes, lots of stock.


BOLDUAN: We're also following many other headlines this morning, including new details on that shocking story out of Oklahoma. Two teenagers now charged as adults accused of killing an Australian exchange student simply because they were bored. This is front page news in Australia. Many in the country angry at the U.S. And we're going to talk to one politician there calling for a boycott on the U.S.

PEREIRA: Also, take a look at this. This is Dr. Oz helping to save a complete stranger's life in the middle of New York City. It's not a stage shoot for a TV or a TV show. It actually happened. He jumped right into action and, of course, it seemed to be all caught on tape and a woman is likely thankful that he came to her rescue.

CUOMO: Absolutely. And to those who know Dr. Oz, not a big surprise that he was there when people needed him.