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Bookkeeper Talks Down Shooter; White Faces Domestic, International Problems; Interview with Sen. John McCain; New Details on Oklahoma Shooters;

Aired August 22, 2013 - 07:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Remember this? They ended the life of this promising athlete and student from Australia, well we're going to just take a look at what went into their stupid decision. And we're also going to hear about who this young man was, their victim, from his girlfriend, who's speaking out.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Dr. Phil is quite used to helping other people get through their personal dram. Now, he is at the center of some controversy himself. A tweet posted to his account that was supposed to start a discussion about teen sex and drinking has sparked all sorts of outrage online. The question is, did that tweet cross the line?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Much more on that, but first up this hour, we're learning more this morning about the heroic efforts of a school bookkeeper that may have prevented a massacre in Georgia and it's all caught on tape and it is a dramatic 25-minute 911 call. Antoinette Tuff tried to make sure that everyone, students, police, and even the gunman walked away unhurt. Tuff is being called a hero for showing such grace and dignity while confronted with an armed gunman. Martin Savidge is live in Decatur, Georgia, for us this morning. Good morning, Martin.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. The good scene behind us is the parents and of course the school buses and the students coming back to this school in the aftermath of that shooting which could have been a disaster, but was not. Many people are crediting the woman who happened to be in the right place at the right time, Antoinette Tuff. Listen.


DISPATCHER: Police, what is the address (ph) of your emergency?

SAVIDGE: It's a remarkable call.

ANTOINETTE TUFF, SCHOOL BOOKKEEPER: I'm on Second Avenue in the school and the gentleman said tell the them to hold down the police officers are coming he's going to start shooting, tell them to back off.

SAVIDGE: Alone in the office of an elementary school, bookkeeper Antoinette Tuff is face-to-face with a man armed with an assault rifle and close to 500 rounds of ammunition.

TUFF: Oh, he just went outside and started shooting. Can I run?

DISPATCHER: Can you get somewhere safe?

TUFF: Yes, I got to go. He's going to see me. He's coming back.

SAVIDGE: It isn't just her life on the line, but the lives of hundreds of students and staff as well as dozens of police officers now outside.

TUFF: He said to tell them to back off. He doesn't want the kids. He wants the police so back off and -- what else, sir? He said he don't care if he die. He don't have nothing to live for and he said he's not mentally stable.

DISPATCHER: Okay, stay on the line with me, okay? Put the phone down if you have to but don't put it on hold so I can't hear.

TUFF: Okay.

DISPATCHER: Can you tell me where you are?

TUFF: In the front office with him.

SAVIDGE: He's got an AK-47. She's only armed with her words, and puts her own life on the line.

TUFF: I can let them know that you have not tried to harm me or do anything with me or anything, if you want to. But that doesn't make any difference. You didn't hit anybody.

Let me ask you this, ma'am. He didn't hit anybody. He just shot outside the door. If I walk out there with him, so they won't shoot him or anything like that?

SAVIDGE: To connect with the suspect she pours out her personal story of a marriage that suddenly ended.

TUFF: Don't feel bad, baby, my husband just left me after 33 years. But -- yes you do. I mean, I'm sitting here with you --

SAVIDGE: And her own thoughts of suicide.

TUFF: We all go through something in life. No, you don't want that. You're going to be okay. I thought the same thing. You know, I tried to commit suicide last year after my husband left me, but look at me now. I'm still working and everything is okay.

SAVIDGE: There's no hint of fear, no sense she's lying to save herself. Her cool, collect nature moves even the police dispatcher.

DISPATCHER: Ma'am, you're doing a great job.

SAVIDGE: Moments later, after convincing the gunman to put down his weapon and lay down himself, the police barge in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't shoot! Do not move. SAVIDGE: And only then does Antoinette Tuff finally break down.

TUFF: I'm going to tell you something baby, nothing so scary in my life.

DISPATCHER: But you did great.

TUFF: Woo, Jesus.


SAVIDGE: That still gets me every time I hear that. Antoinette Tuff credits her faith. She says that's where she found the strength to carry on that conversation and many say God probably does get some credit, but she was the one facing the gunman down and many parents are grateful that she was there on the phone for everybody. Kate?

BOLDUAN: She was the one that made that call, what a hero. Martin thank you for bringing the story.

We'll have much more on the amazing call in the next half hour and also we'll soon hear more from Antoinette Tuff. She'll appear with the 911 operator you heard on the call, live on CNN's AC 360 tonight. You do not want to miss that.

CUOMO: President Obama is hitting the road, kicking off a two-day bus tour through New York and Pennsylvania promoting education reform. That's a major issue for so many famlies.

But, the president is facing challenges abroad as well, two huge decisions to make, how to handle the unfolding chaos in Syria and in Egypt. Dan Lothian is live from the White House with the latest. Good morning, Dan.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. It is a balancing act for the president trying to remain focused on some of these key domestic priorities like helping middle class families helping students. At the same time the president does have these international problems. He is putting pressure on these international leaders while at the same time condemning the violence and trying to get the support of the international community.


LOTHIAN: At a closed door emergency meeting the United Nations Security Council stopped short of demanding a probe into new allegations Syria used chemical weapons against its own citizens.

JAN ELIASSON, U.N. DEPUTY SECRETARY GENERAL: This represents, no matter what the confusions are, a serious escalation with grave humanitarian consequences. Let me say there is no confirmation of it.

LOTHIAN: The U.S., Britain and France want a U.N. investigation. Inspectors are already in Syria looking at another alleged chemical weapon attack that killed 31 near Aleppo earlier this year. The U.N. is negotiating to get their inspectors access. JOSH EARNEST, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It's time for the Assad regime to live up to their rhetoric in this regard, and give the investigators access to the sites, the opportunity to interview witnesses, the opportunity to collect physical samples.

LOTHIAN: The next move is uncertain; the U.S. agreed to provide opposition rebels with military support in June after the White House concluded the so-called red line --

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.

LOTHIAN: -- had been caused. But some members of Congress. including Senator John McCain, have been critical of the administration for not doing enough. McCain Wednesday tweeting, "no consequence for Assad using chemical weapons and crossing red line. We shouldn't be surprised he's using them again."

This as the administration deals with another foreign policy crisis in Egypt. As the violence escalates, there's mounting pressure to cut off $1.3 billion in annual military aid.

EARNEST: We've got some work to do in both areas and this is something that we're actively working on.

LOTHIAN: Later this morning President Obama heads out on the two-day bus tour making stops several stops on college and high school campuses across Pennsylvania and New York. Aides say the president will be talking about making higher education more affordable for American families and also about helping young people struggling with big college loans. Chris?

CUOMO: All right Dan an important moment here. We have such demands for leadership at home and abroad, a lot of questions for the president and tomorrow we're going to have an exclusive interview with President Obama. He's going to -- we're going to meet up with the president as he travels on the bus tour for education reform. We'll cover all of the issues we're talking about or as many as we can get to and bring it to you tomorrow on NEW DAY. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Chris.

The reported chemical attack in Syria came almost exactly one year after President Obama's "red line" speech, in which he defined chemical attacks as the trigger for more American intervention.

Senator John McCain has said the administration has done virtually nothing yet in response to Syria. The senator is joining me now to discuss more and the latest developments that we're learning out of Syria. Senator, it's great to see you. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. I want to get right to it. Because these are very --


BOLDUAN: -- you've seen the video. You've seen the pictures coming out of Syria. Have you seen or heard any evidence that convinces you the Assad regime did stage a chemical attack?

MCCAIN: Well, it's obvious from the pictures when you see the dead bodies of children and women and others stacked up and the fact is it's already been established that he has used it before. So as I said, it shouldn't surprise us when he's used it again. It's horrific and outrageous and the president a year ago said there would be -- if they crossed a red line that there would be response.

We know now of course that they've already used it. I'm sure and confident that they used it again and they will use it again unless they are reined in and prevented from doing so. And by the way, this gives a blank check to other brutal dictators around the world if they want to use chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction as well.

BOLDUAN: Well, the -- after the administration acknowledged they had crossed the red line they started supplying some additional arms to the opposition. What more do you think the administration should do?

MCCAIN: In a matter of a couple of days we're using standoff weapons, we could take out the runways, take out the 40 or 50 aircraft they're using which is dominating the battlefields in the towns and the cities and we can supply the right kind of weapons to rebels to establish a no fly zone by using moving patriot missiles up to the border. This can be done very easily. That's what General Keene and the Institute for the Study of War says, despite what the chairman of the joint chiefs have said, which is absolutely outrageous and ridiculous.

BOLDUAN: Senator, that would include a major escalation of U.S. involvement. You know that Americans at this point are very war weary. And have little appetite to get involved in another foreign conflict. Do you ignore that sentiment and just move on and get involved?

MCCAIN: Kate, first of all, there would be no boots on the ground. We would use standoff weapons just as the Israelis have four times as they've taken out targets inside Syria. We would not put a single life at risk, and isn't it time, Kate, these horrific pictures of these people, over 100,000 have been massacred, with Hezbollah, thousands of troops there, with the Iranians on the ground with the Russians supplying them with equipment, and these people are fighting for their lives, and I know them, I've been in Syria. Yes, jihadists are flowing in from all over the place but there's a majority that are people that we should support.

Where does this stop? When does the United States, with very little cost, stand up for these people and stop this horrific -- you can't look at the pictures without being deeply moved. Are we just going to let that go on?

BOLDUAN: Do you think this is the tipping point when you see these horrific pictures and if proven this would be the second in a major escalation in chemical weapon use in Syria.

MCCAIN: I think it was proven that he's used it before so it shouldn't surprise us when it is used again, and he will use it again if he can -- if he feels there's not going to be any retaliation, and when the president of the United States says that if he uses these weapons that it would be a, quote, "red line" and a "game changer." He now sees that as a green light and that is the word the president of the United States can no longer be taken seriously, as it isn't throughout the entire region.

BOLDUAN: I want to talk to you about another chaotic situation in the region. You told Candy -- I'm talking about Egypt now -- you sat down with Candy Crowley and you told her that the U.S. has lost credibility with regard to Egypt, and since that conversation, the administration has quietly put a hold on aid to Egypt, though still resisting calling it a coup. Is that enough to regain credibility in Egypt?

MCCAIN: Of course we don't know what they have done and what they haven't done. No, there's no credibility because we know that the administration at the president's direction called the Egyptians and said if you overthrow Morsy, that we will have to, because of the law, consider that a coup.

They overthrew Morsy, and they refused to call it a coup. In other words, we're asking them to observe the rule of law and we are not observing our laws. Morsy was a terrible president. I have no brief (ph) for the Muslim Brotherhood and the way they governed, but when the United States of America writes laws, we expect the United States to abide by the laws and obviously, again, the generals are not impressed because we didn't come through with our word. If we weren't going to do that we shouldn't have said it and now we have hundreds of people killed in the streets of Cairo.

BOLDUAN: And so what do you think the administration is doing then?

MCCAIN: Well look, we know that the Saudis and gulf states are pouring billions into Egypt, and they probably will do that for some time, but not forever. If we call it a coup, they -- their military equipment, their helicopters, their tanks and all that are dependent on our spare parts. They are dependent on our supplies of weapons. We can affect whether the IMF will provide them with loans or not. Tourism is a backbone of their economy and so is business. We have influence that we can exercise but when we don't exercise influence, we have no influence.

BOLDUAN: One situation where also influence is a big question, I want to just get your qiick take on it, is NSA leaker Edward Snowden. He's still in Russia. Nothing has changed since he was able to get asylum in Russia. Do you think at this point the United States has lost any chance of getting him back and holding him accountable?

MCCAIN: No, I don't, again Mr. Putin is behaving in a fashion which he has been for a long time and is really sticking his thumb in our eye. I think that's obvious. Mr. Snowden violated his oath of office and I don't think he's going to be coming back to the United States. He wants to stay in that transparent human rights observing country of Russia, but the point again here is, where is congressional oversight? Why didn't we know some of the things that we knew that had to be revealed by Mr. Snowden?

That's a question that needs to be asked, and we're now finding out that we need better congressional oversight and a lot more awareness on the part of the American people. Lot of young Americans believe Mr. Snowden is a hero. I don't.

BOLDUAN: Senator John McCain, it's great to see you. Thanks for taking time to speak with us. You have a lot on your plate once you get back to Washington. We'll see you soon.

MCCAIN: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: See you soon.

There's a lot of news developing at this hour, so let's get straight over to Michaela for the lateest

PEREIRA: Great conversation there, Kate, thanks so much.

Here's your headlines at this hour.

There's new information about the government and your e-mails. Declassified court documents show the National Security Agency was collecting a lot more information from the internet than it claimed -- about 60,000 domestic communications a year for three years ending in 2011. The NSA blames a technical error for the extra data.

A grand jury could indict former New England Patriots star, Aaron Hernandez, on murder charges today. He's scheduled to be in court this afternoon for a probable cause hearing. Prosecutors will be asking a judge to keep him behind bars, but the hearing could be canceled if the grand jury decides to act first. You'll recall he's accused of killing one-time friend, Odin Lloyd.

Hannah Anderson, the young, 16-year-old California girl who was kidnapped after her mother and brother were killed, is now talking. In an ABC news interview Anderson talked about all the support she's received.


HANNAH ANDERSON, KIDNAPPING SURVIVOR: In the beginning, I was a victim. But now, knowing everyone out there is helping me, I consider myself a survivor instead. My mom raised me to be strong.


PEREIRA: Excuse me, I said ABC. It was NBC News interview. Kidnapping and murder suspect, James DiMaggio, was killed by FBI agents at a campsite in Idaho. Hannah was rescued.

Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, son of Vice President Joe Biden, said to be in great shape after undergoing an unspecified medical procedure. Should be released from a Texas cancer center today. The younger Biden was being evaluated after feeling weak and disoriented during a family vacation last week. He suffered a mild stroke back in 2010.

A mysterious journey ends in kind of an adorable reunion. This Arkansas family lost their Pomeranian puppy back in May. Three months later, she was discovered in California. They have no idea how that dog traveled so far. Koda was scooped up by a good Samaritan walking along a busy street. Animal services workers scanned his microchip, tracked down his owners, and got him on a flight back home. Yet another reminder that microchip in your pet can help them find their way home. Poor family, and all the tears upon the reunion, Pomeranian home.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Michaela.

PEREIRA: I like those stories.

CUOMO: What's not to like?

Coming up on NEW DAY: ready to take some lives, that's the tweet from one of the alleged killers accused of killing for the thrill of it. Did they really snuff out a life because they were bored?

BOLDUAN: And later, you're going to hear -- you heard part of that dramatic 911 call from a school clerk facing down a gunman, but you haven't heard everything. The riveting and heart pounding moments as she talked the suspect down. That's ahead.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY, disturbing new details this morning about that so-called thrill kill in Oklahoma. Three teens are accused of gunning down an Australian baseball player just to show they could. Now, disturbing online posts and videos of one of the suspects putting new light on the case as the victim's girlfriend is also speaking out about who he was and what was lost. CNN's Randi Kaye is in Oklahoma City. Randi, we keep hoping for a different explanation, but just this seems to be just as soulless as it appears.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Chris, good morning to you. Let me tell you first about these victims, about these suspects and what they're charged with. First of all 15-year-old James Edwards and 16-year-old Chancy Luna. They're both charged with felony first- degree murder and then you have Michael Jones, who is 17, and he's looking at charges of being an accessory to this crime but Chris, the surprise over the chilling details of this crime has actually begun to fade as investigators learn more about the alleged shooters.


SARAH HARPER, CHRIS LANE'S GIRLFRIEND: There's no way to describe what's happened. I mean it's the hardest thing you could ever imagine happening.

KAYE: Sarah Harper is speaking out about the horrifying kill of her boyfriend Chris Lane, a 23-year-old Australian baseball player living in Oklahoma.

HARPER: There still a lot of shock and disbelief, and a lot of anger and sadness. KAYE: Harper and Lane's family are trying to make sense of this tragedy as new details emerge about the three teens charged with his death. Just three days before the shooting James Edwards, the youngest of the three tweeted he and his friends were ready to take some lives.

Back in April he posted "90 percent of white people are nasty." In this video, posted on Vine in May, Edward's is seen showing off an assault rifle. It was the oldest suspect who admitted their twisted motive to police.

CHIEF DANNY FORD, DUNCAN POLICE DEPT.: Basically said we were at the house, the young man run by the house. Someone said, there's our target. They got in the car, they followed him and they shot him. We were bored.

KAYE: Bored? They did it for fun, for sport?

FORD: That's it. That's right.

KAYE: Killed for sport, leaving family and loved ones to pick up the pieces.

HARPER: It's just so surreal that anybody could do something like this. He was an amazing person that was taken way too soon.


KAYE: The oldest suspect in this case did tell police where they tossed gun. He's the only one who is talking. The police went to check out the apartment complex on the east side in Duncan and could not find that gun. They did find some ammunition hidden under the hood of the suspect's car and they also found a shotgun hidden in a compartment where you would normally keep the spare tire. So there was another weapon as well.

I also want to tell you we are learning a little more about them through their online social media profiles. Look at this photo here, this is James Edwards and Chancy Luna, the two younger suspects, looks like they're holding cell phones up to their ears but if you look closer you can see that they're holding wads of cash and there seems to be a theme in their online profiles of cash and money. Chris, Kate, back to you.

CUOMO: All right, Randi, thank you very much. Whatever that means. These kids are just teenagers. We always hope the people who do the horrible things are one-offs, that there's something really different about them and then you see kids who seem to be normal doing something that's completely soulless. It's no wonder why people are asking what is going on in this country.

BOLDUAN: And the more we learn about this, the more you're just left shaking your head. We'll stay on top of it.

Coming up next on NEW DAY a 25-minute 911 call reveals the selfless actions of the hero who helped prevent a massacre at a Georgia elementary school. CUOMO: A somebody who represents the best in us.

And then we have Hannah Anderson there, a true survivor, speaking out for the first time about her abduction. We're going to tell you why this young woman does not consider herself a victim.