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"Overwhelming And Indisputable"; New Details About Navy Yard Shooting; Interview with Mayor Vincent Gray; Costa Concordia Now Standing; What Motivated Mass Shooting?; Warrens Open Up About Son's Death

Aired September 17, 2013 - 07:30   ET


JIM ACOSTA, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: As for the White House, National Security Adviser Susan Rice said the U.N. chemical weapons report only reinforces the administration's view that Syria's government is responsible for last month's attack.

Meanwhile, the next big test for this U.S./Russia plan will come later on this week when the Syrian government has to account for its chemical weapons stockpiles that will have a big impact on President Obama's planned trip to the U.N. General Assembly scheduled for next week -- Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: The first real concrete answer if Syria is serious about these negotiations and this deal.

ACOSTA: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Jim, thanks so much from the White House this morning for us.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, the country is coping with the reality of another mass shooting. We're going to talk with D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray about how his city is handling this tragedy.

And also ahead, a CNN exclusive, Pastor Rick Warren and his wife opening up about their son's suicide, what they told our Piers Morgan about the moment they found out he had died, coming up.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY. We are live in D.C. this morning, Tuesday, September 17th. In front of the Washington Navy Shipyard, the site of yesterday's shooting, 12 people dead, eight injured in what amounts to the single deadliest event in Washington, D.C. since the plane crash in 1982.

How is this city coping with this tragedy? What do we know about the first responders? For some great insight, we have Washington D.C.'S mayor, Mr. Vincent Gray. Mr. Mayor, thank you very much.


CUOMO: We know that there's a lot that went on inside. One of the things we heard was that the response from D.C. Metro Police and the security inside made air big difference. What do you know, Mr. Mayor?

GRAY: Well, I think our first responders did a phenomenal job, our Metropolitan Police Department, our fire and emergency medical services and then working in partnership with the other first responders in the area, like the park police, for example, and the FBI was involved as well. There's no question in my mind that they helped to save lives yesterday.

CUOMO: Moving forward, what do you want to make sure things with the victim's families and how they're dealt with in the community?

GRAY: Well, I want to make sure that they understand how important they are to us. It took us a while even to identify who all the victims were. I want to personally be in touch with every one of them. I know we were in touch with the White House all day yesterday. I know they deeply care about the people who were killed yesterday. We're going to do everything we can to make sure that these families understand what a sacrifice, what a commitment these people made.

CUOMO: Obviously there's a lot of care and concern going in to identifying the families, making sure they know before the names are released. That's why we're dealing with the delay?

GRAY: That's right. As of last night, we had seven families that were identified. When you include the shooter, there were 13 victims. Seven of the families had been identified and then, of course, the balance remained to be identified. We wanted to make sure that there was a personal engagement with the families, and that no one found out in the wrong way and that was to hear it in the media or some other fashion.

CUOMO: Obviously, this happens in your city and you want to know why.

GRAY: Absolutely.

CUOMO: When you start hearing that the man involved here, the alleged shooter, that he had violence in his past before he got in the Navy. He had problems in the Navy that got him discharged and has another problem he gets military clearance that allows him to walk into that place and do what he did, your thoughts?

GRAY: It really is hard to believe that someone with a record as checkered as this man could conceivably get, you know, clearance, credentials, to get on the base. I just met with the commandant of the Washington Naval Yard last week when we were talking about security. We know this is one of the most secured facilities in the nation. So how this could happen is beyond belief.

CUOMO: What's your best explanation at this point? Is this about some private contractor not doing their job well? Is this about policy? Is this about money, what do you think? Because this is not one of these random events where you think could his mental health be better? Could we have kept him out of the general population? This is about a process where he got the access that he shouldn't have had. What's your best chance? GRAY: Well, it's hard to know, we'll continue with this investigation. But certainly as I look at, for example, sequestration, which is about saving money in the federal government being spent. We somehow skimped on what would be available for projects like this and then we put people at risk. Obviously, 12 people have paid the ultimate price for whatever -- you know, whatever was done to have this man on the base.

CUOMO: When you think about it, this is military. There are sensitive operations on there. On the city government level, if somebody had been discharged from the city government for a pattern of misconduct that involves some for violence, what is the chance they would get near you?

GRAY: I think it's absolutely zero. The vetting that would have been done would have been absolutely thorough. There's no question in my mind that this man's past would not have been revealed quickly and he should have not been permitted into sensitive positions.

CUOMO: Mr. Mayor, I'm so sorry for what you're dealing with here in the city. But thank you for coming on to give assurances about the community. Appreciate it.

GRAY: Thank you.

CUOMO: Michaela, let's get the top news from you right now back in New York.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, it's 39 minutes after the hour. Police in Washington arresting a man accused of throwing fire crackers over a White House fence. The loud pops sounded much like gunshots and caused a lockdown at the White House complex. Officials still do not know why he did it, but they say the suspect was not a threat. This incident happened in those tense hours after the deadly shootings at the D.C. Navy Yard.

A race against the clock in Colorado, chopper crews looking for people stranded by last week's flooding. They were given the all-clear to fly after days of bad weather with many roads still left unusable. The death toll now up to eight including an 83-year-old man who was swept away, hundreds more are missing and unaccounted for. Nearly 12,000 people have been evacuated.

After 20 months on its side, the "Costa Concordia" is now upright. Check this out. Look, these are live pictures for you right now. In fact, celebrations were breaking out after a technical team successfully used massive pulleys, cables and steel tanks to move that 114,000 ton ship upright. A robotic submarine will survey the damage in order to begin the process of refloating that ship. It isn't expected to be towed away for dismantling until next summer.

And if you happen to be looking for a new home, how about this, the one-time Miami home of the late Johnny Versace is set to be auctioned off today, starting at $25 million down from the original. You're getting a reduction. The original asking was $125 million. Versace bought that mansion back in 1992. He renovated and lived there until his murder in 1997. The Versace family sold the home, which is now in bankruptcy because of lawsuits and lack of mortgage payments, incredibly opulent. It's now on the market.

BOLDUAN: A beautiful home.

PEREIRA: A lot, too. I think a lot of high ceilings to dust.

BOLDUAN: The high ceilings to dust. What a horrible history in that home.

PEREIRA: It would be hard to buy something knowing that that happened there.

BOLDUAN: It was part of it. Thanks, Michaela.

PEREIRA: You're welcome.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, Pastor Rick Warren opening up about his son's suicide. He and his wife talk exclusively to our Piers Morgan about the moment they knew their son was gone.

Also ahead, piecing together what makes a mass killer snap. We're going to talk with a forensic psychiatrist about Aaron Alexis, where were signs missed? Could someone have known?


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. We are continuing our coverage this morning of the Naval Yard shooting in Washington, D.C., authorities still searching, of course, this morning for clues as to what motivated a 34-year-old military contractor to kill 12 people and injure another eight before he was fatally shot. We're just learning more about Aaron Alexis' troubled past.

We are now learning in addition to his other arrests that he was arrested in 2008 in Georgia on disorderly conduct. This on top of the arrests in Fort Worth, Texas and another arrest in a gun-related incident in Seattle.

Dr. Michael Welner is a forensic psychiatrist and chairman of the Forensic Panel, here to help us walk through really what is happening now. Of course, everyone will say and we always say it right at the beginning it's impossible to try to make sense of a senseless tragedy. That goes without saying.

We have a lot more to learn to try to get a full picture of who this man was, but from what you have heard so far, what are the points that you think investigators are picking up on to try to make sense of what may be what motivated this man.

DR. MICHAEL WELNER, CHAIRMAN OF THE FORENSIC PANEL: What distinguishes a mass killing from other crimes and other homicides is the perpetrator wants us to know everything about him. Wants us to know what his grievances and wants us to see it as legitimate. We'll make it sound legitimate because he felt entitled to kill anybody and to kill indiscriminately. I wouldn't be surprised if he's made it abundantly clear what inspired him to decide to be so destructive, again, in a way, the ghoshness, the obscenity of mass killing that is a person who does it is inspired by watching us talk about the last one. And give some legitimacy to say, gee, this must be really serious because it caused somebody to go out on a mass killing. No, it's not.

It's an entitlement to be destructive on a grand scale because he recognizes that he's going to go from somebody who had high self- esteem and didn't accomplish to somebody who's relevant to perpetuity. I think the most important thing we know about him so far is that his anger was such, and so unbridled that even his family was detached from him.

He could work around others, but if the people who knew him best were removed from him, it tells you there's a history they couldn't count on anymore.

BOLDUAN: I think that's part of the picture that we're starting to see is that a very contradictory or a complicated man. I mean, his friends saying that he was quiet, that he was nice, that he was friendly, a good boy. But then there is also so many signs of aggressive behavior, arrest record that now spans three states and that -- he had a pattern of disorderly conduct in the Navy. Does that fit the profile for you?

WELNER: Well, please understand for everybody to understand, mass killing is not a crime about people snapping. It's a crime about somebody who has a fantasy and has a motivation and says at some point that the target of his grievance deserves to be punished and that ultimately, he deserves to be the person who's entitled to be destructive to them.

So I think one thing is anger. The other thing is the idea of an entitlement to destroy. But folks who carry out mass killing are invariably quiet and unassuming. The most significant part of his quiet is nobody's targeted how irrational he is and folks who kill on a mass scale are always paranoid to some degree. Some are paranoid in a way they're resentful and suspicious of others. Others are paranoid to the point where they have a psychotic condition.

BOLDUAN: Maybe signs of that paranoia.

WELNER: The more rational you hear in the reactions day to day, the more they are likely to be at one end of the gradient.

BOLDUAN: Do you know what I think people are wondering, why someone would choose out to take this irrational anger or this mental disturbance, take it out on people at work, and possibly people that don't even know him, that he doesn't even know. He wasn't necessarily working at the Naval Yard very often or at all, really, to this point.

WELNER: The quest for fame and the quest of notoriety for the 24-hour news cycle has reached such a proportion that people recognize that the more outrageous they are, it's the equivalent of people's reaction to Miley Cyrus. I can be so obscene that everybody will talk about me. This is a violent adaptation.

It immediately becomes relevant, socially disconnected and commonly sexually incompetent in a way that they can achieve intimacy immediately becomes relevant. You see a picture of him. He's handsome. He's put together. We don't see the failure that he saw himself as.

BOLDUAN: Well, these are many of the very questions that investigators are looking into this morning. Dr. Michael Welner, great to see you. Thank you so much.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, a CNN exclusive, Pastor Rick Warren and his wife opening up about their son's mental illness and suicide, they gave Piers Morgan their truly heartbreaking account of what happened. Stay with us.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. It's been five months since the death of Matthew Warren, the son of Megachurch Pastor Rick Warren. Matthew committed suicide in April after a lifelong struggle with mental illness. Warren and his wife, Kay, sat down exclusively with CNN's Piers Morgan in an interview that will be airing tonight. For the first time they speak about his death.


KAY WARREN: Rick was very ill. I made him get out of bed and we drove over to Matthew's house. Lights where I could see in his window, light were on and I started ringing the doorbell. Banging on the door, now typically, he would have said go away or come to the door, invite me in. He did nothing. That was not his pattern. So I had a pretty good sense that perhaps something catastrophic had happened.


KAY WARREN: That was late on Thursday, April 4th. And so I was pretty sure that something had happened, but he had also told us that if we called the police that he would take his life instantly. So a call to the police was an instant suicide.

So I was living with that horrible, horrible choice of do I call the police and perhaps intervene or do I take that risk if I call, then he instantly kills himself? So we just had to wait for a few hours and so it was into the next day that I felt that he was not responding.

RICK WARREN: We didn't hear anything back from him.

KAY WARREN: He didn't go to work.

RICK WARREN: He didn't go to work.

KAY WARREN: His workout, which he didn't miss and so I pretty much knew. And finally when I sent the text saying, look, I'm calling the police if you don't -- just give me one word that tells me you're OK. And I won't call the police and there was nothing. And so we went back to the house. His house looked exactly the same. Same lights were on. We knew. By that time, we knew.

MORGAN: You got back to the house in the morning, Rick. You had this awful sense that he had probably taken his life. You couldn't get inside the house.


MORGAN: You called the police and you were waiting.


MORGAN: That moment for the both of you must have been beyond harrowing.

RICK WARREN: We were sobbing. We were just sobbing. The day that I had feared might happen one day since he had been born and the day that I prayed would never happen happened. I remember as we stood in the driveway, just embracing each other and sobbing.


BOLDUAN: So painful and their words still so powerful. You can watch the rest of Piers' exclusive interview with the Warrens tonight on "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" at 9:00 Eastern. Let's head straight back to Chris in Washington now -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, coming up from here, we're going to press for answers about how this shooter got military clearance. Wait until you hear what marks check his past. We're also learning new information about the people who lost their lives, 12 people gone. Seven of them identified so far. We'll tell you what we're learning about them at the top of the hour.

Also, moments of hope, they're often lost in tragedy like this. We're going to talk to you about a situation where someone was fearing the worst, but wound up learning the best. That's ahead.



CUOMO (voice-over): This morning, the deadly navy yard shooting, day of heart-pounding terror.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone said, this is no drill, go, go, go!

CUOMO: We have breaking new details from inside the military facility where shots rang out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We could see him with the rifle and he raised and aimed at us and fired.

CUOMO: Who was Aaron Alexis? Why he went on a horrifying rampage. New information this morning. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was a very good-natured guy that seemed like he wanted to get more out of life.

CUOMO: Plus what we now know about the 12 innocent people who lost their lives.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): And then, devastation in Colorado.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's ruined. My basement's gone, worst day of my life, by far.

BOLDUAN: Intense rescue operations still underway, hundreds still stranded.