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Shooter's Mom Make Emotional Statement; Train Slams into Bus in Ottawa; Deadly Storms Hammer Mexico; Flooding in Acapulco; Twin Named Storms Hit East and West Coasts of Mexico; Russia Says U.N. Weapons Report Distorted, One-Sided; Details Emerge on Aaron Alexis

Aired September 18, 2013 - 12:00   ET


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Completely sheared off during impact. We've got a live report on this still breaking story coming up.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, zip lining to safety. That is what people are actually doing to escape massive flooding in Mexico. Thousands of tourists are trapped. Supplies are running dangerously low.

Welcome to AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

HOLMES: And I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company today.

MALVEAUX: Want to get you up to speed on several new developments. This is in the Navy Yard massacre, of course. Military officials, they are now promising to look for answers. Many, many questions still remain.

HOLMES: Indeed. They have actually launched several military reviews, this two days after 12 people were killed at its historic facility in Washington. The Navy Yard in Washington does, not surprisingly, remain a crime scene and off limits to all but essential personnel as investigators try to piece together what made military contractor Aaron Alexis go on a shooting spree.

MALVEAUX: We are learning more about his mental state today. About a month ago, he told police he heard voices in his head, people talking through walls and floors and using microwaves to keep him awake. Well, the defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, said he has now ordered a review of Defense Department procedures for granting and renewing security clearances, including that of contractors.

HOLMES: He's also formed an outside panel to look at DOD security and clearance procedures.


CHUCK HAGEL, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Where there are gaps, we will close them. Where there are inadequacies, we will address them. And where there are failures, we will correct them. We owe the victims, their families and all our people nothing less.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MALVEAUX: We are also hearing for the first time from the mother of the Navy Yard shooter. Cathleen Alexis was fighting back tears earlier today as she issued a statement just a short time ago.

HOLMES: Yes, now the statement is audio only. Let's listen in, in its entirety.


CATHLEEN ALEXIS, MOTHER OF AARON ALEXIS ((voice-over): Our son, Aaron Alexis, has murdered 12 people and wounded several others. His actions have had a profound and everlasting effect on the families of the victims. I don't know why he did what he did, and I'll never be able to ask him why. Aaron is now in a place where he can no longer do harm to anyone, and for that I am glad. To the families of the victims, I am so, so very sorry that this has happened. My heart is broken.


HOLMES: And Deborah Feyerick was present for that mother's statement. She joins us from New York.

You know, you could obviously hear the emotion in her voice, Deb. Tell us about what you saw, what the feeling was in that room.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you, Michael, that I was the pool reporter inside the home for that statement that she read. She refused to take any sort of questions. She really seemed drained by the whole experience. She's a slender woman. She was wearing a black sweater, black pants. She was supported on each side of her by two community bishops. And at one time it almost seemed as if she was leaning on one of them for support. He tried to comfort her saying she was a victim too and she said no, no. She was clearly focused on the families of the people who have lost loved ones during this massacre, this shooting spree committed by her son.

But she was frail and she seemed tired and she knew the impact of this. And perhaps the most poignant statement was, you know, he's somewhere where he can no longer hurt anyone. That was very emotional. But we tried following up with a couple of questions but she just - she didn't want to answer anything. She doesn't even know how she's even going to be able to go back to work.


MALVEAUX: Deb, I can't imagine a mother being able to say that about her son, that he's in a better place now that he's dead, but he's no longer able to kill anybody. Did she shed any more light on what he was like as an individual or whether or not he had any problems that she was aware of?

FEYERICK: No, she really didn't. You know, she mentioned the fact that she believed that there was some inaccuracies that were being reported, but she wouldn't correct any of those inaccuracies. She wouldn't comment on what his connection was to 9/11. You know, we were able to determine through sources that he was working down at the Borough of Manhattan Community College by the World Trade Center. He was there the day that those towers fell. That campus actually became a staging ground for first responders. So he was in the immediate vicinity of that day, but she wouldn't shed any sort of light on what he had witnessed, what he had seen, or what this -- the trigger for this may have been. She just -- she really just wanted to say what she said and move on with her life.

Suzanne. Michael.

MALVEAUX: All right. Deborah Feyerick, thank you.

A man who was the shooter's stepfather for many years, he is also speaking out. He spoke to a British newspaper called "The Daily Mail" and you're going to hear what he told that reporter later this hour.

HOLMES: Yes, look forward to that. Maybe a little bit more inside, hopefully.

Well, family members of those killed in the Navy Yard massacre, they're starting to speak out, sharing their stories about their loved ones.

MALVEAUX: We want to share their stories with you, as well. Our Anderson Cooper, he spoke with family members of Kathy Gaarde. You see her there. She is with her 94-year-old grandmother who she cared for until she died last year. You're not going to want to miss these very moving memories from Gaarde's husband and daughter. That at the bottom of the hour.

HOLMES: Well, families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, they're in the Washington, D.C., area today. It was a trip actually planned some time ago, but one that now has obviously new urgency since the shooting rampage at the Navy Yard.

MALVEAUX: It has been nine months since the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, when a gunman killed 26 people. Well, the group of residents and relatives is called the Newtown Action Alliance and they're going to attend the Stand Your Ground hearing today headed by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin.

HOLMES: Alliance members also plan to meet with congressional leaders from both parties. They are demanding mandatory background checks and other measures to toughen gun control laws.

MALVEAUX: And to Canada now where the capital, Ottawa, it's the scene of a terrible, terrible accident if you see this. This is a passenger train slams into a double decker city bus. And police say at least now six people are dead, 30 are injured. One fire official says there were bodies and debris everywhere at the impact site.

HOLMES: Just horrible pictures. Paula Newton is in Ottawa, joins us now on the phone.

I mean obvious question, how does this happen? PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): You know what, it's been so chilling to hear, Michael, is when you hear the eyewitness accounts of people on the bus screaming, pleading with the bus driver to stop. Now, again, the National Transportation Safety Board is on the scene right now. They are cautioning, don't come to any conclusion yet about what caused this accident. But just listening to those eyewitnesses say, look, people screamed, people were screaming on the bus, stop, stop. And what ended up happening was that double-decker bus slammed right into that passenger train the entire front of the bus that I'm looking at was completely sheared off. Utterly devastating. I spoke to people who were on the platform. This was very close to a station, Michael. And thankfully it was going quite slowly. The people on that platform saw exactly what happened. They heard this loud thud, screeching and then they saw the smoke and then they couldn't figure out why this bus had done this and what had happened. As we said now six confirmed dead, but sadly, more than 30 injured right now. They're saying most of those people from the bus and 11, Michael, 11 still in critical condition.


MALVEAUX: And, Paula, do you have any idea -- I mean how -- why it was that the bus just kept going? Do they know? Do they understand? Do people have any sense of the condition of the bus driver?

NEWTON: It's hard to know. You know the rail crossing was down. There was a safety gate there. It was down. Apparently the bus went right through it. If you try and understand why this bus driver went right through it, some people are speculating that maybe he suffered a heart attack, maybe he was having some type of medical problem and that's why the bus failed to stop. No one knows at this point and no one will know until they do a much more thorough investigation at the scene.

But, incredibly tragic here in terms of those people actually witnessing it, those people going through it. We saw family members - this was a packed express bus on its way from suburban Ottawa to the downtown core. You still have families on the phone frantically trying to find loved ones who may be at the hospital and just haven't been able to contact anyone yet. Just quite a horrific scene here at the suburban rail station, Suzanne, and still so many questions. I mean this just doesn't happen. A bus does not slam into a train. There are at times failures at rail crossings, but for that kind of a bus to go right through a rail crossing when the gate was down, when you could clearly see the train, is just really unfathomable for many people who witnessed this event this morning.

MALVEAUX: Yes, absolutely.

Paula, thank you. We appreciate it.

I mean, Michael, it is hard to understand, unless there was some sort of medical condition that the bus driver had, how that was possible.

HOLMES: Horrible. Yes, took the whole front of the bus off. Just a terrible accident. We'll update you if we get any more information on this. As we say, only happened a few hours ago. Meanwhile, President Obama turning to the most powerful people in the business world to help him avoid a looming government shutdown.

MALVEAUX: The president spoke at the business roundtable. It was just a short time ago in Washington. It's a group that is made up of the country's leading CEOs. The president warned them that when the government stops working, private businesses also stop working


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I think this is the time for us to say once and for all, we can't afford these kinds of plays. I know the American people are tired of it. I'm tired of it, and I suspect you're tired of it too because it's pretty hard to plan your businesses when these kinds of things are looming at any given moment.


MALVEAUX: And Republican leaders in the House, they say one of the plans to avoid a government shutdown is going to be to pull all the funding from the president's health care plan.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: There should be no conversation about shutting the government down. That's not the goal here. Our goal here is to cut spending and to protect the American people from Obamacare. It's as simple as that. There's no interest on our part in shutting the government down.


HOLMES: Budget negotiations, well, they're not moving at all. Federal agencies actually warning employees to brace force a possible shutdown. Without a passed budget, the government's money actually runs out at the end of this month.

MALVEAUX: Here's more of what we're working on for this hour for AROUND THE WORLD.

Thousands of tourists are now stranded in Acapulco, Mexico, after massive flooding swallows homes and cars. We're going to show you more of these incredible pictures up next.

HOLMES: And United Nations inspectors are going back to Syria to continue to investigate chemical weapons claims. There are more of them now.


HOLMES: South of the border today. Mexico has been getting hammered hard by three serious storms all hitting at the same time. A triple whammy. Nearly 60 people already reported killed.

MALVEAUX: And the hardest hit area, this is on the Pacific side, this is near the beach resort city of Acapulco. This is a bird's eye view. It shows the water up to window level. But from up high you can't see just how dangerous this flood is.

Wow. So it's just a few miles inland from Acapulco. It is the only way to get across streets that have turned into raging rivers.

HOLMES: Yes, rescues are becoming incredibly difficult, relief supplies often impossible to get in at the moment. About a million people, Mexican citizens and tourists as well, are either trapped, stranded or hunkered down against these deadly storms. Our Nick Parker is in Mexico City today.


NICK PARKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dramatic scenes in the popular beach resort city of Acapulco. Tropical Storm Manuel creating chaos there with many residents struggling to cope with its devastating aftermath. Forty thousand tourists have also been stranded with the airport only just reopening. The main road to the city is still closed. Further north, rays from Tropical Storm Ingrid are raising fears of further flooding there. Dozens of people have been killed in these twin storms. Authorities are now closely watching a tropical wave near the city of Cancun.


MALVEAUX: Chad Myers in the CNN Severe Weather Center.

So this is coming from many different places and it's kind of a confluence of a lot of different weather events.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: One storm on the east coast of Mexico, Ingrid, another that could be here for the weekend named Jerry, the "J" storm, and then the "M" storm in the pacific named Manuel.

And so we always talk about the bad side of a hurricane, the right side of a hurricane. Acapulco was on the bad side for hours and hours. It rained for hours, at least a foot of rain on those coasts there around Acapulco.

Let's look at the Google map. Acapulco is a bowl. I know there's a little empty spot on the other side where there's an ocean there, but Acapulco is literally a three-dimensional bowl. The rain ran up the mountainside and all the rain came down.

This is not unlike what happened in Colorado last weekend. When you put rain up a hill, it has to come down the hill. And it rained right and rolled right back into Acapulco, and that's where these pictures are from.

Literally, just gobs of people trying to run for their lives, trying to run up those hills as the water was coming back down those hills at them.

HOLMES: Pretty unusual weather event, one would have to say, I mean, to have it hit from both sides at once. MYERS: Yeah, obviously. This has never happened since the '50s where two storms with names have hit within 24 hours.

Now they didn't combine. They didn't converge. They didn't even hit the same areas. One hit Tampico, Vera Cruz. That's the east side near Cancun and up toward Brownsville, Texas.

The other one hit the West Coast, and obviously, there's a 14,000-foot Sierra Madre in the middle, so they obviously can't converge when you have a mountain range in the middle.

But one on one side, one on the other, and people are running for their lives, still. The water is still going up in some spots.

HOLMES: Unbelievable.

Chad Myers, thanks.

MYERS: You're welcome.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CNN tonight, at 7:00, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT," controversy and the crown, the new Miss America responds to racist comments over her win.

Then at 8:00 on "ANDERSON COOPER 360," remembering the victims who lost their lives in the Navy Yard shooting.

And at 9:00 on "PIERS MORGAN LIVE," it's a deadly combination, guns and mental illness.

RICK WARREN, PASTOR: There's no way a gun should ever get in the hands of a mentally ill person.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the suicide of Pastor Rick Warren's son to the shooting at Washington's Navy Yard, Piers asks the experts, can anything be done.

It's all CNN tonight, starting with "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" at 7:00, "ANDERSON COOPER 360" at 8:00 and "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" at 9:00, tonight on CNN.


HOLMES: You know, we were just talking to Chad about the flooding in Mexico. Boy, take a look at Colorado, still grappling with the aftermath of record flooding there.

Better weather is allowing emergency crews to evacuate towns where people remain stranded nearly a week after that record rain.

MALVEAUX: The death toll has now been revised down to six. More than 300 are still unaccounted for.

Meanwhile, some evacuees are starting to return home, only to find ruins. More than 19,000 homes and businesses have been damaged or destroyed. Floodwaters are now rolling east towards Nebraska.

HOLMES: Good heavens. The damage done there just extraordinary.

All right, well, Russia says the U.N. chemical weapons report on Syria is distorted and one-sided. They still have their theory on what happened in Syria.

We're going to be live in Moscow with the very latest.


MALVEAUX: U.N. weapons inspectors could be back in Syria within a week or so.

That is exactly what the Russians want to hear because they don't think the inspectors did a good job the first go round. Not surprising, however..

HOLMES: Making some complaints. It still boils down to who was responsible for that chemical weapons attack last month that may have killed as many as 1,400 people.

The Russians have a big problem with the earlier U.N. report that said that the evidence was pointing towards the Syrian government.

They say that report was one-sided and not complete. That's not all.

MALVEAUX: Want to go live to Moscow. Our Phil Black is there.

And, Phil, we do know there is a lot of talking going on right now, diplomacy perhaps.

You have the president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad meeting with not only Russian and American delegations today, but certainly does this mean that the inspectors is realistically could be back in Syria by next week?

Do these talks actually bear any kind of positive fruit?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is certainly possible, Suzanne, yes, because that is their intention. And they've got unfinished work to do there.

You may remember that they were already in Syrian on August 21st when that big chemical weapons attack took place, and they were there to investigate other allegations about chemical weapons use.

Now they didn't get to look at those because they were consumed by that big attack in Damascus. That became their focus. Much of the world demanded answers, so they went to the location, collected samples, got out, put together their report.

And, as you've mentioned, Russia is not happy with that report because it's been saying all along that in order to have an objective view of the chemical weapon situation and use in Syria, you have to investigate all the allegations of use, look at all the information. So certainly if they go back in, that will temper that Russian anger. It would certainly have the Russian government's support in that case.

HOLMES: And Phil, too, of course, we still have this gulf, this difference of opinion, the West saying the Assad regime did it, the Russians still saying that it could well have been the rebels.

They now say -- I think the term was material evidence. Who's seen that evidence? Are they going to hand it over?

BLACK: Well, only the Russians as far as we know. This is information that was handed to them today by the Syrian government.

We don't know what it is, but they say that it implicates the Syrian opposition in using chemical weapons on August the 21st in that big attack that we've been talking about there.

That would support the ongoing Russian-Syrian theory that it is the Syrian opposition using chemical weapons in Syria, and they're doing it to try and frame the government and trigger some sort of international intervention on their side.

Now we don't know just what this information is, but the Russian government today is pledging to show it to the United Nations Security Council.

HOLMES: It will be interesting to see what that is. Phil, good to see you, Phil Black there in Moscow.

MALVEAUX: Of course, we are following the frantic final days of the Navy Yard shooter.

Up next, we're going to bring you the very latest on the investigation, including his call to police in the weeks leading up to the massacre.


HOLMES: Welcome back.

We are getting more details about the Navy Yard shooter, his mental health issues, his military record, also his run-ins with the law.

All of it added together show a definite trail of red flags.

MALVEAUX: So here's what people want to know, how were all these signs, how were they actually missed?

Pamela Brown traces the shooter's step, brings us the details on where this investigation stands right now.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're learning new details about how Aaron Alexis brought a gun onto the Washington Navy Yard. A federal law enforcement official tells CNN that the gunman entered Building 197 with a small bag that's believed to have carried a disassembled Remington 870 shotgun.

He's then seen on surveillance video ducking into a bathroom with the bag and emerging seconds later with the gun. Moments later, he opens fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got a report on the fourth floor, a male with a shotgun. Multiple shots fired, multiple people down.

BROWN: As investigators continue pouring over Alexis' life, the trail of red flags leading to Monday's massacre is troubling.

August 7th, he calls Rhode Island police, complaining of hearing voices coming through the walls of his hotel room.

According to this police report, Alexis said those voices were sending vibrations into his body using some sort of microwave machine.

August 25th, Alexis arrives in the Washington area where he contacts a V.A. hospital for a second time for sleep problems.

September 14th, two days before the shooting, Alexis stops at this small arms range in Lorton, Virginia.

An attorney for the gun range says Alexis practiced shooting, then paid $419 for a gun and two boxes of ammunition.

And on Monday, he accessed the Navy Yard with legitimate I.D. and proper security clearance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a case like this before you've got so many red flags over a protracted period of time, it almost seems this is the type of thing that was bound to happen.

BROWN: Even more troubling, Alexis' record while serving as a Navy reservist, eight instances of misconduct, including insubordination, disorderly conduct and unauthorized absences from work.