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Details Emerge on Aaron Alexis; Obama To Attend Memorial Service; Navy Yard C.O. Speaks; Family of Shooting Victim Kathy Gaarde Talks About Her Life; Fed Move Could Spike Mortgage Rates; Girl Found Alive After Home Invasion Abduction

Aired September 18, 2013 - 12:30   ET


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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's easy now to look back and piece it together and say somebody should have known.

If you think about it, over a long period of time, it's a little more challenging.

BROWN: He was honorably discharged in 2011 and retained his Navy security clearance, which is good for 10 years.

The defense contractor he was working for has now pointed the finger at the military for overlooking his misconduct as a civilian and during his service.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looking at the offenses while he was in the Navy, the offenses while he was in uniform, none of those give you an indication he was capable of this sort of brutal, vicious violence.

BROWN: Investigators are now collecting evidence from multiple crime scenes, towing away his rental car, removing boxes of materials from his hotel room, interviewing family members in Brooklyn, all in hope of understanding why he did this.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CO-ANCHOR: We're just learning some details coming in from the White House briefing, Jay Carney announcing that the president will be attending a memorial service, this is this Sunday, for the victims of the Navy Yard shooting.

Obviously, the president, the defense secretary, many of them, asking some really serious questions how this could even happen on such a secure facility.


We're lucky to be able to speak now to Captain Monte L. Ulmer, the commanding officer at the yard.

Appreciate you being with us, sir, and condolences, of course.

I suppose let's start off by getting a sense from you of the mood there at the yard you command.

CAPTAIN MONTE L. ULMER, COMMANDING OFFICER, NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY WASHINGTON: Let me begin by saying that here at the Washington Navy Yard from me to all those families and those affected, my thoughts and prayers go out to you if you were affected on Monday's events.

Today here at the Navy Yard, we are going through a period of transition and healing. Here at the yard we're transitioning to allow people to come back to the base, again retrieving personal items.

For the healing, we have set up counseling centers here on the Washington Navy Yard at our sister base to help those family members and those affected by Monday's events to begin their transition back to normal and healthy lives.

MALVEAUX: And, Captain, I want to follow up if we can. Obviously our condolences to many suffering there at the facility and their families, but our reporter Pamela Brown brought up a lot of important questions and red flags.

I'd like to go over those because there was a call to police he had heard voices before. He had reported to a V.A. hospital complaining of sleep problems. At least on eight different occasions he had instances of misconduct.

The defense contractor that she talked to says that -- they point to the military, say this is something -- you know, what does it take before this guy's clearance is pulled?

How many incidents have to come before you realize this guy could be potentially dangerous?

Are you looking at reassessing who gets clearance and for how long?

ULMER: My primary concern over the last few days has been to insure that I have helped all of those family members and the employees that are affected, so that is where my concerns have been.

I have not been working on any other issues but to insure that I can begin normal operations tomorrow so we can begin the transition of healing back to normal operations here at the Washington Navy Yard.

MALVEAUX: Do you think those are legitimate concerns, safe concerns for those people who you see and you work with on a daily basis, that there may not be a system in place that really protects them?

ULMER: Again, my sole responsibility here on the Navy Yard is to insure that every employee is safe. I will continue to do that.

Right now, we're in a transitional period of healing, and I want to insure that all of those members that were affected get counseling and are able to begin normal operations here tomorrow. HOLMES: We've heard from the defense secretary, of course, Chuck Hagel saying that, "Where there are gaps, we will close them. Where there are inadequacies, we will address them."

One imagines that, given what has happened there, this horrible incident, this horrible tragedy, that some there who work there might be a bit nervous.

Are there immediate changes going into effect you as commanding officer know about?

ULMER: I have counselors available throughout the Washington Navy Yard to assist those.

We also have security guards out and available to help those individuals with very specific needs.

So we are ready to assist those individuals on the Washington Navy Yard.

MALVEAUX: Captain, what is taking place today in terms of the kind of assistance that you are talking about?

ULMER: Taking place today, we have sprint teams that -- for our family counseling centers set up on base. We have those counselors available throughout different areas on the Washington Navy Yard.

In addition, we have set up facilities at our Joint Base Anacostia for those families not able to make it here today and those employees that are affected may go to those locations, as well.

HOLMES: Captain, are you worried about the obvious -- obviously, there must have been some gaps that allowed this to happen, this incident to have occurred in the first place.

What are your concerns as commanding officer in terms of protecting your staff there?

ULMER: Again, my concerns today are just primarily focused on transition the Navy Yard back to full operations.

I have a very, very professional military security force on the Washington Navy Yard, and we will continue to remain so.

MALVEAUX: Captain Monte Ulmer, we appreciate your time and we support the families surrounding this tragic incident.

Here's more of what we're working on for AROUND THE WORLD.

The family of a woman killed at the Navy Yard, she is now speaking out to CNN.


DOUGLASS GAARDE, WIFE KILLED IN NAVY YARD SHOOTING SPREE: I guess what I want them to know most about her is what a caring person she was, particularly in how she cared about her family.

JESSICA GAARDE, MOTHER KILLED IN NAVY YARD SHOOTING SPREE: And I want them to know she lived. She was not a number.


HOLMES: More of this exclusive emotional interview in just a moment. We'll be right back.


MALVEAUX: Family members of those killed in the Navy Yard massacre are now starting to actually speak out.

They are sharing their memories of their loved ones whose lives were cut short.

HOLMES: Kathy Gaarde was one of the twelve. She leaves behind, obviously, a grieving family and now Anderson Cooper did manage to speak with her husband and her daughter.


D. GAARDE: I guess what I want them to know most about her is what a caring person she was, particularly in how she cared about her family.

As I mentioned, we take care, or she took care, of her mother who's lived with us for 10 years. She moved here when she was about 85 and lived here till she was 94.

That's a lot to take on when you're a full-time mom and full-time worker. She did a great job of that in addition to raising our two kids, which, of course, is Jessica.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": And she loved nature. She loved animals.

D. GAARDE: She loved animals. We've got them tied up. We've got two dogs and two cats and that's actually down from the number we used to have.

COOPER: More than that? Wow. Quite a menagerie.

What do you want people to know, Jessica?

J. GAARDE, MOTHER KILLED IN NAVY YARD SHOOTING SPREE: I guess, in addition to what my dad is saying, just with everything going on, I want them to know she lived. She's not a number, or some statistic.

COOPER: You want them to know the person that she was and the life that she led?

J. GAARDE: Yes, because she was so caring and she would do anything for anyone she loved.

And she really did have a deep heart for animals no matter what the cost. When one of her animals was sick, she would do everything that needed to be done to make sure they were OK.

COOPER: You were planning retirement.

D. GAARDE: I am basically retired. She was -- we were trying to pick the best time for her to retire.

She was pretty much planning on probably this January toward the end of the year, unless sometimes they offer buyouts when the budget gets in the kind of situation it is. She might have left earlier.

COOPER: She could have already retired?

D. GAARDE: Oh, yes, she was 62 with about 33 years of government service. So that's -- we'd have been very comfortable. But ---

COOPER: Does it seem real at this point?

D. GAARDE: Go ahead.

J. GAARDE: For me, it's -- it was very surreal but it's like a constant tsunami because I have periods of numbness where it's like the water's receding, and then I just feel nothing.

And then something, whether it be a bill on the counter or I was in the bathroom and she recently bought me new towels, and you just see the towels and just all hits.

COOPER: Comes in waves?



HOLMES: Hard to watch, isn't it?

MALVEAUX: It's very hard.

HOLMES: That whole striving of people doing in these situations to make sure that people aren't just thought of as a number.

MALVEAUX: I mean, putting the face on the story. And it's so hard to talk about, but they did a really good job.

HOMES: Yeah, important stuff.

Just a reminder too, we mentioned earlier President Obama is going to attend a memorial on Sunday to honor the 12 who died in the Navy Yard massacre.

We'll be right back.


MALVEAUX: Welcome back.

When Ben Bernanke speaks, of course, people around the world and the markets react. They listen up. Here in about two hours from now, the Federal Reserve chair is going to be speaking at a news conference. We're waiting to hear what he's got to say.

HOLMES: Everyone is ears. Bernanke is expected to announce cuts to the U.S. economic stimulus program, the so-called quantitative easing, which just rolls off the tongue so easily. The central bank is currently buying bonds worth $85 billion a month to keep interest rates low.

MALVEAUX: So, of course, our Richard Quest joining us from New York. We all want to know, Richard, what does this mean, especially for those who own their homes.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, the long and short of it is, for the last year, the Fed has had its food on the gas pedal to try and get the U.S. economy moving even faster. Now, do not panic. The Fed is not about to put its foot on the brake. That is the single most important thing to understand about today.

Think of it this way. The Fed, having got its foot on the gas pedal, is just going to ease off a little bit, we expect. Maybe it's just going to reduce by $10 billion. It is still going to be pumping money into the U.S. economy. We are still quite a long, long way of significant increases in interest rates.

Having said that, the market knows what's coming down the road. And long-term interest rates and mortgage rates have already started to rise, just by a smidgen.

HOLMES: And one imagines, Richard, that if he did nothing, that would upset the markets even more given that they've been expecting this. And I guess the effect has already been built in, would you say that?

QUEST: Absolutely. He brilliantly frightened the market at a press conference earlier this year when he mentioned September. And by doing that, he got rid of all the fuss and furor (ph) and all the volatility in August.

You know, people may be wondering what's going to happen today. But I'll tell you, when the announcement comes out and I -- a dollar to a pound, it's going to happen today. If it does not happen, I'll buy you the drinks.

HOLMES: That would be a first.

QUEST: That's a deal. The markets are going to go -- tell us something we didn't know.

MALVEAUX: All right, but tell us -- can you tell us about the mortgage rates? We've got a mortgage calculator at our site.


MALVEAUX: So we want to call that and bring that up there.

QUEST: We have. MALVEAUX: What does it mean, right, for your mortgage?

QUEST: We've already seen about a 1 percent, 1.5 percent increase in long-term mortgage rates. We will see that probably rise even more over the next six months to a year as less stimulus is put in, because less bond buying means yields go up, prices go down. Don't worry about the mechanics, just look at what it means for your mortgage. If you're in a fixed rate mortgage, of course, you're already locked in, good luck to you, you've got 30 years at this. But if you're looking to get a mortgage, start factoring in how much you can afford to pay if rates go up half a percent, 1 percent, 1.5 percent. Know what you're getting into before you get in over your head.

HOLMES: Yes, as you say, Richard, if there is no tapering, as they like to say, what (ph) quantitative easing, tapering of this, tapering of that, it would be a shock if he didn't taper. What would be more of a shock, I kind of hope he doesn't, because you're buying drinks.

QUEST: Don't bank on it.

HOLMES: Yes, exactly.

QUEST: It's happening. It's happening.

MALVEAUX: We'll be the ones serving drinks.

HOLMES: He offers to buy drinks when he knows it's not going to happen.

MALVEAUX: There's no way. Come on.

HOLMES: Good to see you, Questy.

QUEST: All right.

MALVEAUX: New details, as well, about the Navy Yard gunman. His former stepfather says that he is struggling to understand how the, quote, "loving boy" that he raised as his own could have become a mass killer.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

HOLMES: And the breaking news is good news for a change. You may remember the story of the girl Ayvani Perez, 14-year-old girl. There was a home invasion overnight Monday, early hours of Tuesday morning. Two men burst into the family's home. They demanded jewelry and money. The mom didn't have any. She was trying to hide the kids. These two men, when they didn't get what they wanted, shot the family dog and then kidnapped Ayvani Perez, 14 years old. The FBI, police have been looking for her for the last couple of days. The good news, found safe, found alive. Just breaking in the last few minutes. So some good news there. We're getting more details on how she was found and where she was found, but that's the headline there, Ayvani Perez, that 14- year-old girl, abducted during a home invasion, found alive. MALVEAUX: And we're going to have more at the top of the hour of that story.

And, of course, we keep coming back to the question of motive, this is in the Navy Yard massacre. Why did Aaron Alexis go on the shooting rampage killing 12 people randomly? Just a short time ago, I spoke to "The Daily Mail" reporter Paul Thompson, who interviewed the shooter's former stepfather.


PAUL THOMPSON, REPORTER, DAILY MAIL ONLINE: The Aaron he knew he said was a loving, very kind boy. As a teenager, he described him as a sponge who just wanted to soak up as much information as possible. Loved playing chess. Loved playing checkers. He's totally at a loss as to why his former stepson would do such a thing.

MALVEAUX: Did he like guns? Was he violent? Did he display any kind of unusual behavior? What does he say to you? What does he tell you?

THOMPSON: Well, in the years that he knew Aaron, he never once said he saw a violent episode. He said there was no interest in guns. Obviously when he was in his 20s, he developed an interest in the military. And Frank actually said that he too wanted to join the military with his stepson but he was too old and was turned down, whereas Aaron was very excited to be joining the Navy. But up until that time, he hadn't exhibited, as far as he saw, any violence whatsoever.

MALVEAUX: Does his former stepfather believe that that had anything to do -- that kind of trauma had to do with PTSD in the long-term? We've heard that from other family members that perhaps he suffered from PTSD and other mental conditions.

THOMPSON: Well, I think in the years between 2001 and when Aaron left to join the Navy, Frank said he didn't see any signs of PTSD at all. But he does accept that, you know, PTSD is there and it was a traumatic event. But he himself didn't actually witness anything. In saying that, he said he was in an on/off relationship with Aaron's mom, so he might have not been there at that time, although they were still in contact.

MALVEAUX: And did he mention anything -- there have been reports of Aaron hearing voices in his head and other kinds of things. Did he say that he experienced any of that as a child?

THOMPSON: No, there was none of that as a child, none of the paranoia. He seemed to think something happened in the military. He was -- as I say, he was very shell shocked when he was talking to me. He was trying to avoid reading stuff about Aaron because he kept saying that wasn't the boy that I knew. The boy that I knew was a kind and loving child.

MALVEAUX: And, finally, does Calderon realizing just the kind of pain and trauma those 12 victims killed in the shooting and the families that are left behind, is there any kind of message that he is offering from Aaron's family to those?

THOMPSON: Very much so. I think that's why he did the interview. He said his prayers go out to the victims and the victims' families. He is just so, so sorry. I don't think he can reconcile what has happened with the Aaron Alexis that he knew.


HOLMES: Fascinating stuff.

Now, before we go, just a reminder that Georgia girl, the 14-year-old girl, Ayvani Perez, has been found alive and well after being kidnapped from her home during a home invasion early hours of Tuesday morning. Some good news there. We'll have more on that at the top of the hour.

MALVEAUX: All right. CNN NEWSROOM starts right after this.