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Red Flags Ignored?; Remembering the Victims; Interview with Senator Susan Collins; Hundreds Still Missing In Colorado; 911 Call Leads To Shooting

Aired September 18, 2013 - 08:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: His frantic final days, and new questions this morning about why his history of problems didn't affect security clearance.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Flash point. Dramatic new 911 calls from the night this unarmed man was shot 10 times and killed by a police officer. Was he being aggressive or just pleading for help?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: CNN exclusive: the CEO of Starbucks diving into the gun debate. He says you can enjoy their lattes but please do not do it while carrying a gun. The interview you'll only see here.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.


ANNOUNCER: What you need to know --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I pray for him each and every day. But I do want justice.

ANNOUNCER: What you just have to see.

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


BOLDUAN: Good morning. And welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. It's Wednesday, September 18th, 8:00 in the East.

Coming up this hour: the devastation in Colorado even days after the floods began. The images still staggering. People who can now return to their homes are finding in many cases there's not much left, and a neighboring state may now be in trouble as well.

CUOMO: And how about this one. Little weird. Parade of clowns?

How would you like to be walking down the street and run into this guy? Showing up in the middle of the night. People trying to figure out who he is. He's becoming somewhat of an Internet sensation. We'll try to uncover it for you.

Clowns, they bother people. PEREIRA: And how about good stuff? You know how little kids like to save their money? We're going to tell you about this little fellow who felt moved to raid his piggy bank.

Now, police feel compelled to track him down.


PEREIRA: Umm, we have that story coming up.

CUOMO: Involves surveillance video but still the good stuff. We'll tell you why.

But, first, this morning, we are learning more about red flags missed by authorities before the Navy Yard shooter opened fire. Turns out that Navy officers knew about his 2004 arrest in Seattle for shooting out the tires of a car in a so-called rage-filled blackout. But he was allowed to enlist anyway.

And they knew he was hearing voices in his head leading up to the shooting. But what did they do? One of the pressing questions here.

Let's go live to Pamela Brown at the Washington Navy Yard.

Pamela, what is the latest?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, if you look at a timeline of Aaron Alexis's movements leading up to the shooting on Monday, there are a number of red flags indicating that he suffered from mental health issues. In fact, we've learned that police even notified the Navy about a troubling incident involving Alexis back in August.

Yet despite this, his security clearance was not taken away and nothing prevented him from walking into Building 197 and opening fire.


BROWN (voice-over): This morning, we're learning now details about how Aaron Alexis brought a gun on to the Washington Navy Yard. A federal law enforcement official tells CNN that the gunman entered Building 197 with a small bag. It's believed to have carried a disassembled Remington 870 shotgun.

He's been 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 poring over Alex' 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 the 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 arrived 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 range says Alexis practiced shooting, and then paid $419 for a gun and two boxes of ammunition.

And on Monday, he accessed a Navy Yard with legitimate ID and proper security clearance.

SHAWN HENRY, FORMER FBI ASST. DIRECTOR: In a case like this where you've got so many red flags over a protracted period of time, it almost seems this is the type of thing that is 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.

HENRY: It's easy now to look back and piece it altogether 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 issued security clearance which is good for 10 years.

A defense contractor he is working for is now pointing the finger at the military for overlooking his misconduct as a civilian and during his service.

REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, CHIEF U.S. NAVY SPOKESMAN: Looking at the offences while he was in Navy, the offenses while he was in uniform -- none of those give you the indication that he was capable of this sort of brutal, vicious, violence.

BROWN: Investigators are 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.


BROWN: And Congress is now reacting to a troubling report released by the Defense Department's inspector general, highlighting a number of security lapses at military installations including at the Navy Yard. It says that 52 convicted felons received routine unauthorized access to military installations and 9 out of 10 installations allowed contractors temporary access before background checks were completed.

Important to emphasize, though, Alexis did have legitimate access because he had passed a security clearance. Meantime, the administration is launching three investigations looking into security at military installations worldwide in the wake of Monday's shooting -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Pamela, thank you so much.

This morning, we are also hearing for the first time dramatic recordings of first responders and victims from the scene of the Navy Yard shooting. And we're also learning more about the 12 people who lost their lives in that rampage.

CNN's Rene Marsh has that part of the story for us this morning. She's live at the Navy Yard.

Good morning, Rene.


You know, you're about to hear some very dramatic audio. It takes you into the moment that those first responders arrived on scene.

For those 12 people who died, they're more than victims. For some, they were the rocks of their families. They were mothers. They were fathers. They were caretakers. And some were military veterans.


DISPATCHER: Right now, police confirm five people shot, could be others.

MARSH (voice-over): Dramatic new audio from police dispatch as the massacre unfolded at the Navy Yard Monday.

DISPATCHER: We have an officer down, Building 197 on the third floor. Also, female shot on the roof of Building 1333, female on the roof.

MARSH: Victims found one by one as first responders rush to the scene.

DISPATCHER: All units in the main triage group need to move west. The ambulance is in line. Need to move west away out of the line of fire.

MARSH: Police flood the compound in fear there might be more than one gunman.

DISPATCHER: We're doing a sweep for security. We still have a second suspect possibly in, so the scene is not secure.

MARSH: Law enforcement later confirming there was no additional shooter.

Two days later, just miles from the site of Monday's shooting rampage, Washington pays tribute to the 12 lives cut short, 12 families forever changed by this senseless tragedy.

Kathy Gaarde remembered for her selfless devotion to her 94-year-old mother who died last year.

JESSICA GAARDE, DAUGHTER OF KATHY GAARDE: She was so caring and she would do anything for anyone she loved. MARSH: Richard Michael Ridgell served three years as a contract security worker in Iraq. He is survived by three daughters.

MEGAN RIDGELL, DAUGHTER OF RICHARD MICHAEL RIDGELL: I want him to be known as a dad, above a victim of a shooting because he was a great dad for all of us.

MARSH: Martin Bodrog, graduated from the Naval Academy and was a decorated officer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My knees just got weak, you know. Everything about Marty just a great guy, you know, wonderful husband, father.

MARSH: Michael Arnold, Frank Kohler, Vishnu Pandit, Sylvia Frasier, Gerald L. Read and Kenneth Bernard Proctor, all victims of this inexplicable tragedy.


MARSH: All right. Well, addition, three people were shot. But they survived. We can tell you this morning that as of last night, one of those victims was released from the hospital. Two others remain hospitalized. But the early indications are that they should be OK -- Chris.

CUOMO: Rene, thank you for respecting the dead and for the update on the injured. Appreciate it.

Now, obviously in the aftermath, the big question is how did the shooter get clearance to work in a secure military facility? One of the first lawmakers who was on this issue was a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Maine Republican Susan Collins. And she joins us now.

Senator, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: Good morning.

CUOMO: Senator, what do you think is the chance that you get a good explanation for why this man was given clearance?

COLLINS: Well, given what we've just heard about the pain that the victims' families are experiencing, we absolutely have to be asking tough questions.

It appears that there was insufficient vetting by the contractor, but that if it had been done would have revealed many of the red flags -- the arrests, the trouble with police, the trouble in the Navy -- that should have led to this individual being denied a security clearance altogether.

CUOMO: Do you believe that this is one of those situations where cost savings is misplaced? That this is something that should be done by the government, not a private contractor just because it's cheaper?

COLLINS: For many years, the Office of Personnel Management did conduct the background checks. It's contracted out primarily because OPM had a huge backlog that it was not working through.

But I think we need to ask some very serious questions about whether contractors are taking shortcuts that have led to people with criminal records, with serious mental illness, or who are authorized unsuited for security clearances, nevertheless being granted them -- and being granted them for a period as long as five to 10 years.

CUOMO: Right. We heard about that coming out in the audit, Senator. Yet then you hear another fact of the Rhode Island police reaching out to the Navy directly saying, "Hey, one of your guys is hearing voices in his head." And it seems as though nothing was done. That goes to the navy specifically.

What can you do about that?

COLLINS: That is truly inexplicable. For the Navy to have received a call that indicates that an individual with unfettered access to a Navy base clearly is suffering from a serious mental illness and not immediately revoke his security clearance until they can assure that he does not pose a threat to others and himself is simply inexcusable.

CUOMO: Senator, here's something that may be of concern -- it seems obvious. This clearance was given and it was a mistake. And that it should be addressed.

So, then, you look at the private contractors. The one here we believe is First Advantage. That was the contractor involved here. They're owned by a private equity firm. The head of that private equity firm is a big donor, specifically to Democrats.

Now, we know how it can work when somebody gives a lot of money to politicians that they get access.

Do you think you can change this system where you have money involved, there's patronage involved? Do you think it's as easy to fix as we're suggesting?

COLLINS: I'm confident that Congress is going to put the security of those individuals who work at military installations and our national security first. I don't think that private contractors are going to be able to stop necessary reforms. And, indeed, I think that most private companies want to ensure that the employees they are hiring are suitable and do not pose a threat to our national security or to other employees of the firm.

So, it's incumbent upon all of us to work together to get to the bottom of this crisis and ensure that it is fixed. And one step that can be taken immediately is ensuring that criminal data bases and the terrorist watch lists are always consulted. And that there's some sort of continuous monitoring that would pick up problems rather than waiting as long as five or ten years to review security clearances.

CUOMO: Well, one would hope that everybody would be on the same page after something like this. Especially when it took the media, you know, mere hours for all of this to come out. That hopefully anybody checking would catch it as well. So, how do we go from talk to action here? What to you think the first step is to getting answers and change?

COLLINS: The first step is a thorough congressional investigation. I'm hopeful that the Intelligence Committee will expand the work that we're already doing to learn how Edward Snowden was able to get such a high security clearance, and I've also talked to the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Office of Personnel Management and encouraged that committee to take a look at whether too much of this work is being contracted out.

CUOMO: All right. Senator, we'll try to help by not letting it get bogged down without questions being asked. We know it can happen when you get into committee and you get into investigations. Sometimes things can last forever. Obviously, this is an immediate situation.

Senator, thank you so much for joining us this morning. We appreciate it.

COLLINS: Thank you.

CUOMO: Kate, over to you.

BOLDUAN: All right. Chris, thank you.

Now, to the first signs of recovery in that historic Colorado flooding. Nearly a week after it all began, six people are now confirmed dead, two presumed dead, and hundreds remain missing. Thousands more are returning home this morning to find that very little remains.

CNN's George Howell is in Longmont, Colorado with the latest. Good morning, George.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, good morning. So, look, just as sure as this river is starting to recede, the number of unaccounted for is going down substantially. Now, at 306 people unaccounted for, and officials hope as the search and rescue continues, more people will be found.


HOWELL (voice-over): Rescue efforts continue in Colorado as crews remain on the lookout for survivors still stranded in remote areas, cut off after days of deadly flooding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got a white cross on the ground.

HOWELL: A white cross signals for help as these people are air lifted to safety near Ft. Carson. Just one of hundreds of dramatic rescues throughout the state.

SHERIFF JUSTIN SMITH, LARIMER COUNTRY, CO: I expected to see a lot more frustration and feel it with folks. Overall, it was just amazing. It spoke to the spirit of the folks that live here. HOWELL: FEMA task force teams go door to door in search of residents refusing to leave their homes, warning them of the continued risk of rising floodwaters. Some 12,000 people so far have been evacuated to shelters, but for those returning to their homes for the first time, many find no house to call home.

In Larimer County alone, officials estimate 1,500 homes have been destroyed, with another 4,500 damaged. Cleanup becoming an increasingly daunting task.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was overwhelming, really. I didn't realize that floods brought in a ton of mud. It just -- just ruined everything.

HOWELL: In Boulder, homeowner Michael Birdsong and his neighbors built a homemade levee to protect his house, but it was no match for Mother Nature.

MICHAEL BIRDSON, RESIDENT, BOULDER, CO: our levee has been filled five feet of water in the first 20 minutes. That was a wall of water that, you know, this mud, this would have kept out. But, we didn't know.

HOWELL: Face with the reality of having to rebuild their wrecked homes, residents are finally coming to grips with the price of the devastating damage.

If you would have put a dollar estimate on this, what would you think?

HOWELL: We're already planning for probably about $50,000, $60,000 to get it all redone.


HOWELL (on-camera): So Chris, Kate, just as we were setting up, the wind started picking up. We got a very light shower out here. And look, after what you've seen people go through here over the last six days, it'll make you think twice. But the good news out here is that it's expected to be sunny the next several days. That will be very important, very helpful, guys, as people start to recover out here.

BOLDUAN: Yes. You got to start somewhere. A little bit more sunshine would be good. George, thanks so much.

CUOMO: We're following a lot of news for you at this hour. So, let's get right to Michaela for the latest -- Mick.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Good morning to you both. Good morning to you at home. Making news today, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on last year's deadly attack on U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya. Top state department official, Patrick Kennedy, will testify today' hearing.

Committee members want to know if the state department has held enough employees accountable for the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Not a holiday. More of an incarceration. That's how a tourist describes being stranded in Acapulco. Landslides set off by tropical storm Emmanuel closed down roads to Mexico City, affecting at least 40,000 people. The Mexican government promising to reopen those roads within two days. Folks who can't wait that long are lining up outside a military base for a chance to get home.

Does the name Jennifer Mee (ph) ring a bell? She made headlines a few years ago for a case of hiccups that would not stop. Well, now she's facing serious trouble, murder charges. Prosecutors say Mee met a man online, lured him into a robbery where he was shot and killed. Opening statements are expected to begin today in Florida. A co- defendant was already convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

It is the latest fallout from the Edward Snowden affair. Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff, canceling a state visit to Washington next month. She's said to be angry about reports the National Security Agency spied on her and other Brazilian officials. The statement, the White House described the decision to postpone the visit as mutual saying both leaders agreed it would be better when relations were less tense.

We'd like to introduce you to the new king of Chicago. Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo showing off its newest resident, a baby rhino. This eastern black rhinoceros calf named King was caught on camera. The 200-pound baby rhino was born August 21 (INAUDIBLE) my birthday. Up until now, he's been spending quality time behind the scenes with mom, an eight-year-old rhino named Kapuki.

BOLDUAN: Now, that is just plain cute.

PEREIRA: They look a bit like puppies when they're running.

CUOMO: He looks like a Kapuki and he's cute --


BOLDUAN: Mom's Kapuki.


CUOMO: I see hers like a kapiti (ph).


CUOMO: But it's not. They're cute, even though some day they would without even a second thought just trample you like a jellybean.

BOLDUAN: And then he brings us back down.


CUOMO: Just saying. It's a rhino.


CUOMO: Not a puppy.

PEREIRA: No, it isn't.

CUOMO: It will kill you, not think twice about it.

PEREIRA: The little one looks a bit like a puppy when it runs. Don't you think? A little bit.

CUOMO: Sure. Don't pet it. Bad day for you. All right. let's get over to Indra Petersons with what people can expect in the weather today -- Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Big changes. We all know I've never lived through season, so everything is going downhill from here. It is our last week. I know. Hard to believe, right? Cold arctic air. Yes, it's starting. Already moving in the area. This morning, we have frost and freeze warnings, and currently, still a little chilly out there.

I mean, New York only in the 50s, Philly also low 50s, Bradford (ph) just in the 30s to wake up this morning. Good news, we are going to warm up for the last week of summer. Yes. New York going about 75. D.C., we will start to see some 80s, but just a hint above average for the next several days, but behind that, everyone's really going to be watching this front in the Pacific Northwest.

Today, it is expected to go through Colorado. Only about a 10 percent chance for showers. So, not a biggy there, but behind that, we'll see it make its way throughout the Midwest and then eventually all the way to the northeast by the weekend. And with that, that means rain comes along with it. So, rain, and then, I don't know. This weird thing called snow. I better get ready. Yes.

BOLDUAN: Aren't you the meteorologist, Indra?



CUOMO: You're going to love it.

BOLDUAN: -- I just talk about it.

CUOMO: You're going to love it. Autumn on the east coast is a beautiful thing. The leaves are going to change in the northeast.

PETERSONS: It's what's behind that --

BOLDUAN: Winter is beautiful, too.

PETERSONS: If I can ski in it, then I'm done.

BOLDUAN: That'll be an interesting sight.


BOLDUAN: Deal with them, both sides of us. All right

CUOMO: It's going to be good.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Indra.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, a story sparking outrage. Now, we have the dramatic 911 call in the deadly police shooting of an unarmed former college football player. How it sheds light on his final moments?

CUOMO: All right. And a provocative request from the head of Starbucks, asking customers to leave their guns at home. It's not a policy. It's not a restriction. It's a request. What does this mean as the head of Starbucks steps into the gun control debate? Is it good? Is it bad? Is it right? Is it wrong? We're going to bring you Poppy Harlow's exclusive interview with the Starbucks CEO, a man known as Howard Schultz, and then we'll discuss.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back. New details on the tragic death of a former college football player. Now, we've heard the frantic 911 call that led to a police officer killing an unarmed man. A Charlotte woman reporting what she thought was an attempted break-in by the man. CNNs Alina Machado is in Charlotte with the very latest on this -- Alina.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, in that 17-minute 911 call, you don't hear the shooting, but you do get a better sense of what police officers thought they were responding to.


MACHADO: Charlotte police believed Jonathan Ferrell came to this house looking for help after surviving a car crash just down the street. It was Saturday, about 2:30 in the morning. The woman inside panicked and called 911.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are you at?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a guy breaking in my front door.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a guy breaking in your front door?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. He's trying to kick it down.

MACHADO: The homeowner pleads for help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's in the front yard yelling. Please.

MACHADO: Police say Ferrell was unarmed when he approached the three officers who responded. One of them used a taser to try to subdue Ferrell without success. Police say Officer Randall Kerrick fired 12 shots, 10 hit Ferrell, killing him. Dash cam video has not yet been released, but an attorney representing the Ferrell Family says they have met with police and seen the video from that night. CHRIS CHESTNUT, FERRELL FAMILY ATTORNEY: You can see, you can tell he's unarmed. He begins to approach the officers. And two dots later beamed in the center of his chest, and I think -- then he gets excited. Wait, wait, wait, stop. And then, he's coming forward saying stop. And, he goes off the camera and you just hear shots. One, two, three, four. Pause. One, two, three, four, five, six. Pause. One, two.

MACHADO: Police say Officer Kerrick told investigators right after the shooting, quote, "The suspect assaulted him by unknown means." And he had, quote, "apparent minor injuries but refused treatment." Still, police say the shooting was excessive and charged Kerrick with felony voluntary manslaughter.

MICHAEL GREENE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: We're confident at the resolution of this case it will be found that officer Kerrick's actions were justified on the night in question.

MACHADO: Ferrell's mother says she forgives the officer who killed her son.

GEORGIA FERRELL, MOTHER: I pray for him each and every day. But I do want justice.


MACHADO: Officer Kerrick is free on a $50,000 bond. It is unclear at this point if police will be releasing that dash cam video. The family attorney says that video answers many questions, even though police say it does not show the actual shooting -- Kate, Chris.

BOLDUAN: All right. Alina, thank you so much for the update.

CUOMO: All right. We're going to take a break here on NEW DAY. When we come back, we have a CNN exclusive. We'll hear what Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, has to say about his company's controversial new request. Why he's asking Starbucks customers to leave their guns at home?

BOLDUAN: Plus, take a look at this guy. A man who looks a lot like the clown from Steven King's "It," not a compliment, is popping up all over a small town. Who is he and what is he doing? That's what many people are asking. We'll have a live report on it, next.