Return to Transcripts main page


Nairobi Mall Hostage Taking; Government Shutdown Looms

Aired September 21, 2013 - 09:00   ET


JESSICA YELLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Jessica Yellin.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. We have breaking news starting with this hour of NEW DAY SATURDAY.

The terrifying events unfolding at an exclusive shopping mall -- there have been gunshots and people have been taken hostage. This is happening at the West Gate Shopping Mall. It's in Kenya's capital of Nairobi.

Now a government source tells CNN that a gunmen ambushed the mall. They started shooting and had a gun battle with police. Now, the source says there are casualties and "several deaths." The Kenyan Red Cross says at least four people had also been injured.

Now, some people have been taken hostage as well. It is not clear how many and police are trying to negotiate their freedom. This mall is popular with foreigners in Kenya. It houses multiple stores and restaurants.

YELLIN: Police are urging the public to stay away from the area and off nearby roads. Right now, we have Lillian Lapozo (ph) who is on the phone outside the mall in Nairobi reporting for us.

Lillian, hi, can you tell us what you are seeing there?

LILLIAN LAPOZO (PH): At the moment, this area has been cordoned off. It is very, very heavy security here. A lot of policemen with their guns drawn. About half an hour ago, a special unit of the police here who went in and there was a lot of gunshots that we could hear from inside the mall. Right now, it is very quiet. We don't know what's going on.

BLACKWELL: All right. That is Lillian Lapozo (ph) there for us at the scene. We just learned - Lillian, thank you for that. We just learned that our producers have been able to confirm the attackers of Somali origin. Again, we don't know much more than that. But the attackers are of Somali origin. Several deaths confirmed. People have been taken hostage and there are several people that the Kenyan Red Cross have confirmed are injured. Of course, we're going to stay with this. This is happening now in Kenya's capital, the capital of Nairobi at the West Gate Mall.

And now to the disaster that is unfolding and has unfolded for some time now, a few days or a week in a Colorado town. Lyons is the name of the town. It's home to about 2,000 people. And this morning, they have no fresh drinking water.

YELLIN: The town's water is not safe after flooding decimated the area. The water supply is full of E. coli.

BLACKWELL: Well, let's get some more now from CNN's Dan Simon. He is nearby Boulder following this for us. Tell us what's happened in Lyons that got them to this point and about the people there.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Victor and Jessica. This is a situation where you had these flood waters take out infrastructure, taking out bridges, taking out roads. In Lyons, it took out septic tanks, it took out septic lines. That caused a breach of the town's water supply. Tests have confirmed that there is in fact E. coli in the water.

So officials are telling people if you are going to stay. They don't want people to stay but they're telling them - "If you're going to stay, you're going to need to provide your own drinking water."

Now how long are the taps going to be off? Apparently for months. It's going to be a great expense to the town of Lyons to fix the water supply. We are looking at maybe $1 million or more. Right now, those folks have absolutely no tap water. Very, very difficult situation for them.

YELLIN: And Dan, this sounds pretty bad, but some folks don't have insurance to fix their homes that have been damaged. Is that correct?

SIMON: It's a tough situation. You know, especially for people who live outside of these flood-prone areas. Say you live in an area that is not expected to flood for another 500 years. Why would you get insurance? We talked to one such family who found themselves in that situation.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So this was a finished basement.

SIMON (voice-over): Jessica Beacom and her husband built and moved into this house only 18 months ago.

(on camera): What did it look like down here? When you had the water in it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Armageddon, total devastation.

SIMON (voice-over): These pictures show part of the aftermath. They estimate the damage to be about $100,000. But Beacom and her husband opted against flood insurance.

(on camera): When you moved to this area, did you ever think if you had heavy rains that the home could flood?


SIMON (voice-over): That's because they live in what's called a 500- year flood plane. That means the chance of this area flooding was less than one percent each year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we asked about it just to make sure we covered our bases when we moved in. They almost laughed. Ton of money. You don't need that.

DEAN BEACOM, FLOOD VICTIM: We would have had it if we knew this would happen or if we even had an inkling that it might happen. Really, I don't even think we have that.

SIMON: The Beacom's likely represent a significant portion of flood victims. Authorities say it is still too early to know how many affected homes didn't have flood insurance, but the devastation was so widespread, that it went beyond places prone to flooding

GARRY SANFACON, RECOVERY MANAGER, BOULDER COUNTY: Something that's kind of beyond our imagination, something I couldn't even fathom.

SIMON (on camera): It's understandable that people did not sign up for flood insurance, in most cases.

(voice-over): But the Beacoms right now aren't thinking about their lack of insurance. They are still trying to keep more water from getting into their house. And hoping to find any precious belongings.

JESSICA BEACOM, FLOOD VICTIM: I found it. I found it.

SIMON: A priceless moment, but one that won't be able to pay for all of the repairs their home is going to need.


SIMON: So they and some other folks we talked to have homeowners insurance, but not flood insurance. And of course, the regular insurance doesn't cover floods. Now they can apply and these folks have applied for FEMA loans. But, you know, it's not going to begin to repair all the damage that they're going to need. There is a cap on that of $32,000. They said they have $100,000 worth of damage. So you know, obviously, these people are going to have to dig in their own pockets or reach out to friends or community groups or whatever to try to get their home fixed. Victor.

BLACKWELL: A long road back and a lot of money. Dan Simon in Colorado for us. Thank you.

YELLIN: New this morning, Syria has handed over a list of what it claims is the chemical weapons stockpile. That is according to a U.N.-backed chemical arms watchdog group. CNN's senior international correspondent Ivan Watson is following this from New York.

Good morning, Ivan. Can the United Nations trust this list from Syria is even accurate?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the experts are looking at it right now. It does appear for the moment that initially the Syrian government has abided with the deadline that was issued for today, Jessica, to hand over a list.

According to the agreement that Russia and the U.S. hammered out, this is supposed to be pretty comprehensive. Quote, "a comprehensive list including names, types and quantities of chemical weapons as well as the location, and the storage and production and research and development facilities. Basically Syria is expected to hand all of the information about its chemical weapons arsenal. So this agency that is charged with disposing of these chemical weapons, if everything goes forward as planned, its technical experts have gotten together and they're reviewing this list pretty much as we speak. Jessica.

YELLIN: That will be interesting to see what they find.

The U.N. general assembly is meeting next week, Ivan, a lot on their plate. How significant of a topic of discussion will Syria be?

WATSON: I'm sure it will be in the background of the discussions that are going on. Unfortunately, however, a bit of the time frame for the U.N.'s security council to meet and to adopt and approve a resolution on Syria. That seems to have slipped somewhat. Some of this has to do with the logistics going on here. The organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons, OPCW group which is reviewing Syria's list of information right now. It has postponed without reason, a meeting of the executive council. That means the U.N. security council is going to have to take more time before they can sit down and talk.

We have been hearing that there is disagreement certainly between the U.S., France and Britain. Three allies and Russia, over whether or not to include in the resolution a threat of the use of force. That is basically called Chapter Seven. Both sides not in agreement on whether that will go into this.

Now meanwhile, a U.S. official is telling CNN that U.S. intelligence is seeing signs that Syria is moving around some of its chemical weapons stockpiles. What is not clear, that U.S. official says, is whether or not it is trying to hide those chemical weapons or perhaps prepared them for these eventual United Nations weapons inspectors. So we'll be watching this closely.

YELLIN: Yes. Let's hope it is the latter. Not shocking that there's disagreements and delay at the U.N.. Ivan Watson, thank you so much for the report.

Democrats versus Republicans. The debt ceiling versus Obamacare.

BLACKWELL: The push is now coming to shove in Washington. We are nine days away from a possible government shutdown. The House has a plan, but it won't get far in the Senate and both sides are digging in their heels.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: And so, our message to the United States Senate is simple. The American people don't want the government shutdown and they don't want Obamacare.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some are actually willing to plunge America into default if they can't defund the Affordable Care Act. Think about that. They would actually plunge this country back into recession all to deny the basic security of health care to millions of Americans.


BLACKWELL: Now the government has to shutdown or if it does shutdown, it will hit a lot of people hard. No essential services like the passports and national parks. Margaret Conley is in New York for us. Margaret, good morning.

MARGARET CONLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor. From California to New York, if there is a government shutdown, millions of Americans could be affected. The national parks like the Statue of Liberty, you see behind me. That could be shutdown. We are seeing lines of tourists getting ready to go there this morning. That would be a problem.

The government, they say that they are reviewing all of the various budget scenarios right now. We spoke with the Department of the Interior. They say that each department is working, "through various budget scenario in order to be prepared." They're trying to figure out what would get shutdown. And the specific details of those plans, the government says are still under development and review.

Victor, we do know that some government services like for passports and visas, those could all be suspended.

BLACKWELL: OK. So the visa and the passport services, they could be suspended. What other services could be suspended?

CONLEY: Well, if you are a small business and you are relying on a government loan, that could be delayed. We are hearing that veteran benefits, those could also be suspended. Also the government workers that are not going to able to go to work. They're not going to be getting their paychecks.

BLACKWELL: All right. Margaret Conley, thank you very much for that from New York.

Still to come on "New Day," Apple has a couple of new gadgets that could separate you from your hard-earned money. Two new iPhones 5c and the 5s, they are going fast.

YELLIN: Plus, you might need some additional security for that smartphone and there is a case that could save your life.


YELLIN: Good luck getting your hands on Apple's newest high-end smartphone.

BLACKWELL: Yes, the lines were long at retailers across the world really including here in Miami. Supplies of the iPhone 5s very tight. Gold, gray, silver. If you order online right now, you won't get it until sometime next month.

Waiting in line was not peaceful in some places. In Pasadena, police had to break up a fight outside the Apple store. It is a phone, guys. It's a phone. Two men were led away in handcuffs. You see one here.

YELLIN: So much more than a phone. Iphone customers may need protection to keep their prized gadgets. One company has a feature that could arguably save your life.

BLACKWELL: Yes, Dan Simon shows us how some iPhones are being made into weapons.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is now being issue as standard equipment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Strap it on your wrist.

SIMON: Gadget weaponry. A staple of James Bond. But this is real. An iPhone with a big secret. A stun gun. It is called the yellow jacket. Snap on the case and you got a serious weapon capable of delivering 650,000 volts of electricity.

(on camera): You just lift this flap, expose these little electrodes, turn to unit on and press the button.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It protects your phones, extends your battery life and most importantly, it protects you.

SIMON: But that's not all.

This case shoots pepper spray. It's from a company called Spraytect. The inventor saying he came up with the idea for his college-bound daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She would never leave home without her phone. That is when I had this idea of combining the phone and pepper spray.

SIMON: What makes these things so unique is they are perfectly concealed. They look like any number of cell phone cases. And since people carry their phones all the time, the weapons are always with you and ready.

(voice-over): But self defense experts stress the need for training.

SCOTT JACKSON, SELF DEFENSE EXPERT: If you are formally trained, if you are taught the mind set to defend yourself correctly, if you go through repetitious training, it would probably be effective.

SIMON: Also it is important to note that stun guns are not legal everywhere. But as this promotional video claims many would-be victims now have a new high-tech tool to defend themselves.

Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACKWELL: All right. Dan, thank you very much.

YELLIN: I don't see how that works that well.

BLACKWELL: I'm sure some folks are going to buy it.


YELLIN: I'm a devotee.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Once a big name in smartphones is falling on hard times. The company will report a nearly $1 billion loss in the second quarter. 4,500 workers will lose their jobs. It's on the news the weaker than expected demand for Blackberry products.

YELLIN: We need people to go out and buy more.

BLACKWELL: Just one more.

YELLIN: I need to keep them in business.

Still ahead this morning on "New Day," it is little more than a pocketful of pennies, but this little guy knew it was better to give than receive. He managed to bring a smile to an entire police department.


YELLIN: A former drug addict, convict and absent father is reaching back to help other men who are facing some of the problems he has overcome. His mission to turn deadbeat dads into better more responsible and loving fathers. Here is this week's "CNN Hero."


JOE JONES: I sold drugs on and off throughout my life. The tattoos, when I first got them, was war paint. I did not think about my son. I did not think about my family. They did not exist.

I have not met one man who didn't want to be a good dad. They just don't know how to be good dads.

What male has helped shape who you are?

We had young men who didn't have fathers in their own lives and the cycle of father absence repeated. We want them to change that for their children.

I'm Joe Jones. I work to help fathers and families become responsible for themselves, their children and their communities.

I was nine years old when my dad left the house. I began using drugs when I was 13. I spent time in jail consistently and also had a son that I wasn't responsible for. There is no reason why you can't get out of the hole regardless of your circumstances.

I'm telling you there are not many spaces in our community where men can go that are safe -

On your mark, get your babies. Go.

And constructive and healthy.

We recruit on the street because you have to penetrate the community.

Responsible fatherhood. That is why we built this center.

You can make mistakes, but you can cover those mistakes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe has allowed me to find and restore my dignity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We currently have six classes (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're almost done.

JONES: That is one of the greatest things you can offer anyone.


When you see someone and they got that pride and that light in their eye, it is relit. Their potential is unlimited. They are showing their little boys and little girls what it means to be a man, what it means to be a dad.


BLACKWELL: That was pretty good. But we got more good stuff for you this morning.

Normally we show you surveillance video that captured something bad, but watch this.

YELLIN: Check out this video coming up. You're going to see a little boy dropping by his police station in Greenfield, Wisconsin. So he was there to donate his own life savings, which came in pennies, nickels and dimes to his police. He quickly left. You see him leaving. He did not leave a name. But the cops - they were so touched by his gesture, they tracked him down. So, why did he do it?


MAX SIEPERT, DONATED LIFE SAVINGS TO POLICE: In social studies class, we learned about 9/11 and all the great things the police and fire department did.


BLACKWELL: That's 11-year-old Max Siepert. He has a special place in his heart for policemen because his grandfather was an officer who was killed in the line of duty back in 1974.

YELLIN: For the record, the amount he donated? $10.03.

The officers at the Greenfield P.D. says that Max has lifted the morale of their whole department. Great story. We'll be right back.


BLACKWELL: We got an update to the breaking news. This horrific attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. We now know that there are 20 dead and 50 wounded at the West Gate mall.

YELLIN: That is according to the head of the Kenyan Red Cross. A senior government source tells CNN a gunman ambushed the mall, shooting indiscriminately and taking some people hostage.

BLACKWELL: Police are trying to negotiate their freedom. The gunmen are believed to be of Somali origin. We are just now getting some new video from inside the mall. As soon as we get to turn that around and we verify it, we will bring it to you.

YELLIN: And thanks for watching us today. That will do it for us. We will see you back here at the top of the hour.

BLACKWELL: And we'll continue to cover the breaking news but first, a government shutdown now possibly just nine days away. House Republicans solution? A spending bill passed yesterday to defund Obamacare.


BOEHNER: The American people don't want the government shutdown and they don't want Obamacare.


BLACKWELL: "YOUR MONEY" starts right now.