Return to Transcripts main page


Nevada Middle School Shooting; President Obama Calls Obamacare a Good Product; Near-Collision in Scotland ; More Bombshells to Come

Aired October 22, 2013 - 04:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A teacher was trying to put it -- make him put it down but he took the shot right then and there.

REGGIE LANSBERRY, BROTHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM: He's probably tried to knock the kid down. I mean, he had to protect whoever he could, so that sounds like Mike.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: A math teacher murdered, two students shot when a 13-year-old pulled out a gun inside his school.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is no sugar coating it. The Web site has been too slow. People have been getting stuck during the application process. And I think it's fair to say that nobody is more frustrated by that than I am.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: President Obama owning up to problems, plaguing the Obamacare rollout, the health exchanges, but can the White House figure out a fix for this Web site?

PEREIRA: And a scare in the air. Two jumbo jets coming awfully close to colliding in the sky. Why these planes got within 100 feet of one another.

BERMAN: Much too close.

PEREIRA: Way too close.

BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

PEREIRA: I'm Michaela Pereira in for Zoraida Sambolin. It's Tuesday, October 22nd, and it is 4:00 a.m. in the East.

BERMAN: Welcome to the wondrous world of 4:00 a.m.

PEREIRA: Good morning, 4:00 a.m. It's been a long time since I've seen you. BERMAN: Strange and magical in so many ways.


Up first, we are learning more this morning about the few minutes of terror inside a Nevada middle school as a student fatally shot a beloved teacher and wounded two classmates before taking his own life. Now that teacher, a former Marine, is being hailed as hero and there are questions about what drove the student to do this.

Was there a history of bullying?

Classes at the Sparks Middle School has been canceled for the rest of the weekend. This community grieves.

Let's get more now from CNN's Stephanie Elam.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Trying to make sense of a senseless killing. The small desert community of Sparks, Nevada, came together in prayer last night. This after chaos and tragedy at a local middle school.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: Active shooter, Sparks Middle School. Teacher down on the playground. They have one victim in the cafeteria. One in the hall.

ELAM: Students were waiting for the morning bell to ring and then shots fired.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People started running and screaming so I started running and then we heard another gunshot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A kid started getting mad and he pulled out a gun and shoots my friend.

ELAM: The shooter, a 13-year-old student, allegedly using his parents' gun, wounded two fellow students, one in the shoulder, the other in the abdomen. A teacher rushed to their aid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He walked up to a teacher and says, back up. The teacher started backing up. He pulled the trigger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The teacher was trying to put -- make him put it down but he took the shot right then and there.

ELAM: A shot that killed 45-year-old Michael Landsberry, a popular eighth grade teacher. He was a former Marine who served several tours in Afghanistan. He's now being called a hero.

GENO MARTINI, SPARKS, NEVADA MAYOR: He was a very well-liked teacher by the students and other teachers. It's very unfortunate that someone like that that protected our country over there and came back alive, had -- his life had to be taken. LANSBERRY: He loved teaching at Sparks Middle School. He loved -- he loved the kids. He loved coaching them. He loved teaching them. He was just a good all-around individual.

ELAM: Students are pouring out their grief on social media.

"I had the chills when I heard that Mr. Lansberry died. Having him for the math was the best. It's too hard to even believe. No teacher will take his place. Nothing is going to be the same any more. You are a hero and you will always be missed at Sparks Middle School."

As for the student suspect, police say he took his own life with that gun.

AMAYA NEWTON, STUDENT, WITNESSED SHOOTING: I knew the person with the gun. He was really a nice kid. He was making would make you smile when you're having a bad day. I saw him getting bullied a couple of times and I think he took out his bullying on him.

ELAM: But it's still unclear what drove this child to resort to violence and whether or not he was targeting the students or the beloved math teacher who survived war, only to die what should have been the safe haven of an American middle school.

Stephanie Elam, Sparks, Nevada.


PEREIRA: To the president now and his apology of sorts for the problems consumers have been having signing up for health insurance coverage under Obamacare. The insurance exchange Web site has been plagued with issues. President Obama has now admitted things have not gone as well as he originally hoped.

Here is senior White House correspondent Brianna Keilar.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An embarrassing moment for President Obama forced to defend his signature health care reform program.

OBAMA: Of course, you've probably heard that, the new Web site where people can apply for health insurance and browse and buy affordable plans in most states, hasn't worked as smoothly as it was supposed to work. The product is good. The health insurance that is being provided is good. It's high quality. And it's affordable.

KEILAR: He instructed Americans to call in.

OBAMA: I want to repeat that. 1-800-318-2596.

KEILAR: But it's a slow process as CNN senior medical producer Danielle Dellorto found out.

DANIELLE DELLORTO, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL PRODUCER: So basically today you will just apply for me. I would wait a week or two and then I call you back once I have my eligibility and then we would go over the plans?

KEILAR: Not exactly what the president had in mind five days before the Obamacare Web site launched when he said you could buy insurance.

OBAMA: The same way you shop for a TV on Amazon.

KEILAR: In states that launched their own Web sites, users have had better luck.

JANICE BAKER, GETTING INSURANCE: And I am now honored to introduce the president of the United States.

KEILAR: Janice Baker, the first person to sign up in Delaware was facing the possibility of going without insurance due to relatively minor preexisting conditions.

BAKER: Osteoporosis, cholesterol, things like that.

KEILAR (on camera): And you were denied how many times?

BAKER: Three.

KEILAR (voice-over): But on the federal site, 21 days since it launched many Americans are still unable to enroll in Obamacare. Come mid-February, they could face a penalty if they don't have insurance unless that deadline is delayed.

(On camera): There is flexibility there in the law if folks --

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I would simply refer you to A.J. for more details but we're working on it. They are working on aligning those policies, the enrollment period and the individual responsibility timeframe period. And they'll issue guidance soon.

KEILAR: Jay Carney leaving the door open there. And we've gotten word what HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is now expected to testify before the Republican-led Energy and Commerce Committee. That is expected to happen next week.

Brianna Keilar, CNN, the White House.


BERMAN: That one Jay Carney left could be very, very interesting there if they change some of the dates on the policy here.


BERMAN: Supreme Court said it will review state guidelines and set minimum I.Q. thresholds for executions. In 2002, the court found it unconstitutional to execute those with intellectual disabilities. The review stems from a case in Florida. One of several states that had set a hard I.Q. limited death penalty cases. The court is expected to decide whether Florida's law is constitutional and a decision is expected in July.

PEREIRA: Back in court today, Abu Anas al-Libi. He is the man accused of -- he's an accused terrorist, rather, with al Qaeda, picked up in that daring raid in Libya. He has pleaded not guilty to playing a major role in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

In the meantime the top war crimes prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay says he agrees with the government that a federal court trial rather than military tribunal hearing is the right way to go in this case.

BERMAN: A not guilty plea from a California man accused of trying to join al Qaeda. Prosecutors say 24-year-old Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen confessed that he planned to become a trainer for terrorist forces looking to fight in Syria. He apparently had already been there fighting as a rebel against the Assad regime. The judge in the case expressed some skepticism saying it did not appear the suspect had any special skills that would actually help the terror network.

PEREIRA: The U.S. has sent 10 armored vehicles to help support efforts to verify and destroy Syria's chemical weapons. The State Department's Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund paid just over $1.5 million for those vehicles. So far the U.S. has provided nearly $6 million in financial assistance to help eliminate Syria's stockpile of chemical arms.

BERMAN: Six people are dead, another 30 injured after a female suicide bomber blew herself up on a city bus in southern Russia. The attack in (INAUDIBLE) is likely to raise security fears ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics to be held in Sochi.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for this attack but it is the first outside the north caucuses region since the Chechen rebel leader called for renewed attacks on civilians and urged militants to target the Sochi games.

PEREIRA: Shall we get a look at the weather?

BERMAN: I would like to look at the weather.

PEREIRA: Early. Early. You're curious what the weather is like at 4:00 a.m.

BERMAN: Dying to know.

PEREIRA: Let's look ahead. Chad Myers --

BERMAN: Besides dark.

PEREIRA: Chad Myers is going to let us know when things are looking like -- Chad.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. A good cool morning for a lot of people. Thirty-three degrees around Detroit right now. I guess good evening for you, Hawaii. Nowhere near 33, except maybe on top of Mount Haleakala. Otherwise we will get some airport delays today. Some showers and low cloud Chicago, Miami, also D.C. metro and San Francisco and Seattle with some low cloud cover.

We will have cool weather across the upper Midwest today. I'm talking 40s for highs. Morning lows way below freezing. If you still have tomatoes, you're lucky because otherwise everybody else's is already dead.

Forty-four in the high Minneapolis, 66 Memphis, 72 Atlanta, and still warm, relatively warm up the East Coast for another day, maybe day and a half, before it finally does cool down again.

Here's a look at the clouds and the delays again. Chicago, Miami, D.C. metros and San Francisco, and Seattle, other than that we're in pretty good shape today.

Guys, back to you.

BERMAN: We are in great shape today.

PEREIRA: How was that?

BERMAN: Nine minutes after the hour.

PEREIRA: That's right. Coming up.


STEVEN WALLACE, FORMER FAA CHIEF OF ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION: This is very hard to explain because it appears that two airplanes with two pilots in the plane, everybody got it wrong initially.


PEREIRA: Two planes come dangerously close to colliding and how it happened may shock you.


LAURA TRICKLE, MOTHER: It's not right. It's not fair for us. We're just trying to do what is best for our children.


BERMAN: And a mother held in contempt for breastfeeding her child during jury duty. Really?


PEREIRA: Welcome back to EARLY START.

A frightening story for you now from the skies over Europe. Two jumbo jets very close to colliding all because of a misunderstanding.

Here is Chris Lawrence.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two jumbo jets came close to a catastrophic collision over Scotland. With up to a thousand passengers on board. Somehow the pilots got so confused they nearly steered their planes right into each other.

WALLACE: This is very hard to explain because it appears that two airplanes with two pilots in each airplane, everybody -- everybody got it wrong initially.

LAWRENCE: Both 747s were about to cross the Atlantic. One climbed to a cruising altitude which put them on a path to converge. An air traffic controller immediately told the plane on the left turn left. The plane on the right, turn right. But the pilots misinterpreted the orders, it did the opposite. They turned toward each other.

The 747s got within three miles when the emergency order is given for one to go up and the other down.

(On camera): So were the pilots told one thing and all four of them heard the complete opposite? Is that possible?

WALLACE: The conclusion of the bridge investigators was that each pilot did what the other pilot was instructed to do.

LAWRENCE (voice-over): Even though miles away at one point, one plane was just 100 feet above the another.

WALLACE: The report said that in this airspace and they're supposed 1,000 feet vertical and five nautical miles horizontal so they were clearly not separated by that much.

LAWRENCE (on camera): British investigators found that the instructions the pilots received were clear. And the pilots confirmed they heard them. And their call signs were so different it would be hard to get them mixed up.

Now as scary as this was, one thing that American flyers can take comfort in, no U.S. airlines have had a mid-air collision since 1978.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, the Pentagon.


BERMAN: That is so weird. You know what that reminds me of? I mean, I'm not making light of this but I had a soccer coach, he's saying, you know, kick it with your left foot. And then when you kick it with your right, he goes, no, your other left.

PEREIRA: Other left. Yes. Well, that's a very good point.


BERMAN: Go to the direction. They just (INAUDIBLE).

PEREIRA: It's upsetting when you think about how many planes are in the sky at any given time.

BERMAN: And there were thousands of people lives at stake there. I'm glad they're all OK.


BERMAN: Moving on now. Two of the three women held captive for a decade in Cleveland are writing a book about their ordeal. Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus are collaborating with Pulitzer Prize winning writer Mary Jordan of "The Washington Post." Jordan grew up in Cleveland. No meetings with publishers have been scheduled yet.

Berry, DeJesus and Michele Knight were kidnapped by Ariel Castro who hanged himself in his prison cell in September.

PEREIRA: A settlement between Casey Anthony and a group that went out searching for her missing daughter. A lawyer for Texas EquuSearch says the group decided not to take the case to trial despite spending about $100,000 on the search for 2-year-old Caylee Anthony. Her body was found six months after her disappearance in the woods near her mother's home. Casey Anthony was later acquitted of her murder.

BERMAN: Silo Green now facing drug charges but will avoid sexual assault claims in Los Angeles. It all stems back to a dinner with a woman in July 2012. She claimed that the musician and TV singing coach drugged her with ecstasy before they went back to her hotel. Green has pleaded not guilty to the drug charge.

PEREIRA: In Missouri a new mother is facing a fine for something she said she had no choice about doing. Laura Trickle brought her 7-month old Axel to jury duty. She tried to get out of her jury duty but the state doesn't offer an exemption for new mothers. So the judge hit her with a contempt of court charge. Now she faces a $500 fine.


LAURA TRICKLE, FINED FOR CONTEMPT OF COURT: Since I'm a stay-at-home mom, we don't have child care. It's not right. It's not fair for us. We are just trying to do what is best for our children and we shouldn't be penalized and fined for it.


PEREIRA: The judge did offer her a chance to pump during breaks but she says her baby won't drink from a bottle. He also offered to let someone else watch the baby there at the courthouse but she said that was impractical. Trickle will be back in court on Thursday to make her case to the judge why she shouldn't be fined. She says it's really scary since she's never been in trouble with the law before. Not even a speeding ticket.

Look at that face.

BERMAN: Was the kid like an accessory to a crime?


BERMAN: The baby an accessory to contempt of court?

PEREIRA: A couple of felons on the run, those two.

BERMAN: Seems like there should be a way out of this. Some way --

PEREIRA: I hope there is some reasonable -- yes.

BERMAN: All right. Coming for us next, Edward Snowden causing another black eye for the White House and the NSA. This one has President Obama trying to mend fences with a key ally. That's coming up next.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to EARLY START.

The nation of France demanding answers after the revelation that the U.S. was eavesdropping on millions of phone calls made within that nation. Today Secretary of State John Kerry met with the French foreign minister in Paris.

And as chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto reports the Obama administration is in damage control mode, trying to repair the relationship with an important European partner.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): France is a close ally, critical in recent years, in dealing with Syria, Libya, and Iran, but, according to documents revealed by Edward Snowden in France's "Le Monde" newspaper they were also right in the crosshairs of a massive NSA surveillance.

In just 30 days from December 10th, 2012 to January 8th, 2013, the NSA allegedly interception over 70 million phone calls in France. An average of nearly three million intercepts every day. Targeting, "Le Monde" reports, both individuals who suspected links to terrorism and prominent leaders in business and politics. France's outrage was blistering.

LAURENT FABIUS, FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER (Through Translator): These kind of practices between partners that violate privacy are totally unacceptable.

SCIUTTO: Even if Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Paris on an official visit.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: We in the United States are currently reviewing the way that we gather intelligence. And I think that's appropriate and our goal is always to try to find the right balance between protecting the security and the privacy of our citizens.

SCIUTTO: Any new balance will have to be struck with a long list of allies now revealed by Snowden to have been targets of NSA eavesdropping, including Germany, Britain, Brazil, Mexico and the European Union.

(On camera): Is this truly damaging to the relationship not only with France, but to Brazil, to Mexico and other countries who protest it? P.J. CROWLEY, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Potentially, yes. You've got this political sphere, this public sphere, this aspect of trust and, you know, there's impact, you know, when all of a sudden you have these things exposed.

SCIUTTO: The France revelation comes just a day after the German magazine "Der Spiegel" reported, again, based on documents released by Edward Snowden, that the NSA systematically eavesdropped on Mexico including the public e-mail account of former Mexican president, Felipe Calderon, which elicited another strong protest from an ally.

However, the administration has shown no signs of significantly reining in the NSA surveillance either internationally or at home.

Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.


BERMAN: And as if this wasn't enough, promises of more bombshells coming from leaked NSA documents. Glenn Greenwald, the reporter who broke this story, says he has many more stories to tell, including one about the U.S. spying on its own citizens.

And Greenwald is vowing to report on every document of what he calls public interest given to him by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

PEREIRA: Imagine how sweet this would be. To see someone for the first time in 10 months. This mom near Pittsburgh is about to find out. Her son, Sergeant Calvin Munoz, has been deployed in Afghanistan since -- since December so he went to her place of work, which happens to be a Sam's Club, and gave her the ultimate surprise.


JEANETTE CARRERO, MOTHER: Oh my god. I can't explain it, how happy -- my heart. It's just like jumping inside me right now.


I mean, I can't explain it. I can't -- oh my gosh.


PEREIRA: What a beautiful moment. Sgt. Munoz apparently had to plan that surprise for two weeks. Took that long to plan it. And as you can tell mom was very grateful. And it took a gigantic bouquet flowers to hide behind.

BERMAN: It would be impressive. The flowers were impressive.


PEREIRA: It was impressive. And look at how moving for everybody there at the Wal-Mart. You know that that kind of moment will last forever in all of their minds.

BERMAN: These moments are so incredibly emotional.

PEREIRA: It really are.

BERMAN: And wonderful to see. You know, and it -- it just gets to the sacrifice that you get from so many soldiers. So many soldiers' family.

PEREIRA: Well, that's thing we talk about the soldiers oftentimes. But it's the families too, that it's a struggle for mom because they know this is their grown son who's made the decision, an ultimate decision to serve his mission. But it's hard to see your baby -- because they're always her baby. Your baby go off and face that kind of danger.

BERMAN: Must be a lovely thing to see them.

PEREIRA: It really is.

BERMAN: All right. Coming for us next. A 13-year-old boy pulls out a gun inside his school. Minutes later two people are dead. Two others wounded. Want to find out what may this attack. We'll get to that right after the break.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is especially difficult because, you know, we got there and the kids were running out. They were scared. They were freaked out.


BERMAN: Terrifying moments. Armed with his parents' gun. A 13-year- old boy goes on a shooting spree inside his middle school.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Politics, connections or any other reason you can think of will not play a role in our review of this case.


PEREIRA: A prosecutor promising justice in a town where a high school football stars accused of raping a teenage girl and getting away with it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you first of surveying much but doing this for us.


BERMAN: A police officer going above and beyond the call of duty when she catches a mother shop-lifting groceries. This does not end like you think it will. And it's wonderful.

PEREIRA: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Michaela Pereira.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Twenty-nine minutes the hour right now.

PEREIRA: A Nevada community trying to make sense of the violence that rang out yesterday, gathering to pray hours after 13-year-old student opened fire at a middle school, killing a teacher and wounding two fellow students before turning that semiautomatic handgun on himself.

The shooting happening just before the morning bell on Monday. Witnesses say the teen pulled his weapon and started to fire. That's when a teacher, 45-year-old Michael Landsbury tried to intervene and convince the boy to put that gun down but the former Marine who had served several tours in Afghanistan was shot and killed. He is being called a hero this morning.

The motive behind the shooting is still unclear. Some are saying the boy may have been bullied.


TABATHA NEWTON, MOTHER OF CLASSMATE: He always had a smile. He was always, you know, just a very nice boy to everybody and so it's just -- you know, I just find it difficult to get that, you know, he got bullied, but he didn't have anybody to talk to that he didn't have anybody to go to in the school before he that he didn't anybody to go to in the school, before he decided to do this.


PEREIRA: The teen apparently took the handgun from his parents.

PEREIRA: The teen apparently took the handgun from his parents.