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Can "Maria" Really be Lisa Irwin?; Nevada Middle School Shooting; Interview with Dep. Chief Tom Miller; President Defends Obamacare Baldness Cure?; A Look At "Blackfish"

Aired October 22, 2013 - 08:00   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Classroom nightmare: a hero Marine and beloved teacher killed and two children injured when a 13-year-old classmate opens fire at their school.

Today, the search for a motive while we remember the man who paid the ultimate price, trying to save his students.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: There is no excuse, President Obama owning up to problems plaguing the health care Web site. If they don't get fixed soon, could the entire program be in jeopardy?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Your NEW DAY continues right now.


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

BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, October 22nd, 8:00 in the East.

Coming up, in about 30 minutes, a September jobs report will be released, coming out more than two weeks late, you'll probably notice, because that's due to the government shutdown. New CNN poll shows only 29 percent of Americans right now think the economy is in good shape.

So, could today's report turn that around or make it worse? We will see.

CUOMO: Plus, we have an interview with a father that is turning his heartbreak into a powerful message for other parents. Brad Lewis says bullying took his son from him. He even thinks an awareness video may have contributed to his son's alcohols (ph), so Brad posted a video to try to spare another parent his pain.

He says there are things we do not see and we should. You'll hear his message from him.

PEREIRA: Almost fainting and being caught by the president. It happened to that woman at yesterday's news conference at the White House. She joins us on NEW DAY to tell us what we're doing now.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. But, first, this hour. Two mysteries, world's apart, that maybe coming together. The family of the missing girl known as Baby Lisa is holding out hope this morning. Their attorney says the FBI is talking with investigators in Greece to see if Maria, who is found with a Roman couple, is actually Lisa.

George Howell is following developments from Kansas City, Missouri, this morning.

Good morning, George.


We're, in fact, here in front of the family's home. And the only light on you see there is the light under the missing poster, missing person's child, poster in their window.

But as you mentioned, FBI officials are talking to Greek officials about similarities between their missing daughter and the girl known as Maria.


HOWELL (voice-over): This morning, there are new questions and perhaps new possibilities, could this young girl found in Greece actually be from Kansas City?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like she's OK.

HOWELL: The parents of Lisa Irwin, the missing Kansas City toddler who vanished from her bed after an apparent home invasion in 2011 -- they reached out to the FBI, who contacted Greek authorities because they believe this striking blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl found in this gypsy camp could be Lisa.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is no such thing as a tip too small.

HOWELL: The second anniversary of Lisa's disappearance was two weeks ago and a new photo was released of what she might look like today. Strikingly similar to the girl found in Greece called Maria.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I dream about her all the time. This is what I see in my dreams.

HOWELL: Some things don't add up. Lisa would be 3 years old. And medical tests indicate Maria is 5 or 6, but all possibilities must be ruled out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their claim is that we never abduct this child.

HOWELL: The couple claiming to be Maria's parents were arrested on suspicion of abducting a minor. DNA results confirm they are not her biological mom and dad.

But Greek authorities are getting calls from around the world, offering leads on the possible identity of the mystery girl. So far, they're taking about ten of those leads seriously including some cases from the U.S., one of them baby Lisa.


HOWELL: So the mystery, the question about who Maria could actually be, it means a lot for nearly a dozen families that are hoping that this case will be the answer to their missing child case. But keep this in mind. When it comes to this particular case here in Kansas City, we understand through the group Smiles of a Child, that Maria would be 5 or 6 years old, according to dental records. Baby Lisa would be 3 years old next month, Chris.

CUOMO: George, thank you for following this. We'll keep an eye on this story. We have to find out whose child this is.

This morning, another chapter in this nation's sad history of school shootings. A community is in pain after a student comes to school with a gun. This time, two classmates are lucky to escape with their lives and a popular math teacher loses his, trying to talk the shooter down.

That teacher, a marine, who served several tours in Afghanistan, a man who deserves the title hero.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is in Sparks, Nevada, with more -- Stephanie.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, people here in the high desert community of Sparks, Nevada, say things like this just don't happen here. And they're trying to make sense out of something that just went so terribly wrong yesterday.


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 after chaos and tragedy at a local middle school.

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 GIRL: We started running and screaming. So, I started running and then we heard another gunshot.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: The kid is starting getting mad. And he pulls 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 BOY: He walked up to a teacher and says, "back up." The teacher started backing up. He pulled the trigger.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: The teacher was trying to 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 is now being called a hero.

GENO MARTINI, MAYOR OF SPARKS, NEVADA: 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, his life had to be taken.

REGGIE LANDSBERRY, BROTHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM: He loved teaching at Sparks Middle School. 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. Landsberry 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 would make you smile when you're having a bad day. I saw him getting bullied a couple times and I think he took out his bullying on it.

ELAM: But it's still unclear what drove that 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.


BOLDUAN: All right. Stephanie, thank you so much.

Let's bring in the Sparks Police Department Deputy Chief Tom Miller for the very latest on this.

This is so tough for the entire community, Deputy Chief. Thank you so much for taking the time this morning to talk to us.

DEP. CHIEF TOM MILLER, SPARKS POLICE DEPT.: It's my pleasure. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Of course. Do you have an update on the two young boys who were shot and are in the hospital? Do you have any update on how they're doing this morning?

MILLER: I do not have a current update. As of last evening both were in stable condition with non-life threatening news.

BOLDUAN: At least some good news in this, as hopefully they'll be OK. What more are you learning about the young shooter? We know that, according to police, he killed himself. What are you investigating as to why this little boy did this?

MILLER: Well, the investigation is in its early stages yet. There's a lot of interviews to be conducted and a lot of background investigation going on. We're just getting to the beginnings of that and trying to piece all that together at this point.

BOLDUAN: Is there any indication when he came on school property that he was targeting anyone in particular?

MILLER: It's not clear as of right now if he was targeting anybody in particular. Again, those details will come out as the investigation unfolds.

BOLDUAN: So as you may have heard in Stephanie Elam's piece, there is a little girl who says she was a friend of his and who says she had seen this young boy bullied in the past and that she believes this is what was behind why -- what drove him to do this. Are you looking into that? Are you hearing that more?

MILLER: I'm sure that our investigators are looking into all aspects and all possibilities behind this. At this juncture, we just don't know. But, again, we're looking into all avenues and all explanations for this.

BOLDUAN: So the teacher, Michael Landsberry, he was also killed. He is a marine. Everyone we've spoken to says he is a hero, because he stood up to try to talk this little boy down and to protect other students. What do you know about those final moments?

MILLER: Well, it appears that Mr. Landsberry, based upon interviews that have been conducted thus far, appeared to try to approach the young boy.

It almost appears like he tried to talk him down. That's about basically the extent of it, that I can tell.

BOLDUAN: And do you know how the little boy got the gun?

MILLER: We're not exactly sure of that either. At this point, we believe he got it from home but still unclear on that as well.

BOLDUAN: All right. In the early stages as you said, but the investigation will continue on some level, though. Deputy Chief, I'm sure it will be impossible to understand what drove a little boy to do something like this.

But thank you so much for taking the time this morning.

MILLER: Thank you very much.

BOLDUAN: Of course. Chris, back to you.

CUOMO: All right. President Obama says no one was madder than he was that the Obamacare Web site was such a fiasco and also says it will be fixed and insists that the underlying product, the health care insurance, is good.

But if you can't sign up for it before the deadline, what happens then?

CNN's Jim Acosta is live in Washington with the latest.

This will become a question, is when the deadline is, Jim, and what it means to those who miss it, right?


And administration officials at this point, Chris, aren't revealing just who is going to be deployed to fix the glitches in the Obamacare Web site and they're not disclosing just yet when exactly all of this will be fixed. But one thing the White House is being up-front about this morning is that they have a big problem on their hands.


ACOSTA (voice-over): The way administration officials describe it, the so-called tech surge to fix the Obamacare Web site sounds like a top secret mission with an all-star team of I.T. specialists parachuting in from across the country.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Nobody's madder than me about the fact that the Web site isn't working as well as it should, which means it's going to get fixed.

ACOSTA: One question is whether warning signs were missed. "The Washington Post" reports the site crashed just days before it was launched during a simulation test involving hundreds of users.

Despite a Pew Research poll finding only a small minority of Americans say the Obama exchanges are working well. White House officials don't want to delay the mandate requiring Americans to have insurance.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're way still early in the process. So you're talking about a February 15th and a March 31st deadline. It is October 21st today. So let's be clear about that.

ACOSTA: Until the site is fixed, frustrated consumers are being urged to call a toll-free number to shop for insurance. That's an option administration officials don't like because it could be a big turnoff to younger, healthier buyers who do everything online and are critical to Obamacare's success.

Last week, "Consumer Reports" warned that the glitches are too much to absorb, stay away from for at least another month. The site has since posted an update saying the Web site's problems do not negate the law's benefits. OBAMA: To free families from --

ACOSTA: Even the president's speech aimed at re-assuring Americans about Obamacare had a hiccup when a supporter standing behind him, Karmel Allison, nearly fainted.

OBAMA: I got you. You're OK. This happens when I talk too long.

ACOSTA: A diabetic nearly her entire life, Allison later told CNN's Piers Morgan, she's a big Obamacare backer because it will always cover her pre-existing conditions.

KARMEL ALLISON, OBAMACARE BACKER: I'm extremely embarrassed that I fainted, but honored still to have been there, and happy that he caught me.


ACOSTA: Now, the next fireworks to come over Obamacare are likely to come on Thursday when the contractors who helped designed the Web site are being called to testify up on Capitol Hill, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was also called to testify but won't be on the Hill until next week.

In the meantime, we should point out that a White House innovation has also seized on this issue of the contractors that designed the Web site. He says in a blog post just put out in the last 24 hours, quote, "The contractors who made this website were, at best, sloppy. At worst, unqualified."

So, Chris, that is another indication that the contractors will come under heavy scrutiny here. We should point out that consumers still have several months to sign up for health insurance on those websites if they don't currently have insurance. They have until mid-February to avoid that penalty from the IRS -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Jim, hopefully they don't get too D.C. over this. The rest of the world, you fix the problem, not just talk about it the entire time. So, we need that now.

Yes, yell at the contractors, but let them fix the problem and find those who can.

BOLDUAN: Help people figure out what's going to happen if they aren't able to sign up in time. We'll definitely be talking about that.

And, also a reminder to our viewers: we will be speaking with Karmel Allison. She is really taking it all in stride, the woman who became faint standing behind the president. We're going to be talking to her later on in the show.

Let's get straight over to Michaela now for a check at the headlines.

PEREIRA: All right. Let's do it, quarter after the hour.

Two days after two convicted killers were recaptured in Florida, new rules have been issued to prevent forged documents from being used to help inmates escape. Clerks in two counties must now get release orders confirmed in writing directly from the judge's office. Officials say selling bogus papers have become kind of a cottage industry and said (ph) going for $8,000.

The man charged with killing Baby Hope due back in a Manhattan criminal court today. A break in the 22-year-old cold case came earlier this month, leading police to Conrado Juarez, a cousin of the little girl. The body of that four-year-old was discovered inside a cooler along the Manhattan highway. Juarez allegedly told police he sexually assaulted the girl and then smothered her. He has pleaded not guilty.

The New York Jets fan caught on camera punching a woman -- New England Patriots fan after Sunday's game apparently has a criminal record. Kurt Paschke served three years in state prison for fatally stabbing another man during a fight behind a pizza parlor back in the 1990s. Paschke's mom who was at the game with him on Sunday says the woman was the aggressor and that her son was merely acting in self-defense.

There's new hope for the follically challenged. Columbia University researchers have found a way to regrow hair. So far, it's only been tested on human skin transplanted onto mice, but they say, they say clinical trials are about five years away. I see you raising your hairline.


CUOMO: This is a good use of science.


CUOMO: I'll tell you that.

BOLDUAN: Definitely --

PEREIRA: Nature, darling. Nature.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Exactly. Science fighting nature.

PEREIRA: I can't help but have little images of mice running around with like --




CUOMO: Mouse with human hair. I can't wait until they come up with a good treatment, so I can stop doing all these scalp exercises, trying to hold on to --

PEREIRA: Are you going to do it right now?

BOLDUAN: We should only see. CUOMO: No. That's all right.

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

CUOMO: All right. Check of the weather. Good timing. Indra Petersons, what do you know for us?



PETERSONS: All right. We're definitely talking about Chicago right now this morning where currently look beautiful out there, but there is a change. Temperatures really dropping this morning. They have freeze warning, and currently, they're only about 31 degrees. So, we're actually looking at two systems, one here that's actually going to will bring Chicago some snow tonight and the other one, a little bit of rain that's now kind of moving into the mid-Atlantic and northeast.

Neither one really bringing a lot of rain or snow. Really that temperature change that we're going to continue to see push off to the mid-Atlantic and northeast. Current temperatures, you can really see right across the cold front, a good 15, even 20-degree temperature drop that is expected. And as far as the temperatures themselves, well, even for this time of year, we're talking about temperatures a good 20 degrees below normal in the Midwest.

So, Chicago today already mentioned some snow possible tonight. Your high is only expected to be about 41 degrees. So, that's kind of a chill. Right now, we're still seeing in the Midwest and Ohio Valley, but by tomorrow, you're definitely going to see that go all the way to the entire eastern seaboard.

So, not just Boston dropping 20 degrees, but even down in the southeast you're going to see about a good ten-degree temperature drop. And this is a key, guys. I need to redeem myself here. We talk about 30-degree temperature drop in one week. It's baby steps, guys. I need baby steps. That is fair.

BOLDUAN: That is a big temperature drop.

PETERSONS: Thank you.


CUOMO: That's how you get sick, rapid changes in temperature.

BOLDUAN: Hmmm. Thanks, Indra.


BOLDUAN: Dr. Cuomo, reporting for duty.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, it was one of the hottest movies out of the Sundance Film Festival. "Blackfish" explores new questions about killer whales in captivity after the tragic death of a SeaWorld employee. A look at the new riveting CNN film ahead.


CUOMO: Here's a provocative question for you. Should killer whales be held in captivity? That is the question behind a fascinating new CNN film, "Blackfish." It tells the story of a SeaWorld trainer killed by a 12,000-pound orca in 2010 and takes a troubling look at the controversial history of orcas in captivity. Martin Savidge has more from Atlanta.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): SeaWorld Orlando, 2010, in front of horrified visitors, veteran trainer, Dawn Brancheau was dragged into the water, mulled (ph), and drowned by the killer whale she'd work with for years. It's more than a tragedy. It's a turning point. In its way, the Occupational Safety Health Administration orders SeaWorld to keep trainers out of the water with its star performers.

High-flying days like these are over. SeaWorld turned down our repeated request for interviews, but in an op-ed noted its staff has been interacting with captive killer whales daily for nearly 50 years. "The tragedy of Dawn's death cannot and has not been ignored. But neither should the literally millions of safe interactions we have had with killer whales over that span of time."

As part of a publicity -- critics say there've been many incidents suggesting otherwise. Video clips of captive killer whales gone wild are easily found on the web.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whale bites down on her leg and won't let go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's pulled under, helpless, as the whale drags him below.

SAVIDGE: Killer whales also called orcas are not actually whales but dolphins. Animal activists claim that they're too intelligent, too socially dependent on their families and just too big for captivity. Neuroscientist, Lori Merino, says they are one of the few creatures besides us that are self-aware and blames that regression and captivity on a basic problem. They're stir crazy.

LORI MERINO, NEUROSCIENTIST: This is not an individual, not a being that is going to be appropriately stimulated by throwing a hoop in the water or doing stupid pet tricks.

SAVIDGE: SeaWorld says it continually provides its killer whales a stimulating and challenging environment. And as for understanding them, SeaWorld says much of what we know today came from studying captive orcas. Marine veterinarian, Greg Bossart, studies bottle- nosed dolphins.

By comparing the health of those in captivity against those in the wild, he says, we can learn of problems in the ocean. GREG BOSSART, MARINE VETERINARIAN: There are emerging diseases that we're seeing, new viruses. We're seeing things like antibiotic- resistant bacteria in these dolphins, which is a direct spin-off from pollution, from man.

SAVIDGE: Former trainer, Colin Baird, agrees captivity has taught us a lot about killer whales but believes now we've learned enough and should let them go.

Why do you think they're still in captivity?

COLIN BAIRD, FORMER KILLER WHALE TRAINER: Well, there's dollars to be made. And they're a very, you know, big draw for these facilities that have them.

SAVIDGE: It's a business?

BAIRD: It's a business, yes.

SAVIDGE (on-camera): Well, the issue of captivity is certainly debatable. What isn't is the popularity of places like these. Zoos and aquariums set new attendance records almost every year.

(voice-over) SeaWorld entertainment's parks pull in 11 million visitors and $1.5 billion a year. And supporters say there's a lot more to it than just entertainment. Performances educate and inspire.

PAUL BOYLE, ASSOC. OF ZOOS AND AQUARIUMS: People are having less and less daily encounter with animals, and so, these kinds of exhibits are teaching people about the wild. If people don't know animals, they won't care about them.

SAVIDGE: Unfortunately, opponents say, audiences are not the only ones held captive by the show.


SAVIDGE (on-camera): One of the ironies in all of this is the fact that prior to parks like SeaWorld, these creatures were considered by many people to be monsters. We knew so little about them. Thanks to SeaWorld and marine parks, people actually fell in love and then began to think they're too big and too lovable to keep -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: This film definitely has folks talking. People will want to see it. Martin, thank you so much for that.

SAVIDGE: You're welcome.

BOLDUAN: You can watch the television premiere of "Blackfish" only on CNN Thursday at 9:00 pm eastern.

CUOMO: All right. We'll take a break here on NEW DAY. When we come back, better late than never, I guess. The September jobs report is due in about five minutes. It was delayed by the government shutdown like a lot of other things. We will bring you the numbers as soon as we get them. So, stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: You're watching NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.

CUOMO: James Earl Jones is right, but he did not tell you that it's Tuesday, October 22nd, but I just did. Brand new this morning, the story that's two weeks old. The September jobs report was delayed by the shutdown. The numbers are finally coming out. They'll be out in a few minutes. We'll go through them with you.

BOLDUAN: Plus, a father's grief. Just hours after learning his son committed suicide, he takes to social media to speak out against bullying. This morning, he is sharing his story with us.

PEREIRA: Heartbreaking. We'll have that coming up. Time now for the five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.

At number one, the FBI investigating whether a mystery girl discovered in Greece is actually a little American girl known as Baby Lisa who went missing back in 2011.