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Boston Student Charged With Murder; New Milestone for Marijuana

Aired October 23, 2013 - 15:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brooke Baldwin. You are watching CNN.

First, Nevada and now Massachusetts, another school in crime scene tape, instead of in class. This is a second case in two days of a student allegedly killing a teacher. This afternoon, prosecutors outside of Boston charged 14-year-old Philip Chism with murder.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the matter of Philip Chism by way of arrest docket 3472 of this year in Danvers. It's alleged on 10/23/13, Mr. Philip Chism did assault and beat Colleen Ritzer with the intent to murder such person, and by such assault and beating, did kill and murder such person, in violation of General Law Chapter 265 Section 1.


BALDWIN: The teacher here, Colleen Ritzer, 24 years of age. She was a teacher at Danvers High School -- Danvers. And these are pictures from her Facebook, her Twitter pages. Investigators say they found her body in the woods not too far from Danvers High School and her blood was found on the second-floor bathroom.

The 14-year-old, we can tell you, the suspect here, he attends here, he Danvers and it was just on Monday when a 12-year-old boy, police say, shot and killed a middle school math teacher in Sparks, Nevada. Now, Danvers just about a half-hour drive north of Boston and all seven of its schools were shut down today because of this investigation.

So I want to take you straight to Massachusetts, to Danvers now. Alexandra Field is live for us, also live here in studio, former prosecutor and "HLN After Dark" anchor Vinnie Politan.

We're going to get to Vinnie here in just a second, but, first, Alexandra, to you. When will we know if this 14-year-old will be charged as an adult?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're told it could be a day, two days, even a week. The district attorney says it's about to a grand jury to decide whether or not to indict him as an adult. This is the 14-year-old Danvers High School student who has now been charged in connection with the murder of his 24-year-old math teacher, Colleen Ritzer. Chism is being held without bail in Essex County Correctional Facility, but in Danvers, the focus is on all on a beloved teacher. You can see this is the high school right. A pink ribbon tied on the tree in Ritzer's memory. Flowers have been placed in front of the high school as well. Students have been trickling out here all day long.

Just on the other side of the school, in that wooded area, that's where police say they found the math teacher's body, just 24 years old. She was reported missing yesterday. Students woke up this morning to the news that a beloved, well-liked teacher is gone. They say it has left them stunned and shattered.


She is so nice. Like, I didn't have her as a teacher, but I always would hang out with her after school. I would talk to her, because I knew her because I had Mrs. (INAUDIBLE) another math teacher, and I would talk to her after school, and she's just a great girl. I just -- I'm so amazed. I don't know how this happened. As soon as I heard the name, I just dropped. You know what I mean?

I don't know what to do. It's just -- heartbroken me. Just, I don't know what to say. I knew the kid. I played soccer. And just like -- I just -- it amazes me.


FIELD: The students here in Danvers say they will hold a vigil tonight in their teacher's memory. Her family released a statement just about an hour ago calling her an amazing and beautiful sister and daughter and, of course, a teacher, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Alexandra for us in Danvers. Alexandra, thank you.

Vinnie Politan, my next question to you is, as we're waiting to see whether or not this 14-year-old is indicted as an adult, it's up to the grand jury to make the decision. How do they do that?

VINNIE POLITAN, HLN HOST: Yes. Well, they have got to decide if it fulfills the requirement. Under Massachusetts law, a juvenile as young as 14 can be charged with murder in adult court. That changes the game immensely, going from juvenile to adult court.

BALDWIN: What do you think also -- it struck me the speed of all this. Right? The teacher was found in the woods, and the young man was found I think it was right around 12:30 this morning, and now we see the pictures of him inside the courtroom. Is that fast?

POLITAN: It's fast, but here's part of it. I guess their investigation has led them to the point where they could arrest him and charge him initially. Now they're waiting for the grand jury for the formal indictment to see if they get him up to adult court.

Things are moving along. Once you're in custody, you have a right to first appearance. He's got to be apprised of his rights to an attorney and to make application for bail, which was denied in this case. Things are moving along at a rapid speed because the investigation has moved along very quickly.

BALDWIN: OK. Vinnie Politan, thank you very much.

And teachers, they are trained to help students grow up, not counsel school shooters to put a gun down. What must it be like to face a student with a finger on the trigger? My next guest knows that answer. Back in 2000, Linda Robb convinced a student to give up his gun. He was just 12 years old, apparently unpopular, came from a troubled family. And one day in March, he brought a fully loaded gun to class in Lisbon, Ohio, and told his teacher and classmates to get on the floor.


DAN KEMATS, TEACHER: Kind of shocked. I stood there for a minute, and he yells again, everyone get down on the floor. So, kind of slowly, I got down. All the other students in the classroom at the time got down on the floor. I guess many of them didn't know how to take it.

LINDA ROBB, TEACHER: All I knew is I wanted to get him out of the room, away from the students. And so when he came through the door, I took the gun from him. I said, let me have that. I laid it on a table that's out there in the hall and then I took him around the corner to get him away from the gun.

And then he took a clip, another clip out of his pocket. He had another clip, another round.


BALDWIN: That was Linda Robb in 2000. Here is Linda Robb right now.

A pleasure meeting you.

ROBB: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Hearing about your story, I thought, my goodness, we have to talk to her because I imagine it feels just like yesterday, those moments back at the school. Can you just take me back and tell me what happened?

ROBB: Well, it was the morning of one of our state tests. And the children had gone to the restroom. And one of the children in my classroom came in and said, why is Mr. Kemats' class on the floor? And I knew that was unusual. And I was his mentor teacher. He was a first-year teacher.

BALDWIN: Oh, wow.

ROBB: So, I said, well, let me go check. I walked over, and the entire class was on the floor. And he was sitting in a desk with a gun. And I asked him, is it real? And he took the clip out. He didn't say a word, and he shoved it right back up into the gun. The sound of it, I knew it was real. So at that point...

BALDWIN: How frightened were you...


ROBB: Not yet. I really didn't feel frightened much at all until it was over.

BALDWIN: Until it hit you?

ROBB: Yes, until it hit me what could have happened. So knowing him the way I did, because I tried to kind of be a mentor to him, and I could tell he was one of those kids that had problems -- and even though I wasn't his regular teacher, I had him on and off for studies and different things.

And so I had kind of a rapport, and I would ask him to help me with projects and certain things, and he had volunteered to bring something in, and he knew I liked him a lot. And so he gave me his picture, and I put his picture with some other students up on my bulletin board.

BALDWIN: So, when you hear that clip click...

ROBB: And I heard the clip, and it was like, OK, I can't leave. This has to work. So start telling him how much you care for him and remind him of the times we had talked.

BALDWIN: What exactly did you say? Do you remember?

ROBB: Yes. I said, Sam -- I will call him Sam. Sam, you know that I care a lot about you. We have talked in the hall. I have complimented you what you had -- when you got a new shirt, when you had a haircut. You were always helpful to me. And I care so much about you. And you can trust me totally.

And he knew he could.

BALDWIN: So what did he was -- was he responding to you?

ROBB: No, he never said a word. He stared right at me, never said one word, held the gun up.


BALDWIN: How did it end?

ROBB: Well, I just said to him, before you decide what you're going to do with that gun, why don't you come out in the hall and just talk to me like we always have talked? And I didn't know what he would do, and I kept watching him.

He slowly got out of the chair and he started to walk across the classroom. I thought, well, this is it. He's either going to shoot me or I don't know what's going to happen. But when he got to me, he kind of just like went into my arms.


ROBB: And I hugged him, took the gun. He let me have it. And he had an extra clip, fully ready to go. He had one in the chamber, ready to shoot.

BALDWIN: He was prepared.

ROBB: He was prepared with a second clip.


BALDWIN: You saved lives. You saved lives that day as a teacher. And I know that what's so unique about your story is that, you know, he served some time.

ROBB: Yes, he did.

BALDWIN: And you have kept in touch with him ever since, maintained a relationship. And one question we were talking about at the top of last hour, with teachers and with these school shootings, there have been at least nine since Newtown.

As a teacher, do you think teachers should be armed now?

ROBB: Absolutely not.


ROBB: I could never even imagine pointing a gun at a student and shooting.

BALDWIN: Anyone, intruder, anyone?

ROBB: No, no one. I just couldn't imagine. And I would be so afraid that a student could overpower me, I'm not that big, or get into the desk where it is. Or I think -- I think it would be a total disaster to arm teachers. I really do. I don't think that's the solution. The solution is counseling for troubled students.

That's where we need to put our money, counseling for families. And I mean mandatory counseling. If a teacher or principal says there's a problem, they need some counseling, they need to get counseling.

BALDWIN: From a teacher who has been through it, stared down the barrel of a gun.

Linda Robb, thank you so much. I so appreciate it.

ROBB: You're very welcome. Thank you.


BALDWIN: Coming up next, take a look at this. This is a blast door. These doors help protect our country's nuclear missiles from terrorists, but they don't do the job when they're left open, and that's precisely what happened.

Coming up next, the fallout over this security scare.


BALDWIN: They didn't just fall asleep. It turns out while they were napping, two Air Force crews that operated clusters of nuclear missiles left the doors wide open.

Not exactly a great idea since these multi-ton doors are supposed to be keeping out the potential intruders, and especially since the corridors in question here control enough nuclear missiles to blow up several large cities. Both of the incidents here reportedly happened this year. They're just now coming to light.

And how is this for timing? The disclosure follows the firing of Major General Michael Carey, the number two man in charge of Air Force nuclear weapons, for undisclosed weapons believed to involve his personal life.

So these are some of the folks in charge of our nuclear weapons. And the bad news is, there's more.

General James "Spider" Marks, U.S. Army retired, a CNN military analyst, and he's the former commanding general of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center.

General Marks, what is the worst that could have happened here when these nuclear -- they're called missileers, when they started napping with the blast door open?

BRIG. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, the worst that could happen, if you could walk down the path of a very legitimate scenario, is the launch codes could be compromised. That's really the bottom line.

There wouldn't necessarily have been an inadvertent launch. The foundation of our nuclear weapons arsenal, its training and its readiness and its potential employment is a two-person control system. I mean, the Navy has that in place. The Air Force has that in place.

So you have to have two folks intimate with what is going on and everybody has to be able to share simultaneously in order to get into the system. So one person can be asleep if you follow the rules. The door has to be closed and locked, and they left that door open, which means you're fundamentally breaking the rules.

Look, this is a very difficult, difficult world to be a part of. They're not looking for a lot of creativity. They're looking for a lot of smarts. They're looking for an incredible amount of discipline and focus. And you can see how you could tend to lose that spending your life in the bottom of a silo.

So it's a leadership challenge for the Air Force. They're about getting it right. What is surprising, Brooke, is that we know about it. BALDWIN: We know about it. Now we know about it.

MARKS: Right.

BALDWIN: And we know about a couple of other items, too, because, Spider Marks, let me just tick through this -- really it's a worrisome list, including involvement with our nuclear weapons.

Back in 2007, you had this Air Force B-52, it flew from a base in North Dakota to a base in Louisiana without the crew knowing that the plane was armed with live nuclear missiles. 2008, three officers nodded off while supposedly managing launch codes. Last March, a nuclear launch group got a D from an inspection; 17 officers got suspended. Their commander said the crew was riddled with rot.

And then, as I mentioned, these personal issues led to the firing of the Air Force's number two men man in charge of nuclear weapons. This was all just a week or so ago. How worried does this make you? Is it accurate to call this a crisis?

MARKS: Oh, I think it is a crisis, absolutely.

I'm also here to tell you that the Air Force leadership is going to fix this problem. The problem with this field is that the best and the brightest that want to join the Air Force, want to become fighter pilots and want to become pilots of some sort, they want to get into those kinds of fields where there is incentive to do well and promotions will follow.

So what you have with the nuke force is you don't necessarily have a whole group of dudes that are raising their hands, saying, I want to get into this business. So you have to select very closely, and you have to train and instill these guys with this mission focus. They have got it, but then, organizationally, how do you incentivize them to really be a part of it so you can train the next generation and recruit the next generation?


MARKS: When you have a series of problems like you have just described, Brooke, going back to 2007, it is a crisis and it will be fixed, but it needs to be fixed. There's nothing more important, certainly nothing more deadly than the control of our nuclear weapons systems. It's a zero-defects environment.

BALDWIN: General Spider Marks, thank you.

MARKS: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up, it's a new milestone for marijuana. A poll just released reveals something new about the country's opinion on pot. And it's surprising. We will hear both sides of this debate next.


BALDWIN: Good news if you are a fan of the McDonald's dollar menu. It's about to even get bigger. The catch is it will cost you more. The fast-food company announcing the change yesterday during its quarterly earnings call.

Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange.

And so can it still be called the dollar menu? What will it look like?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure. Why not? Call it the dollar menu. Go ahead.

What's going on here is McDonald's, Brooke, is trying to really stay competitive in a very, very competitive environment. And for McDonald's, it's all about the dollar, the dollar menu, that is. It's getting a bit of an overhaul. It's going to have a new name called the dollar menu and more.

It's actually ditching what is called the extra value menu, which wasn't as successful. But it's also going to be adding some $2 and $5 options. What this is really meant to do is give customers more options at different price levels.

Wendy's actually did something like this recently, putting items on the menu that cost more than the dollar bill. It's all about the marketing. When people see that dollar menu, it's really a huge seller for McDonald's. As I said, all these fast-food chains competing with each other and last week McDonald's announced its first monthly sales drop in almost a decade. If you're looking for this new menu, Brooke, which I get the feeling you are, they're rolling it out in about two weeks, Brooke.


BALDWIN: Speaking of paying more, Alison, I know, listen, I love getting the free shipping. Who doesn't? But Amazon says you have to buy more now if you want that free shipping.

KOSIK: That's right. So it used to be with Amazon, you only had to pay $25 to get free shipping. That's how it's been for 10 years. Well, guess what? Now you have to spend $35 for that free shipping to kick in. It could be related to higher shipping costs that Amazon has to deal with.

You look at the last three months of last year, Amazon spent $1.8 billion on shipping. It's a huge part of its costs and it helps if it can past some of this cost on to consumers who frequent Amazon. Interestingly enough, though, Amazon is being pretty strategic in not being the highest price for that minimum.

You look at Staples, it requires you to spend $45 for free shipping. Wal-Mart and Target require $50 before that free shipping kicks in. Best Buy still has free shipping if you spend $25, though. And once again, Amazon doing this because it needs to boost its revenue -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Don't you love the free shipping, and then they when they send the little thing in where you have to take it back and it makes it really easy to mail it back?

KOSIK: Of course.

BALDWIN: That's what I need in my life.

KOSIK: Of course. It's the only way to shop online.

BALDWIN: Alison Kosik, thank you very much.

KOSIK: Sure.

BALDWIN: And we have heard, and we have reported on this here, tragedy after tragedy, kids targeted by gunmen while at school. Now a possible solution invented by students themselves. We will tell you their solution to prevent another mass shooting that could soon be in a school near you.

Plus, tweeting mean things about your government leaders, probably not the smartest thing to do, especially if you're a national security staffer. Now we have learned this guy here was sending insulting tweets for two years. We will tell you what he's been tweeting online, and now what he's saying after he got caught.


BALDWIN: Yet another school is the site of a deadly crime in the second case in just a couple of days of a student allegedly killing a teacher.

This afternoon, prosecutors just outside of Boston charged this young man, 14-year-old Philip Chism, with murder after they say he fatally beat a math teacher at his school, Danvers High School. Chism had just moved to the school from Tennessee, and the victim here, 24-year- old Colleen Ritzer.

These are photos of her from her Facebook, Twitter pages. Investigators say they found her body in the woods near the school and they found her blood in the second-floor bathroom of Danvers High. It was just Monday when a 12-year-old boy, police say, shot can killed a middle school math teacher in Sparks, Nevada. That child, who police have yet to name, wounded two other 12-year-old boys and then ultimately killed himself.

Sparks police released the 911 calls and they show the chaos after the gunfire. You can hear it in this clip. You can barely make out someone yelling -- quote -- "get out. Get out of the room."







BALDWIN: That was Nevada.