Return to Transcripts main page


Nevada School Shooting Victim Speaks Out; Maryland Attorney General Under Fire

Aired October 24, 2013 - 15:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news here, as we are following that shooting near a Navy base in Tennessee.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has those new details.

Barbara, what do you know? What happened?


We have now been told that the lockdown at the Navy base in Millington, Tennessee, has been lifted. There was a shooting a short time ago, just outside the base, still on Navy property, but outside the base.

What we're told by U.S. military officials is a National Guardsman got into a fight with two other National Guardsmen, shot one in the leg, one in the foot. Those two wounded people now being treated, said not to be life-threatening injuries, and the shooter is in custody. That's the word we're getting.

The Millington police, Navy police, and authorities responding to all of this, but it looks at this point like it's wrapped up -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK, Barbara, thank you very much at the Pentagon.

And a couple of school shootings, school incidents this week, the first earlier on. We're now hearing today, the very first time, from this 12-year-old boy, 12, who survived Monday's shooting at that middle school in Sparks, Nevada. Police say one of his classmates, also 12, shot and killed a teacher before turning the gun on himself with a handgun he took from his parents.

So two students, including the one you are about to hear from, were wounded.

Joining me now from Nevada is Stephanie Elam.

And, Stephanie, just hearing from this youngster, it is heartbreaking.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's very heartbreaking to hear, and it's also just so sad to hear that Mason, the boy that you're about to hear from, really did think that the shooter was one of his friends. He said that they were friendly, that they had a class together as well. Same thing with the other boy that was shot.

But what is striking is to hear how he doesn't think that he was his friend now that he has shot him. Take a listen to what he talked about.


ELAM: Where were you when everything started?

MASON, SHOOTING VICTIM: I was by South Hall.

ELAM: By South Hall. What did you hear?

MASON: A few gunshots. And I thought they were out in the distance.

ELAM: Oh, really, you thought they were far away? So, what did you do?

MASON: I was -- I really didn't do anything. I was confused why everybody was running.

ELAM: And then what -- when did you encounter your classmate with the gun, how soon after you heard those first couple of shots?

MASON: I wanted to try to help Mr. Landsberry. And I went to go grab my backpack. Then I didn't grab it because I didn't really care about it. And so then I was in the closest building -- the closest (INAUDIBLE) was in the South Hall, and I was running, and that's where I was shot.

ELAM: And did you see him when you...


ELAM: Did you come face-to-face with him? Did he say anything to you? He just shot you. How far away from you was he?

MASON: About 10, 20 feet.

ELAM: And did you realize right away that you had been shot? Did you know? You knew it?

MASON: Yes, there was a very sharp pain in my stomach.

ELAM: Did you fall?


ELAM: You managed to stay standing? So what did you do?

MASON: I -- after I was shot, I went to try to go back in the building, and then I ran away from him.

And there was another entrance, the end of South Hall, and I tried to go in it, but it was locked, so I went to (INAUDIBLE) and there was a secret -- security that helped me, told me to lay down and put pressure on my wound.

ELAM: And so where exactly -- if you can put your hand kind of over it, where exactly did you get shot?

MASON: Right -- well, it went in like this, and went through my tissue, and kind of tried to exit out, but then it went down and shot behind here.

ELAM: Oh, wow.

JENIFER DAVIS, MOTHER: It went in, started to exit again, and then reentered and came out the left -- or -- excuse me -- the right-hand, the right-hand side. Yes.


ELAM: So it managed to miss, because I was trying to figure out if you got hit, or if it was around your spine. That's why you're walking, because it went this way.

DAVIS: It's quite a miracle, actually. I mean, looking at the wounds and everything, it seems that the bullet traveled around him and didn't go through him. I don't know how that happened.

ELAM: So during this whole process, you know, though, that Mr. Landsberry was down. Was Mr. Landsberry one of your teachers?

MASON: No, he was just a really good friend of mine, because I used to go visit him every time at lunch and before school.

ELAM: Why did you like him so much?

MASON: Because he was funny and friendly and fun to hang around. I was looking around the school, and I'm like, everybody running from -- from nothing? And then, like, oh, wow. Then I saw Mr. Landsberry got shot. He was laying on the ground unconscious. He wasn't twitching or anything. He had no muscle spasms or he wasn't twitching or moving.

Then, so my friend J.J. got on his phone and called 911 and to get Sparks police to Sparks Middle School. And he's like, we need the police. Mr. Landsberry, one of our teachers, is unconscious on the basketball court at Sparks Middle School. And we need police down here fast.

I want people to learn from what I have been through is to -- if you ever shot a gun and you accidentally killed somebody, you would have made a very big mistake from that. And I used to treat guns, not poorly, but a little poorly, because I thought they were a toy.

But when I got shot, I learned that they're not just a toy. They're a weapon. And it could damage somebody very bad. So I want everybody in the world to know that war and battles and anything dealing with weapons and guns and knives, they're all weapons, and they can kill you very easily if you hit the right spot. I'm lucky to be alive, and it didn't -- the bullet didn't go through me. If it did, I would have been dead, but it just went around me. So I'm very lucky to be alive.


ELAM: Just utterly heartbreaking to hear Mason talk about that and how different everything could have been if the bullet had traveled a different way through his body.

And one other thing that we did speak about with his mother is just asking her how she felt about the parents of the shooter. And she says that she feels sorry for them because she knows that they're grieving as well. She has no anger as they're dealing with the loss of their child -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Tough for all the parents there in Sparks, Nevada.

And I'm just curious, with this recent, you know, shooting incident in Sparks, what did the mother -- did you ask her about, you know, guns in schools, renewed conversation about arming teachers? What was her stance on guns in general?

ELAM: Well, it was interesting because she was really happy with how quickly the school locked itself down.

Remember, this all happened outside on the campus, but not inside the buildings. And the teachers and the students and the staff all came toward and locked those doors and made sure that the shooter did not get in.

Police told us that they do have evidence he tried to get in the building. She also went on to say as far as guns are concerned, she owns a gun, but she says she also owns a safe as well. It's not about not owning guns in her mind. What it's about is proper gun safety and making sure that these guns do not end up in the hands of children so that nothing like this can ever happen again, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Stephanie Elam, thank you so much, in Reno, Nevada. Our hearts go out to all of those families there in Sparks.

And the details, they're sickening. After allegedly beating his teacher and slashing her with a box cutter, sources tell CNN that 14- year-old Philip Chism stuffed 24-year-old Colleen Ritzer body into a recycling bin, rolled it out of this school in Danvers, Massachusetts, not too far from where I'm standing in Boston, and dumped it in the woods behind the building.

And then what did he do? According to a source familiar with this investigation, this young man, this 14-year-old, went to a Wendy's restaurant. According to some reports, he also went to a movie theater in the hours after this alleged killing of this teacher. He was found in a neighboring town.

Coming up, he is the attorney general of Maryland, but a photograph of him at a teenage party has him answering some pretty tough questions today. We will show you what caused this controversy and tell you his response next.


BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin live in Boston, just outside of Fenway Park, just hours away from game two tonight.

Let me tell you, we're all on James Taylor watch. They actually allowed us inside for a little of his rehearsal, some special moments he's planning tonight for the game as the city gets ready to honor survivors and victims at tonight's game two.

You will hear from and see James Taylor standing right next to me in a manner of minutes.

But, first, I have to tell you about the story out of Maryland because their top law enforcer is under fire today for not enforcing the law. Critics came out in force after this photograph. Take a good long look at this. This appeared in "The Baltimore Sun." Look in the middle.

There's a lone gray-haired person. Here you go. This is Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, a Democrat running for governor. He's the one with the phone. One of the questions, what happened after this picture was snapped? Absolutely nothing. And in the last hour, the attorney general responded to his opponents, stressing he was not aware if underaged drinking was happening at all.



QUESTION: Was there drinking going on?

GANSLER: It certainly sounds like -- from what I understand now, there certainly was some drinking, I guess, going on, because if you look at the picture, there -- not right where I was, but there are some kids, one or two kids having -- holding red cups. And generally, you know, there could be Kool-Aid in the red cups, but there's probably beer in the red cups.

That wasn't -- I didn't go over and stick my nose in and see. And maybe I should have. And that's all I can tell you about that.


BALDWIN: Gansler's critics are very quick to point out he did do a PSA. He did this public service announcement specifically about kids and alcohol. Take a look.


GANSLER: Alarmingly, kids typically begin to experiment with alcohol around age 12. Parents, you're the leading influence on your teen's decision not to drink.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: Joining me now, Erin Cox, one of "The Baltimore Sun" reporters who broke the story. Welcome to you.

And also welcome to attorney and former prosecutor Philip Snyder.

Erin, let's start with you and your paper's reporting, because this attorney general, let's just step one here -- why was he at this party full of teenagers in the first place?

ERIN COX, "THE BALTIMORE SUN": Well, this was a beach house that he and a number of other parents from his son's high school rented for about a week. And he says that he stopped by late that night to tell his son what time they planned to leave Delaware in the morning to drive to a college event elsewhere.

BALDWIN: And so, in reading your piece in "The Sun," these kids called this -- correct me if I'm wrong, this is the eviction party, meaning they were planning on throwing down.

COX: Yes, one of the kids that I talked to said it was called the eviction party because they were trying to see how far they could go before they could get evicted.

A lot of teenagers posted a lot of pictures, a lot of video, a lot of different evidence of what that party was like. There was loud dance music. There was fluids being poured from the balcony onto dancers below. There were lots of dancing, grinding on the bar, dancing on the table. And there was just so much posted online, both tweets, videos, pictures, that it seemed like a pretty big party that went on for a pretty long time.

BALDWIN: Pretty big party. And, fortunately or not, this photo was snapped with him smack dab in the middle of it.

Erin, I'm going to come back to you, because, Philip, we have to talk about the law, because if an adult sees underaged drinking, by law, what is he or she required to do?

PHILIP SNYDER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, first off, every state is different, but I want to say, this looked like a Miley Cyrus party. I can't believe this attorney general is actually saying, I don't know, there could have been Kool-Aid in the cups.

And what disturbs me is his moral compass is all the way to left, at empty. He does a PSA saying, I'm supporting these harsher drinking laws for juveniles, for people under the age of 18, and he goes to this party that is clearly serving hard alcohol and beer and he does nothing.

BALDWIN: Do you think -- gosh, I think back to my parents and I feel like if my parents were looking at some red cups, they would be looking very closely at them. Is this the kind of thing -- do you think that he should have stopped and taken a look to see what these kids were drinking?

SNYDER: Absolutely. He's the highest law enforcement official in the state. And what does he do? He somewhat sanctions and authorizes this party, comes in and he closes his ears, he closes his eyes and says, look, I'm going to enforce it on everyone else, but I'm not going to enforce it on my son.

And I think when he runs for governor, which he is planning on doing in the upcoming election, this is going to be a huge point of contention in that campaign.

BALDWIN: Erin, let's be fair. Your paper talked to Gansler for more than an hour on the story. What is his defense, and does he believe this will impact his gubernatorial campaign? He wants to be governor.

COX: Right. Well, his defense today is slightly different than his defense when we spoke for about two hours earlier this week.

His initial defense was that he couldn't remember whether or not there was any drinking. And keep in mind, this is somebody who was part of a group of parents that organized this event. There were rules that the parents set out for the kids that said no driving, no hard alcohol, but it didn't mention beer.

And Gansler told us, volunteered to us that he was one of the parents who explained what those rules were to the kids, and also, that, you know, drinking a beer wasn't an offense that was going to get one of these kids sent home. So, I mean, his defense initially was that it's his job to parent his own kids and it's not his responsibility to be the police.

And multiple times, he offered various different hypothetical scenarios where he didn't think he would have to act. One is if he's at a tailgate party, for example, and he sees a bunch of people who look underaged drinking, is it his job as attorney general to go and investigate? He also posed the hypothetical of if he was walking down the street and he saw kids from Landon School, which is the school in Bethesda where his son attends, if he saw them with beers in their hands, is it his responsibility to stop them?

And when he talked to us earlier this week, he said, no. Now, today, after the picture was all over the Internet, all over the media, and people were pretty outraged at that statement, he took a little bit of a different tack today at his press conference. He talked about how he does have a moral responsibility for all children and that, in hindsight, he should have known there was drinking or should have investigated, and should have done something differently.

He also made an appeal to parents to say that, you know, a lot of parents would feel like they might be in a difficult situation if they walked into something like this and it's a judgment call that every parent has to make.

BALDWIN: Like we said, he's running for governor. We will see if this one single picture changes that at all.

Erin Cox, "Baltimore Sun," thank you. And, Philip Snyder, thank you very much.

Coming up, an emotional day in court. A woman takes the stand, her mother killed, her father accused in that murder.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what's her name?

MACNEILL: Michele Marie MacNeill.


BALDWIN: This is Rachel MacNeill, her lips quivering as she's on the stand holding back tears, but that's just part of the story. Her 12- year-old sister could take the stand as well. You're watching CNN.


BALDWIN: Welcome back. I'm Brooke Baldwin live here in Boston for tonight's tribute to some of the marathon bombing survivors.

We're just hours away here from game two, in the thick of things, in the excitement. You can really feel it here in Boston. We're going to talk to some folks on the ground, including James Taylor. He's coming out any minute now. He's been rehearsing inside. You could have heard him.

But, first, some pretty powerful testimony and painful testimony, I should say as well here, today in the case of this Utah doctor who's on trial for allegedly murdering his wife. It all came from the defendant's daughter. Rachel MacNeill reenacted how her father moved her mother's body in 2007.

Here she is on the stand. These are live pictures from inside this courtroom in Provo, Utah. The defense says Michele MacNeill died from natural causes following this face-lift, but prosecutors believe Martin MacNeill killed his wife to be with his mistress, who he hired as a nanny afterwards for the couple's eight children.

Rachel, the oldest child, told jurors how close she had been to her father.


MACNEILL: Growing up, my father was my best friend, just very close, very close.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very close to your dad?

MACNEILL: I was close to my dad, yes.


BALDWIN: She was emotional. She was angry, Rachel MacNeill speaking about the suspicions their nanny, seen right here, was a bit more than just a nanny to her father and family.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did at some point you become aware that the relationship between your father and Gypsy Willis was something more than a nanny?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Without getting into the specifics, approximately when did you become aware of that?

MACNEILL: It was very apparent just shortly after my mother's death.


BALDWIN: Joining me now, Vinnie Politan, host of "HLN After Dark."

Vinnie, I was talking to Jane Velez-Mitchell, your colleague, last hour, and she said time after time after time listening to her on the stand, total slam dunk for the prosecution. You agree?

VINNIE POLITAN, HLN HOST: She was a great witness, because I think the two words you used were great. She was powerful and it was very painful to watch.

All of that can be attributed to what her father has done to her and to her family. And that's what the prosecution needs here. There was another moment, Brooke, when she had to identify a picture of her father's mistress, this fake nanny.

She looked at the picture, and the face she made, and then it looked like she almost was going to get physically sick just looking at that picture. And I think that was a clear indication of the pain that she has gone through, and that's a message that the prosecution needs to send to this jury, that his own daughters, his own flesh and blood, believe that he's a murderer.

BALDWIN: So this is the older daughter, but the judge may also allow testimony from the youngest daughter, Vinnie. Why could her testimony prove to be crucial here? What would she say?

POLITAN: Well, there's a lot. The emotional aspect, right, because she's now 12 years old. She was 6 at the time. She was the first one to walk into the house and find her mother in the tub. So to describe that scene will be very powerful.

But also, factually, what she saw, she saw her mom face up in that bathtub. Dr. MacNeill, according to Rachel's testimony, was telling everyone that mom was face down. The significance of that is if someone accidentally falls in a tub, I think, and they still have their clothes on, you would expect them to be face down in the tub. That's more logical. How do you fall into the tub face up with your clothes on? And that's Ada's testimony. And that's crucial for this prosecution.

BALDWIN: Vinnie Politan, thank you very much. We watch you each and every night on HLN, "HLN After Dark," 10:00 p.m. Eastern. Thank you.

Coming up next, Boston strong personified. Take a look at this image. Remember the man in the cowboy hat? Really become an icon here for folks in Boston and beyond,one of the most recognized people for his heroism in those moments, those crucial moments after those blasts went off at the finish line at the Boston Marathon.

And now that I'm back here in Boston, I had to talk to him about this tragedy, how it's affected his life, and what he's up to tonight, something special, some surprises in store right around the seventh inning. You will see that interview.

Plus, James Taylor is joining me live on his special surprise for the city of Boston. Stay right here.