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Thanksgiving Travel Threatened; Airport Expecting Chaos; Sandy Hook Massacre Report; Sandy Hook Massacre Report; Looking For Justice

Aired November 26, 2013 - 08:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: We have all storm movements and contingencies covered from all angles.

Let's start with Indra Peterson.

What do we know now?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I wish things are getting better, but unfortunately, they are getting to be getting worse, as we go forward in time. Take a look, we're already starting to see some snow into the Northeast. But down in the South a lot of heavy rain starting to fill in with some stronger winds. So flight delays likely as you go to the Southeast and spreading into the Northeast as you go later on throughout the day.

So let's talk about this. Yes, definitely seeing severe condition with both rain, snow, freezing rain, sleet and strong winds all in the forecast.


PETERSONS (voice-over): A massive winter storm blamed for at least a dozen deaths and hundreds of accidents will bring heavy rain, snow, sleet and high winds to much of the East Coast on the busiest travel week of the year.

Frustrated travelers beginning to feel the ripple effect of this storm system with delays and cancellations at some of the nation's busiest airports.

And it's not just planes. The larger-than-life balloons flying high above the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade could be grounded. If sustained winds pass 23 miles per hour, the giant inflatable balloons can't take flight because officials fear their handlers won't be able to control them.

RAY KELLY, NYPD POLICE COMMISSIONER: We have a sergeant assigned to each of the balloons. They can be lowered all the way to the ground or determination is made not to fly them.

PETERSON: In 1997, ferocious winds blew the six-story tall cat in the hat balloon straight into a street lamp. Debris fell down on the crowd below, critically injuring one spectator. The colossal storm system had made its way across the country, bringing localized flooding in Arizona, heavy snow in Colorado and in New Mexico. Wind gusts of more than 50 miles per hour produced blinding conditions. Parts of Oklahoma receiving about a foot of snow and in Arkansas, heavy rain caused this pileup on a bridge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The roads are really slick and I've seen a lot of accidents already.

PETERSONS: Freezing rain making driving treacherous as this unrelenting storm complicates the Thanksgiving travel plans for millions.


PETERSONS: All right. So here is what we're expecting when all is said and done. Look at the heavy rain in the Southeast today, spreading into the Carolinas, Virginia. And then on the back side, we're talking about a lot of snow out there, even over a foot of snow possible, especially off the lakes, in kind of tapering back down through Kansas and Tennessee.

As we go throughout the day today, things will only start worsening. We'll see heavier rain and we'll see heavier snow.

So that's the story, conditions worsening as we go through the overnight period tonight in through tomorrow morning. Don't forget the winds, because that's going to cause a lot of travel delays.

And then as this kind of starts to taper off Wednesday night, we'll start to see this system back off. You won't see as much rain or snow out there as it kind of makes its way off in through Maine, while on the back side of it, we'll be left with the heavy winds even in through Thanksgiving Day.

So with that, more delays are in the forecast -- Chris and Kate.

CUOMO: That's the real killer part that you tell us, Indra, is that even as it starts to get better, the residual winds will still wind up keeping planes grounded. So you'll have that double burden of watching it get better and yet your fate is not. That's why we're trying to give you the latest information, especially if you're flying because timing may well be crucial, as you just heard Indra laying out -- gusting winds, heavy rain that's always a recipe for grounding planes and for many a getaway.

So, let's bring in CNN's Rene Marsh. She's checking on air travel for us. She's live at Dulles Airport in Virginia.

What do we know?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, we can tell you -- you know, here is the bottom line. If you are flying regardless, if snow is coming your way or not, you can expect some delays based on, as we just heard there, the rain and those strong winds. I can tell you, we are starting to see the rain here and we are also starting to see a handful of delays here at Dulles. And since I spoke to you about three hours ago, we know throughout the country, we have seen a slight increase in the number of delays and cancellations. The thing is, it is still early. So, we expect those numbers will likely inch higher later on today.


MARSH (voice-over): Been there, done that. Dulles Airport revved up these snow plows during the last snowstorm in March. Today, Dulles and airports up and down the East Coast are prepared to do the same if it comes to it.

ROB YINGLING, SPOKESMAN, METROPOLITAN WASHINGTON AIRPORTS AUTHORITY: So far, the forecast seems to be pointing towards a nuisance storm from our perspective, one that's not going to result in severe cancellations but more so delays.

MARSH: But still it could be a nightmare for some flyers.

DANIEL BAKER, FLIGHTAWARE.COM: We see a lot of delays and we see a lot of cancellations with storms like this.

MARSH: Daniel Baker runs the flight tracking website He says making matters worse, planes are already full.

BAKER: The issue they run into is if you cancel one flight, there may not be capacity on later flights to accommodate all of the displaced passengers.

MARSH: Twenty-five million people are traveling by air this Thanksgiving holiday, up 1.5 percent from last year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We decided to leave early and keep our fingers crossed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hopefully, we'll be there and we'll be all right and still be able to visit family and enjoy our week.

MARSH: Busiest travel day, the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The second busiest, tomorrow, just in time for the storm.

BAKER: What I always say is have a low expectation when traveling through bad weather on the airlines, particularly around the holidays, and you won't be disappointed.


MARSH: All right. Again, don't assume anything as you're traveling. Best advice? Call ahead. Make sure you know the status of your flight before you get to the airport.

Back to you, guys.

BOLDUAN: All right. Thank you, Rene.

Now, if you're one of the tens of millions getting behind the wheel to travel this holiday, the storm is also creating dangerous conditions for you. There have been several accidents in the South and Midwest. Some of them fatal.

CNN's Alina Machado picks up that part of the storm coverage story for us live in Atlanta this morning.

Hi there, Alina.


Yes, here in Atlanta, this is kind of what we've been seeing all day, steady rain. This is what we're going to be seeing throughout the South. And also, if you just go north of us, we're going to icy roads and also snowy roads.

And the bottom line is if you're going to be heading out, and driving somewhere this holiday weekend, be prepared to deal with some potentially treacherous conditions. According to AAA, more than 43 million people will be traveling more than 50 miles from home for the Thanksgiving holiday. About 90 percent of those people will be getting in their cars and driving somewhere.

And the AAA says typically, they would expect to rescue more than 320,000 people because of car problems. If you factor in the storm, that number could rise dramatically.

So the bottom line is if you're going to be heading out for the holiday weekend make sure you give yourself plenty of time, check the forecast and maybe even consider rearranging your travel plans around the storm to avoid the worst possible times to be traveling -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Whatever you can do to get to that Thanksgiving table. Thank you so much, Alina.

And you can get a behind-the-scenes look at one of the world's busiest airports, Atlanta's Hartsville-Jackson International Airport, with a special CNN digital project, "ATL24." You can see it right now on


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Let's take a look at our headlines this morning. Good morning, everyone.

New this morning, the Coast Guard frantically working to avert an environmental disaster in the Mississippi River in Iowa. A tow boat carrying about 100,000 gallons of fuel apparently struck something in the water and now is sinking. Just how much fuel is leaking is unknown. Right now, officials closed that section of the river so that crews can work to contain the leak.

A security agreement between the U.S. and Afghanistan appears to be on life support. The United States says it could pull all the troops at the end of the year if President Karzai doesn't sign the deal. Karzai says he will not sign it until certain terms are met, including freeing Afghan prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. He was already holding up the deal over house raids by American troops.

President Obama is standing by the newly announced agreement to slow Iran's nuclear program. He says the U.S. can't close the door in diplomacy, adding tough talk doesn't help national security. Many in Congress slammed the deal, saying it doesn't go far enough. The Israelis were also sharp with their criticism. A team of officials is coming to Washington to discuss this deal.

The contractor who oversaw a botched building demolition in Philadelphia has now been charged with murder. The building's wall collapsed on to an adjacent Salvation Army store back in June, killing six people and injuring more than a dozen others. Forty-nine-year-old Griffin Campbell also faces charges of involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment.

A stunning new twist in a story that recently went viral involving a gay waitress in New Jersey. Dana Morales says the family she served didn't tip her but instead left a message on the receipt saying they didn't agree with her lifestyle.

Now, that family is crying foul, telling a New York TV station that they did, in fact, tip her and never left that message, even providing proof of the transaction. Morales, for her part, is sticking to the story. However, the family believes their receipt was used for a hoax.

Two versions of the story, which side of the truth?

BOLDUAN: I don't think we're going to find that. We're not going to find the truth.

CUOMO: As you learn in this business, every story has three sides.

PEREIRA: Uh-huh.

CUOMO: We can only lay out as much as we can.

Coming up on "NEW DAY": Stunning details about a young man who killed 20 children inside Sandy Hook Elementary. You remember this story.

But for all the questions, the mystery remains, why? We'll explore that with one of the top forensic psychiatrists in the country. We can do better. He'll lay out how.

BOLDUAN: Also ahead, her daughter was so tormented by bullies that she took her own life. Now, Rebecca Sedwick's mother is determined to find justice. She's going to be joining us live to tell us what she's doing now.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to "NEW DAY".

It's been almost a year since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School and Connecticut authorities have just released a report offering a glimpse, at least, into the man behind the massacre, 20-year-old Adam Lanza. The report describes a man who was isolated from the world, dominated by odd behaviors and obsessed with violent video games.

But missing from the 40-plus page document, why he did all of this? We may never know.

But let's bring in one of the top forensic psychiatrists in the nation, Dr. Michael Welner, to try to learn from this report.

So we have some of the details that have come out, Doctor, is that he was becoming more and more reclusive. He had blacked out windows, trash bags over the windows. He has spreadsheet of some of the worse massacres in U.S. history, violent video games, a near obsession, and also kind of obsessed and preoccupied with guns.

In hindsight, we have clarity and people can point fingers, but are these warning signs, what do you take from this behavior?

DR. MICHAEL WELNER, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: Well, I think the report could go a lot further than it does. When you have a clear narrative of someone's grievance -- we've seen that with some killings, people say, Breivik, he had his agenda and this person has.

When you have someone who lays out in such great detail how he organized his thinking around the history, the sense of history of mass killers -- and there's no grievance that has emerged, then we have our answer for why he did it. And we've got to confront that because it's part of solving it.

There are people who latch on to the notion of the icon of, 'I can be somebody because people will talk about me if I kill as many people as possible.' And they research and they study and they organize it as if it's some kind of Olympian achievement, and that's what he did.

The reason Adam Lanza killed is because he wanted to kill as many people as he could so that he could be part of someone else's spreadsheet. And if we don't confront that reality, then we are missing what we've done here in America, which is create the American ideal -- this is a distinctly male crime.

It's a distinctly American crime and it attaches itself to celebrity, equates with achievement and achievement right now in America, until we reverse it, is equated with ruthless destructiveness on a grand scale. We've got to backpedal and --

CUOMO: How do you do it? So you're at home, you're listening to this. You're saying, well, this guy is the outlier. These people are the extreme. They're even the extreme for mentally ill if you qualify them for that -- for people who are sick. So how do you confront something that you're saying really is a functional for culture?

WELNER: By the time all of this information is available to us, the house is on fire. And it gets there. What are the ingredients? Of course, an immersion in violence and identification with violent culture is part of it. But one of the lessons of Lanza from this report that we can learn -- we've spoken about this before is that people who identify with mass killers, if they decide this is their goal, they don't fall into the cracks, they crawl into the cracks.

He set up a dynamic. If you read the report, he set up a dynamic with his mother so that she would be afraid to get into his business. So he was able to construct a private world in which he knew he had clear boundaries, nobody would cross, and he could plot and he could think. And this is part of how the illness ran the situation.

PEREIRA: So take us back, if you were to look ten years ago at Adam Lanza, would you have seen the signs of this starting to manifest itself?

WELNER: Well, let's take a look at it from a parent's standpoint. I wouldn't let my child near a violent video game. I don't think any parent who watches this program can say that violent video games can provide any kind of social constructive purpose. Put them in a big pile, take them outside, light them on fire, never pay for them again.

This report has two commercially available movies that are noted. Why aren't those movies named? Why don't the makers of these movies see that when you put these movies in the hands of people who draw inspiration from them that they're toxic?

CUOMO: You know, people will say the games don't make you violent. You make you violent. It's not the movie. It's the suggestion that you take.

WELNER: But they're used as a training substitute for human contact. They're used to replace human contact. They're used and Breivik laid this out (ph) in Norway. He wrote a manual about it, to enhance target acquisition. The report told us that Adam Lanza killed 27 people in ten minutes. That's extraordinary focus. It's extraordinarily (INAUDIBLE) and he trained to do it. And that's how the video games are used.

And they're also used to facilitate a detachment. When President Obama is out in Los Angeles, I would challenge the president, you're raising money from Hollywood? Why don't you challenge the actors of Hollywood to refuse to appear in indulgently destructive movies? If you don't create icons for losers like Adam Lanza to say, hey I want to be that guy. I can relate to him.

He's strong. He's powerful. If we don't create those icons -- and these aren't created in other societies -- then people will never get there and think that we have to start at an earlier point.

BOLDUAN: Doctor, what do you then say when you read this report and you see such a chilling portrait of someone who is deeply troubled and you see what people will -- obviously, hindsight offers clarity that look like -- these are warning signs. What do you say to folks then who make the leap to say, then, this -- then, where were the parents? Where was Ms. Lanza? She's dead now. Where was the fault with her?

WELNER: Well, the only thing that -- this is a very important question that you've raised. Mass killers plot about doing it for a long time. What we try to understand from a forensic psychiatric standpoint is why did it happen that day? And you learn the most from the first victim taken. He had no agenda with the children.

That was all about a body count. That's my professional opinion. Nothing to do -- but there's something in his relationship with the mother. Now, before we pathologize it, what do we know? She was away for a few days before this happen, but we also know that there was some discussion about moving and deconstructing whatever it was that he built.

In my professional experience, people who are very limited, some of whom have significant mental illness, when there's a sense of who is supporting them and whom they're dependent upon and their environment gets threatened just physically, structurally, not with violence, that's the kind of thing that is a catalyst for them saying I'm going to do this because this situation that I'm in, this support that I'm in -- maybe my mom is going to move away.

Maybe she won't support me, maybe I'll be on my own. And it doesn't have to be a threat. All it has to be is a person's perception that you know something, I see the end. The end is coming and I'm going to act on my terms. So, I think that the answers for why it happened that day are going to relate to a dynamic that every family with a chronic mentally ill or violent developmentally disabled child can relate to, and that is, what are the boundaries, what are the responsibilities and who is going to help us?

And until you've been in that position, it is the loneliest place to be. So, from what I've read, I am a big supporter of Mrs. Lanza in the standpoint of I haven't walked in her shoes. We can see that he took over the home. We don't know how it got there, but we know that she was devoted and she was trying to love him as best she could.

CUOMO: And we do know that even in Connecticut, which is a fairly progressive state with mental health, she can't make him take his meds.


CUOMO: She can't get him residential treatment anywhere in all likelihood. She can't control him, especially at the age over 18. And people forget that when we look retrospectively, look back and say you should have controlled the kid better. There's nothing to do. There's no --

WELNER: We spoke about this last week, and this reinforces the point. You have to empower the parents. When the mother looking in the mirror says I'm overwhelmed, all she has to do is pick up the phone and say help me and that people are prepared to step in and penetrate the bubble that he created and he was able to maintain.

Not just because of Mrs. Lanza in the home but because of rights that protect the ability of the illness to run the situation. And that's why certain catastrophes, not just mass killings -- it may be Mr. Deed's situation in Virginia. That's why certain catastrophes happen when families, most of all, are the ones who absolutely saw this as coming.

BOLDUAN: Doctor, thank you very much for coming in. Excellent prospective. Thank you so much.

CUOMO: When it comes to these violent incidents that we all care so much about, no discussion matters more than this. I know we get distracted by the guns and that matters, too. But how we treat the mentally ill and how we glorify violence is always at the center of these situations. Thank you very much, doctor, appreciate it.

WELNER: Thank you.

CUOMO: We're going to take a break. When we come back on "NEW DAY", those two teenagers accused of bullying Rebecca Sedwick to death, they've been cleared, but not by Rebecca's mother. She's filed a wrongful death suit. You'll want to hear why, and, what she wants you to know about your kids.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to "NEW DAY". Time now for the five things you need to know for your "NEW DAY".


PEREIRA (voice-over): Watch this killer winter storm targeting the east coast. It is expected to cause absolute chaos for millions of Americans that are planning to drive or to fly this Thanksgiving.

The U.S. says it could pull out all troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year if a security deal is not reached. President Hamid Karzai now saying he will not signed on until Afghan prisoners are freed from Guantanamo Bay.

President Obama wrapping up a west coast swing today with the visit to DreamWorks Animation Studios in Southern California where he'll deliver a speech focusing on the economy.

A Colorado army officer tied by DNA to several sexual assaults on young girls is expected in court today. Attorney for Aaron Lucas says his twin brother is really to blame. Ryan Lucas denies the claims.

And at number five, controversy surrounding the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Animal rights group, PETA, is set to protest SeaWorld's sea of surprises float today over accusations that the theme park does not properly treat whales.


PEREIRA (on-camera): We always update those five things to know. So be sure to go to for the very latest. Kate -- Chris, over to you.

CUOMO: All right. Thanks, Mich. Appreciate it.

An update now to a case that we've been following very closely here on NEW DAY. The mother of Rebecca Sedwick, 12-year-old girl, you remember, who took her own life after being bullied. Well, the mom plans to sue the people she says are responsible for her daughter's death, Tricia Norman.

She hasn't specified who she's targeting in the lawsuit yet, but last week's stalking charges, you remember, were dropped against the two teen girls accused of cyber bullying Rebecca. Tricia is standing by with her attorney. But first, a reminder of what this story is all about.


CUOMO (voice-over): Two teenage girls are now cleared of aggravated stalking charges in the case of alleged cyber bullying that led to the death of 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick. One of the accused spoke to NEW DAY.

(on-camera) What do you think you've learned here because of everything that's happened?

KATELYN ROMAN, CLEARED OF CYBERBULLY CHARGES: Well, maybe you should watch what you say and words hurt. You should use them carefully and try not to hurt people's feelings.

GRADY JUDD, POLK COUNTY SHERIFF: Bullying is a national epidemic.

CUOMO (voice-over): Sheriff Grady Judd came out strong against the two alleged bullies, arresting the girls, showing their mug shots and naming them at a press conference, and he stands by his actions.

JUDD: If the same set of circumstances occurred today, I would make the same arrest.

CUOMO: But Katelyn Roman's attorney, Jose Baez, says his client has been cleared of any wrongdoing and calls the sheriff reckless.

JOSE BAEZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He's trying to say how glad he is now that she's getting counseling and that was his goal all along. Well, I'm sorry. I don't think his job is to traumatize children by putting their mug shots on them, calling them little felons. I'm outraged by his conduct.

CUOMO: At the center of this war of words is a grieving family. Sedwick jumped to her death after being tormented by online messages like "drink bleach and die." As Sedwick's family continues to fight, what school districts or police can do to put an end to this behavior is still in question.

(on-camera) What do you want to tell other kids? They're listening and they're saying, I don't know what happened there, but you know, I can say what I want and that's just how kids are. What do you say to them?

ROMAN: Well, I want to tell them that you can bully and maybe not even know that you're doing it. And you just need to look at yourself and say, wait, am I doing something wrong here?

(END VIDEOTAPE) CUOMO: Joining us now is Rebecca Sedwick's mother, Tricia Norman, and her attorney, Matt Morgan. Thank you to both of you for being here. I want to start with something here that we haven't heard anything about. Right now, your daughter is just about how she died. Who was she? How was she so that people here who have kids and we all know young people that she's like so many other kids. Tell us about her.

TRICIA NORMAN, REBECCA SEDWICK'S MOTHER: She was bright, beautiful, fun to be around. She loved different shows on TV, "Vampire Diaries," "The Carrie Diaries." I mean, just different things. She loved One Direction. She loved her cheerleading.

CUOMO: The easy answer in these situations is to say, Rebecca, God love her, she was fragile. She was susceptible to this. She was different. Is that fair?

NORMAN: No, not at all. She was a normal kid. I mean, she was just like any other kid out there.

CUOMO: She could take a little bit of ribbing? She wasn't particularly vulnerable? You know why I'm asking you this?

NORMAN: Yes. She -- yes, she could take it. She dished it out. I mean, when somebody would attack her, there were times she would, you know, defend herself. And she didn't just lay down and say, OK, kick me.