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Deadly Shooting in Howard County, Maryland; Justin Bieber Arrested in Miami

Aired January 25, 2014 - 18:00   ET


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN ANCHOR: As promised, hello, everyone. I'm Miguel Marquez, and you are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

A crowded shopping mall today turned into instantly a violent crime scene. A man in Maryland, Columbia with a shotgun opened fire inside a mall store, a skater shot called Zumiez. Two store employees are dead. The shooter is also dead. Police say, it looked like he turned the shotgun on himself.

A short time ago, we heard from the police chief of Howard County.


CHIEF BILL MCMAHON, HOWARD COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT: The identity of the shooter, we don't know yet. And when the officers approached, he was obviously deceased, but he was also still had a large amount of ammunition still on and about him. And so, because of concerns about any other weapons that he may have or explosives with we are approaching this with an abundance of caution, and we are getting assists and the from some of our federal partners in making sure that there are no explosives on the body of the deceased.


MARQUEZ: Just in the past few minutes we have learned the names of the man and woman killed in the mall attack. They are 21-year-old Brianna Benlolo of College Park, Maryland, and Tyler Johnson, 25- years-old from Ellicott City, Maryland. They both work at the store where the shooter opened fired in a skate store called Zumiez. Police say they got the first emergency call to the mall about 11:15 this morning and were on site within two minutes. We also know that at least five other people were injured, one by gun fire, the others in the chaos in the aftermath.

Erin McPike is outside the mall in Columbia, Maryland.

Erin, there is also plenty about the shooting that we don't know. What is going on there?

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN GENERAL ASSIGNMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well Miguel, right now, the investigators say they don't know what the motive is. There are some talk about whether it might have been a domestic dispute as what a federal investigator at one point told CNN but the Howard county police have not confirmed yet. They say that it is possible, but they don't know. We also, as the police chief said earlier today, they don't know the identity of the shooter. He apparently had lots of ammunition on him. They thought perhaps he could have had explosives on him. But it took a long time for them to get through all of that. So we don't know the identity of the shooter.

We, of course, also don't know when the mall is going to open again. This has been, obviously, very big crime scene all day long, but the mall operators basically are going to have to determine when that is going to be and the Howard county executives don't yet know when that is going to be, Miguel.

MARQUEZ: All right. Erin McPike for us in Columbia, Maryland.

Thank you very much, Erin, for keeping track of it all for us.

The Columbian American mall was crowded when the shooting started. Most people immediately fled or hid. They described what they saw and heard during those first terrifying minutes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was in the back of the store working with my other co-worker, and all of the sudden two people run through the back of our back room saying that somebody is in the mall shooting. Some people were going towards the one exit, and a lot of other people who didn't know where the exits were, which is going the other way and just hiding out in rooms.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And people started running and they said that somebody is down there and he has got a gun and I heard at least eight to 10 gunshots.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard somebody say shots fire. So, I grabbed the kid and I looked three people fall to the ground, grabbed the kid and ran, had the mother followed me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People left their strollers. Their strollers are still there and skates and bags and everything. Shoes. I saw people's shoes just sitting there, food knocked over and everybody just started to run, and kids were running, and you just ran and ran to the nearest place you could find.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we were in the back room waiting, you know. We turned off our lights and, you know, stayed in the back room to wait for further information.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were in the back of the room in the fitting store area, I mean, literally just, you know, and where do you go? You are in a fitting room area. You know, if somebody is going to come in, you are still just as vulnerable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did call 911 to see if it is true. They did said yes, ma'am, you know, please seek shelter. And I did hear the helicopter land on the -- I'm assuming on the roof.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone was scared. Everyone there, it with was pretty chaotic at the time, you know. And people running by the score, people ducking down on the floor and in the candy store. But we just kind of took control and said, come on guys and got never the back room.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was just crazy and one of those things that you see it on TV, but you never expect to go through it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are a number of times of people getting out of their armored vehicles and the S.W.A.T. team coming in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And people were going store to store to tell people to get out and now everybody left and not all of the stores closed the doors, and so they were looking in each and every store trying to find the guy, I guess. A lot of the kids were crying and a mothers were holding on to them and shaking and not knowing what is going on.


MARQUEZ: And now, Zumiez, the store where it occurred has released a statement expressing its condolences to families of those who died and that are injured today, also saying that they are arranging for counseling services for its employees.

I want to bring in Lou Palumbo who can talk to just these scenes in general. One thing we have heard over and again is how quickly they responded and how fast they went in.

LOU PALUMBO, RETIRED POLICE OFFICER: That is the training they received. As you have listened to them on numerous occasions this evening, you are finding that the law enforcement agencies are actually training in facilities exactly like this mall, schools, office buildings, all different types of environments that they might have to insert themselves into, to mitigate a process like this.

MARQUEZ: And this is something that we never ever expect to be involve in except that it seems to have happen everywhere. If you are a citizen and this happens, what is the best advice? What do you do?

PALUMBO: Well, if you are a citizen caught in the situation?


PALUMBO: Well, they would like you to basically shelter in place and request assistance right away. It is the same thing we learn in law enforce.

MARQUEZ: Don't run?

PALUMBO: No. Running might not necessarily be your best alternative. You could run yourself right into the problem. Shelter in place, and most people are carrying the cell phones. Call for help right away. Dial 911, and give them as much information as you possibly can.

MARQUEZ: And when you say shelter in place, not hiding under a desk, but get behind a door and block it and figure out some way to be know that you are away from the danger. PALUMBO: Something that affords you the maximum amount of cover. That's what I recommend.

MARQUEZ: All right, Lou. Thank you very much. We are going to talk to you a bit more today. Thanks for all of the help this afternoon.

Today's shooting in Maryland was the sixth straight day of gun related emergencies in a school, malls or other public place. We will explore why coming up.


MARQUEZ: Now, today is the sixth day in a row that a public place or school was the scene of a gun-related emergency. Check this out, every day this past week all over the country, police have responded to a school campus shooting or a lockdown campus. The week began with a student shot and wounded at the University of Philadelphia area, a teachers' assistant was killed Tuesday when a student was gunned down outside of the dormitory at South Carolina state university on Friday. It is a street that should fill us all with a sense of concern.

And joining us are criminal defense attorney Holly Hughes and from New York, clinical psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere and retired police officer, Lou Palumbo.

Jeff, can you remember a week like this?

JEFF GARDERE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: I really can't. And when we talk about contagion, it seems to be really happening here. What people see what is going on as far as the shootings, and I think it, in many ways lows, the threshold where people say, I saw that happened. I can do that now. Or that seem what happened there really makes me so emboldened that I can go out the do the same thing. So, this is a real phenomenon when we see one thing happening after another, there s is a connection there. And I think that a lot of the folks involved knew what was going on during the week.

MARQUEZ: Holly, you defend criminals. Do you -- is there something in the water? What is going on out there? Are we seeing more of these? What is happening?

HOLLY HUGHES, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think we are seeing more of these. And as we discussed earlier, Miguel, it is not one simple answer. You cannot say it is all because of the lack of gun control. You can't say it is all because of lack of mental health treatment. It is a combination of all of these things, the rise in violence that our children are subjected to that we didn't have 20, 30 years ago.

Lou was talking about that. We see it in the entertainment. We see it in the video games. It is all of these things combined. And unfortunately, it is going to take everybody coming to the table to find a solution. We can't legislate what might happen in the future. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system is left with, what do we do with the people who are committing the crimes? And we are on the back end of it. We need to come together, and all three of us, and we have law enforcement here, we have mental health represented and then you got me. I used to be a prosecutor, so I locked these guys up, now I defend them. So everybody has to come to the table. Everybody has to participate in finding the solution.

MARQUEZ: Look, it is very complicated. Lou, from a law e enforcement perspective, and the law enforcement is very good at responding to things once they have happened, but how do you get around it? I mean, is this becomes security fortress America?

PALUMBO: No. I think the first thing is that we have to realize that what we are experiencing in this country today with all the shootings and the level of violence that we live with day to day is not the problem, it is the symptom of the problem, number one.

And number two, I think that we have to take a closer look at the responsibility of law enforcement, and this other interesting concept known as problem solving. And problem solving is not leading the general public into thinking that if we pass gun laws that the violence or the anger issues that Jeffrey pointed out earlier are going to go away. We need to get to the root of the problem and we need to identify what has happened to the culture, why it is deteriorating, what is going on with the mental and the emotional state of young children and the demographic of about 18 to 25-years- old.

MARQUEZ: And Jeff, it is already hundreds of millions of guns out there. Even if we had restrictive, very restrictive gun laws and kept anyone from buying a gun ever again in America, it would not solve this issue.

GARDERE: It would not solve the issue. Our colleagues are absolutely correct. It does takes a multi-layered approach. However, I do believe that if we can -- this isn't something we are going to solved this the next five years or ten years. This is something that is going to happen maybe 15 or 20 years down the road if we start looking at the gun control legislation now, if we start looking at plugging the mental the health issues, and loopholes so that people can get universal health care, if we look at working in the schools with the people that we identify, whom we have anger issues, personality disorders that we can begin working with, then we will have a solution. But it is going to the take many years. But I will disagree with the colleagues and say, it does begin with the gun laws. We have to start getting guns off of the street.

MARQUEZ: Holly, you were a prosecutor, now a defense attorney, what do you see? You know, you don't see it as guns, I take it, but what do you see that is getting at the American society right now and why is this happening so often?

HUGHES: Well, part of it is guns. But like I said, why do they pick up the gun? You know, I have seen on the twitter feed just recently since we have been having this discussion, people are all upset, you support guns. You work for the NRA. Hello, people! We have a United States constitution. The guarantee is that citizens have a right to bear arms. So, that is not going to go away. You know, somebody on twitter just said, let's take everybody's guns away across the board. It is not going to happen. There is a constitution that guarantees us the right to carry it.

The problem is are we doing the appropriate background checks? Are we checking for mental health issues before we let people get guns, right? And then, all of the illegal drugs on the street. That is what the problem is.

PALUMBO: And there's no such thing as single causality. And the reality of the situation is that there is not going to be a single fix. And when we start to talk about the gun legislation, we have to learn that concept of problem-solving and legitimate problem-solving to where the two polarized opposites can bring themselves to the middle and start to present a forum that is going to fix this.

GARDERE: It can't be a partisan issue. It cannot be a partisan issue.

MARQUEZ: Gentlemen, we live in hope. That is all I can say. It is a tough one to solve.

Lou, Jeff, Holly, thank you all very much for joining us today.

HUGHES: Thank you.

GARDERE: Thank you.

PALUMBO: Thank you.

MARQUEZ: Another largest retail chain may be the newest victim of a data breach. That story is coming up.


MARQUEZ: Now police in Maryland have released the names of the two people killed today in the mall shooting there according to the Howard police, Brianna Benlolo, aged 21, and Tyler Johnson, 25, were gunned down by a man with a shotgun inside of the store where they both worked. The shooter is also dead apparently with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Five others injured and now they have all been released from the hospitals. Police have not released the motive for the shoo shooting.

A Texas judge has ordered a Fort Worth hospital to remove a pregnant and brain dead woman from respirators and ventilators marking the likely end of a painful and legal saga. Her husband Eric Munoz has been battling in the John Peter Smith hospital to have his wife removed from life support since November. A judge has give the hospital until Monday at 5:00 p.m. to act his order.

The nation's largest crop store chain maybe the latest big name retailer hit by security breach. Michaels today revealed what it calls possible fraudulent activity on some of its customers' payment card. The chain's CEO says the company has not confirmed the breach, but wanted to go ahead and alert the customers anyway. The company has not reveal how many customers may have been affected or when those customers may have shopped at Michaels. Now fallout continues over Justin Bieber's arrest in Florida and the circumstances around his wild night of alleged drinking, drugs and drag racing. The pop star is charged with DY, resisting arrest and driving with an expired license. Sources tell CNN two breath analyzer test showed her had been drinking, but wasn't legally intoxicated. So police may change charges in the next week or so. The singer has now left Miami, what (INAUDIBLE) that is, no one is quite sure where he is, but he did tweets this. You are all worthy no matter what anyone says, be strong. God is with us all. My Beliebers changed my life and I will be forever grateful.

So, yes, Bieber has broken the silence at least on twitter, but that is not all he has to say. We will show you what else he is tweeting these day and why a lot of people are angry, that is next.


MARQUEZ: Much just hours after he posted bail, reporter from WFOR, Miami snapped this picture of the singer hanging out in south beach. The table in the picture is filled with bottles of booze. And then on Friday, Bieber posted this on Instagram, it is a photo of him leaving the jail and juxtaposed of a late Michael Jackson waving to the crowd during his child molestation criminal trial back in 2004. In the photo caption, Justin wrote, what's more can they say?

I want to bring in criminal defense attorney, Holly Hughes, clinical psychologist Jeff Gardere and Samantha Schacher, host of the pop trigger on from the Young Turks Network.

Jeff, let's start with you. What is the message of the Biebs trying to send with all this stuff?

GARDERE: That he is being persecuted by the law enforcement, being persecuted by the media, that he is innocent, in some ways he is innocent, and he is a 19-year-old. He is acting out his teen angst in the world. A lot of pressures, not handling the stardom the way he should, but he does really feels like he is a victim. And in fact, he is not a victim, but he has to take control.

MARQUEZ: Well, he is certainly, had, been booked now. Let's look at his mug shots which has made the rounds just about everywhere, and of course, been changed online as well into the all sorts of images.

Samantha, is this going to be heightening his interest by the fans or lower it?

SAMANTHA SCHACHER, SOCIAL COMMENTATOR: I would have the say yes and no. I would say yes, it is going to affect his career as of now, because his recent criminal activity and his questionable behavior over the past year is only distracting from his music. And that is a shame, because Justin Bieber is talent and he is coming off as a joke. But I would say no, because the Justin Bieber fandom is a special breed of fan, Miguel. They are so loyal, more than any other fan base. Justin Bieber can do no wrong in their eye. And we have seen this over the past 72 hours on social media, then gathering outside of the courthouse as well as his home or the mansion that he is renting in Miami, and that is worrisome, because there is a fine line between supporting someone and enabling them.

MARQUEZ: Holly, I am struck, this is a Canadian citizen, and these are fairly serious charges. They could get more serious for him. Could Justin Bieber be deported?

HUGHES: I doubt it. What we are looking at here is probably going to be end up being a reckless driving, Miguel. And it is because of what you mentioned earlier. He tested under the legal limit to be intoxicated for the state of Florida. For anyone over the age 21, it is 0.8 and for under 21, which Justin Bieber is only 19, it is 0.02. But both of the test he took, one came out 0.11, 1.14. So it is probably going to be reduced to the reckless driving misdemeanor which means he is not going to be eligible for deportation, because he has not been convicted of a felony crime or what we call a crime of moral turpitude. Even if you are convicted of a misdemeanor, if it has to do with theft or deception or lying, that could be grounds to be tossed out of the country, I don't see it happening here.

MARQUEZ: Although, he also says he smoked marijuana. So, we will have to see what the police make of that.

Jeff, Bieber told the cops that his mother gave him prescription drugs that his father apparently was present in Miami when all of this went down, what is g going on there?

GARDERE: Well, more than anything else, he does need the support of family, but he needs the family that are not enabling him. We don't know exactly what they were doing. Look, Justin has done what all of the other superstars are do. They surround themselves with all these yes, men, perhaps very weak family members. They need people around. He needs people around himself who are no-people. In other words, they say no. Don't do this. Don't drink. You are only 19. Be careful of the reputation. That is what he needs. That is the way he is going to make it through. Otherwise, this is a train wreck that is going to continues to develop.

MARQUEZ: Samantha, the one thing about Justin Bieber, he is a talented musician at the end of the day.


MARQUEZ: And you know, he has been at it for a long time. He has more money than just about anybody, and more power, certainly. But I mean, you have seen this happen before with others. I mean, is this just a kid acting out do you think, do you think or is this somebody who's, you know, this is the beginning of a very long and rocky road?

SCHACHER: I hope not. Here is the thing with Justin Bieber is that when you look back at the past years, it is not just this one incident that we are all talking about that is now breaking news. We have seen this pattern of questionable behavior for well over a year now, so I don't think that it is normal behavior. But on the flip of that, what is normal behavior for somebody who is under the media scrutiny that has more money than most of us can ever imagine and is super famous?

So what I will say, I think people are infuriated with Justin Bieber right now and outraged because of how he handles himself after he's engaging in this questionable behavior. We have all made mistakes. We have all been teenagers. We have all had regrets. But the thing is, is that we are -- our character is determined by in adversity how we handle ourselves after the fact, and Justin Bieber in my opinion has failed in that department.

GARDERE: And he seems to be enjoying it as it is happening, because of all of the positive re-enforcement.

He does.

SCHACHER: Exactly.

MARQUEZ: Holly, if you were the lawyer, what would you tell him to do right now? Just shut up and go away for a bit.

HUGHES: Yes, and stop hanging around in public places with beer all over the table. Because what you want to be able to tell the judge is, I learned my lesson. I am really sorry. Yes, I'm a punk. Yes, I did stupid thing. I'm now toss to the cop, but I'm sorry and I'm changing.

GARDERE: And maybe it is light beer, who knows Miguel.

MARQUEZ: All right, Holly, Jeff, Samantha, thank you all very, very much. We will continue with the saga.

Update now on the still developing story we are following for today, the deadly shooting at a crowded shopping mall in Maryland. Police in Columbia, Maryland, they are still not sure why the man with the shotgun opened fire inside of the mall at 11:15 local time today and he killed two people that worked at the mall store, and 21-year-old woman and 25-year-old man. The shooter then apparently killed himself.

We will have updates on the mall shooting investigation throughout the night here on CNN. I'm Miguel Marquez in New York. "Backstage Express" with Robin Meade starts now.