Return to Transcripts main page


Carbon Monoxide Poisoning at Restaurant; Ukraine's Ousted President Flees Kiev; Notorious Mexican Drug Lord Arrested

Aired February 23, 2014 - 07:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And breaking overnight, one man is dead. Twenty-seven people are hospitalized from carbon monoxide poisoning at a New York restaurant. We've got the cause and the investigation, still ahead.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Caught. This morning, one of the world's most wanted drug lords is in custody. But putting El Chapo behind bars doesn't mean shutting down his cartel.

BLACKWELL: And one week to the Oscars. Have you seen all the nominated films yet? The ones you have to see and the ones you could miss. Your NEW DAY continues now.

PAUL: All right. It is Sunday and we are happy to have you on board with us here as we've had our breakfast, go grab yours and go sit back and relax. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Take your breakfast. That's pretty good.

Seven o'clock here on East Coast, 4:00 out West, NEW DAY SUNDAY. Thanks for being with us.

PAUL: Yes. We start with you this morning on New York's long island because carbon monoxide poisoning left a restaurant manager dead overnight.

BLACKWELL: This happened around dinnertime last night at Legal Sea Foods. This is at the Walt Whitman Mall in Huntington Station, New York. Nearly 30 others were rushed to a hospital.

Alexandra Field is outside the mall there.

What do we know about what is happening now and this investigation?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor and Christi, three restaurants had to be evacuated, but now, there's a sign, just one of those restaurants saying it's been condemned for occupancy and that is the Legal Sea Foods behind me. Police believe the carbon monoxide leak was confined to the basement of that restaurant where they also believe it started.


FIELD (voice-over): The investigation this morning by homicide and arson detectives centers on Legal Sea Foods heating equipment, the apparent source of deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is scary that we were just sitting there.

FIELD: Cathy Sila (ph) and Ashley Harper were at Cheesecake Factory at the Walt Whitman Mall in Huntington, New York, when the wait staff told the entire restaurant to get out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were sitting at the bar, we were having a glass of wine and somebody came over, I think one of the waitresses. She said you had to leave.

FIELD: Police and emergency responders were called to the mall after a report that a woman had fallen and hit her head in the basement of legal sea foods. When authorities arrived and began investigating, they themselves reported feeling nauseated and dizzy, symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure. Restaurants in the area were immediately evacuated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had to leave, because I didn't want to blow up or anything like that. So, I didn't know how dangerous it was and they just told us to stay outside.

FIELD: Emergency crews found legal sea foods' manager 55-year- old Steven Nelson unconscious in the basement. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. More than two dozen other victims, including seven first responders were also sickened by the gas and had to be taken to area hospitals with nonlife threatening symptoms.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, I think that's scary that we were in the same building.


FIELD: Legal Sea Foods has responded, saying they are devastated by the news of the leak. They took to Twitter to also say we are profoundly saddened to learn of the death of our general manager, Steve Nelson. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family -- Victor, Christi.

PAUL: All right. Alexandra Field -- thank you, Alexandra.

Now, oh, what a tumultuous weekend it's been. A lot of chaos and still confusion right now in the Ukraine.

BLACKWELL: Yes, we've got some live pictures to show you. This is the capital Kiev. Huge crowds here. They have been filling the city's Independence Square for months now.

And their president is on the run after his parliament kicked him out of office. New surveillance video seems to show so him leaving his luxurious country home outside Kiev by helicopter.

CNN has not confirmed the video's authenticity. But also now lawmakers are turning his powers over to his speaker.

PAUL: That's one of the newest developments this morning.

Let's get to CNN's Phil Black who is in Kiev.

So, Phil, first of all, what does this mean for President Viktor Yanukovych? I mean, his archrival says Ukraine is finished with him. Does he have any -- how much political power does he still have there, if any?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's significantly diminished figure and that's why he has fled to the east of the country. That is where his heartland is, his core support and really determines here, we wait to see what he does next now. That will decide just where this goes.

Yesterday, some conflicting behavior from President Yanukovych, declared that he is still the president, that he is going to stick around, that he's going to fight to hold on to the country. But late last night, Ukraine's border authority said he tried to board a charter flight to leave. He wasn't allowed to do so because his documentation wasn't in order.

Now, wait to see just what that next step is. If he decides to stay in Ukraine, try to hold on to the presidency and hold on to control of the country, then the risk of a split down that east/west access becomes far more likely. That's the worse-case scenario. People talking about this country, potentially, splitting in two. We'll get a sense in the coming day or so depending on just what his next steps are.

BLACKWELL: You know, Phil, some of the images especially of the last 24 to 48 hours are reminiscent of other political and social revolutions that we've seen over the last several years. You've got a Mubarak-style escape, potentially. We've got this Hussein-style wealth when they took over the presidential palace, and then reminiscent of the Arab spring, you have people who are just taking over the public square.

Is revolution the right word for what we're watching -- the right description and characterization?

BLACK: There does seem to be a script that these events do follow, indeed. I think it is, it is a revolution because the political power, as it was, has been overturned. But it is still very much a revolution in progress because Yanukovych fate and decisions he has yet have not been revealed. Just what his next steps are will determine how this plays out, how orderly this revolution concludes itself and will play an enormous role in the history of this country.

BLACKWELL: All right. Phil Black there live in Kiev as we see the live pictures of the crowds there at Independence Square. We'll check back, Phil. Thank you. PAUL: Meanwhile, one of the most dangerous and violent men in the world is behind bars after a nearly 13-year manhunt. Joint operation by Mexican and American officials led to the capture of Joaquin El Chapo Guzman and his capture. Him and his cartel are accused of executing journalists, for executing police officers, stuffing bodies in garbage bags.

CNN's Nick Parker has more on his final moments.


NICK PARKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One of the world's most notorious drug lords now behind bars after moving a decade on the run. Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman was paraded before the media in Mexico City, the first public glimpse in years. The government says the investigation has been ongoing for several months.

JESUS MURILLO KARAM, MEXICAN ATTORNEY GENERAL (through translator): There were several moments in which he could have been apprehended, but prudence and common sense prevented us from making the arrest in a place where citizens could be affected. We decided not to endanger the public and wait for the right time. That was precisely why with great efficiency and without a single shot fired, the arrest was executed by the Navy team.

PARKER: Guzman was caught in a luxury condo development in a resort city of Mazatlan, a popular destination for U.S. tourists. Marines found more than 130 guns, 19 armored cars and two grenade launchers. Thirteen others were also arrested.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is calling the arrest of the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel a landmark achievement. Some analysts are skeptical about the real impact on the flow of drugs.

DWIGHT DYER, CONTROL RISKS: First of all, the Sinaloa cartel is not run by him exclusively. It's an organization that has at least three top leaders. Second, Joaquin Guzman was able to run his part of the cartel from prison before. So, there's very little making us think that he will not be able to do that, again.

PARKER: Guzman previously escaped from a maximum security prison in 2001 in a laundry cart. There is an outstanding extradition warrant for him in the United States where he was recently named public enemy number one in Chicago. But analysts say it's unlikely he will be immediately deported as the current administration has not extradited other drug lords wanted in the U.S.

Nick Parker, CNN, Mexico City.


BLACKWELL: Of course, we'll get more on that story, because that is just starting to break.

PAUL: Oh my goodness, yes. BLACKWELL: Hey, if you thought the bitter cold was behind us and people are whipping out the flip-flops and I saw people in shorts yesterday.

Pack them away again, because the temperatures are about to plunge.

PAUL: New York, Washington, Chicago, another arctic blast, apparently is heading your way. You know in Chicago they break out the flip-flops when it hits like 50 --


PAUL: -- right, Jen?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, for sure. I was in flip- flops yesterday and it was gorgeous here in Atlanta and even warmer today.

But in the next couple of days, yes, another surge of arctic air is going to evade the country and it's not going to be quite as strong as these we've seen in the past. We are getting closer to spring, believe it or not. The punch just isn't quite there and we will see some cities, especially in the northern plains and even Chicago.

You are going to have some very cold temperatures on the way. Temperatures are going to be at 23 degrees on Monday, 21 on Tuesday and then look at Wednesday. You dropped to 13 and these are high temperatures, so, you're a good 23 degrees below normal. Now, we have seen single-digit temperatures earlier in the season. Not quite as cold, but still cold.

New York City, your high temperature on Wednesday is only going to be 32. Atlanta, I want to mention, today you're going to be at 71 degrees.


GRAY: Enjoy, applause all across the studio.

PAUL: Yes, yes!


GRAY: One more thing that is important to mention, guys. California is going to get much-needed rain as we go through the end of the week. The pattern is going to shift, so, we could get rain there by Friday into Saturday and that is good news, not only for the west coast, but for all of us because it impacts all of us.

BLACKWELL: Ours is just inconvenient. Theirs is, much more important. So, good for California getting that rain.

PAUL: Yes, all righty. Jen, thank you.

GRAY: No problem. BLACKWELL: Still to come on NEW DAY: the winter Olympics coming to an end this morning. See where the U.S. stands in the medal count.

PAUL: And Ted Nugent is some of the talking points for the Democrats. What one Texas candidate has to say about him now?


PAUL: So, controversial rocker Ted Nugent making headlines again this morning after Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis slammed her opponent for campaigning with him. Davis, a Democrat, as you know, known for her marathon filibuster of a strict anti-abortion law. She targeted the character of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott while speaking at a Democratic women's convention.

And she told the crowd, quote, "This is not about some aging rock star way past his prime that simply needs to go away. This is about Greg Abbott. It's about his character, his judgment, his values when he stands on the stage next to someone like that and refers to him as a blood brother", unquote.

Now, Abbott stirred controversy remember when he campaigned with Nugent at two events last week because Nugent recently called President Obama a, quote, "subhuman mongrel." Ted Nugent offered a half-hearted, some would call, apology for those comments. The Abbott campaign says Davis is trying to avoid talking about real issues.

BLACKWELL: The Winter Olympics in Sochi coming to an end today. Closing ceremonies get under way at 11:00 a.m. Eastern.

PAUL: Yes. And there are a couple events left today. Men's hockey gold medal game. Four-man bobsled, as well.

Joe Carter is watching all the action.

Hi, Joe.

JOE CARTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, guys. How are you?

Men's hockey is going on right now. It's Sweden and Canada in the gold medal game. It just started at 7:00 a.m. Eastern. So, it's 0-0 as of now, but Canada was the favored going into this game. They're -- basically, they've owned men's ice hockey in the last two Olympics. They won two of the last three gold medals and beat United States on Friday. So, they'll play for the gold medal today and continue to play right now, 0-0.

But as far as the men go, the U.S. men, they will be coming home with no medal because yesterday, we got crushed by Finland, 5-0 in the bronze game and this one got real ugly fast. Finland scored two goals in an 11-second span. Real quick.

PAUL: Wow.

CARTER: And then they scored three more goals in the third period. So, it was a 5-0 loss. Now, for USA hockey as a whole, three losses in three days. So much hype and so much anticipation went into the final part of the tournament and then just a complete downfall.

Thursday, the women lost to Canada and then the men lost to Canada on Friday and, of course, yesterday we lost to Finland. No medal for the men.

Not all bad news. Steve Holcomb and the USA one bobsled team picked up America's final medal for 2014 Winter Olympics. They did it this morning. They won bronze in the four-man bobsled just a few minutes ago.

Team USA made it to the podium in a blink of an eye. Finished 0.03 ahead of Russia. Right now they're standing to get fourth place in that.

So, the final medal count as it stands now, Russia leading the pack with 32 medals. So, that's pretty much -- 33 medals. That's where they'll stay and then the U.S. has the second most medals at 28 because just won the bronze in the four-man bobsled and Norway is in third with 26.

So, as you guys said, closing ceremonies at 11:00 a.m. Eastern and the games, if you look at the medal count, the games estimated to cost somewhere around $52 billion for Russia. It averages out to about $1.5 billion per medal, pretty expensive.

So, obviously, 2016 Rio for the Summer Games and the 2018 South Korea for next winter games.

PAUL: All righty.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Joe.

CARTER: Thank you, guys. Good to see you both.

BLACKWELL: Still to come on NEW DAY, a sad ending to that American student who went missing in Rome. We're going to hear from his classmates and two different racially charged incidents at Ole Miss putting students on edge. Next, we'll hear from one student who said someone called her the N-word and then threw alcohol at her.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think this is devastating to the whole community and a shock to me and I'm sure for everyone else for this to happen, especially, you know, it will be a tough time for everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're very close community. So, it's a very sad thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PAUL: Students there grieving over this man. The body of fellow classmate John Durkin was discovered in a Rome railroad tunnel. Now, the student disappeared a few days ago while studying abroad in Italy.

They knew he was last seen drinking at a local bar there with friends. Italian investigators are looking into his death and his father is there as well now.

BLACKWELL: A recent string of race-related incidents at Ole Miss is causing widespread concern on that campus and the FBI is now working with the university officials after a noose and a flag with confederate emblem in the statue of James Meredith. He integrated the school in 1962.

Meanwhile, many alumni -- they say these events do not represent the campus they know and love.

CNN's Nick Valencia has more.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): First, it was a noose hung from the neck of a civil rights icon statue. And then a day later, an African-American student was called the N-word and doused with alcohol from a moving car.

KIESEHA REEVES, STUDENT: When I heard it, I kind of popped my head up and that's when he threw it. Just threw it out of a red cup.

VALENCIA: What did you hear?

REEVE: It was you black (AUDIO DELETED).

VALENCIA: Police and university officials are investigating if the two incidents are connected, but the race-related episodes around campus have jogged painful memories of what was a campus where racism thrived.

Today, despite the incidents, university chancellor tells CNN the climate of Ole Miss is one of tolerance and acceptance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do have systemic racism in our country. We have it in this state and we have it in this university. Much less so than in years past. But there is racism everywhere in the world. I wish that it weren't so.

VALENCIA (on camera): Why is it such a bigger deal here when it happens at Ole Miss?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because this university was founded on the principles of holding slavery.

VALENCIA (voice-over): April Grayson (ph) works for the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, based at Ole Miss. They work to support racial equality and help communities heal from decades' old wounds. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think quite a bit has changed here. That's not to say that we still don't have a lot of work to do. But it's not the same university it was in 1962 when James Meredith desegregated the university.

VALENCIA: All the students CNN spoke with said the alleged actions of the three freshman students being investigated for desecrating James Meredith statue are not indicative or reflect everyday life on campus, though others do acknowledge there are some here who still carry the values of Jim Crow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, it's not like these events have shown what's not said is sometimes still in people. But I believe it's not everybody. It's not overwhelming majority.

VALENCIA (on camera): The university tells us that they will seek justice for those involved. Now, if that is expulsion or even arrests, we don't know at this time. But FBI has taken a particular interest in this case and they're deciding whether or not they're going to level federal hate crime charges against the students in question -- Victor, Christi.


BLACKWELL: All right. Nick Valencia in Oxford for us -- thank you.

PAUL: So, Arizona's religious freedom bill has gay supporters outraged. But here's a question: what if you're a Christian and a gay? Executive director of the Gay Christian Network is joining us next with his thoughts.

BLACKWELL: If you didn't see "Gravity" or anything else on the best picture list, we'll tell you what you can watch and what you can skip before the Oscars, of course, next week.


PAUL: So glad to see you on what I hope is a lazy Sunday morning for you. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: Just easing to it, easing to it. I'm Victor Blackwell.

Let's start with five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.

Up first, this story out of New York. One man dead, nearly 30 others hospitalized in a carbon monoxide leak last night at a restaurant at this mall in Huntington Station. Now, the investigation is ongoing, but police believe the leak may have started with the heating system in the basement.

PAUL: Number two, first Ukraine's parliament kicked the president out of office. Now, it's turning over his powers to its speaker and firing several ministers who supported him. And take a look at this. New surveillance video we're showing you seems to show the ousted leader fleeing his country home by helicopter. He is believed to be in a pro-Russian stronghold now in eastern Ukraine after failing to get a plane out of the country.

BLACKWELL: Number three this morning, the Taliban says it's suspending negotiations with the U.S. to free Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. He's the only American soldier held captive. The Taliban had wanted to exchange him for five Taliban prisoners. But now, the Taliban says it's stopping talks because of sensitive political situations. Bergdahl has been held captive by insurgents in Pakistan since 2009.

PAUL: Number four, investigators are trying to determine what caused a deadly small plane crash in Georgia. Three people were killed when the twin engine plane went down at the Lagrange Airport yesterday afternoon. Witnesses say the pilot was trying to land when apparently he spotted another plane on the runway and then tried to avoid a collision and that's when he crashed.