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Deadly Fort Hood Shooting; Search for Flight 370; Another Strong Quake Near Chile; Landslide Death Toll Rises; Crisis in Ukraine

Aired April 3, 2014 - 05:00   ET


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news overnight: four people dead, 16 others injured after a gunman opened fire at Fort Hood. New this morning, information about the shooter and his history of mental illness.

Also new, how the tragedy played out and how it is affecting a community hit by the same violence just five years ago. We will take you live there with the very latest.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Poppy Harlow.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, good morning. I'm Christine Romans. It's Thursday, April 3rd. It is exactly 5:00 a.m. in the East.

We begin at Fort Hood, a base reeling this morning from another deadly shooting involving a soldier shooting his fellow service members. This happened in the middle of an otherwise quiet afternoon, when multiple sources tell CNN Army Specialist Ivan Lopez opened fire, taking three lives, then his own, and hurting 16 of his colleagues, some of them in critical condition this morning.

Now, more on Lopez in a moment, but first, let's go live to the base. CNN's George Howell is there.

George, we understand this shooting occurred at multiple locations on the base. He was even in his car at one point. Walk me through what happened.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, good morning. So, you are exactly right.

According to officials, moment by moment, we understand that, first, he went into a building, opened fire with this .45 caliber semiautomatic Smith and Wesson handgun, opened fire, got into his car, used the vehicle and shot from the vehicle, then went into another building -- these two buildings, the medical building and transportation building. Went into this second building, opened fire. Again, when it was all said and done, 16 people injured in various states of conditions in different hospitals. Three people were killed. And we understand that Lopez shot and killed himself when he was confronted by a military officer here on base. People here on base were told to shelter in place. They were told that the base was on lockdown. It was a frantic and scary situation for a lot of folks.

I want you to listen to what dispatchers were saying, what they were dealing with when all this was playing out. Take a listen.


DISPATCHER: We have an active shooter currently on Fort Hood coming in from the motor pool area. We have currently two victims with gunshot wounds. There's one walking around conscious and breathing, wound to his left side, upper rib cage.


HOWELL: Again, a .45 caliber Smith and Wesson semiautomatic handgun. This is the same weapon that we understand, according to officials, that he used to shoot and kill himself. This also is a weapon, guys, that was not registered here on base.

Keep in mind, any time you come to a major military installation like Fort Hood, of course, weapons are registered. They know what you have on you. In this case, they did not know about this weapon -- again, the same weapon that he allegedly used to shoot and kill three people.

HOWELL: All right. George Howell, thank you so much for the latest on that, George.

HARLOW: Well, the Army is not releasing the name of the shooter, but multiple sources tell CNN he is Specialist Ivan Lopez.

Here's what we know about him. Lopez had served four months in Iraq back in 2011. He had transferred to Fort Hood recently, just back in February. He was in the process of being evaluated for possible PTSD. He was also under treatment for depression and anxiety, and he only recently purchased the Smith and Wesson .45 caliber pistol used in the shooting. Neighbors of the shooter say they were with Lopez's wife in the moments after word broke of what had happened.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we were outside, you know, me and a few of my neighbors, we were all outside talking about it. And I saw her come out of her apartment, and she seemed to be -- you know, she was worried and she was crying, and she had a little girl with her. So, you know, I walked over to her, and you know, I tried to console her and confront her and let her know everything was OK. But it didn't seem to, you know, pretty much sink in. And so, we sat outside with her, you know, tried to keep her calm until her other family came, and that was pretty much it.

REPORTER: And did you know at this time that it was her husband?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. We had no clue. No one had a clue. She didn't even have a clue until a few hours had passed and we all heard it over the news.


HARLOW: We are told that the shooter's wife is cooperating with investigators.

ROMANS: Fort Hood is the largest military base in the country, home to more than 70,000 soldiers, their families and civilian employees.

Lynn Adams lives off base with her husband, an Army soldier who was locked down after this shooting. She says it doesn't seem like extra measures have been taken to keep the base secure.


LYNN ADAMS (via telephone): Post doesn't really have any extra security. They check IDs at the gate, they do random checks at the gate, and they're trained to look out for things that might signify that someone might be up to something, much like airport security and things like that or police officers, but there isn't really a whole lot of extra protection for us.


HARLOW: Well, President Obama spoke from Chicago shortly after we first heard about the shooting late yesterday. Take a listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Any shooting is troubling. Obviously, this reopens the pain of what happened at Fort Hood five years ago. We know these families. We know their incredible service to our country and the sacrifices that they make. Obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with the entire community, and we are going to do everything we can to make sure that the community at Fort Hood has what it needs to deal with the current situation, but also any potential aftermath.

We're heartbroken that something like this might have happened again, and I don't want to comment on the facts until I know exactly what has happened. But for now, I would just hope that everybody across the country is keeping the families and the community of Fort Hood in our thoughts and in our prayers.


ROMANS: Heartbroken that this might have happened again, the president saying again because Fort Hood has been the site of tragedy before. Five years ago, Major Nidal Hasan, an army psychiatrist, opened fire there, killing 13 people. He injured dozens of others.

General Russel Honore once was an assistant commander at Fort Hood. He told Wolf Blitzer shootings like this make it difficult for soldiers to feel safe in the one place, the one place where they're supposed to be protected.


GEN. RUSSEL HONORE, RET. LT. GEN., U.S. ARMY (via telephone): Army post by tradition, that's our sanctuary. That's a place we come back to, to be with our families, to train for the next mission or deployment, to go on that deployment, come back to our families that we leave, to those who remain behind as well as the surrounding communities, to take care of them. And when violence like this happens and breaks that trust between the soldier and his family and his community --


ROMANS: We're going to bring you the very latest on the shooting at Fort Hood throughout the morning.

Meanwhile, there are no signs of any breakthrough yet in the investigation into what happened into that plane.

HARLOW: There really aren't. And you know, all 227 passengers have now been cleared of hijacking or sabotage. And a review of the pilot's flight simulator has proved really inconclusive at this point. So many questions, and it just seems like dead end after dead end.

Let's get to Jim Clancy. He is live in Kuala Lumpur for us with the latest.

What would you say, Jim, as you assess the situation? You've been covering this for weeks and weeks now. Do you feel like this investigation has stalled?

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has stalled, and I'll tell you, when I look at it, I see investigators that started off with a lot of theories, and Lord knows we had a lot of other theories coming in from the outside, from the Internet. Everybody had all of these theories about what happened. They've all been exhausted, and there isn't any evidence, hard evidence, to support them.

Therefore, the investigators have said, really, their probe toes what went on inside the cockpit really depends on whether or not they find the plane. And we all know that that's carried on. They're going on with determination against daunting odds out there and a vast space of ocean and methodically trying to go through it, but even they are admitting they may never find this plane. There's that possibility.

They're not ready to give up yet, but I think the investigators realize that based on the evidence that they have, there's nothing that they can bring to us, the media, and say we have some conclusive proof about motive, we have some sign here, this is evidence.

There's been no claim of responsibility. There's been no political manifesto. There have been none of the things that you would expect in a scenario of foul play. And frankly, I think it's got everybody baffled.

Back to you. HARLOW: And you know, Jim, as much as we all want to know what happened, the families, the families of all those people on the plane, you can't even put yourself in their shoes. I know that you have been speaking with one woman who's been pretty outspoken. She is the girlfriend of one of the Americans on the flight. And she feels like the attention is dying down, and you know, she wants more and she wants the families to work together even more on this, right?

CLANCY: Yes, Philip Wood's longtime companion, Susan Bajc, she's basically saying, she's coming here to live. That was preordained. They were already going to do that.

And she's moving here now, but she says she wants to meet with the families, talk with them, talk about getting together, trying to internationalize this investigation a little bit more, trying to keep the government on its toes and focused on some of the answers that the families need for closure. I think that there's, you know, it doesn't matter whether you're Australian or American, Malaysian or Chinese, it matters to get the answers.


CLANCY: They need them.

HARLOW: Absolutely.

CLANCY: Back to you.

HARLOW: Appreciate the reporting this morning. Thank you, Jim.

ROMANS: Now to Australia, where search crews are out again and the Malaysian prime minister is insisting they will figure out what happened here.

Senior international correspondent Matthew Chance is live for us this morning in Perth.

You know, Matthew, this is the time of day when we start to get ready for a press conference from Malaysian authorities. That's not going to be happening today. We start to get ready for these planes to come in and the pilots to tell us what they've been seeing out there on the ocean in the search area.

Any indication how the search is going so far today?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, a lot of those planes have already come in. The American planes, the Japanese plane as well, they've both come in, Chinese planes as well. None of them have reported finding anything of significance so far. There hasn't been any formal press announcement, but by now, they've been landed by a couple of hours.

You would have expected that if they had found something significant, that would have emerged by now. It hasn't.

And so, it seems that the operation is continuing. In a sense, it's intensifying as well, because there is this time pressure that's being felt very strongly. The black box flight recorders have a pinger on them. We've discussed them a lot.

The pinger only lasts for 30 days. Those 30 days estimated to lapse by the seventh of this month. And so, just a few days left, and that's why they're bringing in more equipment, more vessels, the Australian vessel, the Ocean Shield is coming in within the next 24 hours. It's carrying a bit of specialized equipment from the United States. In fact, it will be able to, as accurately as possible, potentially track down that pinger signal from the black box on the flight recorder of the Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.

But at the moment, it's such a vast area. They don't really know where to look. They've narrowed it down to an area about 85,000 square miles. That's an enormous area, almost difficult to conceive of. And so, they haven't even found a trace of debris yet. So, you know, it's a big challenge ahead of them, to say the least.

ROMANS: Oceanographers tell us Matthew that here's a huge -- on the edge of a huge garbage patch there in the ocean, which is going to make it that much more difficult when they find something to differentiate whether it's trash or whether it's something very important for that flight and for solving this mystery.

Matthew Chance -- thank you, Matthew.

HARLOW: More news breaking overnight: another strong earthquake off the coast of Chile, this one measuring 7.6, leading to evacuations along that country's northern coast. This a day after an 8.2- magnitude quake rattled that same region, leaving six people dead and thousands of homes damaged. No word yet on damage or injuries from that latest quake.

ROMANS: All right, breaking news coverage of the shooting at Fort Hood and missing Malaysia Flight 370 all morning long, new details for you.

But first, the death toll rising in that mudslide that buried a Washington state neighborhood. The breaking developments on that overnight.


HARLOW: We're following breaking news this morning from Fort Hood. Four soldiers are dead, 16 others are injured, some in critical condition. This after a gunman opened fire at two locations on that base before taking his own life.

CNN has learned the gunman was Specialist Ivan Lopez. He had only transferred to Fort Hood a few months ago and was undergoing treatment for depression and anxiety. Fort Hood and the community around it has been through this before, a soldier opening fire on fellow service members.

And the mayor of Killeen, Texas, tells CNN's Don Lemon it is heartbreaking to see this happen again. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR DANIEL CORBIN, KILLEEN, TEXAS (via telephone): It's a military community. We experienced the tragedy in November -- on November 5th, 2009, where 13 people were killed and 30 wounded.

We've experienced the horrors of war, you know, since the first troops deployed to Iraq in 2003, we've had hundreds of soldiers from Fort Hood who have been killed and thousands wounded. These people have done the bulk of the fighting in the 1st Cavalry Division and the 4th Infantry Division and more soldiers deploying from Fort Hood were killed than from any other installation.

So, we've experienced the grieving. It's a community, it's like you've been kicked in the gut. You just -- it can't be happening again.

You know, these are our friends. We go to church together. We pray together. We play together.

It's a really tight-knit community, and we have so much respect for these soldiers who put their life on the line for our country, and they, many of them pay the ultimate sacrifice.


HARLOW: Yes, you know, Christine and I, we've been talking about it all morning. This is the place, the one place where they should be safe and protected, and an absolute tragedy there at Fort Hood.

Stay with us for the very latest on this shooting throughout the morning right here on CNN.

ROMANS: All right, the death toll has risen again in the Washington state landslide -- 29 people, 29 now are confirmed dead, 20 more still missing. President Obama has now declared the area a major disaster, opening the door to more federal aid. As the Army Corps of Engineers is making plans to build a channel to change the flow of the Stillaguamish River, which is threatening to flood the site.

HARLOW: Appeal denied. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court says it will not review the Jerry Sandusky case. The former Penn State assistant football coach was convicted in 2012 on 45 counts of child molestation, but his lawyers claimed he deserves a new trial. Sandusky's currently serving a 30 to 60-year sentence for sexually abusing 10 boys.

ROMANS: A major Supreme Court ruling likely to increase the flood of money into political campaigns. The high court in a 5-4 decision has lifted the cap on how much one person can donate in total in an election season, but you'll still be limited in how much you can give to a single candidate. Dissenting Justice Stephen Breyer said the ruling undermines, perhaps devastates, what remains of campaign finance reform.

HARLOW: President Obama says 2014 will be his last campaign. Speaking in Michigan and Illinois, the president sought to rally his base and raise some cash. And he admitted, the Democrats could be vulnerable this fall. Republicans who currently hold the House are eyeing a takeover of the Senate in the November midterm elections.

ROMANS: All right, global stocks mixed today. European investors waiting on news from the central bank that could rattle markets. Inflation in Europe has been worryingly low and that could affect the U.S. futures are flat, but all that's tap-dancing around the real story, right?

Record high for the S&P 500 yesterday. The Dow three points from a record high. It could happen today, the way futures are looking. If you get just a little bit of enthusiasm in stocks, you could see record -- never before has the Dow been this high.

Watch tech stocks today. Amazon is out with a new set top box. It costs $99, the same as Apple TV. It looks remarkably like its competitor. It does boast a voice recognition feature, so you can talk to your remote and change your channel with your voice. We'll see today whether investors like the product.

It gives all new meaning to running the remote control, you know?

HARLOW: This is so true.

ROMANS: The fights over the remote control.

HARLOW: What do you think this market, oversold?

ROMANS: I don't know. It's so interesting here. You mean overbought?

HARLOW: Yes, that's what I mean. Do we deserve these highs?

ROMANS: I don't know. The first quarter was really icky. So, now, after moving sideways and even having some really bad days in the first quarter, investors like what they see right now. So, we'll see if it holds.

HARLOW: We certainly do.

All right. Well, you know, it could be a very stormy day for a lot of folks around the country. Not the best travel day, to say the least, from snow to hail to possible tornadoes?

Indra Petersons here to walk us through it.

I guess we're in that season.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, we are transitioning seasons and today is one of the days where you need to be aware. Especially as we slowly transition, people aren't aware that we already have the risk for severe weather, and today we have a heightened risk. We actually have a moderate risk out there.

About 50 million of you out there today do have a threat for severe weather, but notice the heightened risk, St. Louis, if you're out towards Memphis, even out towards Little Rock, you have a higher threat that the thunderstorms, especially through the afternoon and evening hours, could turn even more severe.

Let's talk about where we are so far this season. Keep in mind, we're actually behind, only had about 70 tornadoes. Typically by this time of year we've seen about 244.

So, it's a good thing that we are below, but keep in mind, that season is just starting to ramp up. You can see the contrast across the country, the cold air up against the warm air, so with that, here comes that severe weather risk. Already have thunderstorm watch boxes in place this morning.

And now let's talk about what we are expecting as we go towards the afternoon today. We're going to watch that system make its way through the country, start to see some heavy rain. Biggest thing I want to point out, that I always point out -- in those overnight hours, that's a concern, people go to bed, it is dark outside. >

HARLOW: Right.

PETERSONS: They no longer think that risk is there. And unfortunately, we still have the threat for severe weather overnight tonight, even lasting in through tomorrow.

ROMANS: Thanks, Indra. Thanks so much for that.

HARLOW: Appreciate it.

ROMANS: All right. Meantime, is Russia ready to invade Ukraine? A new warning this morning on how fast troops could flood into the country, the very latest. No de-escalation in that conflict.


HARLOW: Ukraine still on edge this morning after a new warning from the top NATO general about the potential for a Russian invasion. General Philip Breedlove tells CNN's Christiane Amanpour the Russian troops along Ukraine's eastern border are poised to move and could do so in as little as 12 hours.

Karl Penhaul is live in Kiev this morning for us.

How real are the worries there today? What's the sense there? Is it palpable about a Russian invasion?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, those dire warnings that we've heard from NATO are really fueling a wartime spirit here in the capital, Kiev. We've seen groups of young women sending off literally thousands of letters to troops on the front lines up near the border with Russia, trying to boost their morale to those troops as they dig in.

We've seen young men collecting donations here in Kiev as well to buy sleeping bags, to buy boots, to buy vests for some of those soldiers as well. We've even heard from the Ukrainian diaspora of Ukrainians in London using their work bonuses to buy batteries and spare parts for Ukrainian tanks.

All of this also, of course, exposes the poor state of the Ukrainian military.


PENHAUL: They are underfunded, they are underequipped. They know they're going to be fighting a much more powerful Russian military, if those troops do roll in -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Now, that really paints a picture for us of the difference in the two forces and how imminent this could be. Appreciate it this morning. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, two big breaking news stories this morning: four dead, 16 others injured, some of them critically at a shooting in Fort Hood.

HARLOW: Also, the search moves a little bit west to find Malaysia Airlines missing Flight 370. Live, team coverage right after a quick break.