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Fort Hood Shooting: Four Dead, 16 Wounded; Australia Vows to Keep Search for 370

Aired April 3, 2014 - 06:00   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: And the hunt for missing Malaysian air flight 370. Australian and Malaysian leaders calling it the most difficult search in human history.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The disappearance of MH370, it is without precedent. So too is the search.


PEREIRA: This morning, crews searched the search area again as key equipment to find the black box delayed until tomorrow. Is time running out to find the plane and figure out what happened?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It is Thursday, April 3rd, 6:00 in the east. Kate is under the weather so Mich and I are here to bring you breaking news that is very sad this morning. There's been another bloody shooting at America's largest military base. Here's the latest on the Fort Hood shooting. Four people are dead including the gunman. Sixteen others wounded, three of them critically at this hour.

The shooter has been identified as an army specialist and an Iraq vet who was being treated for mental health problems. Now that part of the story is a little unclear and we'll unpack it later in the show. We'll have more on the shooter and that background and a possible motive later.

But let's get to Fort Hood, Texas. George Howell standing by with the very latest on what happened -- George.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, good morning. We are still gathering information about the timeline. What we know at this point, this was a shooting spree that took place in multiple locations on base. People were told to shelter in place. This Fort Hood, the size of a city was put on lockdown as folks were forced to undergo yet another traumatic mass shooting.


UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: We have an active currently on Fort Hood. We have multiple gunshot victims. We also have people who are escaping through windows. HOWELL (voice-over): Tragedy strikes again. The army's largest U.S. base put on lockdown for hours as shots rang out Wednesday. The second deadliest shooting on the Fort Hood military base in Texas in nearly five years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's unreal, really unreal because in 2009 I was here and this thing happen again.

HOWELL: Authorities scramble to the scene shutting the front gates, backing up traffic, urging everyone to stay put. The lone shooter identified as specialist Ivan Lopez, an American soldier toting a 45- caliber Smith and Wesson semi-automatic handgun purchased recently.

LT. GEN. MARK MILLEY: He was undergoing behavior health and psychiatric treatment for depression and anxiety, and a variety of other psychological and psychiatric issues.

HOWELL: Dressed in combat fatigues, Lopez allegedly opened fire, killing three people and injuring more than a dozen before taking his own life after being confronted by a military police officer.

MILLEY: It was clearly heroic what she did at that moment in time. She did her job. She did exactly what we would expect of a United States Army military police.

HOWELL: Victims were airlifted to nearby hospitals.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Any shooting is troubling. Obviously this reopens the pain of what happened at Fort Hood five years ago.

HOWELL: Fort Hood, the sight of so much pain in 2009 when Major Nidal Hasan opened fire on base killing 13 people and injuring 32. President Obama's touching words on the events of that tragic day almost five years ago sadly relevant again.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: So we say goodbye to those who now belong to eternity. May God bless the memory of those that we have lost.


HOWELL: So this happened between two buildings here on base, the medical building and the transportation building. We understand that Lopez went into one building, opened fire. Then got into his vehicle, fired shots from the vehicle. Then went to the second building opened fire until he was confronted by a military officer using his own weapon turning it on to himself to kill himself -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: George, none of us wanted to see there again at Fort Hood. Thank you so much for that. We are now learning more details about that shooter this morning. We know he served in Iraq three years ago and was being evaluated for possible post-traumatic stress disorder.

We want to bring in Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. Barbara, what else do we know? BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Michaela. We do know that Ivan Lopez was married, that he had a 3- year-old child. As you say, he served for four months in Iraq in 2011. That was as the war, of course, was winding down in Iraq. A rather short tour of duty. No indication that he was wounded according to his military records.

He was being evaluated for possible post-traumatic stress, treated for depression and anxiety and had recently according to the army purchased a 45-caliber semi-automatic handgun. All of these things are going to be part of the investigation, part of what the Army looks at. I think it is clear there is going to be two tracks of the investigation now.

Were security procedures sufficient on the base? How does someone get in with an unregistered for the military weapon on base? Were the procedures sufficient? And, of course, this person's mental health, what exactly was going on with him? That will be very much a focus of what the investigation looks at -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: We know certain measures were taken after the Navy Yard shooting and Fort Hood back in 2009. Let's talk about this shooter. Was there any indication, Barbara, that his war service is what caused this potential mental illness that's being reported?

STARR: Well, I think that is the question that so many in the military are going to be asking. Being treated for possible post- traumatic stress. No formal diagnosis. That is a tough thing to diagnose. The Army says he also self-reported a possible traumatic brain injury. But no record that he had been wounded in Iraq.

Let's be clear. This is a very sensitive issue for members of the U.S. military. Post-traumatic stress does not have a direct link to violence. This has been a stigma that so many in the military have dealt with. The mental health stigma for so many years as they come back from war. Tens of thousands diagnosed with post-traumatic stress come back, are treated for it and go on very successfully.

Even as they struggle to overcome that. So I think for U.S. Army soldiers, for members of the military, as they look at this incident, they are going to be concerned that this is yet another sigma issue. Someone, potential post-traumatic stress, becoming a murderer. There is no causal link between the two. It's going to be a big issue inside the military.

PEREIRA: It's important to point out that sensitivity there. Certainly we know within the society as a whole there's still that stigma attached to mental health. Barbara Starr, thank you so much for picking up that part of the story -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Mich, and another part of that is that it doesn't get treated the same way that physical health does and often goes untreated. That becomes part of the story as well to find out whether there was treatment going on. It was the right observation going on.

So let's bring in our military analyst and former commanding general of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center, Major General James "Spider" Marks. Spider, great to have you here. Look, this happened on base.

We care about our fighting men and women very much. I believe that the issues that are going to wind up being relevant to why this happened are going to be non-military in nature. This is about this man's particular mental health disposition, how he is being treated and not. Does it seem fair to say that at this point?

MAJ. GENERAL JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: You'd hope that that would be the circumstance. Clearly, there's probably a causal link between who he was, what he did and the circumstances that he was in. We will determine all of that. I think you're absolutely spot on. This is not inherently a military story.

CUOMO: Now the concern with mass shootings in general is that we wind up developing mental health was there and ignored. We don't see ignored in this. We see documentation of it. There's a process to discover here and that's part of what I want to do with you. Also a little confusing. Not diagnosed with PTSD, but under a process for diagnosis. Explain how the military works with screening and testing.

MARKS: Again, it's not unique to the military in terms of how you do that. Medical care in the military is not dissimilar from what you or anybody else would receive. He was in the process of trying to be diagnosed. He acknowledged, as Barbara had indicated, that he had a traumatic brain injury. He said that himself. That needs to be identified. He had come back from Iraq. Let me take a step back. Before you deploy to combat, you go through a medical evaluation and some very robust, very rich doctors are involved in that.

CUOMO: Medical's part of mental?

MARKS: Absolutely. Absolutely. It's all up loaded and part of the record. You deploy, you conduct your operations and then when you come back, you go through a very similar post deployment evaluation. Want to see where the gaps are. When he had come back in 2011, he came back, obviously the system was working. It picked up that this soldier had a problem. What I don't understand is if he had a problem and under diagnosis, why did he in the midst of that move to a new location.

You can always have a gap in the type of care. You want to have a continuity of care. Be that as it may. He moved to Fort Hood for the just got to Fort Hood two months ago. He was immediately placed back into the evaluation status.

CUOMO: It's interesting. We keep talking about PTSD because it's something people recognize, but important to note, this man was supposedly suffering from depression, anxiety and other psychiatric complaints that were being treated. So it was definitely an ongoing thing. Again, this is a developing story. The firearm that he used we believe was his own. Not U.S. military issued. That he had a permit.

The question becomes, if you're being treated for depression and under the process of evaluation for PTSD, why do you get to keep your concealed permit? Is that because the military doesn't control a private right to the firearm?

MARKS: That's right. As I understand, he had a concealed carry permit. That dies when it comes to the post. The post has its own rules. You cannot have that concealed carry permit while you're on post. The fact that he got it on post sadly -- we can probably get to the bottom of it. But it's not hard to bring a weapon on post. If he had challenges, it wouldn't be hard for him to bring a weapon on post. Unless there's was an indicator for somebody to stop you as you are coming on post to go through your stuff.

CUOMO: This is a big part of the debate when it comes to mental health. It's so confused. It's given the wrong kind of attention. Here you have someone mentally ill. Should that have been a flag, being treated for depression? Is that something that should flag you in terms of whether or not they have a weapon? Not for a military, but in general because we see it in all these mass shootings.

How does someone being treated for mental illness wind up getting a gun. Well, mental illness doesn't mean violent. This story is going to reveal a lot of those same questions. Another dimension, 2009, you lived on base, you know it very well. I covered that story for a very long time what happened in 2009. There were a lot of changes afterwards.

MARKS: Right.

CUOMO: The base was supposed to be tightened. It is basically a city. Tens of thousands of people --

MARKS: It is, 90,000 folks live on that post.

CUOMO: From what you know so far, fair to say there are lapses in security there, have to be tighter. Fighting men and women aren't safe on base, fair criticism?

MARKS: Of course, it's a fair criticism. You can never have a hundred percent solution. This is an individual that was able and he probably didn't take a lot of effort, but he was able to work his way through that system and do what he just did. It's horrible.

CUOMO: Getting the handgun through, yes, now Fort Hood as much as any military installation is a no gun zone, right, for people on base.

MARKS: Sure.

CUOMO: But that doesn't mean you're going to check every single person whether they have a weapon as they are coming or that would be all you'd be doing at the gate.

MARKS: Chris, you could. That's exactly right. You would completely shut down effective operations on that post if you did it with everybody coming on base.

CUOMO: So you don't have any real questions about the integrity of security protocol at the base? MARKS: Not at all. Obviously things are going to have to be reviewed. We can't immediately throw the baby out with the bath water. Everything is totally screwed up, but this is a major, major issue. Clearly this is horrible, but we need to be able to evaluate very precisely how did this individual get his hands on a weapon? How did he go downtown and buy a weapon? How did that happen?

CUOMO: That's a huge part of the story about where mental health intersect with how we allow people to have certain rights in society. It gets complicated because you don't want to color all mentally ill people with the same brush. But Spider, thank you very much. We'll learn more about it. A lot of questions are going to come up here -- Mich.

PEREIRA: All right, Chris, thanks so much. Next up on NEW DAY, yet another shift in the search for Flight 370 in the Indian Ocean. The arrival of a high-tech pinger locator has been delayed. We'll have the very latest for you on that search coming up next.


CUOMO: Welcome back.

For anguished families waiting for closure on Flight 370, a firm commitment from Australia. An official says they will keep searching for the plane for months, even years if needed. Now, this comes as the search area has been shifted yet again. And a key resource faces a delay.

Let's bring in Paula Newton live from Perth, Australia this morning -- Paula.


Yes, quite a day here at the base. We had the Malaysian prime minister come see for himself the extent of this search. Unfortunately, they did not have new news to share.




ABBOTT: It's very good to see you too.

NEWTON (voice-over): Calling this the biggest mystery in aviation history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning, guys. Prime minister of Malaysia and prime minister of Australia.

NEWTON: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak toured search operations at Australia's Pearce Air Force Base Thursday. This as the search zone moved again, this time slightly north.

NAJIB: The new refined area of search has given us new hope. And I believe the courage of the crews is more than equal to the task.

NEWTON: Today, both leaders blunt about the difficulty of the investigation, saying they have no guarantees they'll ever find the missing plane.

ABBOTT: It is a very difficult search, the most difficult in human history.

NEWTON: In the search zone Thursday, at least 10 aircraft and nine ships scouring an area about the size of Minnesota. Officials coordinating the search here tell CNN some search areas have been abandoned with the lack of no sightings.

Despite the continued sense of urgency, Malaysia's prime minister announced no news or credible leads on where flight 370 might be.

NAJIB: We want to provide comfort to the families and we will not rest until answers are indeed found.


NEWTON: Now, I can -- I can tell you that does bring some comfort to the families to know that they're trying so hard. But really, Michaela, the fact they haven't found anything and the Ocean Shield, that Australian ship, won't be on site until tomorrow. Having said that, they don't even know where to begin to look for those black boxes. So, one more day one the scene -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: All right. Paula, thank you so much for that.

The most difficult search in human history -- let that sink in as we take a closer look at the search and the investigation.

Mary Schiavo is here with us. She's a CNN aviation analyst and a former inspector general for the Department of Transportation, now an attorney that represents victims and their families after airplane disasters.

It's interesting to hear them say it, and it goes over in my mind, it really is the most difficult search in human history.

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Oh, absolutely, and made even worse by the fact that we don't have any clues from the plane itself. So, to search the vast ocean without any hints from the plane as we had in Air France 447 makes it exceedingly difficult and sheds more criticism and the examination upon the black box technology and how we need to change that.

PEREIRA: And because we don't have the debris from the plane and the humans trying to assess where the debris could be, some of that intelligence and data keeps getting shifted. For example, we know the search area, Mary, has changed yet again.

SCHIAVO: Yes. You know, good news, bad news.

The good news is they continue to refine the data. The bad news is they're using data that it's difficult to do it because this data and these satellites were never intended to do this.


SCHIAVO: And if only we would change our focus from a black box to more of a glass box, where we would continuously download the data, it had a much better chance. And I think that has to be the clarion call of this accident, is to change it to the modern technology of the downloads. But the change of the location might be good news, because that means they have the refined the data once again.

PEREIRA: So, to that streaming idea -- the glass box, I like the way you put that, a continuous stream. We know that's obviously going to be expensive. We know there's going to be reluctance on the part of the airlines and manufacturers.

Do you think it's likely in the next few years we'll see it?

SCHIAVO: The only way we will see it, and I've seen this time and time again with changes after accidents, is it must be made and I think the United States should lead the way. Australia is very progressive on this, too, having invented the black box. Maybe they can now push for the glass box, but it's going to require government regulation. The airline will not put in place any new things, any new technology unless it is federal regulation.


SCHIAVO: And I think that's the way to go. The government has to say, look, enough of this, let's move into the 21st century with our technology for finding planes.

PEREIRA: Well, that's the important -- parts of the investigation is learning what to fix for next time or so there won't be a next time.

Let's go back to the calculations and the data. Do you trust the math that these estimates of the search area are being based on or the people doing the math?

SCHIAVO: Well, I certainly trust the people doing the math because the Joint Task Force in Australia has managed to amass the greatest minds in terms of this technology in the world. But the problem is we're taking different satellites and different data, and trying to mesh them together into one coherent set of points and so, not all the coordinates and not all the satellites add up.

So it's like trying to combine the old saying of apples and oranges. I think, obviously they're doing an ad admirable job in continuing to refine the data. But they're putting together various points of data from different satellites that were never really intended to be air traffic control satellite.

So that's part of the problem of solving this mystery and while it's great that they can continue to refine the data, there's no assurance that all of the data really lines up in these points. So, it is the best. I think the Australian prime minister said it best. It's the best of what they have. And they're searching and they're clearly doing their very best as well. But it's just not the kind of data that you usually use to find an aircraft.


SCHIAVO: But it's remarkable that they have been able to use it to come up with the points they have.

PEREIRA: OK. I'm going to ask you to put both your inspector hat on and your attorney hat on. You've been calling for that raw Inmarsat data, the ping data, to be released so that the scientific community at large can sort of aid in the calculation of it. Now, that's the investigator aspect.

But now, let's talk about the attorney part. Will that compromise the investigation going forward and is it worth it to do that?

SCHIAVO: Oh, I don't think so. Oh, it is worth it to do it. And I don't think it will compromise the investigation at all.

You know, many things -- at least a couple things that the Malaysian officials had said would never be released, for example, the transcript of the air traffic control tapes. Just last week, they told the families it was sealed, and then it was released and the investigation goes forward.

Same thing now on the radar and satellite data, I think even crowd sources might help. At this point, they need every one to help find this plane. And I cannot see how that would compromise the criminal investigation because the criminals certainly didn't have access if there are criminals. We don't know if it's criminal or if it's a terrible mechanical disaster.

But the alleged criminals, if any, didn't have access to the satellites or the satellite data. So that can't compromise the investigation.

The final thing that's still a mystery, which Malaysia hasn't said much about, is last week they told the families there was some sort of surveillance tape or information from the airport security. And that hasn't been released yet. So maybe there's some information there that we just don't know about, that the Malaysian authorities do have to help them further investigate this awful mystery.

But that's where we are. They say they've cleared the passengers. It's rather quick that they did that. Presumably they had a lot of resources. They're looking at the crew.

And other than that, there's just not a shred of evidence.

PEREIRA: And that's the problem. We're in 27, 28 days in. Mary Schiavo, and it sounds so cliche, but there are more questions that there are answers. Thanks so much for joining us as always, Mary.

SCHIAVO: Indeed.

CUOMO: Got to distinguish protecting the integrity of the investigation versus protecting themselves from criticism. That's where issues of disclosure --

PEREIRA: You can get over criticism. You can't get other necessarily the financial burden of a lawsuit.

CUOMO: True, true, absolutely true.

So we have the se severe situation at Fort Hood again. We have the severe situation with the flight and it turns out we have severe situation with the weather. So says meteorologist Indra Petersons.

What are we seeing out there, my friend?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, I mean, this is the time of year we want to tell everyone to be aware. We're transitioning to from a very long winter, into now the spring, the kind of severe weather type of system. So many people haven't really prepared their minds that yet, for that change.

And today, 50 million of you do have that risk for severe weather. In fact, today even a heightened risk is out there, so, a moderate risk. So, if you're out towards St. Louis, Memphis, even Little Rock, that threat will be out there toward the afternoon and evening hours.

So, keep that mind. Yes, it's been a slow season of course because we had such a long winter, compared to average only about 70 tornadoes so far this year. The average typically about 244. Very cool temperatures in the north, that warm moist air down in the south.

Already seeing some showers, even some thunderstorm watch boxes early on this morning, but here comes the heavy storms in the afternoon, especially, keep in mind in through the overnight hours. People are asleep, they not aware, they are not thinking of the danger that lies ahead. So, some spread off into the Northeast, throughout the evening tonight, and lasting in through tomorrow.

So, let's talk about who's at risk here. I mean, really, look at this box from Indianapolis down through Houston, that severe weather risk lasts overnight and spreads farther to the east. So, really Pittsburgh, all the way down to about New Orleans, you will still be looking for these thunderstorms in through tomorrow afternoon.

The other side, look at the heavy rain, guys. We're talking about over two inches. Maybe Cincinnati, almost near four inches of rain, light rain by the time it spreads to the Northeast. Either way, the main takeaway here remains to be stay aware, severe weather is out there, just a little bit of snow on the backside. But again, especially in the overnight hours, definitely want to be aware.

CUOMO: All right. Thank you, Indra.

Let's take a break here on NEW DAY. When we come back, the Fort Hood shooting bringing yet another gunman and his background into focus. Mental health again an issue, was it the cause? More importantly, was there a chance to stop him? We'll discuss.