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Latest on Ft. Hood Shooting Investigation; Rick Perry Gives Press Conference at Ft. Hood; High-Tech Tools Could Be Answer in MH370 Search; Two Journalists Shot, One Killed, Before Afghanistan Elections

Aired April 4, 2014 - 13:30   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go to Ft. Hood, Texas, right now. George Howell is just outside at Ft. Hood.

Investigators, George, are trying to piece together what happened. Give us the very latest on the investigation.

And I also want to point out, we're awaiting the governor of Texas, Rick Perry. He's about to make a statement after meeting with military officials and family members there.

What is the latest as far as the investigation is concerned?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we are monitoring that, as well, as we get information or word. We will, of course, pass the information along to you.

As far as the investigation itself, we know that investigators did go to Lopez's home. They do not find any information note worthy to this investigation. We know they're looking into a variety of different things. We know he was on many different medications, antidepressants, taking the drug Ambien, a sleep medication. And you also have to remember, he was being evaluated for PTSD, not officially diagnosed. All will be taken into consideration, Wolf, as investigators try to understand what led up to the shooting.

One interesting thing that they will be looking into is a verbal altercation that happened just before the shooting. They will try to understand how that played into this, if it might have been an escalating point leading up to the shooting.

BLITZER: And they have identified the three soldiers shot and killed by Lopez, right?

HOWELL: Wolf, I want to read these names. They have learned them: Sergeant First Class Timothy Owens, Sergeant First Class Carlos Rodriguez and Sergeant First Class Danny Ferguson.

And we know something about Mr. Ferguson. We have heard from his fiancee. She spoke with affiliate, WTSP, and she described Ferguson as a person who loved sports. He loved football, loved basketball, also loved serving his country. And in the moments when this happened, two days ago, when Lopez came on post and fired his weapon, killing three people, injuring 16, we understand that Ferguson was trying to protect his fellow soldiers.

I want you to listen to what she had to say.


KRISTEN HALEY, FIANCE OF SGT. DANNY FERGUSON (voice-over): He held that door shut. There's no locks. Those doors, they're like -- seemed like they would be bulletproof, but apparently not. And if he was not being the one against that door holding it, that shooter would have been able to get through and shoot everyone else.


HOWELL: He was the one trying to keep the door shut, a door that wouldn't lock, but ended up losing his life that day.

And Wolf, it's also important to point out, again, there was 16 people who were injured. Three were in critical condition. But today, we have learned those three have been upgraded to fair condition. So, you know, we can certainly say now that the 16 who were injured, all will survive from this.

BLITZER: Well, that's at least a little encouraging news. Horrible, horrible situation at Ft. Hood.

George Howell, thanks very much.

Once again, we're awaiting a news conference about to begin at Ft. Hood. Once it does, we'll go there live.

Other news, though, we're following, including the search for the Malaysia Airlines flight 370, it's now in a new phase. It's high-tech and under water. But what if -- what if those sophisticated devices are looking in the wrong area? Brian Todd is here. He's going to break it all down for us.


BLITZER: The governor of Texas, Rick Perry, has been meeting with family members, meeting with military officers, and others at Ft. Hood, Texas. He's about to go to the microphones, we're told, fairly soon, brief us on the latest. We'll have live coverage of that, coming up. Stand by.

In the meantime, four weeks, exactly four weeks of searching by air, on the sea, now under water, but so far, there's still no sign of the missing plane. Once again, here are the latest developments. Two ships are now scouring a 150-mile track of the Indian Ocean. The Australian ship, the "Ocean Shield" is equipped with a U.S. pinger detector. The device is designed to listen for those pings from the plane's black boxes. The search for the flight data and cockpit voice recorders, certainly that search has become a race against the clock. The batteries on the devices are expected to run out within the next few days. 14 aircraft, 11 ships searched from the air, and on the water today. They did report spotting some objects, but nothing, repeat nothing, linked to the missing plane.

The underwater search for flight 370 involves the use of sophisticated, high-tech equipment. But the devices are designed to be used once a debris field is located and the search area is dramatically narrowed down.

Brian Todd is here with more on this part of the story.

So, obviously, there are great limits to what this high-tech underwater equipment can do since they're not even sure they're looking in the right place.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. This equipment is very impressive. This towed pinger locater can go 20,000 feet below the surface, can detect the pinger from two miles away, but does have its limitations.

Still, here's what the chief search coordinator, Air Marshal Angus Houston, said a few hours ago about the deployment of the pinger locater.


ANGUS HOUSTON, AIR MARSHAL, CHIEF SEARCH COORDINATOR: Using the towed pinger locater from the United States Navy, on Australian defense vessel "Ocean Shield," and a similar capability on "HMS Echo," the two ships will search a single 240-kilometer track, converging on each other.


BLITZER: Brian, I'm going to interrupt your report for a moment. I want to go to Ft. Hood, Texas. The governor of Texas, Rick Perry, is there. Let's listen.

RICK PERRY, (R), GOVERNOR OF TEXAS: A very thoughtful time that they allowed us to have, briefed us on the events. And also went by Darnel to visit with some of the wounded. The families that were there, and giving us an opportunity to love on them and share with them our support. In a larger sense, though, there aren't any easy answers to what occurred here. And there's no way to wish away the suffering that is -- that's occurring of those caught that have been caught in this very senseless act of violence.

But I want to start by saying thank you and how much we appreciate the first responders, the professional way they took care of business. We had a number of our active-duty military who were the first responders, and their thanks to the Texas Rangers, to the fire department, the police officers, and how they almost seamlessly work together.

And in Texas, we're very proud of the fact that this state loves the military. We work with them both professionally. We work with them as part of our family in this state. And this state remains ready to lend any assistance that we can be prepared to do, whatever we need to do at the earliest moments. On Wednesday, the Texas Department of Public Safety immediately dispatched a variety of forces to provide assistance. There were 26 Texas Rangers. There was more than 20 troopers. There was 11 CID agents that were dispatched, as well as a DPS helicopter.

This morning, as I mentioned, Senator Cruz and I met with officials here, and some of the injured and their families. And it's times like these -- and I know Ted will respond to this, as well -- that you see the resilience of the military family. You see the -- what we've known for a long time. Unfortunately, this is the second time we have had to deal with the tragedy on this post. But you still see it in the eyes of the people that you meet. You see it in the handshakes they give you, the strength of these people. They will recover. They will recover from this latest tragedy. They'll heal their wounds and we will go forward. We will learn lessons about what's occurred here to minimize the chances of this ever happening again. We'll mourn for those we have lost. We'll find out the answers that we can and we'll continue this vital mission that this post and men and women across the country have serving in our military.

Again, Texas is ready to help. And at this time, I would like for Senator Cruz to take the podium. And after that, Jimmy --

BLITZER: So we're going to continue to monitor what's going on over there. We'll bring you any news that unfolds. But you're hearing the governor of Texas, Rick Perry, tell us certainly what we want to hear. That all of our hearts and our prayers go out to those families who have been devastated by this senseless shooting on the military base.

We'll take a quick break. When we come back, we'll get back to the mystery dominating our coverage, clearly, over these last four weeks. Exactly four weeks today it unfolded. So are there new high-tech tools that potentially could be a game-changer in the search for flight 370? An ocean expert who has extensive experience scouring the Indian Ocean is standing by to join us.


BLITZER: A new phase of the flight 370 search has now started. Crews deploying high-tech devices below the ocean surface, hoping to find the flight recorders soon because time is running out. The batteries powering the recorders' pingers are expected to go dead in a few days.

Rob McCallum is an ocean search specialist who has extensive experience searching under water. Rob is here with us right now.

So how difficult of a mission is this, since they're not even sure, as I've been saying, they're looking in the right place? But now all of this high-tech underwater equipment has been put in place, and it's moving around, trying to hear that pinger.

ROB MCCALLUM, OCEAN RESEARCH SPECIALIST: Yeah. It is a long shot. But although it's a long shot, it's the best shot. You know, there's no sense in having those assets in that part of the world and not having them in the water actually searching. So, you know, they're using the best data they can from the last known tracker. And they are deploying the assets along that track. And it's a shot in the dark, but it's an informed one.

BLITZER: And it's basically, you know -- it includes a lot of luck. Because that equipment can only move in a relatively tiny area every day.

MCCALLUM: That's right. It's essentially a microphone, an underwater microphone, hydro phone, with very limited range, perhaps a couple of miles. So they have to pass virtually over the top of the pinger in order to locate it.

BLITZER: And they do it sort of like a lawn mower. They go back and forth and back and forth and just move across that area. Is that how they do it?

MCCALLUM: They're moving in a long, straight line, trying to minimize the other noise disturbances that are in the ocean and listen very, very carefully for the faintest possible sign.

BLITZER: So we're familiar with some of this high-tech equipment. I assume that if -- we know at least one British submarine is moving around. I assume there's some other sensitive equipment that's also trying to find what's going on. Is there more sophisticated devices out there that we don't know about that potentially could help?

MCCALLUM: We could move to the next phase, which is to use active SONAR to provide imagery of the sea floor and to see if you can actually see the wreck on the sea floor. We haven't gone there yet. SONAR is deployed either by an AUV, underwater autonomous vehicle, or --

BLITZER: Like an underwater drone, if you will?

MCCALLUM: Like a drone, or it's towed along on a sled. We call that a towed array. And we haven't gone to that phase yet, because we haven't had that initial starting point.

BLITZER: What happens when the batteries for those flight data recorders, the cockpit voice recorder, are dead, and the pingers -- the pinging is no longer going? Where do the investigators, the search operation go from there?

MCCALLUM: Well, you see each day that the search area is shifting around. And that's because data that's being gathered from the aerial process, from the satellite process, and from reinterpreting the handshake data is being reanalyzed and re-informing the search area. So it's not game over if the pingers are not located.

BLITZER: Now some believe the plane may have actually gone in full, into the water, sort of like Sully Sullenberger's plane, miracle on the Hudson, it landed but then it sunk. If there is a plane intact at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, how hard would it be to find that?

MCCALLUM: If you know where it is, if -- if you know --

(CROSSTALK) BLITZER: If you don't know where it is, a general area, obviously, but assuming there's a huge, huge plane, 777, at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, how do you find that?

MCCALLUM: If you used SONAR, you would find it very easily in the sense that it would provide a very clear signature on the sea floor. The trick is knowing where to start. You know, with an aircraft, you might be surveying at 200 miles an hour. With a ship, you might be surveying at 20 miles an hour. Once you're starting to tow devices through the water or use an AUV, you're only searching at two miles an hour. For a long time.

BLITZER: Rob McCallum, thanks very much for coming in.

MCCALLUM: Thank you.

BLITZER: Take a look at this. Wall Street, stocks started today on a bullish kind of run. The Dow and S&P 500 showed early gains. Investors encouraged by a solid March jobs report. But right now, the Dow is down about 88 points right now. We'll stay on top of that.

By the way, here are the jobs report numbers that came out at 8:30 a.m. eastern. 192,000 jobs were added in March. That means all the jobs lost during the 2008 financial crisis have now officially been recovered. But this has been the slowest recovery since the government started keeping numbers back in 1939. And the unemployment rate in March remained at 6.7 percent.

George W. Bush can officially add artist to his list of accomplishments. Take a look at this. These are paintings done by the former president of the United States. They were unveiled for the first time today. There's the Dalai Lama, Russian President Vladimir Putin. There he is. The former president first started painting lessons after leaving the White House in 2009. Still says he's learning. You can see the paintings yourself. They are on display in Dallas at the Bush Library.

We're coming to the end of the long road to college basketball's championship. Tomorrow, the final four will play with the winners squaring off for the title Monday night. Florida Gators are the only remaining number-one seeded team. There are two teams from the southeastern conference, a replay of the SEC conference game. Florida beat Kentucky. Connecticut, the first game, then Kentucky takes on Wisconsin.

Much more coverage of the mystery surrounding Malaysia Airlines flight 370, including the investigation as searchers race to find any signs.


BLITZER: In Afghanistan, tension growing a day before presidential and local elections. This, as two Associated Press journalists were shot, one of them killed. Afghan authorities say an Afghan police officer opened fire into a car carrying the two journalists. The German photographer, Anya Nebrenhaus (ph) was killed instantly. Canadian Reporter Kathy Dannon is in stable condition. The gunman surrendered to other officers.

Our own Anna Coren is joining us live from Kabul with more.

Anna, the Taliban vow to disrupt the elections. This could be awful coming days and weeks. As bad as it's been in Afghanistan, it could get a whole lot worst. What do we know?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, absolutely. There's no doubt about it. The Taliban vowed to disrupt these elections and we have seen that violently in the last several weeks as high-profile attacks, especially here in Kabul. And then today in the province in eastern Afghanistan on the border with Pakistan, that deadly attack on those Associated Press journalists. As you say, she was killed instantly. The reporter, Kathy Dannon, she was seriously injured. We understand she is in stable condition. But these two women, exceptionally brave journalists covering Afghanistan for many decades. They were there with the Independent Election Commission watching them hand out the ballot papers to the polling stations. They were traveling in a convoy with police and security and had armed soldiers. And this police officer walked up as the car was stationary, and he yelled god is great and then his AK-47 opened fire and sprayed the backseat, killing Anya instantly. A tragic day in Afghanistan, and we are expecting more attacks in the coming days.

BLITZER: It's a brutal situation. Now Hamid Karzai, the outgoing president, he wants to have a significant role, at least according to the "The New York Times." He's going to give up power, but wants to control the situation. The U.S. officials have almost lost all confidence in him. What's the political scene in the after math of the election?

COREN: Yeah, all that we know, as, you know, very well, relationships between Afghanistan and the United States are deeply strained. And President Hamid Karzai is the reason for that. He refused to sign the bilateral security agreement which would ensure an enduring U.S. presence here with the withdrawal at the end of 2014. So, yes, Hamid Karzai, he has built a residence very close to the presidential palace. And from what everybody is saying, certainly here in Afghanistan, he does not want to give up power. He wants to influence whoever is the next president. He has to step down. He's done his two terms. And it is, you know, quite well known that he -- he does have his favorite, and he has certainly thrown his support behind one of the candidates, Dr. Razul. But whether he has that influence on him, whether he certainly has influence on the other candidates, the top candidates, is yet to be seen. But certainly these three presidential candidates have said they will all sign that bilateral security agreement to ensure that, you know, America stays here and make sure that this doesn't become a safe haven for terrorists once again -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Anna, please be careful over there.

Anna Coren, one of our courageous journalists in Kabul right now.

Thanks very much.

I'll be back, 5:00 p.m. Eastern, a special two-hour edition of "THE SITUATION ROOM."

NEWSROOM with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.