Return to Transcripts main page


Wellness Checks; Killer Targets Childhood Friend in Manifesto; Killer Vowed Retribution in YouTube Video

Aired May 26, 2014 - 08:30   ET


LOU PALUMBO, RETIRED LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENT, NASSAU COUNTY POLICE DEPT.: Factually responded to them. They had no legal right to force entry into his home. They had no probable cause. These are the constraints that are put on to the police. We get involved with the Fourth Amendment, you know, illegal search and seizure. It isn't just black and white. You know, the public and the media need to understand that there are constraints on the police -


PALUMBO: As to what they may or may not do, and it is dictated to them by circumstance.

Now, if I may just say this. If he had demonstrated some type of irrational or erratic behavior or alluded to hurting himself or others, the police, at that point, would have been licensed to further pursue this, which would have included taking him into custody perhaps and transporting him to a hospital and then searching the premise. But based on the information at hand, they did everything they were required to do and limited to do.

PEREIRA: Required and limited to.

So, Lou, to you, does that make you believe, after seeing a case like this, there are far too many of these cases? There are too many of these cases. Should the laws be changed? Do you think that the authority -- more authority needs to be given to law enforcement?

PALUMBO: I think that we should definitely open up discussion, especially on the heels of this case, because one of the tragic components of this case is, there were many tales with this young man, both the family and the therapist. Everybody was on track with this. They didn't know how to follow through, so to speak. But we need to open up some dialogue to explore whether or not the courts, our legal system, our laws can be changed to give police a little bit more prerogative in these instances.

And I suspect that police will entertain policy changes here, you know, on the heels of this case. This is very tragic. We're all aware of that.


PALUMBO: And I think this was preventable. But I will not hang this on police. Having conducted a check of this type myself, a wellness check or a welfare check -


PALUMBO: Which dealt primarily with elderly people, that's - you know, these are just the facts surrounding this -


PALUMBO: And we have to accept them on that basis.

PEREIRA: Robi, I want to bring you into the conversation and talk about this.


PEREIRA: Lou alluded to the tells, that people did see signs that there was something wrong.


PEREIRA: And it sounds as though right measures were taken.

LUDWIG: Right.


LUDWIG: Well, you know, and in situations like this, when someone is very sick and disturbed but yet has enough reality testing to realize they need to present as a healthy person so they're not admitted to a hospital. You know, people can be sick but know how to present themselves.

PEREIRA: Mask their symptoms well.

LUDWIG: Right, mask their symptoms and mask their plan. But families often know when someone is ill. So in certain cases, let's say, if somebody has a history of non-compliance with medication, has a history of hospitalization -- there's something in New York state called Timothy's Law, where you can actually enforce that they have to take medication. And if they don't, then they are hospitalized. And there was some rumor that Elliot was not compliant with his medication.

PEREIRA: Uh-huh.

LUDWIG: Then there's also a mental health warrant that families can take to family court to involuntarily commit a family member who they feel is dangerous, even when police may not see those signs because I think we need to respect that family members and mental health professionals sometimes are the first to know that something is off.

PEREIRA: The first line of defense. Should mental health be working with law enforcement? Is this a conjunction kind of thing (INAUDIBLE)?

LUDWIG: Yes. And also we need to change our legislation so that we have better laws in place so that when family member are really at a confused state or don't know what to do, the police and the family and the mental health professionals can all work collaboratively so we make sure these young boys in their 20s who are on the heels of potential mental illness, that they're not a danger to themselves or others.

PEREIRA: Lou, in your experience, and I know that you worked in Philadelphia, Nassau County, the police department there, and I know it varies from department to department, state to state, how well instructed, trained are law enforcement officers with mental health? You look at a situation like this, as Robi was saying, he presented pretty well to most folks. Not -- if that was your first encounter with him, you might not think that he was unwell.

PALUMBO: Well, you know, the reality of the situation is, is that, you know, police officers are not clinically backgrounded sufficiently to make spontaneous assessments of mental or emotional conditions of individuals. We rely on the behavior, the immediacy of their behavior in our presence, rambling, illogical, irrational threats. Just, you know, a deviation from a norm where a reasonable person of average intelligence could say this is not right. Based on that, we can take a person off the street. I have personally done it myself recently with a stalker, with an Academy Award winning celebrity. But you have to be able to substantiate exactly what you've done. You just cannot arbitrarily take people off the street because you have a feeling.


PALUMBO: You've got to articulate the need.

PEREIRA: You have to be able to back it up. Yes.

Lou Palumbo, Robi Ludwig, always a pleasure to have you both here. Thanks for sticking around and having this conversation with us.

LUDWIG: Thank you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Next up for us on NEW DAY, we're learning so much more this morning about the 22-year-old man who killed six students during this rampage. What drove him to commit such horrific violence? We are going to speak with a former classmate who was also directly referenced in this manifesto. This is an exclusive interview you'll see only here on NEW DAY. Stay with us.


BERMAN: All right, this morning we're learning more about a man who killed six and injured 13 during a deadly rampage on Friday. We've been talking about Elliot Rodger's 137-page manifesto in which he blames women for his troubles. And he explains his disdain for what he calls the twisted world where he was always wronged.

But the question is, what was Elliot Rodger actually like when he was alive? What kind of a kid was he? What kind of a young adult was he? We're joined exclusively by Lucky Radley. He was a childhood acquaintance, a friend of Elliot Rodger, and is actually mentioned in the manifesto we've been talking about all morning. Lucky, thank you so much for being with us this morning. Appreciate you being here.


BERMAN: So, Lucky, you grew up, what, like three doors down from Elliot Rodger, correct?

RADLEY: Correct. Yes, sir.

BERMAN: And went to fourth grade with him. So the question so many people are asking, you know, who was the Elliot Rodger you knew?

RADLEY: The Elliot Rodger I knew, he was just a -- really a quiet - a quiet guy. He never said any words. He was just - he was just really there. He didn't say much. I don't remember him saying anything. It was -- he only spoke when he was spoken to.

BERMAN: Quiet can mean so many things in retrospect when we look back and talk about things like this. When you say he was quiet, he just didn't talk much, he was reserved or there was something that you thought was odd over the years?

RADLEY: No, no, no, I didn't see anything odd about it. He actually didn't say anything. Like he -- it was - it was over - it was - it was - it was - it wasn't normal how quiet he was. He really - he said - you know, he was only spoken - when spoken to. And even when you speak to him, those words that he would say would be -- he was really soft spoken and he would say one word answers, just answer your question, but he would never start a conversation or anything.

BERMAN: How well did you know him? How close were you? And there's a reason I'm asking here.

RADLEY: Well, not - I know him just - I went over to his house a couple times, played games with him. He was - he was my - one of - just -- he sat at the same desk or the same table as me in my classroom. I didn't know him. I mean that's about as far as it goes and -

BERMAN: Yes, that doesn't sound like you were like close buddies -


BERMAN: Or best friends or someone you dealt with every day of your life growing up.

RADLEY: Oh, no.

BERMAN: Which makes it very interesting, Lucky, that your name came up in this so-called manifesto.

RADLEY: Right.

BERMAN: Let me read you this section here. It says, "Lucky would later go to the same middle school as me, where he would become an object of extreme jealousy and hatred. Looking back, I can't believe I actually played with him as a friend in my father's neighborhood."

RADLEY: Correct.

BERMAN: What's it feel to see something like that now?

RADLEY: Yes. When I saw that, I was just shocked. I couldn't - I was - I literally didn't believe that that was, you know, coming from him. Why didn't -- when I heard everything, I'm still shocked and -- it's just a crazy feeling. I was - I couldn't believe it. I still can't believe it.

BERMAN: Do you -- ever have any reason to expect or know that he hated you like that?

RADLEY: Oh, no, not at all. You know, from every - from what I saw, I thought he, you know, I thought we were pretty good friends. You know, well - yes. He was always - he was always nice. He was always - or not nice, but he didn't say much. But we played games together and he, you know, never got -- it was nothing -- he wouldn't say anything like - or he wouldn't say anything, but he wouldn't give me the impression that we weren't, you know, on good terms.

BERMAN: We've learned so much now about this young man because of what he posted on YouTube and what he put on this manifesto that he did. I understand you sort of followed him or kept in touch on FaceBook over the years. Was there anything ever that you saw on FaceBook or on social media of his that gave you any reason to be concerned?

RADLEY: I haven't actually. Yes, I didn't even - I haven't - I didn't keep in touch with him on FaceBook. I saw him on -- my first time seeing him since middle school was on the video when they told me about it and - yes, that's my first time hearing about it or seeing him or really hearing him talk. That's my first time hearing him talk is when I saw the video. That's my first time hearing him say more than, you know, a one-word answer.

BERMAN: Finally, let me just ask you this. Again, I know you weren't terribly close but you knew him as a kid and you've seen what happened now. If you could say anything to Elliot, if you could go back to one week ago, two weeks ago and tell him anything, what would you say?

RADLEY: Wow, I would just tell him - you know, just talk to him and - you know, try to get him -- try to get him not to talk, but just to feel him out and see - because I really haven't - I had - you know, I don't know what he was going through, so I can't just tell you what exactly I would say, but try to just talk to him. He looked like he was talking -- that's the most I've seen him talk in the video. So I would try to just, you know, talk to him and, you know, try to have a -- start a conversation and, you know, catch up on how he's been.

BERMAN: Lucky Radley, appreciate you being here with us, giving us this insight, this look at the young man who did such terrible, terrible things.

RADLEY: Of course. My pleasure.

BERMAN: Appreciate it, Lucky.


PEREIRA: Thank you, John.

Next up on NEW DAY, we're going to speak to one person who sadly can relate all too well to the Santa Barbara tragedy. Craig Scott lost his sister in the Columbine shooting. We're going to speak with him live, next.


BERMAN: Welcome back everyone.

The Santa Barbara rampage is the latest incident of mass violence to strike here in the United States. Six college students were killed, 13 others wounded by a man who says he was really just angry at the world, angry at women -- all women.

One person who can relate to this tragedy is Craig Scott. He was a student at Columbine High School when two of his classmates went on a shooting spree taking 13 lives. Craig's sister Rachel was among those killed.

Craig thanks so much for being with us. Let me ask you this morning, you know, when we see these tragedies, it affects all of us, but for you I imagine it's got to be something different. What went through your mind Friday night as this was unfolding?

CRAIG SCOTT, COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Well, as I watched the video of the shooter and I saw the haughtiness in his eyes and saw some of the arrogance, I saw some of the detachment that he had and kind of blaming the world for his problems, I was filled with a mixture of sadness. Part of me was a little bit angry.

I felt for the victims' families right away, thinking about the people that are lost, the innocent people that he's killed, and I think that -- I couldn't help but think that the real problems are lying within his own heart. That's where the real solutions lie.

And it just gave me more -- gives me more passion, spirit to continue to do what it is that I do in speaking to students. I was just filled with, like everyone, just a mixture of anger, sadness, but also with me, every time I hear about these shootings, I come to a place of resolve to keep doing -- to keep being a light and being a positive influence as best as I can.

BERMAN: It's important work that you're doing on this subject. You said you saw a haughtiness in him, an arrogance in him. There's been so much focus, there always is, after a shooting like this, on the perpetrator, on what drove this person to do this. Do you think there are answers out here? Do you think we spend too much time focusing on perhaps the shooter here and not on the victims?

SCOTT: I think what you place your attention on you give power to. And I think that the shooter is dead and gone and now we're trying to learn from how can we be a better society? How can we stop things like this from happening? The biggest way that I've met potential shooters from schools and speaking and seeing things stopped and the biggest way I see that stopped is by focusing on the right things, by focusing on positive things.

How do you combat this depression, anger, this blaming the world, taking no responsibility for your own emotions, your own actions. One thing that I saw with him was that he said his problems were girls. His problem wasn't girls. His problems were within his own self. He thought that if he appeared to be a certain way that he would attract girls, but really he drove people away with his negativity, with his selfishness, and if he had been -- I don't take away from the shooter's responsibility every time this happens, and I think sometimes it gets justified as we get to learn about them, and I want to be careful not to do that.

But at the same time I do believe sometimes reaching out to people like that, stepping out like my sister wrote before she was killed, about stepping out with compassion, to show kindness, that it can start a chain reaction --

BERMAN: Right.

SCOTT: -- of kindness and compassion. I think that he did need help. I think though that he had to decide for himself if he was going to start to see the good in life.

He grew up in an affluent place. He had a lot of blessings in his life, a lot of good things. There's a lot of things that could probably have changed his life if he had chosen to see, listen, not just be so self-absorbed, but to get out of himself. If he would have gone to another country for a month and seen how much he had, if he had chosen to do some type of service.

One of the things that I think can change a person is someone else stepping into their darkness and being a light and shedding on some of these lies, these delusions that he believed in. His friend on the video, I watched a video, his friend saying that they watched a movie together, and after the movie about these kind of young people with their anger, destroying the world, that he said that he was going to dominate the world and thought -- he talks about in the video being a perfect gentleman. A perfect gentleman doesn't treat women -- he talks about them as if they're objects, animals.

And I wonder in his life, I wonder if he got into a lot of pornography; if that was something that he began to really demoralize women with, demoralize himself with. And it's -- he equates his worth to whether he had sex or not. He would have found that, you know, having -- at one point he says in the video, I think he would have found that even if he had had that sex, that he still wouldn't have been fulfilled in the way that he thought.

BERMAN: Right.

SCOTT: There's a number of things. BERMAN: We know you have a lot of experience and a lot of messages to send, a lot of help to give. You work through a lot of people with Rachel's Challenge which helps remember the life of your sister. Thanks, Craig Scott, for being with us. We really appreciate it.


PEREIRA: Thanks very much John.

Coming up this Memorial Day, one man is making an amazing gesture to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice. It's our "Good Stuff" today.


PEREIRA: Time for "The Good Stuff". We want to show you a live picture here from Arlington National Cemetery. Later this morning the President will participate in the annual wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Keeping with the spirit of Memorial Day I want to bring you the story of a Massachusetts man whose mission is to keep our lost veterans from ever being forgotten.

Every since -- every May rather since 2007 when his friend's son died in combat, Robert Gromazzio lines the entire front yard of his late mother's home with a flag and photo of for every service member from Massachusetts killed in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.


ROBERT GROMAZZIO: I kind of get to know their pictures every year. It's like -- I don't know -- like I'm talking to them.


PEREIRA: This year he had to ask neighbors to borrow their front lawn in order to accommodate the growing memorial, now honoring 124 of the fallen. Robert wishes they could be remembered year-round, but he's content with doing his part to make sure the focus is all on them today.


GROMAZZIO: I hope everybody doesn't forget, you know. It's kind of sad one day a year but at least everybody remembers one day.


BERMAN: Let's make it every day.

PEREIRA: Let's make it every day.

And with that, that's all for us from us on NEW DAY. We want to thank you -- thank you to both of you for spending the day with us.


PEREIRA: Let's go to the "NEWSROOM" right now though with Carol Costello. Hi Carol.