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Former Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell: Bergdahl's Platoon Members Would Know If He's A Deserter; Shooting At Seattle Pacific University Left One Dead, Three Others Wounded; Remembering D-Day, 70 Years Later

Aired June 6, 2014 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, thank you for joining us. On this day in which we remember the bravery of the men who stormed the beaches at Normandy 70 years ago turning the tide of war, tonight we begin with the latest on American sergeant whose disappearance and return has ignited a firestorm of questions and claims.

Now, all this week, we have heard television pundits and politicians making all sorts of claims about Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the circumstances under which he disappeared, what happened to him in captivity, even the beard grown by his father. There are plenty of important questions surrounding this case, questions about the wisdom of trading of these five Guantanamo detainees to obtain his freedom. Questions about the administration's failure tell lawmakers about it, and certainly questions about how Bergdahl himself found himself in the hands of the Taliban.

Many in cable news don't like to admit when we don't know all the facts. Pundits are paid to (INAUDIBLE) with whatever information they have at hand. But the truth of the matter is in this case, we do not have all the facts yet. The military doesn't have them either.

A number of former soldiers who served with Bergdahl have come forward calling him a deserter, saying other soldiers have dies looking for him. And those are important voices to hear. But it is also important to hear from Sergeant Bergdahl himself. It is important to know the facts.

This week there have been a lot of thinly source and highly questionable reporting. Some have suggested that Sergeant Bergdahl collaborated with the enemy. The truth is, there is no direct evidence of that.

The source on that particular story is described as secret documents prepared on the basis of a purported eyewitness account from a private intelligence firm run by a former CIA officer, this gentleman named Duane Dewey Clarridge. Mr. Clarridge, you may remember, was indicted for lying to Congress during the Iran contra affair and alter pardoned by the first president Bush. Purported eyewitness accounts from Taliban territory in Pakistan. Not exactly who are reliable sources.

Now, the facts what we know so far from the army's investigation into his disappearance suggest that Bergdahl is certainly was not been soldier of the year material. And public statements by those who severe served with him are again are important voices in all of this. But this is a man's life at stake, his reputation, his future and we would all be best to serve to know all the facts before we judge.

There are new facts emerging tonight. Barbara Starr joins us with that.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was physically abused during his five years in Taliban captivity. After an escape attempt, he was held at some point in a very small and closed base, described as a cage or box, a senior U.S. official tells CNN. One indicator of an injury, a classified video of Bergdahl made by the Taliban last December included scenes where he is cradling his arm.

Bergdahl is also suffering from psychological traumas, the official tells CNN. Bergdahl's captivity conditions changed over time as the Taliban loosened or tightened security around him. They also moved him frequently to avoid detection by the U.S. The top U.S. military commander in Europe told Christiane Amanpour that Bergdahl is not yet being formally questioned.

GEN. PHILIP BREEDLOVE, NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: I wouldn't say he is actually being debriefed yet. What we're concentrating on right now is his health. He has been in a very tough place for a long time.

STARR: Sources say that Bergdahl is psychologically able to speak with his parents but has not yet done so.

With the army opening a new review into what happened, the Pentagon is getting more cautious in its public statements.

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We really have to get a chance to talk to sergeant Bergdahl before we can, you know, start to pre-judge or speculate about what the specifics of his captivity was like.

STARR: Since the Vietnam war POWs returned, the military has run a program to evaluate the mental and physical effects of captivity on military personnel and found generally good news.

JEFFREY MOORE, PH.D., MITCHELL CENTER FOR POW STUDIES: They need to realize that there is life after being a POW that most people bounce back, that bouncing back is largely a choice.


COOPER: And Barbara Starr joins us now at the Pentagon.

Do we know more about what the backup plan was?

STARR: Well, you know we talk about the backup plan. What if it had all gone wrong? When that helicopter came in you still look at that video. You understand they were doing that on one-hour notice. We know now that right up until the last minute they were still talking to the Taliban getting the exact instructions where to go.

The backup plan, what if it had gone wrong? What if those Taliban had started shooting? We know that there was surveillance aircraft overhead. They had eyes on every one of those Taliban. And those troops on the ground starting with those standing right next to the helicopter were prepared, we're told fully prepared to engage in combat, grab Bowe Bergdahl, and make a run for it. Backup forces would have come in very quickly, Anderson.

COOPER: The proof of life video that you mentioned that we have heard so much about, is that something that might be made public?

STARR: There is a lot of discussion within the administration about doing it. They have showed it to the senators. Of course, it is classified at this time. I think one of the central questions is whether or not it is appropriate to show an American military member in captivity in very questionable circumstances, of course. Whether that is exploiting him to any extent, whether they want him to get better, whether there is a sense it would violate his privacy, that is what we're beginning to hear.

COOPER: All right, Barbara. Appreciate the update. Thanks,

President Obama weighed in again today on the deal that he made for Bowe Bergdahl. Listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was a unanimous decision among my principals in my government and a view that was shared by the members of the joint chiefs of staff. And this is something that I would do again. And I will continue to do wherever I have an opportunity if I have a member of our military who is in captivity. We're going to try to get them out.


COOPER: And joining us now is David Rohde. He spent seven months in Taliban captivity. Alsop with us, Dana O'Shea, vice president of security consultants chrome technologies, former Navy SEAL and coordinator of the hostage working group in the U.S. embassy Baghdad during the war.

David, I mean, as we're hearing now more information about what Bowe Bergdahl apparently went through attempted to escape, held in a cage- like conditions. I mean, again, there is still so much we don't know. And to judge this guy without all the facts just seems inappropriate, doesn't it to you?

DAVID ROHDE, FORMER TALIBAN CAPTIVE: Well, where he was held and I was held, the tribal areas, it is notoriously difficult to get a reliable information out of there. And what happened in my case, and I'm sure in his case, is that it is feeding frenzy. And the problem is you got Afghans and Pakistanis coming forward, some who are being paid for information that are telling these stories to foreigners. Afghans have been doing this for centuries, sort of spinning tales and

then making money from it. A large amount probably the majority reports about need to came out from the tribal areas turned out to be completely wrong.

And throughout my seven months of captivity, senior U.S. officials told my wife, anyone who says they know exactly where David is, you know, doesn't really what they are talking about. The U.S., you know, couldn't find me. I don't think they could find Bowe. I mean, he is in general area, but not the specifics.

COOPER: So when we hear about private intelligence firms operating, getting information on their own, they're basically paying people, locals for information, you're saying in your case the information that those private groups were spinning were not correct?

ROHDE: Yes, and some of this information could, about Bergdahl could be correct. And some of these groups are trying to do a good job. It is so difficult to sort through which anecdote from, you know, this tribe, this person, this source is true. It is incredibly difficult, you know, for anyone, a private contractor and even intelligence officials.

COOPER: Dan, you know, early on when we first spoke, what you particularly were focused on was the idea of this Rose Garden ceremony, this Rose Garden celebration. And I think a lot of people, you know, see your point on that.

Have you -- over this past week, I mean, how do you see this all now the way it is played out over the past week?

DAN O'SHEA, FORMER NAVY SEAL: Again, I'm sticking to my guns on this because I spent two years in Iraq dealing with this. We did negotiate behind the scenes. In fact it was never -- we had maybe one or two cases where the embassy was approached in some of these incidents. But for the most part, it is all done in cutouts.

And what I will say, David is right, there is a lot of spinoffs, multiple information put out there for pay, and what not. But the reality is, and I found this out. I worked years in Iraq with 150,000 U.S. troops all the capability of the U.S. at power, you know, I heard this from intelligence assets and military special ops included. But I found out over the years after I left and kept briefing all these private security companies, that knew the KNAR industry, Kidnap and ransom, a lot of these major cases that we were tracking, but not really following. they were being resolved in the private sector. Exactly the network you're talking about earlier, about you know, David's case in particular.

So you would be surprised that 90 percent or more of kidnaps around the world, they are solved by these private sector security companies that frankly, have in my experience in Iraq, they have better intelligence than our intelligence community. And that is just a fact. And I can go into more detail than that. But, I think I am trying to make the point don't discredit the private sector network because those are the guys that solve most of the kidnappings in the world.

COOPER: It is interesting. David?

ROHDE: I would just like to say that there was a claim by private sector firm involved in my case that they, you know, helped in our escape and they did not. The reports they gave throughout this were false. You know, I know that, you know, we went out and escaped. And we were sort of shocked afterwards, several weeks afterwards where they suddenly started claiming things. And their version of events didn't match up, didn't match, you know, what happened on the ground. And it was -- it seemed partly an effort to make more money.

So, we, you know, I have written the truth in my story. And it is there are a lot of rumors out there but I know in my case the information was not accurate.

COOPER: David, you have written an op-ed on about sort of the possible choices faced by the families in this situation. Talk about that a little bit.

ROHDE: It is just very difficult. They feel tremendous responsibility if their loved there somehow supposed to meet these demands. But when it is, you know, a jihadist group, they are asking for prisoners that no family controls. They can be use to U.S. government through these prisoners or millions of dollars. And as we talk about before, governments are exchanging prisoners. You know, Israel gave away a thousand prisoners. You know, European countries are paying large ransom. And it is really difficult for them. And some of these cases are kept secret. We're advised by contractors to do that. And that the result, in advert result of that is that there is very little pressure on the U.S. government because there are people today who are kidnapped. And it is not public. The families are trying to protect them. But there is no pressure on the U.S. to act.

So it is incredibly difficult and it is there needs to be a coordinated approach from all of these countries about how to deal with these cases. Bowe Bergdahl was held so long, I was held because Pakistan was not securing the territory where they hold these captives. They have the safe haven.

COOPER: And David, when you hear, you know, pundits and staff kind of focusing on the parents and how they look or how they are acting, does that -- what do you make of that?

O'SHEA: Well, listen. Again, I try and focus on we're going to get Bergdahl's stories as they come out. And right now, he is going through to the (INAUDIBLE) process which perfected going back to Vietnam. So, I am not going to get into the weeds on that.

But the parent response today is immaterial. You know, Matt Muffin's (ph) father grew his beard and to say I'm not going to shave until my son comes home. His beard was as long as Bowe Bergdahl's father. So to me, that's -- we are giving attention off the target here. So, I don't read into that too much because listen. If I was a father, you know, a parent would do anything to get their son or daughter back. So, I'm not going to pass judgment on them because, you know, I can't imagine.

I sat down with hundreds of Iraqi families in particular who had a husband or a son or a daughter kidnapped. So trust me, I know what the family is going through. And I counsel these families. I helped in the negotiation strategies on many local cases.

So you know I'm not passing judgment because I know the horror and terror of what they faced. And so, you're going to get no, you know, arm chair quarterbacking from me on that point. Because a family would do anything to get their son or daughter back or uncle or father.

COOPER: Dan, I appreciate you --

O'SHEA: That is a fact.

COOPER: I appreciate you being on again tonight.

And David Rohde, stick around. Because I want to talk a little more about the allegations being aimed, some of the allegations being aimed at Bergdahl and his family and how its forces hometown to actually call off the homecoming for him.

Quick reminder, make sure you set your DVR so you can watch "AC360" whenever you want.

Later, my interview with the former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, who himself survived harrowing experience in Afghanistan. You may be read his book "Lone and Survivors," seen the movie. His perspective on sergeant Bergdahl and what he may have gone through.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand the fear. I mean, I saw when he was in the back of that truck and I was looked into his eyes I remember that look. I had it. I mean, it is the unknown. You just don't -- what is going on here.



COOPER: Welcome back.

Keep in mind that we simply do not have a full picture of Bowe Bergdahl's disappearance, his captivity or at least of all his character. There are still room to question the administration's painting him in the outset in such glowing terms. With 2009 army report on record documenting several prior instances of him leaving his base. Why did national security adviser Rice, among others, say he served with quote, "with honor and distinction?"

Here was what she told Jim Acosta.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SUSAN RICE, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Jim, I realize there is a lot of discussion and controversy around this. But, what I was referring to is the fact that this was a young man who volunteered to serve his country in uniform at a time of war. That is in itself a very honorable thing.


RICE: Jim, really, I mean, this is a young man whose circumstances we are still going to learn about. He is as all Americans, innocent until proven guilty. He is now being tried in the court of public opinion after having gone through enormously traumatic five years of captivity. His parents, the same.


COOPER: That trauma was supposed to give way to something better especially in his hometown. Instead in less than a week, Hailey, Idaho, has been turned apprehensive. The small town with barely 8,000 people broke into celebration when it was announced that Bowe Bergdahl has been freed. He is one of their owned. They never forgotten him. And now, they are ready to welcome him home. Now though, the backlash over his release is getting ugly and it is taking aim at Hailey.

Ed Lavandera is there and he filed this report.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This moment was supposed to be an emotional triumph for Bergdahl's hometown of Hailey, Idaho. It has spiraled into a nightmare and Stephanie O'Neil is heartbroken.

STEPHANIE O'NEIL, BERGDAHL'S FAMILY FRIEND: It is a feeling of extreme sadness that we're not allowed or not able to have this event for Bowe, to welcome him back to the community. This is something to honor him and we can't do that now, not at this time.

LAVANDERA: O'Neil and her family organized what was supposed to be called the Bowe is back celebration in the park where Bowe Bergdahl played as a child.

Last year on the fourth anniversary of Sergeant Bergdahl's capture, O'Neil organized the Bring Bowe Back rally. Bergdahl's parents were overwhelmed by the support.

BOB BERGDAHL, SERGEANT BERGDAHL'S FATHER: It is my privilege to know him, I think, better than anyone else, as a father and man I will defend his character until the day I die.

LAVANDERA: O'Neil says the town of Hailey was flooded with more than 3,000 requests for protester permits for the celebration as well as nasty threats or e-mails. The event was cancelled because of security concerns and Bowe Bergdahl's parents are remaining out of sight.

And how were his parents taking it? O'NEIL: You know, I think they were upset. I mean, I think in a way

it was shocking to them that we were not able to do that for their son. You know, again, he has not been able to talk. And so, I think they're pretty saddened by it all.

LAVANDERA: While the yellow ribbons and banners declaring Bowe is free at last, still lying in the streets and store fronts, inside city hall, the flooded angry e-mails and phone calls pour in.

One woman wrote, if your town can still welcome this traitor home you're not part of the U.S. that I am.

And Army veteran e-mail to tell city leader that ceremonies honoring Bergdahl would be a great insult as well as the stain upon the reputation of our community.

And editorial in the town's newspaper lashed out at those critics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five years of captivity is enough to bring him home.

LAVANDERA: The Idaho Mountain express editor, Gregg Poley says the backlash against Bergdahl has surprised many.

What kind of reaction have you got today, editorial?

GREG POLEY, IDAHO MOUNTAIN EXPRESS: We had a lot of positive reaction locally. But certainly outside of our immediate area there have been people who think that we're casting a blind eye on what they believe to be fact. Where in our mind, the facts of his capture really have not been established.

LAVANDERA: Bowe Bergdahl's family and friends say the homecoming celebration has only been cancelled for now. They're not giving up on Bowe yet.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Hailey, Idaho.


COOPER: Let's dig deeper now. And back with David Rohde from "the New York Times," now with Reuters. He has held captive by the Taliban for seven months, and former CIA officer Bob Bear.

Bob, you know, again, we don't know the facts, the full effects of how he left or his captivity. When you hear that there are five intelligence networks that know that he, you know, pledged to commit jihad with the Taliban or whatever they're saying, do you buy that?

ROBERT BAER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Absolutely not. I know these intelligence networks there, they come front the intelligence peddlers.

COOPER: What do you mean, intelligence peddlers?

BAER: They're contractors that showed up or meeting Afghans buying intelligence and trying to sell it to the U.S. government. And I know for a fact that early on the word of CIA looked at this stuff and rejected it that this is hearsay or flat out wrong.

For instance, I know that they never knew where Bowe Bergdahl was and that is one of the reasons there was never a rescue mission. I mean, Special forces could have gone in and gone him inside Pakistan. They never had any actionable intelligence. And especially it was particularly weak from the contractors.

COOPER: And -- I mean, again, when you are in captivity, you said that there were peddlers pushing information about you and it was false.

ROHDE: Yes. And I mean, there were contractors and I'm grateful for everybody who worked on my case. I think they were, you know, many of them were well intentioned. But after I, you know, we escaped and I came home, and looked at the reports that my family had been given, you know, the private contractors versus what government officials had been saying, the government officials were much more accurate.

And again as Bob said, my family was repeatedly told by the officials that they didn't know where I was. And you know, there was a drone strike right outside the house where I was being held captive. And people said to me we didn't know you are in that house. We wouldn't have help the drone strike because frankly, that was one of the scariest days of the captivity. They were furious about the drone strike and we thought, maybe they would execute us right then and there.

COOPER: So when we hear all the details about his captivity from these private sources you say a huge grain of salt.

BAER: I don't believe them. I just reject them out of hand.

COOPER: There are a lot of Afghans out there who want to make some money?

BAER: The worst place to collect intelligence in my opinion, in the southeast and Asia and south America is Afghanistan. It is unfounded rumors. People tell you anything. It is a nightmare for intelligence officers. So to take this on face value is an error. And I think it is a mistake. We need to hear from Bowe Bergdahl. We need to hear from the Pentagon why he left base and under what conditions. And only then will I be able to pass judgment.

COOPER: Does it surprise you that the Pentagon doesn't know for sure how he left base? Or do you think they do?

BAER: I think they are getting their ducks in line. I think we are going to find out sooner rather than later, and it will go through Congress. And it will be -- it could healing thing to happen, the quicker the better.

COOPER: Bob, it is good to have you on. David Rohde as well, thank you very much. It has been a long week on this story. Ahead tonight, new information coming to light about the prior mental

health of the alleged Seattle college shooter and the heroes that are credited with saving lives. A student wrestling this guy to the ground and disarming him.

Also next, the former Navy SEAL who has tough words for Bowe Bergdahl if he did anything wrong. But certainly, he is not jumping on any conclusions. Marcus Luttrell joins me ahead.


COOPER: In explaining why he agreed to swap Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners, President Obama has said repeatedly the United States doesn't leave its men and women in uniform behind. Former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, author of "Lone Survivor" knows what it is like to be trap behind enemy lines. In 2005, Luttrell was part of a covert mission in Afghanistan. The film, "Lone Survivor" is based on his memoir.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not ready to place that time card.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You mean fall off?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're good, right? We're solid.


COOPER: Luttrell was the only member of his Navy SEAL team to make it out alive. He managed to avoid being captured and killed by the Taliban with the help of some Afghan villagers who helped saved his life. He has got unique perspective on Bergdahl's story. I spoke to Marcus a short time ago.


COOPER: How did you feel when you learned of the release of the five detainees from Gitmo for the exchange of Bergdahl? I mean, you have been in this situation. You have been hunted by the Taliban. You were in their hands for a while. They were looking to kill you. When you heard about this trade what did you first think?

MARCUS LUTTRELL, FORMER NAVY SEAL: Believe it or not, I actually heard about it from my family in Afghanistan, the people in the village who rescued me. I still keep in contact with them on a regular basis and they were upset about that whole thing. He talks to me back and forth before a lot of times about what goes down out here. But when that happened, he and the whole village and he said that people in the surrounding villages were really worried about the fact that that had happened. That that was a dangerous move and probably should not have been done.

COOPER: Do you think it makes it more dangerous for service member whose are still in Afghanistan? Does it send a message that the U.S. will negotiate and that you know, taking an American soldier hostage will be rewarded?

LUTTRELL: I think in my opinion, absolutely. If I was out there and I saw that go down I definitely -- they always want more. That is the thing about it. You go in, you negotiations, you give them something, it goes down, it doesn't go down, you go back to the table. The stakes are always higher. And for our guys who still have boots on the ground, they are not out yet. And from my understanding, they are going to be there for a couple more years. The war may be closing down, everyone is standing. It is ending. But if you still have troops in harm's way then, it is still on. I mean, it is game on.

COOPER: Are you surprised that they kept him alive? That his kidnappers kept him alive and apparently the Haqqani network keeping him in Pakistan, that they kept them alive that long? When they were hunting you, they wanted to kill you.

LUTTRELL: Right, that was it. It caught me off guard, too, the fact that he was -- that he sustained, for that long. I can tell you from my experience, that is the only reason I'm talking about this is I kind of have a little insight into this. I was not out there as long as he was.

But the only negotiations for me was the fact they were trying to get me out of the hole that I was in and cut my head off. And I understand the fear. I mean, I saw it when he was in the back of that truck and I was looking in his eyes I remember that look. I had it. I mean, it is the unknown. It is just -- what is going on here?

COOPER: You're talking about that video right in the back of the truck right before he was released?

LUTTRELL: Yes, sir.

COOPER: Had the situation with you been different, would you have wanted an exchange for prisoners? That would have cut you the wrong way.

LUTTRELL: When I went out there I knew the risks and I accepted those. If I died on the battlefield then that was the way it was supposed to be. When I did get captured the only thing I held on to was the fact my teammates were going to come get me, period.

COOPER: There is a lot of criticism of the actions of the father, Bob Bergdahl, do you think criticizing the parents of someone who have been held captive for years is fair?

LUTTRELL: Yes, I don't think that is a good idea. But I know from experience when I was missing, my family, what they went through, my mother and my father, it has got to be the most painful thing any parent can experience. And to drop down on them the way that a lot of people have probably -- a little outside the box. It was reported that I was dead. So for three or four days my mom just thought I was dead. And then when she found out I was still alive, but I was being held in an Afghani village, she this had the fact I was alive, but I was being held. Yes, I really don't know. Obviously being dead is worse, but the fact I was away and she couldn't get in contact with me that was probably every parent's nightmare. I mean, I'm a parent now. I can't only imagine. I had one way of thinking when I wasn't a parent, and now that I am a parent everything is different.

COOPER: You're a big softy now?

LUTTRELL: Yes, I got a daughter. That says everything.

COOPER: What do you think should happen to Sergeant Bergdahl, if in fact he did desert, should he be dishonorably discharged? What do you think is fair?

LUTTRELL: In my opinion, all this investigation, the hearsay, everything that is spun around that he was a deserter, if he was missing, he came back. He got out there. He got captured. That is completely different. If he did throw his kit down and walk outside the wire and if he did leave his men behind then absolutely he should be tried, the army will take care of that.

The problem with the whole social media thing, I think, if heaven help that kid if he is not a deserter because he is branded already. I will never say anything bad about the president. I'm military and I believe in the position and what he stands for. But people are asking me about the Rose Garden situation.

And if you were going to have a Rose Garden ceremony you should have had those guys' parents who died. Even with the Bergdahl family. They're all joined at the hip, if you will. I have plenty of teammates who were out there looking for this guy, they didn't die but got shot up real bad. And the guys out there searching for this kid, they should have been out there in the Rose Garden as well. The president, man, he can't catch a break.

COOPER: It is an interesting idea. You're the first person I heard who suggested that and that might have gone a little bit toward kind of making people see more of the complexity of the situation and sort of understanding it a little bit more.

LUTTRELL: Absolutely. And I think it would have eased -- I mean, I don't want to say that. I mean, I could speak to that because I've seen death in all of my teammates that have died and everything. And -- man, this is a crazy situation.

COOPER: Marcus, it is great to have you on. Thank you.

LUTTRELL: Yes, sir, thank you for having me.

COOPER: Marcus Luttrell, it's great to have him.

Coming up, why the shooting at the Seattle Pacific University could have been much worse and the hero who saved the day.

And later, remembering D-Day, 70 years later including the incredibly moving words of a president, President Roosevelt.


COOPER: Well, we're learning more tonight about the shooting at the Seattle Pacific University that left a 19-year-old man dead. The suspect is in custody, as is our policy on the program we don't say his name or show his picture. We want to focus on the people whose lives were lost and saved. Kyung Lah reports.


UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: I heard an explosion and I just had somebody running here and he was running with wound on his neck.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The chilling calls to 911, moments after the gunman opened fire at Seattle Pacific University. Students hiding in their classrooms, whispering for help from the dispatchers.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: He is in the lobby.

LAH: Sophomore Rodney Greiling was one of the students barricading themselves in. He was just 30 feet away inside his physics class.

RODNEY GREILING, SOPHOMORE: I think he took a shot outside and then went outside.

LAH: Greiling heard the two shotgun blasts back-to-back. Then a pause.

GREILING: And that's a time that he was reloading.

LAH: Police say the suspect is not a Seattle Pacific University student. Police in the Seattle suburb know him. He had been taken into custody on a mental hold in 2010 and 2012. According to court documents obtained by CNN affiliate, KCPQ, the

gunman heard the voice of Columbine killer, Eric Harris, the voice telling him to hurt people and that it scared him.

Other court documents cited by the station also show in October of 2012 the gunman's therapist requested he be involuntary committed, but was denied because he was not an imminent threat. Engineering student, Jon Meis, didn't know any of this. He is the student desk monitor, a fixture in the building's entry way.

GREILING: His instincts are right, you're either going to go die or hide. The guy didn't hesitate. He went out and jumped on him in a potentially life-threatening situation.

LAH: Armed with pepper spray, Meis sprayed him in the face and then tackled him, holding him until the police arrived. Meis stopped the gunman just inside the front door. Greiling says what made it so surprising was not just the action but who took it. Greiling played intramural volleyball with Meis. He describes Meis as a smaller guy on the team, a bookworm. GREILING: It turns out that, you know, somebody that you totally would not expect to do it and it is just the coolest thing. It really is, but as bad as this was yesterday it could have been multiple of times worse. You know? Exponentially worse. Every single person in that building had the potential to be dead right now.

LAH: Including you?

GREILING: Absolutely.

LAH: The 19-year-old Paul Lee didn't make it. He died of his injuries, three of his classmates were hurt. Another college campus dealing with the loss of young life, the loss of security, but today, grateful that an unlikely hero saved so many of them. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Amazingly heroic act. That was Kyung Lah reporting. After the shooting, Seattle's mayor said gun violence is an epidemic. It's hunting the nation. Mayor Ed Murray joins me tonight.

Mayor Murray, first of all, thanks very much for joining us. I'm sorry it is under these circumstances. I know one of the victims, a young man named, Paul Lee died last night. Do you know how the other victims are doing?

MAYOR ED MURRAY, SEATTLE: My understanding is they have stabilized, but they are not out of danger.

COOPER: You know, in a tragedy like this can bring out the best in some people and that is certainly the case with this hero student. Authorities say had he not acted as he did, there would surely have been more casualties. I'm sure a lot of people incredibly thankful for this young man. Have you been able to talk to him at all?

MURRAY: I have not been out to the campus, was at a service today. But obviously this young man was very courageous, stepped into a very dangerous situation and if he had not the tragedy would have been that much worse.

COOPER: The Seattle Pacific University is obviously now just another in the growing list of schools that have experienced something like this. How is the community coping? How are the students coping? How was the service today?

MURRAY: Well, the students are going through a tough time. It is a very emotional time. It is finals week. It's a time in their lives that they should be celebrating instead they're facing an incredible tragedy. But they also -- I would say are taking a lot of strength from each other.

COOPER: You know, I want to ask you about the alleged shooter. We don't use the names of shooters on this program just because I don't think they should get publicity. I don't think people should remember their names. I always think people should remember the names of people like Paul Lee who died. But the shooter seemed to have struggle with serious mental health issues. Do you know much about that?

MURRAY: I don't know a lot beyond the information you have seen. But once again, the issue of shootings, gun violence is connected to a mental health problem. And both the issue of responsible gun ownership and the need to do more in regards to our mental health system is at issue.

COOPER: And it is reported that according to court documents he had some sort of fascination with other mass shootings like Columbine. It is startling to me how often there are connections between these shootings. That they don't happen in a vacuum.

MURRAY: Well, you know, it's very interesting. When I was a legislator, we try to get at these things such as violent video games and the like, and we're unable to withstand a court challenge. But it is something for us to look at as a culture. I do want to say one more thing, Anderson, on Sunday night, two young men, one African- American, a graduate of the University of Washington, the other East African working on HIV-AIDS issues in a smaller community, were murdered.

Last time they were seen was in a gay bar and they were murdered early Sunday morning. So these shootings are related. They are gun violence. It is a tragedy for this city and this city has been in a state of shock really since Sunday. And the horrible shootings at Seattle Pacific University just underline the problem that all cities are having. It is not one week, it is not one incident.

COOPER: As mayor do you feel at times sort of powerless to change this?

MURRAY: You certainly have that initial reaction. I would just -- human nature. But what has inspired me was the young man who jumped in there. The students at Seattle Pacific who were talking about how to take this tragedy and make something real out of it. But in particular, the young African-American and East Africans who I met last night at the vigil service for the young men who were murdered on Sunday. And how they want to get involved and how they want to find a way to move forward. With that kind of energy in this kind of city hopefully we can contribute to some solution.

COOPER: Well, Mayor Ed Murray, I am sorry for all that your city has been going through in the last couple of days with this violence and I appreciate you talking to us about it. Thank you.

MURRAY: Thank you.

COOPER: Up next tonight, remembering D-Day, 70 years later with veterans who lived to tell the tale. And the words of two presidents.


COOPER: Well, today, world leaders and veterans gathered in France to mark the anniversary of the beginning of the end of World War II. On this day in 1944, soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy. Thousands died. Many of those young men died, those who survived are older now. At the ceremony in Northern France, President Obama expressed his gratitude to them.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: All our veterans of D-Day, if you can stand, please stand. If not, please raise your hand. Let us recognize your service once more. These men waged war so that we might know peace. They sacrificed so that we might be free. They fought in hopes of a day when we'd no longer need to fight. We are grateful to them.


COOPER: Soldiers and many others, on June 6th, 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt spoke to the nation about the D-Day invasion on the radio. We want to play you part of the message that he had for Americans on that day.


PRESIDEN FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT: Almighty God, our sons, pride of our nation. This day have set upon the mighty endeavor, have struggled to preserve our republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. Leave them strength. Give strength to their arms, steadfastness in their faith. They will need thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest.

They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice rise, and tolerance and good will among all thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle. For their return for the haven of home. Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, thy heroic servants into thy kingdom.


COOPER: And many did not return. Here now in in their own words are veterans' memories of D-Day in tonight's "American Journey."


ROCCO MORETTO, D-DAY VETERAN: We got on the craft, on June the 2nd. We received a partial payment in French money. So we knew we were going to go to France. Where? We didn't find out until we were on the channel.

BERNARD GLASSMAN, D-DAY VETERAN: We crossed the channel and I know we were going to go in and face the enemy. And it was on my mind. And I said well, either I make it or I don't.

PAUL BURKE, D-DAY VETERAN: The weather was really bad. Rough. Very rough. Very rainy. Very cold.

MORETTO: The pilot of the craft and his megaphone made several announcements saying that he was going to try to --

DAVID ROSENTHAL, D-DAY VETERAN: The front went down and we jumped into the water. The water was up to our necks. We were not the first troops, the infantry was the first and bodies were all over the place.

GLASSMAN: First thing I had on my mind was death. I was thinking about, I was in the background, there were a lot of guys all around me. They were floating in the water.

MORETTO: There was one kid, I looked down and there was Michael, his name was, and he is trying to talk. And nothing is coming out and he just -- I made him out to say help me. But things were so chaotic there you couldn't help anybody, you had to get out of there. A group of four of us, we headed up and we go through a minefield.

The whole area was mined. So as we traverse this high ground I hear pop, and in my peripheral vision I hear this guy to my left, and an explosion and through the air and I just kept going as fast as I could. We were lucky to inch up yard by yard. We fought on until 3:00 a.m. And took a rest -- I think it was two hours. As soon as it got daylight, we took off again.

GLASSMAN: And we defeated the Germans. Some were lucky and some were not. It was on their mind, we had to do what we had to do. And it was what we did. And I'll tell you what, the American guys did a good job. They were good soldiers.

MORETTO: And 70 years ago, it seems like almost yesterday. I'm so proud to call myself a veteran. I really am. And I feel that we were a big help to the whole world.


COOPER: And all of us owe them a debt of gratitude. One of the American soldiers who parachuted into Normandy is now 93. He returned to see if he could make that same jump 70 years later. His story is next.


COOPER: We're back with Susan Hendricks with 360 Bulletin -- Susan.

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, outside of a Georgia courthouse it sounded like a war zone. Take a listen, that shootout ensued after a man with a rifle and explosives tried to ram his car into the courthouse. The suspect a former TSA employee shot a deputy in the leg before he was killed.

North Korea said it has detained an American tourist who broke the law. The state-run agency did not describe the allegations against Jeffrey Edward Fowl. Two other Americans are being held in North Korea as well.

And World War II paratrooper, Jim Kiwi-Martin parachuted into Normandy just like he did 70 years ago. The Ohio veteran who is now 93 served with the 101st Airborne Division. His unit was part of the first wave to land behind enemy lines on the eve of the D-Day invasion. Anderson, unbelievable that he did it again.

COOPER: It's incredible at 93. That's great. Susan, thanks very much. That does it for us. The CNN original series, "The Sixties" starts now.