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Typhoon Neoguri is Strongest Storm in Decades; Dueling Rocket Fire in Mideast Conflict; Outrage Over Violent in Chicago; Obama Offers to Meet with Governor Perry; Interview with Mayor Alan Long of Murrieta, California; New Search Warrants in Hot Car Death

Aired July 8, 2014 - 08:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news: a powerful typhoon is slamming into Japan. More than half a million people told to evacuate as powerful winds and storm surges up to 40 feet threaten disaster. It's hitting an area that's also home to a large U.S. military presence. We're live with the latest.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, Israel launching airstrikes into Gaza and beefing up forces there. Are they now setting the stage for an invasion?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: New details, police looking for more evidence in the investigation surrounding the father accused of leaving his young son to die in a hot car, after accusing him of living a double life. We'll speak with a friend of the father, Justin Ross Harris. Does she think he's capable of murder?

BOLDUAN: Your NEW DAY continues right now.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira.

BOLDUAN: Good morning and welcome to NEW DAY again. It is Tuesday, July 8th, 8:00 in the East.

John Berman sticking with us. Chris is off.

BERMAN: Yes, they won't let me go.

BOLDUAN: They're not letting you go, I'm sorry. We have his legs shackled underneath the desk.

We're following breaking news at this hour, a powerful typhoon lashing Japan this morning. Typhoon Neoguri is turning into the region's most powerful storm in decades. The island of Okinawa was hit by the storm's 125 mile an hour winds, more than 600,000 people have been told to evacuate, and U.S. military bases have moved their planes off the island.

Let's go to Will Ripley, who is live in Tokyo, tracking all of the latest.

I mean, I talked to a storm chaser last hour, Will, and he was saying it was something he's never seen before.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, the commander of Kadena Air Base says this is the strongest storm to hit Okinawa in 15 years. This is an area that's used to typhoon, buildings are built to withstand them, and even there, we know at least one building collapsed, there's debris is scattered all over the streets. The winds are still ripping in the area even though the storm passed Okinawa and the islands nearby, on a course toward mainland Japan.

If you look at the storm by the numbers, 15-mile-an-hour winds right now, 600,000 people under voluntary evacuation advisories, another 106,000 are still without power. It's now evening so that potentially causes a safety issue for them. Also, more than 100 flights canceled, the main airport in Okinawa closed, 14,000 passengers are grounded.

And, John, things only get more tricky here because this storm is headed for mainland Japan and this is rainy season here, where a lot of the ground is already flooded. There have been people that were evacuated because of flooding. So, this typhoon and all the rain it could potentially bring later this week could be problematic for millions of people, in fact, even right now, here in Tokyo, people are preparing for this storm later this week -- John.

BERMAN: We're talking about rain levels difficult to handle. Also, storm surge that we'll be difficult to handle. We'll be watching this very closely. Will Ripley, our thanks to you.

Another big story we're watching this morning: the Mideast conflict, dueling rocket attacks, and neither side right now showing any signs of backing down. The armed wing of Palestinian Islamic jihad fired saying it fired 60 rockets at Israel in response to what it calls unjust aggression.

Overnight, Israel hammered Hamas with deadly air strikes. Israel's defense minister saying this offensive may go on for days, it could even grow. The aggression is intensifying on both side after the kidnappings and killings of Israeli and Palestinian teenager.

Diana Magnay is near the Gaza Strip for us with the latest.

Diana, what's the latest?

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, John. Well, what the forces are trying to do is target what they call the rockets. The bases of rocket terrorism coming out of the Gaza Strip behind me and since last night, they say there have been 100 rocket attacks into Israel, so they are targeting the homes of Hamas militants. They are targeting, for example, concealed rocket launchers terror command centers. These are the targets that they say they are trying to hit with very clear precision. All of this in an operation called Operation Protective Edge.

Let's take a look.


MAGNAY (voice-over): Israel is now at the ready, even sending troops to positions alongside the Gaza border, this as rocket attacks between the two continue to escalate. Overnight Israeli defense forces say they struck 50 targets and air strikes across the Gaza Strip, at least 10 injured.

Israel now launching a clear offensive. Their operation even given an official name, Protective Edge, using increased targeted air strikes and calling out several hundred reservists to build up troops for possible ground maneuvers.

Israel's change in tactic comes in response to an uptick in rocket attacks from Gaza with some 80 on Monday alone. Those strikes forcing hundreds in neighboring summer camps to be sent back home.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he will do whatever is necessary to stop the attacks.

The Hamas spokesman issuing a battle cry on Facebook, "The enemy has crossed the red lines and will be made to pay the price for its crimes."

Hamas even showing off its weaponry and a propaganda video on their military Web site.

These explosive scenes of violence just painting a backdrop to the mounting anger in Jerusalem, tensions in the city at their worst in a decade, after the murders and beating of both Jewish and Palestinian teenagers.


MAGNAY: And, John, we know that six Palestinians within the Gaza Strip have been killed as a result of those airstrikes. There have been some 24 or so injured. Hamas has threatened that it will increase the radius of its missiles, which are already falling just short or being aimed just short of cities like Tel Aviv -- John.

BERMAN: All right. From violence overseas -- thanks to Diana Magnay -- a different kind of violence at home. Officials in Chicago calling for action after a bloody Fourth of July weekend. The city's top cop is lashing out, blaming weak gun laws for the violence, the worst of the year so far. Twenty-one shooting incidents on Sunday alone. At least nine people dead, dozens more wounded.

CNN's George Howell live in Chicago.

George, what are they saying this morning?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, good morning. Look, in Chicago, on the Fourth of July, some celebrated the Fourth

with fireworks. In other neighborhoods, though, they had to take cover amid the crack of gunfire, mainly on the city's south side. Even though police said they had a plan in place, the problem, especially on Sunday, it just didn't work.


HOWELL (voice-over): The shock remains.


HOWELL: One day after a bloody weekend, the mayor, the police superintendent, and community members stand together.

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL (D), CHICAGO: The gun violence that was this part of this weekend is totally unacceptable to anybody from the city of Chicago.

HOWELL: More than 60 people were shot, 14 killed, over the long holiday weekend, including Marlon Williams' niece, Tanya Gunn (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) daughter. Let me (INAUDIBLE). I feel hurt. I will never be able to see my niece again.

HOWELL: Sadly, it's something many in Chicago neighborhoods have come to fear and expect when the weather warms up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, it's Groundhog Day here in Chicago.

HOWELL: Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy says part of the problem is that it's too easy to get guns like these that were seized by police, but it's the guns police couldn't get that led to so many deaths.

GARRY MCCARTHY, CHICAGO SUPERINTENDENT OF POLICE: We obviously had a plan. The plan included putting hundreds more officers on the streets at the times that we need them, in the places where we needed them, and what were the results? The results were a lot of shootings and a lot of murders unfortunately.

HOWELL: Even though police say the murder rate is down from last year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To me, it's just talk. It's just, I don't believe they're really doing their jobs.

HOWELL: There's a feeling of frustration lingering on this street, a feeling that tragedies like this shouldn't be accepted as normal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I do next is, it's hard to say what I'm going to do next. I'm just going to prepare for her burial.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOWELL: It's no doubt every time you talk to people when these things happen, it's a tragic situation. The numbers of people who are shot and wounded are shocking. But it is important to put it in perspective. According to the police count of homicides, that homicides by this time of year, Kate, are down, compared to what they were a year before.

So they are on pace to see the murder rate lower than what it was the year before but again, weekends like this are very difficult for everyone.

BOLDUAN: And it's difficult to square those two facts seeing that violence over the weekend and also hearing the homicide rate is trending downward.

George Howell watching it for us, an important story in Chicago -- thanks, George.

Let's turn now to the growing border crisis we've been talking about this morning. President Obama, as we've learned, has offered to meet with the Texas Governor Rick Perry over immigration when he visits the state tomorrow. However, he still has not -- he has no plans publicly to visit the border, something we've heard he has a lot of pressure on him to do.

Amid all of this, a small California City has become a flash point in the immigration debate. Dozens of protesters faced off in Murrieta again Monday over the transfer of migrants to a detention center in the town.

Joining us now to discuss is Alan Long, the mayor of Murrieta.

Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for your time.


BOLDUAN: Good morning.

So, you see as if we see more and more of these images every day. You have said that at least some of the angry protests are coming into your city from out of town. Who are these protesters?

LONG: Oh, absolutely. We have causes coming from all other.

Our police chief reported that the estimate was 70 percent at the peak were not from Murrieta. So, we have -- again, this is not a national problem. It stirred up a lot of emotions and people came from all over the country to our doorsteps here in Murrieta.

BOLDUAN: Are you --what are you saying to those folks? The folks coming in from out of town, do you get a good sense of who they are and exactly where they're coming from?

LONG: You know, it's really varied. Lot of different locations.

Our message to everyone is that keep it peaceful, keep it sane, and we are going to have law enforcement out there to make sure everyone is safe and that the law is enforced. That's our message to the protesters.

BOLDUAN: You're dealing with this on the ground, do you -- are you concerned at this point that it could turn violent, that it isn't going to remain peaceful?

LONG: So far, that hasn't been the case. I was out there yesterday. There was a small group on each side, probably about 30 people each, and they were shouting back and forth. Police have done a great job. They have roped off areas and the protesters seemed to assemble on one side or the other, and there's about a 10-foot space in between them to prevent any type of conflict.

But, you know, unfortunately there was some behavior that we don't endorse, and is not welcome here. I think you saw some video of that unfortunately, that seven-second clip now is a reflection of Murrieta, and we're really not proud of that.

BOLDUAN: Why, Mr. Mayor, has Murrieta become such a flash point? Why has it become the center of this crisis?

LONG: Well, I think the general public really is at a boiling point. Many people are frustrated at the federal government for many different reasons. When you bring such a controversial item to a very small town who, by the way, had information from border patrol agents before this was planned, before the city even knew about it. We were getting phone calls of concern, rumors.

And what we found out at a town hall meeting this past Wednesday, some of the rumors and some of the concerns the citizens had were verified.

BOLDUAN: Mr. Mayor, what do you think should happen to the migrants, the undocumented immigrants that are coming through your town, that are being moved to your facilities? What do you think is the fix?

LONG: Right. Well, great question. If you listen to both sides of the protest lines carefully, I think they're all asking for the same thing. That's why I've come up with -- there's a third side. It's not one of two sides.

There's a third side where people just want a fair and efficient and legal process, and that efficiency is what's lacking. We were assured that these people were taken care of, and that they were healthy, they were screened through three different processes.

And come to find out that's not the case. These people have been shipped all over the country. They're sick, they're ill. They needed to be cared for as soon as they cross the border to make sure that they're healthy.

BOLDUAN: Mr. Mayor, the president's headed to Texas tomorrow. He's going to be meeting possibly with Governor Rick Perry to talk about immigration issues as part of his visit. Would you like him to come to your town in California? Do you think that would help? LONG: He's more than welcome, but what really needs to happen is a

fix in the policy, and I did -- I followed his plan. We did see some movement on that over the weekend, and just yesterday, I understand that part of that $2 billion plan is to send the resources needed to the border. And I think that's a fix temporarily. I think the long- term fix needs to be immigration reform.

BOLDUAN: Yes, there seems to be two things going on in tandem. You've got the immediate crisis that you're facing at the border, that's for sure, and then the larger debate on immigration reform.

And for better or worse, whether you welcome it or not, Murrieta has become the center of that very contentious debate.

Mayor Alan Long, thank you for your time.

LONG: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Of course.


PEREIRA: Murrieta caught in the middle of it all.

All right. Let's stay in Southern California for a second with some breaking news overnight: a frightening scene for 22 people on a roller coaster that jumped the tracks in California. Happened aboard the Ninja Coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain. You can see the front part of the car partially dislodged, hanging only by the back wheels. Riders were left dangling. Four people we're told suffered minor injuries.

A spokesperson for the park says the incident was caused by a fallen tree branch.

A legislative audit finds Louisiana spent $1.3 million on food stamps for people who are already dead. The report shows benefits went out to about 4,000 dead people over a four-year period. The Department of Children and Families says it is putting plans in place to do a better job of monitoring death records.

People in Washington state are lining up at recreational marijuana shops to get their fix and to be a part of history, 24 licensed stores will begin selling marijuana as early as 8:00 a.m. Pacific Time. In the meantime, New York just became the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana. It lets doctors prescribe marijuana in a non-smokable form to patients with certain serious conditions.

BERMAN: Interesting hearing for the people in Washington, what they're doing and not doing. Right now, they don't have edibles yet available. Just the smokable form, they're trying to learn from some of the things that happened in Colorado.

PEREIRA: Right. Each state is watching others how they do it and some of the mistakes. BOLDUAN: Interesting test cases. It's going to be a while before you

really have consensus, what works and doesn't, if it works at all, right?

BERMAN: Indeed.

Next up for us on NEW DAY, more on the investigation into the father accused of letting his child die in a hot car. Now, investigators are looking at financial statements and phone messages as well. We will speak with a friend of the boy's father.

BOLDUAN: And a new editorial says the Obama administration was warned that Iraq could collapse, would collapse into sectarian violence. We're going to talk to the man who says he raised that alarm.


PEREIRA: Good to have you back with us here on NEW DAY.

A new series of warrants reveals what investigators are looking for in the case of a father accused of leaving his little toddler to die in a hot car. They show police are looking now at computer files, financial statements, and X-rated cell phone messages.

Joining us, someone who knows Justin Ross and Cooper Harris personally. Joining us on the phone from Alabama is Chris Wilkinson.

Chris, good morning to you.


PEREIRA: I understand you met Justin Ross in Alabama. Tell us how you know him.

WILKINSON: He was referred to me by a mutual friend, knew I was looking for somebody to help me with web design and we worked pretty closely together over the phone for quite some time until I had my Web site up.

PEREIRA: Do you feel you were friends?

WILKINSON: Yes, I thought we were, you know? Later on when I ran into him at a football game, he showed his son off to me and I played with Cooper for a minute, and you know, just -- I'm totally confused and baffled by all that we've heard, to be perfectly honest.

PEREIRA: I can understand that.

WILKINSON: This is not the Ross Harris we know.

PEREIRA: So, the Ross Harris that you know, what was your impression of him? Let's say as a father, as a professional, because you said he did some computer work for you.

WILKINSON: Yes, he knew his craft very well. Everything that he told me computer wise, you know, I instilled in my Web site. When news of the searches came out, I was like, they've got to be making this stuff up, because Ross is a computer genius. He wouldn't leave searches like that if he was going to do searches like that.

PEREIRA: It does make you wonder, it does make you wonder, doesn't it, if he knew so much about computers, why would he leave such a footprint behind?

WILKINSON: You know, just I don't have an answer to that, because obviously the person he portrayed himself to be and either the person he is now or always has been are not the same folks. There's a disconnect there somewhere. I really don't know how to explain that.

PEREIRA: We know that police are looking at all sorts of things. They're looking at his computer as we were just talking about with you, and that they're really just scratching the surface. Did he come off it seeming like a secretive person to you, Chris?

WILKINSON: Not at all. I mean, you know, they're -- he's just a normal guy. I mean, I've heard him described as irresponsible and, you know, character out of "Animal House" and all kinds of pejorative terms that I just would not use about him. He seemed like a responsible, nice, decent guy. You know, there are people to this day that still believe in him, because this just does not mesh with the Ross Harris they know.

PEREIRA: Do you still believe in him?

WILKINSON: You know, I'm a person that believes in the evidence, and as it stacks up and you know, from what I've heard so far, I just, I can't really say that I do. Either, like I said, the Ross Harris we knew doesn't exist and never has, or there's been some kind of mental issue that's happened, and you know, obviously it's caused all this heartbreak and turmoil, and you know, that's something that can't ever be recovered from.

So, you know, do I believe in the Ross Harris I knew three years ago? Yes. Do I believe in the Ross Harris I see on TV right now? Uh-uh, absolutely not.

PEREIRA: Do you have any sense or reason to believe that they were struggling as a couple? That they were having financial difficulties? Some of the details that are emerging that investigators are looking into, and some of the items that they're revealing in court are pretty startling.

WILKINSON: Well, to be fair, you know, I heard her in passing on the phone. I didn't know her. Everybody has marital issues.


WILKINSON: So, that part of it doesn't surprise me.

You know, the fact that she knew these kinds of things were going on, or so it would appear, and that didn't bother her does surprise me. But again, people do odd things to hang onto their marriage, and until you're in that situation, you may or may not acquiesce to that. You know, you just never know until you're there. But I am surprised and I'm sure that his mother and father and family were quite surprised to hear what was going on in court. I just can't imagine what their reaction must have been when they heard about all this sexting and carrying on, to be quite honest.

PEREIRA: You make a very good point. Until you've walked in someone's shoes, we can't tell how they would act or behave or react. We don't know the ins and outs of people's marriages, you're absolutely true.

Chris Wilkinson, though, you have shed some light on the fact that the Justin Ross Harris you know is very different from the man that is emerging -- at least some of the way the details are coming to light in this case.

I want to say big thank you to you. I know this wasn't easy to talk about a friend who is in quite a spot of trouble right now. Thanks for joining us.



BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, did the Obama administration ignore warnings about the threat of sectarian violence in Iraq years in the making? One man who says he raised the alarm but no one listened. He's joining us. What should the White House do now?


PEREIRA: All right. Time now for the five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.

At number one, the most powerful storm in decades is headed for Japan. Typhoon Neoguri has already arrived in Okinawa and it is expected to get stronger as it moves north. Stay with CNN to cover that.

Dueling rocket attacks in the Middle East with no end in sight. The armed wing of Palestinian Islamic jihad firing rockets at Israel as Israel keeps hammering Hamas.

Chicago's police superintendent blaming the recent surge in violence on weak gun laws. Over the holiday weekend, at least nine people were killed, dozens more wounded after shooting incidents across the city.

President Obama has offered to meet with Governor Rick Perry over immigration when he visits Texas tomorrow.