Return to Transcripts main page


Andy Parker on Gun Violence; Chris Mintz's Cousin Talks about College Shooting Hero; Remembering Heroes Who Saved Others in Mass Shootings; Riding in Bahamas Hurricane. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 2, 2015 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Thanks very for joining us. I wish I could say good evening to you, but the fact is I can't. A good evening would include nine people, some older, some very young, sitting down to dinner right about now. A good evening would not include all the people who love them deeply now having to say for the first time in their lives, my son was, my sister was, my best friend was. A good evening would mean that for all the bad news in the world, at least there wouldn't be this kind of bad news, not tonight, not again.

Tonight, though, again, this time in Roseburg, Oregon we are learning more about a massacre, more about a killer, ore about his arsenal and what motivated him. But before we do, we begin by focusing on the stories of the lives he took yesterday at Umpqua community college.


SHERIFF JOHN HANLIN, DOUGLAS COUNTY, OREGON: The victims are Lucero Alcaraz of Roseburg 19 years old. Quinn Glen Cooper of Roseburg 18 years old. Kim Saltmarsh Dietz of Roseburg 59 years old. Lucas Eibel of Roseburg, 18 years old. Jason Dale Johnson of Winston, 33 years old. Lawrence Levine of Glide, 67 years old. Mr. Levine was the teacher. Serena Dawn Moore of Myrtle Creek, 44 years old. Treven Taylor Anspach of Sutherland, 20 years old, and Rebecca Ann Carnes of Myrtle Creek, 18 years old.


COOPER: That was Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin saying the names of nine who were murdered. In other grieving family statements are offering remembrances of their own.

Lucero Alcaraz wanted to be a pediatric nurse or doctor. She was in the honors program in a full scholarship. Her older sister writes on Facebook, I never got a chance to tell you how proud of you I was. I ache for you so much right now. Again, Lucero Alcaraz 19 years old.

Rebecca Ann Carnes was just 18. She just started school a new job according to her cousin who writes this isn't supposed to be how life works.

Lucas Eibel was a quadruplet. He and his sisters and two brothers graduated from Roseburg high school this year and he was attending UCC on a scholarship studying chemistry. Lucas Eibel was just 18. Quinn Glen Cooper, also 18, yesterday was his fourth day of college.

His family says he and his brother Cody were inseparable.

Jason Dale Johnson was 33, a proud Christian according to his family and proud to be a newly enrolled college student. They say he finally found his path.

Lawrence Levine taught at UCC. He was teaching the class where the fatal shootings took place, he was 67.

We don't yet know much about Kim Saltmarsh Dietz or Serena Dawn Moore whose picture we just now received. Nor do we know much we had about Treven Taylor `Anspach except to say that Treven's family says he always looked for the positive in life, also he lose child of a local firefighter.

And Rebecca Carnes who we mentioned earlier, she was a local paramedic's niece, both obviously have extended families that are grieving deeply for them tonight.

CNN's Dan Simon is in Roseburg for us. He joins us now.

Dan, what is the latest that we've learned?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, I was at that news conference where the sheriff read the names. And as you can imagine, it was just so incredibly somber. Those names, five men, four women who were killed, the ages ranging from 18 to 67, of course, you read off some statements.

I just want to share with you just a brief excerpt. This is from the family of Quinn Cooper saying quote "our lives are shattered beyond repair. No one should ever feel the pain that we are feeling." I think that pretty much captures the sentiment in this community tonight.

Anderson, we're also learning some more about the shooter. And we know that he possessed an incredible amount of firepower. Six guns were recovered at the scene, at the school, seven more were found at his house. And we should tell you that all of those guns were purchased legally - Anderson.

COOPER: There is also, I understand, additional information about what else investigators found from the shooter on the scene.

SIMON: Before I go into that, Anderson, I also want to tell you that we can now confirm that the shooter was, in fact, a student at the community college and was taking the class where the shooting took place. This was an English class. But we can tell you that a flak jacket was also recovered at the scene next to a rifle. This is a flak jacket that contained body armors. So this suggests this is somebody who went in there prepared for battle. He was intent of killing a lot of people and apparently also took steps to protect himself - Anderson.

[20:05:03] COOPER: There was a very emotional candle light vigil last night held on campus. Are you getting a sense - I mean, how are people doing today? I can't imagine.

SIMON: They are not doing well, I'll be honest with you. This is a community of 22,000 people. I guess it is a cliche to say this at this point. But everybody says that they never expected something like that to happen here. If they don't know one of the victims, they certainly know somebody who does. I can tell you that originally, it was thought that the school was going to open perhaps as early as Monday, but the school I guess thought better of it and decided to cancel classes for all of next week, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, understandable. Dan, appreciate the update.

One last note, we received just a photo that looks ordinary enough until you learned this black hawk helicopter just landed in Roseburg carrying the remains of the victims back from Portland where autopsies were conducted. Now, as you can understand, emotions are running very close to the surface across the city and the state.

This was city manager Lance Colley earlier today.


LANCE COLLEY, ROSEBURG CITY MANAGER: I particularly want you all to keep the families in your prayers. Please honor their privacy. Please know that we with their help, with the help of the college will move forward. And please take an opportunity to recognize what great community this is and what a great response they made.


COOPER: And the city manager Colley joins us now.

Mr. Colley, thank you for being with us. I am sorry tis under this circumstances. What's the last day and a half been like for the people in your community?

COLLEY: Well obviously, this has been one of the most difficult situations that any of us have ever dealt with. But the one thing I will say is starting yesterday with the response from public safety officials, emergency medical officials, you know, there was a tremendous statewide response here. People showed up. People helped. People pitched in. Local businesses showed up out at the fairgrounds. It was really an incredible outpouring of love and support here in town.

COOPER: And I know there was a blood drive and a huge turnout for that. We learned the names of those who lost their lives who were murdered. Have you been able to see or interact with any of their families?

COOPER: Actually, yesterday I spent about five hours out at the fairgrounds where the community college was evacuated to and while at the time no one knew who we were interacting with, we certainly had an opportunity to support those families who got good news and also try to help in any way we could the families that did not receive good news. COOPER: Where do you go from here? I mean, what is the next step for

the community?

COLLEY: Well, you know, we're working really closely with the folks from Umpqua Community College. They have been working on a plan to reintegrate staff and students out there as you indicated. They are not going to have classes next week, but the college will be open. They likely will be starting up a memorial out there that the students are already working on. We'll be working closely with the college president and board to provide support as they move on. And really, what we're looking for here is for the community to continue to just help the families, help the folks at UCC and stay strong.

COOPER: Well, Mr. Colley, I appreciate you being with us and our thoughts are certainly with you and everybody who is suffering tonight. Thank you very much.

COLLEY: Thank you, sir.

COOPER: We want to focus next on the life-saving medical care that the wounded survivors have been getting. We have a late update from our Dr. Sanjay Gupta who is on the scene.

Also ahead, we will talk to the niece of Chris Mint. He is the father of a 6-year-old who nonetheless charge in to danger to try to stop the killer and save others' lives.


[20:13:25] COOPER: Nine people's lives being remembered tonight in Roseburg, Oregon, nine survivors are recovering their wounds healing.

Tonight, CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us from Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg with an update.

So what's the latest on their condition, Sanjay?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we got some news just now, Anderson, another patient has been released from the hospital. Obviously, some good news in that. There are two patients that still remain in the hospital here behind me. One in critical condition, one in serious condition, but the hospital officials are very of optimistic about their recovery. I think either both going to do well and be able to be discharge.

It's pretty remarkable, Anderson, if you think about the types of injuries they had. People had been shot in the chest, had been shot in the abdomen, had been shot in the limbs at close range. They told me when the news broke so many doctors, many of whom weren't on call, nurses, some of them retired just came into the hospital here behind me to try and make all this happen. It's a small town and a lot of people pitched in to get that sort of level of recovery, Anderson.

COOPER: And I understand some patients had to be transferred to another hospital? GUPTA: There were three patients. This is a level three trauma

center here behind me. The significance of that is they don't typically have specialty surgery that these three patients, all of them women between the ages of 18 and 34 had gunshot wounds to the head. They were transferred to a hospital about an hour away near Eugene, Oregon. And they have been cared for over there.

And we checked in with that hospital as well. We hear they are improving. They were in critical condition but they are improving now to serious condition. And again, expected to make a recovery. They are by no means out of the woods but looks optimistic out here.

It's still, you know, it is still very emotional here for sure. A lot of doctors and nurses had direct relationships with some of these victims. And you know, obviously that's something I think they will need healing on both sides. But physically it looks like they are making a good recovery at both hospitals.

[20:15:32] COOPER: Small bright spot in all of this.

Sanjay, thank you very much.

A quick reminder, the local sheriff says he will not and will not say the shooter's name neither will we. We're neither naming him nor showing his photo even as we learned more about who he was, including the fact that he was enrolled in the class where he opened fire.

Our justice correspondent Pamela Brown is working her sources and has the very latest.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Somebody is outside one of the doors shooting through the door.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the middle of the shooting rampage, the gunman handed his writings to a survivor to give to police according to sources. In those pages, the shooter rambled about hatred toward black men and how he was frustrated about being a virgin unable to find a girlfriend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exchanging shots with him. He's in the classroom.

BROWN: He also vented about other mass murderers who did not shoot police, vowing he would do just that.

MARY ELLEN O'TOOLE, FORMER FBI PROFILER: That is kind of the under pinning of these copycat crimes. They really base their behavior on out doing the next one.

BROWN: CNN learned he was a student at the college in the very class he shot up. Why the shooter targeted Umpqua College is unclear. He lived nearby in this apartment complex with his mother who was reportedly fiercely protective of him. His family has been interviewed by investigators. And CNN has learned the shooter has suffered mental health issues and had sought treatment. IAN HARPER, GUNMAN'S FATHER: Shocked, shocked is all I can say.

BROWN: The gunman's father in California telling reporters he didn't see this coming.

HARPER: Obviously, it's been a devastating day, devastating for me and my family.

BROWN: The gunman joined the army in 2008 but was discharged after only one month. His interest in the military seemed to continue.

BRYN CLAY, GUNMAN'S FORMER NEIGHBOR: He wore combat boots, very distinctly. I remember black combat boots and very camo military uniform almost.

DAVID WESTLY, GUNMAN'S FORMER NEIGHBOR: I did see him at the time walking or leaving the apartment with what looked like the gun cases. Him and his mom both. And he actually did say that he used to go shooting at some range.

BROWN: Investigators are also looking into blog posts, apparently linked to the shooter. One talking about the Virginia man who recently murdered a TV news crew live on the air. The post reading, I have noticed that so many people like him are all alone and unknown, yet, when they spill a little blood, the whole world knows who they are. Seems the more people you kill, the more you're in the limelight.


COOPER: And that's exactly why I personally just don't believe we should name these people.

Pamela Brown joins us now.

So according to the witness' father, the shooter actually targeted Christians, is that right?

BROWN: Yes, that's right. And my colleague, Kyung Lah, Anderson, spoke to a father of one of the victims who says that when he walked into the classroom that one of the questions he asked was whether or not they were Christians. And if they said yes, then apparently they were shot and killed. Here is what the father said.


STACY BOYLAN, FATHER OF ANASTASIA BOYLAN: This man had enough time. I don't know how much time elapsed before he was able to stand there and start asking people one by one what their religion was. Are you a Christian, he would ask them. And if you are a Christian stand up and they would stand up and he said good. Because you're going to see God in just about one second and shot ask killed them.


BROWN: As a result, we've been asking people today, Anderson, if he left any trail behind indicating that he was anti-Christian or had a dislike for organized religion. So far, all we have been able to find is on social media apparently belonged to him. He said he disliked organized religion. But in those writings that we talked about, apparently he gave no indication other than saying he associated with the dark side.

Law enforcement officials I have been speaking would say this is someone who hated all different types of people as we talked about earlier. Hated black men. He described frustration with women. This is one of those situations where you can't really apply logic to what is obviously a very logical situation here, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, Pamela, appreciate the update. Thank you.

We are going to be no doubt get a clearer view in the days ahead what motivated this particular gunman. Although, that sadly the picture fits a pattern.

I want to talk about it with Dave Cullen, author of "Columbine" and Dr. Drew Pinsky, host of HLN's "Dr. Drew."

Dave, what the shooter wrote about the Virginia shooter, I mean, it is incredibly unnerving to hear this guy spell it out so clearly, killing leads to fame. And something you and I talked about so many times and it's the reason we don't show the pictures of shooters and we don't name them on this program. But I'm still amazed so many other people do.

[20:20:10] DAVE CULLEN, AUTHOR, COLUMBINE: I am, too. I was on your show that night talking about that. And it's just horrific. I was really glad to see President Obama get angry yesterday. And that night on that show, I came in angry and I decided, you know, normally I try to calm down and get -- but it's time we quit calming down and I get this all the time from my readers. They are getting more and more enraged.

I was also glad to see the sheriff, this time picked up the ball and saying he's not going to name the names, which I think is really kind of -- there was a sheriff about a year ago that said that and he kind of went on a limb, none of the other sheriffs or police officers since then have taken that. Finally a second guy is doing it. He expanded a little to say his entire force, his investigation won't say it. I'm hoping this is a pattern now and others and maybe they can lead the media and we can sort of follow on this one, which we should be leading but we need to do something.

COOPER: Dr. Drew, I mean, this gunman's family saying, you know, he did say he suffered from mental health issues, sought treatment, we don't know what the issues were or what if any treatment there was. But in terms of warning signs, I mean, is there any way to identify someone who could do something like this? You obviously don't want to stigmatize people with mental health issues, but what should people look for?

DR. DREW PINSKY, HLN HOST: That's right, Anderson. It is very important to point out that's not the purpose to this conversation, is to stigmatize anybody with any sort of brain condition. But the fact is there are warning signs you can look for.

I've got right here the FBI profiler document for potential school shooters. Not only in terms of profiling who the shooter is but also family systems that contribute to this sort of thing. As you might imagine, the kinds of criteria, or they have dehumanizing others, narcissism, lack of empathy, frustration, intolerance, fascination with vie violent-filled entertainment and then a family system filled with turbulence which doesn't say anything about it young adult. But the acceptance of pathologic behavior by the part of the parents and unwillingness to set limits particularly with the viewing of problematic material.

COOPER: And Dave, I mean, there does seems to be a copycat element. I mean, I know there are have been studies that have been done on this but I think there was done by Arizona State University research and it was like 20 or 30 percent of mass shootings are copycat driven.

CULLEN: Yes, the copycat, I actually have a researcher right now looking through all the shooters who explicitly reference just Eric and Dillon or the Columbine shooters and it's a huge number of them.

We had some shooters before Columbine, we didn't have spectacle killers. We didn't have people who are trying to create a made for television drama. That's all new self-reinforcing and us in the media playing our part at giving them the stage. They are working off each other's playbook. They are not doing this in isolation. It's basically 100 percent copycatting in my opinion.

COOPER: And Drew, I mean, last night on the program you talked about similarities between this gunman and Santa Barbara shooter who, you know, you said was socially isolated, detached unable to connect.

PINSKY: All those same features, which is you have somebody lack of empathy, somebody who is isolated, somebody who is accumulating injustices and someone who often times has some other problem that's super imposed on this. Not necessarily but often times, a mental illnesses verging in, substance use and boy, that's a volatile thing. And this is un-eerily, uncannily, similar shooting to the situation up here in Santa Barbara locally. And that one a lot of people did try to do things. And unfortunately, unsuccessfully he left videos behind. Social media commentary, there is opportunity for all of us to intervene if we raise our level of awareness. That's really what's the - what we are both asking for here is be aware about the copycat potential and be aware about who these people and family systems are at risk. We want to help them. They are certainly not happier because of how this goes.

COOPER: Yes. Dr. Drew, appreciate you being with us. Dave Cullen, always, thank you.

CULLEN: Thanks. Appreciate it, Anderson.

COOPER: Well just ahead tonight, we are going to talk more about President Obama's clear call to make this a political issue, voting issue. He was asked about it today. We will show you how strongly he believes what it will take to prevent the next tragedy. We will also speak with the father who is making that his life's work

after losing his daughter to a gunman a little more than a month ago.

Later, Chris Mints and what makes him a hero in the eyes of a lot of people tonight.


[20:28:35] COOPER: President Obama today called for more gun laws saying inaction is in itself a political decision that is being made. Now, as we reported last night, the president was visibly frustrated when he took to the podium decrying the fact that the aftermath of a shooting has become routine and the reporting and his response. And that nothing gets done afterwards try to fix the problem. The president said thoughts and prayers are just not enough, something he had to offer after so many shootings throughout his time in office.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We come together filled with sorrow for the 13 Americans, the gratitude for the lives that they led and with the determination to honor them through the work we carry on.

The federal government stands ready to do whatever is necessary to bring whoever is responsible for this heinous crime to justice.

All of us are heartbroken by what's happened, and I offered the thoughts and prayers not only of myself and Michelle but also for the country as a whole.

And each time I learn the news, I react not as a president but as anybody else would, as a parent.

The lives that were taken from us were unique. The memories their loved ones carry are unique and they will carry them and endure long after the news cameras are gone.

Any shooting is troubling, obviously, this reopens the pain of what happened at Fort Hood five years ago. The country has to do some soul searching about this. This is becoming the norm. And we take it for granted.

The good news is I'm confident that the outpouring of unity and strength and fellowship and love across Charleston today indicates the degree to which those old messages of hatred can be overcome.

Each time this happens I'm going to bring this up. Each time this happens, I am going to say that we can actually do something about it, but we're going to have to change our laws.


COOPER: Andy Parker says we have to find the answer to gun violence and do something no matter what the NRA says. His daughter Alison Parker, a reporter, was killed by a gunman on television on August 26th, Andy Parker joins me now. You know, Andy, every time there is a shooting like this, people say they hope and they pray it's going to be the last time. I got to ask you as a dad, what went through your mind when you heard about this?

ANDY PARKER, DAUGHTER DIED IN GUN SHOOTING: Well, Anderson, thanks for having me. It was like a punch in the gut initially and then, you know, it was immediate heartbreak and sorrow for these kids and then it for me, it quickly turned to just the outrage that this kind of thing just keeps happening, it keeps happening and, you know, I'm glad that the president addressed this. It sounded like he was listening to my interviews in the aftermath of - immediately after my daughter Alison was killed because it's coming right from my playbook. It is what I've advocated from the get-go, it is politics.

COOPER: You wrote an op-ed today about the gun control debate. You called it quote "war between rational, responsible people, and self- interested Zealots, a war between good and evil. To you it's that black and white.

PARKER: It is a war against good and evil. It is, you know, we have in essence domestic terrorism right here and I was - it was interesting to hear Mike McCaul, who is the chairman of the House - the Homeland Security Committee just tap dance around an interview today. He's supposed to be protecting us from people that are doing this harm to us. We have far more people killed by homicides, by gun- related violence in this country than we have by terrorists.

COOPER: You know, when you look at the polling, the latest polling from the Pew Center on gun control found 85 percent of Americans favor expanded background checks, 79 percent favor laws to prevent people with mental illness from purchasing guns, 70 percent back the creation of a federal database to track gun sales. Why is it then, that none of those things get through Congress? Is it simply in your opinion, the power of the?

PARKER: It is, Anderson. It is the power of the gun lobby and the irony of it is, is that most gun owners, most NRA members support this legislation, but the gun money that's coming through the NRA that's funneled to the politicians that are supporting and are, I guess intimidated by the gun lobby, that's what's preventing just any reasonable gun legislation from happening. And again, you know, I'm not - I'm for the Second Amendment. Make no mistake. I'm not trying to take people's guns away, but that's the argument that the NRA makes every time somebody proposes sensible gun legislation to close loopholes.

COOPER: And that's really what you're after. Closing the loopholes, what you call sensible gun legislation.

PARKER: Exactly. It's, you know, you -- it's like cancer and this is a cancer on our country. There's not one particular therapy that's going to cure it generally, but this is the first one and the easiest method to start with and then you tackle the mental health issue because they are linked and then you tackle the information that some of these people that are walking time bombs, employers can't tell other employers about them. Mental health professionals can't tell other mental health professionals or law enforcement about them. So, you know, those things have to happen, but the easiest and the simplest is closing to start is closing these gun loopholes and enacting sensible gun legislation.

COOPER: Andy, I appreciate you talking to us. I'm sorry it's under these circumstances, but thanks for being with us, Andy Parker, thank you.

PARKER: Thank you, Anderson and just one more thing if I may. If people are tired and sick and worried about dropping their kids off at school or going to a movie theater and wondering if they are going to come out alive or a journalist just doing their job, they need to join me and every town and fight this fight and you can text now to 877877 to join us.


These guys have a 30-year head start on us, but we're catching up and we're going to make a difference and we're going to change things. Thank you.

COOPER: Andy, I appreciate it again, you being with us, thank you very much.

Just ahead tonight, a shooting victim who survived, Chris Mintz badly wounded, trying to help others in yesterday's attack, shot multiple times. Some people are like that. We've seen it before with their own lives in jeopardy, they think of others and he did that from all accounts. It has happened many times before and we'll take a closer look. And I'll speak with one of Chris' family members about how he's doing and about his incredible bravery.


COOPER: Of the nine people hurt in yesterday's shooting, one is being singled out not just because he was hit seven times and survived. Army veteran and former high school football player Chris Mintz is being called a life saver, hero. He heard shots coming from the neighboring classroom, ran toward them, not away confronting the killer.


Now, his aunt says he may have to learn how to walk again. And while he recovers, his cousin, Ariana Earnhardt is talking about the kind of person he is.


COOPER: Ariana, first of all, how is your cousin, Chris, doing?

ARIANA EARNHARDT, CHRIS MINTZ'S COUSIN: He's doing very well considering the circumstances. I think they said he's having a little bit of trouble sleeping, but he's in pretty good spirits from what I've heard. COOPER: It's - I mean it's amazing, he was shot as far as I

understand, as many as seven times as he tried to stop the shooter. Can you walk us through what you've been told happened?

EARNHARDT: What I was told and I've heard new reports that he was actually in the library first and he started to get students out of there and then he ran back towards the building where the shooter was where I'm assuming he then confronted him and tried to get him to stop and whenever he first talked to him, he was shot three times and then he said please don't do this, it's my son's birthday today and the shooter then proceeded to shoot him two more times to three more times, I'm not even 100 percent sure and he went to the classroom and began shooting other students.

COOPER: I mean, it's incredible what he did. He's a dad, as you mentioned, a veteran, obviously he is very strong. It sounds like all those things factored in yesterday.

EARNHARDT: I think so. I mean, he's eight years older than me so I only know him in, you know, certainly as my cousin, but I've always definitely would have described him as a strong person. He's strong willed. He's very confident in himself and his abilities, so I wasn't really surprised whenever I heard that he did that, but I'm definitely proud of him. It was amazing.

COOPER: You weren't surprised it's the kind of thing he would do?

EARNHARDT: Yes, whenever I first heard that he was there, I kind of had this feeling that maybe he had tried to do something to stop the shooter, it just seems like his personality, really.

COOPER: And I mean, that this happened on his son's birthday and I know, you know, as you said, he apparently was crying out for his son saying that it was his son's birthday yesterday. How old was his son?

EARNHARDT: He just turned six. His name is Tyrick, he's super adorable. He looks almost just like Chris.

COOPER: He looks adorable.

EARNHARDT: Maybe that even had something to do with how strong he was yesterday.

COOPER: I know your family set up a go fund me page and we're going to put up that link on our Web site at AC, so people can support Chris' recovery. Ariana, I just want to thank you so much for taking the time and give you certainly our best wishes to Chris and your whole family.

EARNHARDT: Thank you so much. It was a pleasure.


COOPER: Chris' actions were incredibly brave and it's something we have seem before when groups of people are suddenly faced with an unimaginable choice to save yourself or try to help save someone else. It's a decision that can happen in a split second. Randi Kaye reports.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: July 20th, 2012 a shooter opens fire inside a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. 12 people are killed, three of them die saving others jumping in front of a bullet including Jonathan Blunk, a 26-year-old father of two who served in the Navy. He's killed after taking a bullet for his girlfriend. He laid on top of her.

JENSEN YOUNG, AURORA SHOOTING SURVIVOR: He said Jensen, get down and stay down and he pushed me onto the ground on to my belly and he passed away saving my life. He was a true hero.

KAYE: Psychology professor David Rand says people who risk their lives for others have a certain makeup.

DAVID RAND, PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY, YALE UNIVERSITY: You have to be the kind of person whose first impulse is to help. You also need to be the kind of person that's willing to go with your gut. If you're a sort of rational deliberative person, you are not going to wind up helping.

KAYE: In other words, people who tend to overthink things long enough to realize they could get hurt or even die are not the people who jump into action in a life or death situation. Saving another's life is an incredibly selfless act and not all of us are wired that way.

Luckily these three Americans were. They quickly saved countless lives after tackling a heavily armed gunman on a train from Amsterdam to Paris in August.

SPENCER STONE: Tackled him, we hit the ground, Alec (ph) came up and grabbed the gun out of his hand, while I put him in a choke hold, all three of us started punching him.

KAYE: Back in 2011 moments after Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in Tucson, Arizona, retired Army Colonel Bill Badger pounced on the gunman. At the same time another bystander hit the shooter with a chair. Badger had already been shot and still acted swiftly.

BILL BADGER, RETIRED ARMY COLONEL: I grabbed his left wrist and with my right hand I hit him right, you know, between the shoulder blades and he was going down.


KAYE: Saving lives no matter the risk. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


KAYE: Incredible heroism we have seen time and time again. Coming up, the latest on Hurricane Joaquin. We'll take you inside a plane that is tracking the storm and get the latest on exactly where it's heading and plus what we know about that ship that's gone missing lost somewhere in the storm with 28 Americans on board. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: There's a new storm track for Hurricane Joaquin. And new information about its intensity. Now, for days it's kept nearly the entire East Coast on pins and needles as everyone wonders where it's going to go. It's already left a slew of damage in its way and some close calls. Take a look at this rescue video.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rescue (INAUDIBLE) ready for the rescue swimmer. Raft in sight. Swimmer's on his way down. Swimmer in the water, clear to move. Survivor half way up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Big swell there, Roger.



COOPER: The U.S. Coast Guard saved all 12 crew members from the sinking cargo ship off Haiti's coast. Severe weather from Joaquin proved too much for the actual ship. They were lucky.


COOPER: There is a container ship with 28 Americans and five others on board that is missing tonight off the coast of the Bahamas and sent a distress signal Thursday morning. Meteorologist Jennifer Gray joins us with new details on that, and new information about the storm itself. So, what do we know first about the storm?

JENNIFERY GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, the storm is now a category three. It was a powerful category four, four much of yesterday and today. It is finally starting to weaken, but you have to think about this, sitting over the Bahamas with winds sustained at 100 to 130 miles per hour for more than 36 hours. So it is going to be devastating for the central Bahamas once we start to get a good look at the devastation out of there. Thankfully, it is starting to finally take that pull to the north, moving to the northeast now at seven miles per hour. So, as we get through the day tomorrow, the Bahamas will gradually clear. Right now winds sustained at 125 miles per hour. It is going to continue that eastward track well away from the U.S. We are going to get an on shore flow so it is going to have a slight impact across the Eastern seaboard due to this storm, but that movement to the northeast at seven is very, very good, Anderson.

COOPER: And I understand there is going to be some extreme weather that's unrelated to Joaquin hitting the East Coast this weekend.

GRAY: Yes, absolutely. Let's take you to the floor and I'll show you what is happening. Because we have a lot of things going on. We have Joaquin that's moving out, but we also have this surge of tropical moisture and what this is going to do is pull in a lot of rain across South Carolina, North Carolina. We're talking about ten to 15, maybe even more inches of rain across South Carolina. Topography there, you have mountains in the West. That's all going to drain down into the rivers in the low country and it's going to spill all over places like Colombia, Charleston, a huge concern there and so we're going to really have to watch that.

Storms are going to train and I'll go back to the wall and I'll show you what we're talking about. You have to think of train on tracks. And so, once we get that idea, you can tell that these storms are basically going to follow the leader. They are going to pull right in the same place for hours and hours on end and so that's going to pull in two, three inches an hour. It's going to last all weekend long. A lot of these areas have received about a foot of rain during the last seven days. They can only handle maybe two to four more inches of rain before flooding will begin. We're already seeing it in the Carolinas and it's going to continue, this could be historic and it could be catastrophic for the Carolinas, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Jennifer we'll keep tracking it. Thanks very much.

Most people take cover in hurricanes, they find a safe place to ride out the storm. Others fly straight into the storm to collect vital data that helps predict the storm path, data that's used to make life- saving decisions back on land. Meteorologist and CNN international weather anchor Derrek Van Dam went along for the ride.


DERREK VAN DAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tonight's flight will take 12 hours, long and turbulent flight. These Air Force reservists are trained to fly in these dangerous conditions, bringing along a team of scientists who collect information from the storm using these data collectors, which helps predict where the storm will go and saving millions of dollars in storm preparation and more importantly, saving lives.

MASTER SGT. ED SCHERZER, U.S. AIR FORCE: It comes down to evacuate or not evacuate. Emergency management, they have the tough job. Forecasters, they have the tough job. We go in a storm, we get a rough ride. We collect the data. They take that information to help those guys do the tough job of making the hard decisions on who has to evacuate.

VAN DAM: Lightning fills the darkness of sky. A few hours into our journey, sunlight reveals clouds and thunderstorms on the horizon. We're heading directly toward Joaquin.

We're just about to punch through the eye wall meaning we're actually going into the strongest part of the hurricane feeling winds in excess of 150 miles per hour with a category four, just like this. We've experienced severe turbulence and there is more to come.

As we get tossed around inside the cockpit, our seasoned pilot assures us we are in good hands.

(on camera): Do you know this plane? Is it sound? Is it safe?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no, you're very safe in the 130.

VAN DAM: We're 7,000 feet above the northern Bahamas in the center of major hurricane Joaquin. This storm has been notoriously difficult to predict, but the weather data retrieved from the hurricane hunters will help improve the forecast greatly.

Multiple drop sounds are released into the sky sending back information like wind speed and storm pressure in real time, right back to computers on board. Joaquin is now pushing north.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's coming up.

VAN DAM: As we make several passes over the storm, a missing ship is stranded in rough swells. We dropped to 600 feet to help search, but sick clouds and bad visibility prevents us from finding the vessel. The hurricane hunters return to their mission, seeking more data from the storm before heading back to Biloxi.


COOPER: Derrek, how often do they actually go out? Because I understand they have been out several times already.

VAM DAM: Yeah, Anderson, hurricane hunters fly out to Joaquin, and other storms just like Joaquin, at least two times a day, in fact, they have the ability to fly to three separate storms from the international dateline over the central Pacific all the way to the mid-Atlantic and to Bahamas. Three storms, two times daily, so you can imagine just how busy they are and how chaotic it can get inside those reconnaissance aircrafts.

COOPER: Yeah, I mean how rough does it get up there?

VAN DAM: Well, it's that moment when you punch through the eye wall, the strongest part of the storm you start to shake, you start to rattle, obviously, you're belted in in the seas, but the turbulence there is rough and you can really feel it. In fact, I was quite scared for myself.

COOPER: All right. Derrek, thanks very much for doing that. I appreciate it. Derrek Van Dam, we'll be right back.