Return to Transcripts main page
US School Shooting in Oregon; Russia Continues Airstrikes in Syria; Hurrican Joaquin Hits Bahamas Hard; Kunduz Fighting Fierce in Afghanistan. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired October 2, 2015 - 10:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROBYN CURNOW, INTERNATIONAL DESK HOST: Hi there. Welcome to the International Desk. I'm Robyn Curnow live from New York. The U.S. is
grappling with still another school shooting, this time at a small community college in a small town in the U.S. state of Oregon with a very
low crime rate. Nine people were killed. The gunman, 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer, is also dead. Investigators are looking through posts on a
website left by someone with an email address associated with him. Ana Cabrera has more on the shooting and the heart breaking aftermath.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANA CABRERA, CNN Correspondent: Overnight, a massive candlelight vigil for the victims of Umpqua Community College's deadly mass shooting. Disturbing
new details coming from a father whose daughter was hit in the back by a bullet describing how the gunman targeted those who said they were
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you a Christian, he would ask them. And if you're a Christian, stand up. They would stand up and he'd say, good, because
you're a Christian you're going to see God in just about one second. And then he shot and killed them. And he kept going down the line doing this
CABRERA: Thursday morning around 10:38 a.m., 911 Dispatch receives the first calls for help.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The active shooter -- somebody is outside one of the doors shooting through the door.
CABRERA: Oregon police say the 26-year-old gunman was carrying body armor and loads of ammunition. Enough for a prolonged gun fight along with three
pistols and one long rifle. Entering a classroom he opened fire shooting a teacher at point blank range according to witnesses. Students overheard
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was rapid fire over and over and over again. And you could hear the people -- you could hear them moving and crying.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said to the teacher we need to get out of here right now. Then we heard the second and third gunshots.
CABRERA: Within minutes, officers swarmed the campus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's in a classroom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exchanging gunshots right now with a male. He's in a classroom on the southeast side of Snyder Hall.
CABRERA: The shooting began in Snyder Hall. But it didn't end there. The shooter continuing his rampage into the science building, casualties found
in at least two different classrooms.
SHERIFF JOHN HANLIN, DOUGLAS COUNTY OREGON: I will not name the shooter. I will not give him the credit he probably sought prior to this horrific
and cowardly act.
CABRERA: The gunman shot dead at the scene.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Well, that was Ana Cabrera reporting. In just a few moments we will go live to Roseburg, Oregon, for the latest update on the shooting
investigation. You heard some of the students' accounts there. They're describing scenes of terror, of confusion, and of chaos at the college when
she shooting broke out. Some heard loud bangs and then saw people running. One student told CNN USA she hid under a desk for about an hour and prayed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELODY BOQUA, UMPQUA COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENT: I just heard a bunch of yelling and I stood up to look as anybody would and saw a bunch of people
running, just a bunch of chaos right outside the window. So I heard a lot of people saying get out of the library. Another girl just -- and I just
stayed in there and hid. I don't know. I was a wreck yesterday. I'm actually surprisingly composed this morning. I don't know. Just hearing
somebody when I was at a church last night just pop a water container and hearing that popping sound completely freaked me out. So honestly I don't
know how this is going to go in the long run.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: So difficult. Now, the shooting has strained local medical facilities not used to dealing with ten shooting victims at once. For the
latest, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta spoke to Allison Camerota from outside Mercy Hospital in Roseburg. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUNJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We know they had about 10 to 15-minute notice before the ambulances started coming in. We're about
five miles away from the scene. There were ten people originally brought in as you mentioned, Allison, nine of them survived. One person actually
passed away in the emergency room after actually arriving here just to give you a sense of what they were dealing with. They felt they were ready to
take care of these patients. But obviously, so many patients at once made this a mass casualty incident as they called it, overwhelming number of
patients. We know now that there are three patients who remain in the hospital. There were three that were transferred to another hospital. All
of them suffered gunshot wounds to the head.
They're in critical condition. They were all women between the ages of 18 to 34. We know there are other patients who have been treated and have
subsequently been discharged. There is one patient here that is still in critical condition but the other patients are in serious to fair condition.
They remain optimistic that all the patients here that are still in the hospital are going to do well. One thing I should say, you know, it's a
small community. This is a small town. Everyone knows each other here. And there were some direct relationships between some of the staff that
were caring for the patients and some of the victims that came in yesterday, so just emotionally heart wrenching stuff. And it's still
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Thanks to Sunjay for that report.
Well, a frustrated President Barack Obama addressed the American people after Thursday's incident. This is the 15th time he's had to speak about a
mass shooting during his presidency. Here's a portion of what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, U.S. PRESIDENT: Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being
routine, the conversation in the aftermath of it. We've become numb to this. We've talked about this after Columbine, and Blacksburg, after
Tucson, after Newtown, after Aurora, after Charleston. It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or
her hands on a gun. And what's become routine, of course, is the response of those who oppose any kind of common sense gun legislation. Right now I
can imagine the press releases being cranked out. We need more guns, they'll argue. Fewer gun safety laws. Does anybody really believe that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: President Obama clearly angry, frustrated there. And he's also challenged news organizations to do some research to compare the number of
Americans killed in terror attacks over the last decade to the number killed by gun violence. His point is that far more Americans die from gun-
related violence than in terror attacks, a point that supports his push for new gun control laws. Well, CNN looked into the numbers using government
data. We found that since 2004, more than 300,000 Americans died by gun violence in the U.S. And 313 people died in terror attacks in the U.S. and
outside the country. Last available data was from the year 2013.
We want to get to more on the investigation and what led to Thursday's mass shooting at that Oregon College. Ten people are dead as I said including
the shooter. CNN's Ana Cabrera joins me now from outside the college in Roseburg, Oregon. Hi there. We've been listening to the frustration by
the President, the horrifying stories from those who were there. What's the mood like now?
CABRERA: Well, right now we know there are about 100 investigators working this case. They have been spending the last several hours overnight as the
sun is just rising here talking to friends and family members of this shooter, 26-year-old man who apparently opened fire in two different
buildings. At least two different classrooms are where the investigators and emergency responders found some of the victims. And the big question
still is why. What is the possible motive? We do know they've been looking to his online accounts and interactions. There are at least five
blog posts that they've been looking into that are connected to an email address related to the shooter which he talks about other U.S. shootings,
and talks specifically about how the gunmen in those other shootings were nobody before and then ended up famous following the shootings.
And so they have asked for no notoriety in this community coming to -- trying to come to grips with why this could have taken place. We do know
that the shooter apparently went into a classroom according to one of the victims who survived the shooting. He opened fire shooting the professor
first and then one by one asked each of the students if they were Christian. And when they responded yes, he would shoot that person, again,
according to one of the survivors, an 18-year-old who is just experiencing her fourth day at college, Robyn.
CURNOW: Do we know where he got his guns from?
CABRERA: We still don't know where he got the weapons. At this point we know that there were four weapons total, three pistols and a long rifle.
Investigators also said he came with body armor. They also found a plethora of ammunition. It appeared as if he was ready for a prolonged
gunfight. The sheriff is crediting a couple of the officer who were the first to respond within minutes of the 911 call. He said those officers
immediately engaged the shooter and may have saved a lot of other lives. But again, right now the investigation is ongoing. They're trying to piece
together how the events unfolded leading up to the shooting.
And we do expect to have hopefully more answers later today. We know there's supposed to be a press conference here in about two and a half to
three hours where we hope to get a little more information as to what exactly unfolded here, Robyn?
CURNOW: In these communities like all the other communities President Obama was mentioning, what is the support or lack of support for more or
less gun control even in the midst of this horror?
CABRERA: You know it's interesting, because this is a rural community and we do know that in the past the sheriff here has even gone as far as to
write a letter to the Vice President at the time when the initial gun control laws were trying to be passed in Congress in the last couple of
years following the Sandy Hook shooting and essentially the sheriff said to the Vice President in a letter that he would not be enforcing any new gun
control laws if they were passed by Congress. That same sheriff asked this morning on CNN whether he still felt that way and he said he did. We also
heard from the President of the college campus who said they didn't think it was necessary to have armed guards on campus. And that was an issue
that had come up recently.
In general, the people here kind of have felt it's a safe community and the gun control issue has been a non-issue until now. But we expect there will
be more conversation regarding that issue in the days ahead, Robyn.
CURNOW: Thanks for your reporting, Ana Cabrera.
You're watching the International Desk. I'm Robyn Curnow live from New York.
Ahead, a third day of Russian air strikes in Syria, the warning the U.S. and its coalition partners are issuing to Russia about those strikes.
And Hurricane Joaquin smashes into the Bahamas, where is it headed next, all that and more here at the International Desk.
CURNOW: Russia says it launched another 18 air strikes in Syria over the past day. The defense ministry says war planes hit various ISIS targets,
hours earlier the U.S. and its coalition partners issued a statement urging Russia to avoid targeting civilians and western-backed rebels. The Russian
air strikes are a topic of conversation during Vladimir Putin's meetings in Paris today with its French, German, and Ukrainian counterparts. CNN's Nic
Robertson joins me now from Paris, a lot to talk about, Nic.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: There certainly is. We've been told where the meetings are taking place that probably the issue
of Syria will come up. It seems almost inevitable it will come up. It really rather is the sort of elephant in the room with them. What we do
know is there is potentially a tough day for President Putin. This statement by the U.S. and its allies telling Russia, telling President
Putin that he's targeting the wrong people inside Syria, has been signed not just by the United States, Britain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey,
but also sign by France and by Germany. And its French President Francois Hollande greeted President Putin when he arrived here today. They had a
one on one meeting. It's expected to have a one on one meeting with the German Chancellor.
There's a picture of Francois Hollande sitting next to President Putin. Neither man looked particularly happy. So whether or not they're actually
talking about Syria or whether or not they both understand the deep divisions between them on that issue is probably quite likely. They are
here to talk about Ukraine. They are here to talk about how to implement the Minsk Agreement. One of the bigger points at the moment is the desire
and the intent by the separatists in the southeast of the country to hold elections outside of Ukrainian law, as was envisioned in the Minsk
Agreement. It's hard to get around that and other details. Well, the Minsk Agreement is supposed to be the focus but of course they may get
distracted by Syria as you say, Robyn.
CURNOW: Nic Robertson in Paris. Thanks for that update.
SUNE ENGEL RASMUSSEN, JOURNALIST: Well, the U.S. military denies claims from the Taliban that its militant group shot down a U.S. military
transport plane. Six U.S. servicemen were killed. I'm joined now via Skype from Kabul. Hi there. Details are sketchy, I know. But it really
takes a lot to bring down a C-130.
SUNE ENGEL RASMUSSEN, JOURNALIST: It does take a lot. That's also why the Taliban claims seem a bit dubious. They don't have the military capability
to take down a plane of this size. You have to be lucky to take down a plane of this size with rapid propel grenade which is what they mainly
possess. And the U.S. military say with high confidence as they put it that they didn't see any sign of enemy fire as this plane went down.
CURNOW: Needless to say, this comes during a week where we've seen some significant Taliban gains across the country.
RASMUSSEN: Yes. And they could be related somehow. When the Taliban seized Kunduz in Northern Afghanistan earlier this week, it was major
propaganda -- for the group. The first urban area they've took since 2001. So the biggest military gain in 14 years, the last city to fall when the
international coalition invaded in 2001 to symbolic value. And to come now with the plane is probably intended to boost the propaganda and to boost
their new leader.
CURNOW: We know the Taliban have been targeting Afghan security forces in recent months. Do you feel -- do you get the sense that they're gaining
RASMUSSEN: It's difficult to say. They've had a good year. And it seems to be -- this attack on Kunduz could be wrapping up the summer here. It's
been a year with unprecedented high casualties for Afghan security forces, also the first year where they're fully responsible for security in the
country. But it also says something about the forces, the lack of communication, the lack of fighting morale. Several thousand of them fled
when the Taliban advanced and despite vastly outnumbering the insurgents. So it's a twofold thing. It's also the challenges facing internally the
Afghan security force in Kabul.
CURNOW: Excellent point there, Sune Engel Rasmussen. Thank you.
This is the International Desk. Next, we're tracking Hurricane Joaquin. A look at the damage it's doing in the Bahamas and the flooding it could
bring to parts of the U.S.
CURNOW: Powerful hurricane is lashing the Bahamas. Joaquin smashed into the island chain as a Category Four storm with winds topping 200 kilometers
per hour. The slow-moving storm is dumping heavy rain and causing extensive flooding. A hurricane warning remains in effect for parts of the
Bahamas and the capital is under threat. Allison Chinchar joins me now to tell us if the storm will impact the U.S. east coast. Hi there.
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN WEATHER: And hello to you. Yes it will. We are keeping a very close eye on the storm because this is one that hasn't
really happened in quite a long time. This is the first Category Four hurricane to hit the Bahamas in the month of October since 1866. We're
talking 150 years since we've seen this powerful of a storm in this area, and it really is inundating the Bahamas with rain and strong winds. We're
still looking at winds at around 215 kilometers per hour, dusting up to 260. As you mentioned, we still have the hurricane warnings all along many
of the islands. Turks and Caicos right now just dealing with tropical storm warnings as the storm is expected to begin to lift off to the north
likely later on today.
Now once we get into the weekend, the storm should pick up pretty quickly and begin to move out into open waters. Even though we're not expecting a
landfall right over the United States, it will still have considerable impacts including rain. Take a look, before it moves out of the Bahamas,
we're still expecting at least another good 100 to 300 millimeters possible of extra rainfall in the next 48 hours. Now as the storm begins to slide
east, it will weaken a little bit. But as it does so, with the low off to the west it's going to help funnel extra moisture into parts of the
Carolinas in the United States where they will see ample moisture.
Again, you can kind of see here this plume where all of this moisture is just funneled into those areas. Again, here are some of the totals we're
looking at, very impressive. Some areas could see 200 to 400 millimeters in just the next two days. So again, incredible amounts of rain, they will
be inundated with this. And also in some of these areas in parts of Virginia and Maryland, a lot of when that water is going to come in will
also coincide with high tide. So again, we're also looking at the potential for some coastal flooding, Robyn, as well.
CURNOW: Allison, thanks so much for that update.
Next here on the IDESK, overwhelming grief in a small Oregon town, it's reeling in the aftermath of yet another deadly U.S. school shooting. We'll
return to that after a short break.
CURNOW: You're watching International Desk live from New York. I'm Robyn Curnow.
Here's a check of the headlines. U.S. President Barack Obama has made the 15th statement of his presidency on gun violence in the aftermath of the
deadly shooting at an Oregon community college. Mr. Obama said such mass shootings have now somehow become routine. Adding, it cannot be this easy
for someone who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Paris today for talks on the Ukraine conflict. He met French President Francois Hollande, the head of the
groups sat down with the German and Ukrainian leaders, and an aide to Mr. Hollande said their meeting including discussion of Russian air strikes in
Hurricane warnings remain in effect for parts of the Bahamas. Joaquin made landfall there with winds topping around 200 kilometers per hour. It's
also caused extensive flooding and the storm is forecast to avoid a direct hit on the U.S. but could cause flooding in the southeastern states.
This week's fighting for Afghan city of Kunduz has taken a heavy toll. The health ministry says at least 60 people have been killed, more than 460
wounded. The Red Cross says medical workers can't get to hospitals because of the fighting. Afghan forces are fighting to retake remnants of the city
from the Taliban.
The continued violence has driven many Afghans out of their own country. One former soldier made the risky journey through several countries before
arriving in Germany. He told his story to Nick Paton Walsh.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You can't imagine the fears racing through his head unless we take you back to where he was two months ago.
This was once America's longest war. Now and here it is Wahid's. His Afghan army unit battling a resurgent Taliban in the worst clashes this
summer outside Kunduz. Now America is leaving. Sometimes he told us they didn't have ammunition, food, or even fuel to drive their wounded to the
Once the Taliban surrounded us in a base for 12 days, he says, our dead bodies began to stink. Our wounded were bleeding. But still, he says,
money was spent on perks for commanders like grilled chicken. After three quarters of his men fled, he did too. And now must leave Afghanistan. The
Taliban and even ISIS know where he lives. Staying puts his family at risk. The nightmare journey through Iran, Turkey, and Greece to Germany
was he felt was the safer option. I know the risks, but I have to, he told us in Kabul, better than being killed by the Taliban or having them behead
me in front of my family or kidnap my children.
First, came a simple legal flight to Tehran. Then at the Iranian border, smugglers led them to a cave where they had little food and water apart
from what they bought at inflated prices. One night they were taken on a four-hour march, 50 of them to the steep mountainous border. The climb was
easy for an Afghan soldier and he led the way. The Iranian border guards soon saw them. The police started shooting, he says, but I knew bullets
were fired in the air so I told people to keep running. The bullets got closer and closer so he hid behind rocks. I got 15 people out in the
cross. We walked for 18 hours. In the next pictures we see Wahid is smiling and clean shaven to blend in easier in Greece.
It's in sight now and the double price of 1,800 euros he paid for a seat on this safe boat. Relief, he's not going to drown in high winds like dozens
did that same week. Standing on the island of course, he was thinking I'm here and I'm alive. Yet the greatest trauma was still ahead of him. This
is the border between Hungary and Serbia. Migrants, refugees, call them what you will. The Hungarian police won't let them cross. Around him
young men lash out. I didn't see one, but tens of women and children just in their tents, he tells us. They were crushed by protesters escaping tear
gas and water cannons. I could not film the scene because I was crying. Not because of the gas but because of what happened to these poor people.
Tire fires are lit, the police and their fence hold. Wahid once fought the Taliban for NATO and Europe. But now they have their own front line to
keep him out. In Munich where he arrived through Croatia and Austria, his worries are -- Taliban think I've gone back to the army, he says. They've
taken the phones. When I try to call my wife they can force me to go to them. I love all my children the same. Two sons and a daughter, but I
miss her the most. She's always in my mind. Separated from his family by a journey he barely survived, that they would likely not. A new life left
haunted and incomplete by the (AUDIO GAP), Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Munich.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Awful story.
Columbine, Blacksburg, Aurora, Charleston, and now Roseburg, Oregon, can be added to that list. They're all the scenes of horrific mass shootings in
the U.S. We'll learn more about the shooter and how he compares to other mass killers.
CURNOW: Another American community is mourning the tragic loss of nine people in a deadly shooting in a community college on Thursday. It's just
the latest in a string of incidents involving gun violence in the U.S. Yet the debate over gun control laws continues especially in the middle of a
campaign season. Our Deborah Feyerick joins me now live for more on what we know about this gunman in this particular incident. How does someone
like him get a gun so easily -- get four guns so easily?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's all under investigation because he was heavily armed. He had a lot of ammunition. He intended
this rampage to go on for quite some time. Fortunately, two very quick police officers were able to take him down before he could do even more
damage than he did. But here's what we can tell you about him. He is 26- years-old. His name is Christopher Harper Mercer. Investigators have linked him to the college in two ways. First of all, by an email which is
directly linked to the college, the second is a college theater group in which he is listed as a production assistant on an upcoming play.
Now we know that his mother also lives in the area. She's about five miles from the college, and on a dating online profile, he does say that he's in
college though Umpqua Community will not yet confirm that. Now, his father did come out and speak. His father's from Los Angeles -- the Los Angeles
area and said how devastated he and the entire family were about what happened. He had no explanations and he asked for his privacy. But
looking at the online dating profile, Robyn, it gives you a little bit of an indication as to some of his interests. We had heard that some of those
who were shot said that the gunman asked what religion they were.
And if they said Christian, then he shot him. That's according to the parents of some of those who were injured. However, when you go to the
online dating blog, he says that he's not religious though he is spiritual. So that's something that investigators are going to look very closely to.
Also he lists some of his hobbies which include the internet, though he didn't have a huge footprint, but the internet, movies, music, and killing
zombies which apparently is a reference to a video game, so a little bit more of this profile who this man was now emerging, Robyn.
CURNOW: I mean, what similarities -- are there any similarities between this shooter and others?
FEYERICK: Well, that's an excellent question, because until a shooting happens, people don't necessarily identify an individual as necessarily
being at risk. We had actually been tracking down a couple of different names yesterday that law enforcement was looking at. One of them seemed so
precise, seemed to fit the profile of an active shooter that if he wasn't being investigated, a lot of the experts said maybe he should be
investigated. So what we can tell you about -- he just seemed to be lonely. He seemed to be looking for companionship. Not clear why he had
moved. So it may have been a feeling of disassociation or dislocation. But there's nothing that sort of screams, hey, I'm about to do this.
CURNOW: So disturbing -- and disturbing that he could so easily get these weapons. Deb Feyerick, I know you're going to keep on digging. We'll come
back to you if you have any more updates. Thanks a lot.
Well, that does it for us here at the International Desk. I'm Robyn Curnow in New York. I'll be back in about 15 minutes. In the meantime, I'm going
to hand you owe over to World Sport. Amanda Davis has more on a very weekend at the Rugby World Cup.