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Nationwide Manhunt Intensifies For Murder Suspect; VP Pence: North Korea "The Most Ominous Threat"; Trump Robocall Attacks GA Democratic Candidate. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired April 18, 2017 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:32:40] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: The nationwide manhunt is intensifying at this hour as police search for that suspected killer accused of shooting a grandfather on Easter before, then, posting gruesome video of that crime on Facebook. Investigators releasing chilling 911 calls and the victim's family is speaking out. CNN's Sara Ganim has all of this, live for us in Cleveland. What's the latest, Sara?
SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, Steve Stephens is now on the FBI's most wanted list as police here in Cleveland, this morning, are searching every abandoned building in this city. The manhunt continues as investigators say the killer could be anywhere.
GANIM: The manhunt for 37-year-old SteveStephens expanding nationwide. Police warning residents across five states that the alleged killer is considered armed and dangerous.
CALVIN WILLIAMS, CHIEF, CLEVELAND POLICE DEPARTMENT: We're still asking Steve to turn himself in but if he doesn't, we'll find him.
GANIM: Cleveland's mayor announcing a $50,000 reward for information leading to Stephen's arrest after reports of a sighting and a possible cell phone ping in Pennsylvania turned up false. Stephens, on the run after shooting and killing 74-year-old Robert Godwin and posting a video of the crime on Facebook, prompting horrified neighbors to call 911.
DISPATCHER: Listen, this is Cleveland EMS.
CALLER: Oh lord, he's dead.
DISPATCHER: OK, ma'am, listen to me.
CALLER: He's laying there.
DISPATCHER: Ma'am, what's your address?
CALLER: Oh lord, have mercy. Oh, my God.
GANIM: Seconds before the killing, Stephens asked Godwin to say the name of a woman, telling him "She's the reason why this is about to happen to you." That woman says she is overwhelmed by the tragedy, telling "CBS NEWS" "Steve really is a nice guy. He is generous with everyone he knows. He was kind and loving to me and my children." Police confirming that they did make contact with Stephens after the shooting, remarking that he has deep, deep issues.
WALTER MADISON, FRATERNITY BROTHER OF STEVE STEPHENS: Steve, if you can hear this, please understand there are people that care and we really want to make sure that you are safe -- that you get the help that you need.
GANIM: The victim's family grieving their unspeakable loss.
TONYA GODWIN BAINES, ROBERT GODWIN'S DAUGHTER: Each one of us forgive the killer -- the murderer.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN "AC 360": You do?
DEBBIE GODWIN, ROBERT GODWIN'S DAUGHTER: Yes, we do.
BAINES: We want to wrap our arms around him.
GODWIN: We do -- we absolutely do. If I didn't know him as my God and my savior, I could not forgive that man and I feel no animosity against him at all. I actually -- I feel sadness in my heart for him, I do. I feel real sad.
[07:35:10] BAINES: Yes, we do -- all of us.
GANIM: Now, court documents giving us a glimpse into Steve Stephen's background, showing financial troubles. Meanwhile, police say they did recover several items that are aiding them in the investigation from a home in the area where he was believed to have lived. And his employer, Beech Brook Behavioral Agency says -- now says that this morning they will reopen but with additional security out of concern for the people who work there -- Chris.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right, Sara, keep us on it. Any developments, let us know. Joining us now is CNN law enforcement analyst and former Washington, D.C. police chief, and Philadelphia police commissioner, Charles Ramsey. Sir, it's good to have you on the show. You are in Cleveland, coincidentally. What do you think the chances are that this suspect is still local?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, FORMER WASHINGTON, D.C. POLICE CHIEF, PHILADELPHIA POLICE COMMISSIONER: Well, I mean, that's hard to say, but my experience is that people tend not to want to go too far from areas that they're familiar with. But it's been almost three days now so he could be anywhere, but I suspect he's probably if not in Cleveland, he's someplace where he's got some association or some ties to where he feels comfortable.
CUOMO: There was a big push to get him on the FBI most wanted list. Why? What does that create in terms of resources?
RAMSEY: Well, it does create a lot in terms of resources. This is a high-profile case. Obviously, we're talking about it because of the Facebook aspect of it. The Cleveland police are still the lead agency but they've got a lot of support from federal agencies. And the fact that this individual killed a person in a totally random nature really does send off a lot of alarm bells. You know, I was the police chief in D.C. during the D.C. sniper and I remember those three weeks, and it was just a highly tense period of time and this could be no different the longer this goes on.
CUOMO: I remember -- I remember you and that scenario very well. There has been a lot of talk about what issues he may have. It seems to be a suggestion of some type of mental health situation. How does that play into the analysis, along with time? You're more than, what, 40-plus hours into the manhunt. What does that do in terms of developing theories?
RAMSEY: Well, I mean, he may have some psychological problems, but right now the police are focused on one thing and that's bringing him into custody so he can't harm anyone else. Somebody else will figure out exactly, you know, what's going on with him in terms of his mental situation but right now they've just got to find this guy and get him off the streets before he can kill somebody else.
CUOMO: It is unusual that this period has gone by and no one has come forward saying that they heard from him? You know, that -- whether he says he's OK or where he's going or whatever he wants to say -- that there's been no word?
RAMSEY: Well, he's gone underground, obviously. He could have changed his appearance. He could have, certainly, changed the tags on that car if he's still, in fact, driving that car. So there are a lot of things that could lead to the fact that, you know, he's not been found yet but it is not that unusual.
What's unusual is the fact that this is a case that wound up on Facebook. He identified himself early on. Normally it takes a while before you develop suspects in a case. I thought that maybe this was because he wanted to get caught but now I'm starting to doubt that. Maybe this is his way of taunting police. Who knows what's on his mind? But right now the focus has to be on apprehending him and, hopefully, nobody is helping him right now because they're going to be in very serious trouble if they are.
CUOMO: Certainly, it's a felony to aid and abet in this kind of situation with a wanted fugitive of this type of crime. The idea that he would turn himself in, what goes into that kind of calculation?
RAMSEY: Well, I mean, you always hope that that's the case that he may turn himself in. If he was going to do that he probably would have done it already. A lot of times people have remorse after they've had a chance to think about what they just did, and they really want to just get it over with and they turn themselves in or, in some cases, they commit suicide.
I mean, it's been almost three days now and he hasn't turned himself in. He's made no contact that we know of, anyway, so I doubt if this is going to be a situation where he surrenders voluntarily. But eventually, the police will track him down and you've got a lot of very good people on this case that are working around the clock.
CUOMO: National attention, to be sure, and, of course, his decision to turn himself in is a function of whether or not he's in his right mind to begin with. Charles Ramsey, thank you very much for your perspective, as always -- Alisyn.
RAMSEY: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: OK. So our Dana Bash just spoke with Vice President Mike Pence about North Korea. This happened just moments ago. What he is now saying about the country's fiery speech. We will bring this interview to you, next.
[07:43:30] CUOMO: All right, we are following breaking news from Japan. Vice President Mike Pence meeting with leaders in Tokyoand says the provocations by North Korea are the "most ominous threat." CNN's Dana Bash just spoke exclusively with the vice president. She joins us live from Tokyo now. Important timing here, Dana, because we've heard some very inflammatory rhetoric from the North Koreans in response to the vice president.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and that's exactly what I asked the vice president about, Chris. The fact that just hours after the vice president was at the Korean DMZ, the North Koreans in New York at the U.N. came out and really struck back hard rhetorically at the vice president, talking about the fact that he and the administration, in general, are potentially going to start a thermonuclear war. That is part of what I asked the vice president about.
BASH: The North Koreans have noticed the things you've been saying while you have been here in Asia. In fact, the Deputy Ambassador to the UN from North Korea said that you and the administration, but he was clearly responding to your words, you're creating a dangerous situation in which thermonuclear war may break out at any moment. Would you like to respond to that?
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, my hope is that the wider world and that the leadership in North Korea is listening to what President Trump and the world community is saying. That the time has come for them to abandon and dismantle their nuclear and ballistic missile program.
[07:45:10] Now, my presence here, which the president strongly urged even in this challenging time, is really to deliver that message that we've really moved beyond the era of strategic patience. We've moved beyond the failed dialogues of the past and now we've moved into an era where President Trump is absolutely committed to marshaling the energy of the world community, of countries in the Asia-Pacific, to use economic and diplomatic power to isolate North Korea and achieve the goal of a denuclearized Korean peninsula. BASH: And they are listening, and the Ambassador -- the Deputy Ambassador said that it sounds like you and the administration are insisting on "gangster-like logic that the idea of an invasion of the sovereign nation" -- he was talking about your remarks clearly about Syria and Afghanistan -- "decreases the likelihood that this could end peacefully."Are you concerned that what you are saying is being taken in North Korea as saber-rattling despite the fact that you're also talking about diplomacy?
PENCE: I think what the president is concerned about, what countries that we've visited are concerned about, are the reckless and irresponsible actions of the regime in Pyongyang.
Another failed missile attempt notwithstanding this weekend, an unprecedented number of ballistic missile tests, testing nuclear weapons twice in the last year. The time has really come for North Korea to get the message. As the president says, it's time for them to behave, to listen to the world community, and to set aside their nuclear ambitions, their ballistic missile ambitions and be willing to join the family of nations.
And for my part, in some odd way, it's encouraging that they're getting the message. And my hope is that they'll continue to get the message, not just from the United States and here in Japan and in South Korea, but on an increasing basis from China and countries all over the world that long ago committed to a denuclearized Korean peninsula.
BASH: So, getting the message is one thing and the vice president is trying to look at this as a glass half full moment that North Korea is understanding that the administration in the U.S. and its allies here in the Asia-Pacific are going to put a lot more pressure on North Korea. But it's really unclear, Chris, whether they're hearing, which is one thing, getting the message, which is a whole different thing -- Chris.
CUOMO: It really is getting very interesting about what actions are going to come about from all these hot words. Dana Bash, another key interview. Thank youvery much -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, back here at home there's a big cooldown for the Northeast while storms are brewing in the Midwest. CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has our forecast. Hi, Chad.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Alisyn. On Sunday, you were 87 and today you'll be almost 25 degrees colder than that, so whatever happened to summer I don't know. This weather is brought to you by Purina -- your pet, our passion. Even where we were yesterday, a beautiful 74. Today, 62 in New York City as that cold air comes back down. Now, it's not as cold as the Arrowhead of Minnesota -- I get it. It is snowing there this morning. I know the snow word shouldn't even come into a forecast but there it is. It may snow all afternoon, a couple of inches certainly there. Now it does get a little stormy through the Midwest later on today, and again for Friday we could see more severe weather possible, but not real big outbreaks of severe weather. Kind of calming down here across parts of the Midwest and the Northeast -- Chris.
CUOMO: Appreciate it, Chad. So, a race in Georgia has the president's eye. It's called the "Georgia 6" -- the sixth district. Why does he keep tweeting about a Democratic House candidate with no political experience? That candidate is Jon Ossoff and he joins us live on NEW DAY, next. Good morning, sir.
[07:53:25](BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Only you can stop the super liberal Democrats and Nancy Pelosi's group, and in particular, Jon Ossoff. If you don't vote tomorrow, Ossoff will raise your taxes, destroy your health care, and flood our country with illegal immigrants. I need you to get out to the polls tomorrow, April 18th, and vote Republican.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: All right, that was a robocall from the president to voters in Georgia's sixth district where a special election is taking place today to fill HHS Sec. Tom Price's seat. The race is seen as a referendum on Mr. Trump in a district that has gone to Republicans for the past 38 years. Polls show the Democrat, Jon Ossoff, leading the field of 18 candidates. And the Democratic candidate, Jon Ossoff, joins us now. Good morning, Mr. Ossoff.
JON OSSOFF, (D), GEORGIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Good morning, thank you for having me.
CAMEROTA: Thanks for being here. What is it like to hear President Trump using your name in this robocall to voters in your district there?
OSSOFF: Well, I appreciate the president's interest in the race, although he's misinformed with respect to my priorities. I'm focused on going to Washington to work across the aisle to get things done for this community. To cut wasteful spending, prioritize research and development, and higher education and infrastructure renewal so we can grow Metro Atlanta's economy.
CAMEROTA: But do you see your race as a referendum on Mr. Trump's popularity?
OSSOFF: This race is about local economic issues here and values that unite people in the community and Georgia before it's about the national political circus. Everyone's looking for national implications but all politics is local.
[07:55:07] CAMEROTA: Well, yes, but I mean, I think you have to admit yours has garnered a lot of attention because it is seen as somehow connected to Mr. Trump. And, in fact, is what Mr. Trump is doing in Washington part of your motivation for running?
OSSOFF: Well, there are folks here in the community who have serious concerns about the direction of things in Washington, myself among them. But fundamentally, I'm focused on running a positive campaign about getting things done to grow Metro Atlanta's economy, to bring more high-tech jobs and investment to this community. And I think we're building a broad coalition that includes Republicans and Independents by focusing on an economic vision for Atlanta that brings folks together rather than more partisanship in Washington.
CAMEROTA: So when you are out on the stump you do or do not talk about Donald Trump?
OSSOFF: Well, I'll always voice my concerns about what's happening Washington. That includes my concerns about the administration, whether it's on the environment or civil liberties. I'll always make my views clear. I'll work with anyone in Washington who wants to get things done that are in this community's interest. I'll stand up to anyone who doesn't have this community's best interest at heart, and I'm willing to work across the aisle if it's on infrastructure, if it's on tax reform, or if it's on immigration reform. I'm focused on getting things done rather than getting drawn into the gridlock and partisanship that folks are so tired of.
CAMEROTA: Well, President Trump seems very focused on you. In fact, in just the past hour he has two new tweets about you. Let me read them to you. He says, "Democrat Jon Ossoff would be a disaster in Congress. Very weak on crime and illegal immigration, bad for jobs, and wants higher taxes. Say NO." He also says, "Republicans must get out today and vote in Georgia 6. Force a runoff and easy win! Democrat Ossoff will raise your taxes -- very bad on crime and Second Amendment." Your response?
OSSOFF: Well, once again, I appreciate the president's interest. It sounds like he's misinformed about my priorities. If he wants to learn a little bit more about my priorities he can visit the website online at electjon.com -- elect j-o-n-.com -- and learn where I really stand on the issues.
CAMEROTA: Yes, I'm sure he'll be running to your website to focus on your issues. But, I mean, do you think it's possible that the president is actually only increasing your name recognition there?
OSSOFF: I don't know. Look, it's election day here. We're not focused on what's going on in Washington, we're focused on getting out the vote. And what I'd say to folks in Georgia is whether or not you're voting for me, it's an important day to exercise your rights as a citizen to get out and make your voice heard. I'm offering some fresh leadership -- a substantive, positive vision focused on our local community rather than more of the same partisan negativity and nonsense, and I'd be honored to have the support of folks here in Georgia. I appreciate you having me today.
CAMEROTA: You have 18 rivals. There are 18 other people, I believe, running for that same seat. What makes you think you have a chance to win? OSSOFF: Well, the polling and the early vote numbers show that we're within striking distance. We are certainly going for an outright win here today but a special election is special. It's notoriously difficult to predict. It's all going to come out to turnout. We'll be ready for any outcome but because it's all about turnout, the most important thing people can do is get to the polls. The polls are open. They can go online and find out where their polling place is, and I would just urge folks to make their voices heard and consider sending some fresh leadership to Washington.
CAMEROTA: Mr. Ossoff, is it true that you cannot vote for yourself?
OSSOFF: Well, I grew up in this district. I grew up in this community. No one knew there was going to be an election coming. I've been living with Alicia, my girlfriend of 12 years, down by Emory University where she's a full-time medical student, and as soon as she concludes her medical training I'll be 10 minutes back up the street into the district where I grew up. But I want to support her and her career and do right by her.
CAMEROTA: So, when are you going to marry her?
OSSOFF: Well, I don't want to give anything away but I think I can reasonably say that's more of a personal question. I'll give you a call when I have something to announce.
CAMEROTA: Please do. Perhaps, say, an election day proposal would be good. But I guess your point is that you don't live in your -- the district in which you're running, so you will not be able to vote for yourself.
OSSOFF: Well, I grew up in this district, I grew up in this community. It's my home. My family is still there. I'm a mile and one-half down the street to support Alicia while she finishes medical school. It's something I've been very transparent about. In fact, I'm proud to be supporting her career and as soon as she finishes her medical training I'll be 10 minutes back up the road into the district where I grew up.
CAMEROTA: All right. Jon Ossoff, we will be watching very closely what happens with you professionally and personally, and we are obviously very interested in this race. Thank you very much for being on NEW DAY.
OSSOFF: It's my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
CAMEROTA: All right. We should let you all know that tomorrow we will speak with the Republican candidate in Georgia's sixth district, Karen Handel.
We're following a lot of news this morning so let's get right to it.