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Antwon Rose's Family Demands Justice After Shooting Death; Gunman Kills Five At Maryland Newspaper; Newspaper Shooting Suspect Charged With First-Degree Murder; Carl Hiaasen Remembers His Brother Rob Killed In Shooting. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired June 29, 2018 - 08:00   ET



S. LEE MERRITT, ATTORNEY FOR ANTWON ROSE'S FAMILY: It is very difficult anywhere in the country to get a conviction of a law enforcement officers, police officers, because of the nature of their profession.

They're given automatic credibility. Even when they engage in some of the most heinous behavior. And so, seeing this through a conviction is going to take continued resolve, a continued investment from the community and commitment from the prosecutors involved.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: There were some calls early on for the county attorney general in this case, Stephen Zappalla, to step down. Here's part of what he had to say following the charges.


STEPHEN ZAPPALLA JR., ALLEGHENY COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I find that Rossfeld's actions were intentional and they certainly brought about the result that he was looking to accomplish. He was not acting to prevent death or serious bodily injury.


HILL: Based on that, there were some calls initially because there was concern about bias from Zappalla. Do you believe there is a reason he should step aside? Should this be handled by the state A.G. or the DOJ?

FRED RABNER, ATTORNEY FOR ANTWON ROSE'S FAMILY: I'll let Lee address that issue and then I'll get back to justice.

HILL: Sure.

MERRITT: Yes, our concern is that Mr. Zappalla has been superb in his investigation, in his commitment to this family. He sat down with this family immediately afterwards and explained how he viewed the case, and it is in line with how we view the case.

However, as a practice, throughout his tenure, he's never successfully convicted a law enforcement officer. And the definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing expecting a different result.

And so, we are considering asking the attorney general to step in, who's made the offer, and Mr. Zappala even said that he would be open to that. We appreciate his skill, his acumen, his commitment, but we don't necessarily have the confidence that that office is capable of successfully prosecuting officers just because of their inherent bias.

HILL: And Michelle, as we leave, just give us a final thought about Antwon. You said you would like for him to see the support that's out there. Let us know a little bit more about who this special young man was.

MICHELLE KENNEY, MOTHER OF ANTWON ROSE: Antwon would sit in his room, and he would draw, just not because he had to, nothing in particular. Antwon was a talented musician. Antwon was intelligent. That boy had an IQ of 120. Antwon would flip-flop between wanting to be a chemical engineer and wanting to be a lawyer.

And I would always tell him, either way it goes, you're going to do something great. If you become a chemical engineer, you're going to design something great, you're going to create something great. If you become a lawyer, you're going to have the biggest, probably the biggest case of your life.

I never knew that Antwon would be the victim on the only case of his life. I really thought that if he became a lawyer, he would change the world. Hopefully, through this tragedy, though, he does change the world.

MERRITT: Erica, if I could --

HILL: Sorry, we are just tight on time. I wanted to make sure Michelle had the last word on Antwon. Thank you all for joining us, Michelle, Kyra, Lee, Fred. We appreciate it. And we'll continue to follow this.

We're following a lot of news this morning. Let's get to it.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. We do have breaking news, but first, I do want to thank Michelle Kenney and the family of Antwon Rose for coming and speaking to us about their son and their loss. So important, I think, to hear directly from them.

In the meantime, one of the most inspiring, most heartbreaking, yet, least surprising images of the morning is this -- "The Capital Gazette" published this, this morning in Annapolis, Maryland.

They published the paper even after five of its employees murdered in the newsroom. I can tell you this, we are putting out a damn paper, one reporter said, and yes, they did. Five beloved, hard-working, underpaid employees murdered in the deadliest day for American journalism since September 11th.

We want to show you the opinion page of "The Gazette" today. They left it blank to honor the victims, writing "tomorrow this page will return to its steady purpose of offering our readers' informed opinion about the world around them, that they might be better citizens.

And as we remember the five lives cut short, we're also following the developments in the investigation. The suspect now charged with five counts of first-degree murder. Police say this was a targeted attack.

We do have breaking news. We've learned in the charging documents that there was video of this attack. Want to get straight to Rene Marsh. She is covering this story for us this morning in Annapolis. Rene, give us the latest.

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. That breaking news just coming down to us. It's in the charging documents that they used that surveillance video to support the charges against the shooter. Again, you mentioned it, this is the deadliest day for journalism since 9/11.

[08:05:06] You can see over my right shoulder there, there is still a police presence here on the scene as police continue to process this crime scene, which is the newsroom and the front page of the morning paper.

It has the pictures of all five victims, these journalists shot dead in their own newsroom. As for the shooter, we expect that he will have that court hearing where he will formally hear his charges in another 2-1/2 hours from now


UNIDENTIFIED POLICE (voice-over): Several shots have been fired, possible shotgun. At least ten shots heard.

MARSH: A terrifying scene unfolding inside "The Capital Gazette" newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland. A gunman deploying smoke grenades and opening fire with a shotgun in an attack police say was targeted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He shot through the front door. The glass shattered. He was going down our newsroom, starting from the front, and yes, just continually shooting people.

MARSH: Sources tell CNN the suspect is Jarrod Warren Ramos. He is now behind bars.

BILL KRAMPF, DEPUTY POLICE CHIEF, ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY: This person was prepared to shoot people. His intent was to cause harm.

MARSH: Journalists inside the newsroom describing the scene as a war zone.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: At some point when I was listening to him reload, it's, you know, are we all going to die? It's not necessarily, is he done, it's is he not going to leave until everyone in here is dead?

MARSH: Some fleeing for their lives, others hiding under their desks.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: I grabbed my purse and I went to the back door, which I was only a couple steps away from, and it was locked. John was still trying to get out the door. I'm not sure what -- I'm not sure exactly in the next couple of seconds what happened, but then, I know that john was standing up. I heard the footsteps, and he -- John got shot.

MARSH: Authorities responding to the scene within 60 seconds and apprehending the shooter, who was hiding under a desk.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE (voice-over): He's inside the "Gazette" office, the main office where all the victims are.

MARSH: Authorities tell CNN the suspect had a longstanding grudge against the newspaper. In 2012, he filed a defamation lawsuit against "The Capital Gazette" after they published an article detailing a case where he pleaded guilty to harassing a former classmate on social media.

The judge dismissed his suit, citing lack of evidence. A law enforcement source says this Twitter handle is believed to be the suspect's account. He tweeted several times about the paper, and the author of the article about him, writing in December 2015, quote, "journalists' hell awaits."

That journalist no longer works at the paper. The attack killing five "Gazette" employees and injuring three others. Wendi Winters was a 65-year-old mother of four. "The Gazette" describes her as a prolific writer who was beloved by the community she covered closely for years.

Assistant editor, Rob Hiaasen, a mentor to all who celebrated his 33rd wedding anniversary last week, his brother remembering him as one of the most gentle and funny people I've ever known.

The 34-year-old sales assistant, Rebecca Smith, was a new hire to the paper, who loved spending time with her family. Editorial page editor, Gerald Fischman, was known for bringing a quirky voice and clever wicked pen to the paper. A quiet and daring figure in a newsroom full of characters.

And John McNamara, known as Mac, was a staff writer who worked his dream job sports reporting. He's remembered for his razor wit and being a loyal friend.


BERMAN: Our thanks to Rene for that report. Joining us now is Steve Schuh, the county executive of Anne Arundel County, Maryland, where Annapolis is located. Thank you very much for being with us, sir. I really appreciate it.

I know that you worked alongside so many of the people at "The Capital Gazette," and you worked alongside some of the victims here. Talk to me about your feelings this morning.

STEVE SCHUH, ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY EXECUTIVE: Yes, "The Capital Gazette" is our local newspaper. That's where we go for local news, stories about children's athletics, but also global and national news. They are residents of our community, known to all of us. Our hearts go out to those who have been injured and lost their lives and to their families.

BERMAN: And our hearts go out to you as well, because as you said, they are part of your community and it's a loss for all of you there. You noted overnight, because you, of course, are the county executive and in touch with law enforcement, that the suspected shooter had not been cooperative at all. Has that changed?

SCHUH: That has not changed, to the best of my knowledge. He was not cooperative yesterday, throughout the night, nor this morning. That's why we had to identify him with racial recognition software.

[08:25:05] But we're putting the pieces together over time, and that's what our investigators do. We will get to the bottom of this.

BERMAN: Any recent signs, any recent signals that something like this could have happened?

SCHUH: Not to my knowledge. It's interesting, as we piece it together. It's clear that he had a longstanding grievance against "The Capital" and various individuals who worked there, resulting from reporting that they had done many years ago, six or seven years ago.

He did file some lawsuits as a result of that reporting. Those lawsuits didn't go anywhere. He did post some threatening social media posts, again, years ago, but nothing since 2013.

He's had no encounter with police, to our knowledge, since 2013, so there is nothing, no sign that gave any indication that he might be up to something like this.

BERMAN: Off the radar since 2013. I want to put back the five faces of the victims, these people who were pillars of your community. Sports editors, editorial writers, columnists, people who delighted the 38,000 residents of Annapolis and the tens of thousands more in the surrounding area there.

What does it say to you about our society right now, that people like this would be targeted, targeted for doing their jobs? And by the way, jobs that really are to make everyone's lives better.

SCHUH: Well, it tells me that America and local jurisdictions need to confront the mental health crisis that affects so many communities. Even in a jurisdiction as small as Anne Arundel County, 600,000 people, probably has 70,000 people suffering from some sort of mental health issue.

Over 10 percent of our population and most of those suffering from mental health disorders are also experiencing co-occurring disorders with substance abuse. It's a crisis of vast proportions, and this individual, I'm not a scientist or a physician, but I know this guy was mentally ill.

BERMAN: Yes, you're a human being and you can see what goes on, just like the rest of us. And thank you for those comments. Obviously, mental health is such an important issue and we all do need to focus on it. Your business, you say it's not medicine or psychiatry -- your business is politics, and my business is covering politics. And you and I both know that the level of rhetoric in this business that we're both connected to is more heated than any time in my life. How do you think --

SCHUH: No question.

BERMAN: -- that contributes? And I don't know if it's connected to the shooting that happened down the street from where you're standing right now. We don't know. But I do know that the rhetoric is getting hot while this shooting happened. What needs to change in our society?

SCHUH: I don't believe there's necessary indication that this was anything more than a personal grievance from this individual directed toward the newspaper and its employees. That being said, I couldn't agree more.

I've never seen our country so divided. I think what needs to happen is people need to take a deep breath and be willing to listen to people with different opinions and remember that somebody who has a different opinion is not a bad person, doesn't have bad motives. They just don't agree with you. Let's get along and go have a diet Coke after we have our debate.

BERMAN: A diet Coke. Caffeine-free diet Coke. You know, you know these five people weren't enemies of the people. You know "The Capital Gazette" is not enemies of the people, and you know that journalism isn't an enemy of the people. Journalism is part of the fabric of society and for the people, correct?

SCHUH: Free expression, free speech is the greatest protection we have from tyranny in our society. So, not only are journalists our friends, they are our protectors. We should all be deeply grateful for the work they do.

And I will tell you this, the determination of the staff of "The Capital Gazette" newspaper to publish a newspaper today is absolutely astounding, breathtaking, and it speaks volumes about the kind of people they are and their dedication to their mission and their values.

BERMAN: I could not agree more. I think it wasn't surprising, reading what I have read about them, not surprising, but still, when I saw it, it just took my breath away. Steve Schuh, thank you so much.

SCHUH: It brings a tear to your eye. When you look at the editorial page today, I encourage your viewers to look at the editorial page of the "The Capital Gazette" newspaper. It will bring a tear to your eye.

BERMAN: And it is blank, left blank to remember the five people killed there. The top line -- "today we are speechless" but the promise that tomorrow they will publish again so that the people who read that paper might be better citizens. And we thank them for that, and we thank you, Steve Schuh, for being with us this morning. And we are with you and we are with your community.

SCHUH: Thank you. Thanks for your reporting.

[08:15:00] HILL: As we remember these five victims, we're learning more not just from their colleagues but also from their friends and families. Just ahead, we'll speak with the brother of one of those victims. And as we go to break, again, we want to remember these five lives cut tragically short.


HILL: Today, we mourn the loss of the five journalists killed in a shooting at "The Capital Gazette" in Annapolis, Maryland. Rob Hiaasen was an assistant managing editor at "The Capital Gazette." Co-workers and friends praising the man they called an excellent journalist, and above all, a generous person.

Joining us now on the phone is Carl Hiaasen, a longtime columnist at "The Miami Herald" and Rob's brother. Carl, our deepest condolences, obviously, for your loss. You wrote a Facebook post about it and said you were devastated and heart-sick, which I think a lot of people can understand.

What do you want people to know about your brother this morning? So, much of what we've heard just paints a picture of a beautiful man.

CARL HIAASEN, ROBERT HIAASEN'S BROTHER (via telephone): Yes, he was. He was the rock of our family. He was the little brother, but he was still the guy who brought all of us together and kept us together when times were tough. But most of all, I think what he would want me to talk about is journalism and the importance of community journalism.

He was killed while he was doing what he loved to do, which is to put out this newspaper for the people of Annapolis.

[08:20:06] He had been a journalist in Palm Beach and in Baltimore and gone to work in Annapolis, and he was so proud of those reporters, the other editors. And what he would want me to say is everything that they do is for the readers to put news and facts in the hands of their readers.

And it's sitting at your desk one day trying to put a newspaper out for the folks who are waiting for that newspaper and this sort of atrocity happens. But he was there -- he believed in the mission and the craft of hometown journalism.

HILL: And he was really dedicated to helping to groom that next generation of reporters, of writers. Among them, as I understand it, your son, Scott, as well, who would talk about how he helped them.

HIAASEN: My son, Scott, was a journalist for many years and partly because of Rob's influence, probably more than my own. And then in Rob's teaching at the University of Maryland, he was teaching journalism there, as well as mentoring the younger reporters at "The Capital Gazette." I mean, he rolled up his sleeves and he was in it, and he believed in it. And this is a difficult time for all newspapers financially, demographically, and also for journalists who are under assault daily from the lunatic fringes of the social media who are, you know, who don't want the real facts to get in the hands of the people who need them.

And so, this is -- you know, rob never thought of it as heroic. He thought of it as a civic duty, as a responsibility in a functioning democracy. But he was just this big, generous, gentle guy, and gifted, such a gifted writer and editor, as those who worked with him will tell you or have told you.

HILL: We've heard a lot of mention made of him being big Rob because he was tall, but that it was about much more than his height, that his heart was big, his spirit was generous, and you've touched on that little bit.

But you even said in your post, he was big, but because he was tall but had remarkable heart and humor that made him larger than all of us. That's such an important gift to give to those not only in your family, but those around you. And I imagine that's something that's really sustaining your sister-in-law and his children as well.

HIAASEN: Yes. His wife -- it was her birthday yesterday, and they just recently celebrated their 33rd anniversary, and his children, of course. He was just one of those, you know, immense presence, and not just because of his size, but because of the warmth that he brought to every room and every situation.

And this will probably never heal for all of us, but as we watched what's been happening in this country and every -- you know, this tragedy will eventually fall out of the headlines, and a few weeks from now, it will be replaced by another one with victims and families grieving just as ours is.

It's an insane cycle of violence that we are now in the middle of, and it's grimly predictable, tragically predictable. And this time our own family was, you know, and ironically after writing -- I've been in the newspaper business for over 40 years.

Rob was in it a long time. We've written about this sort of thing very, very often, and now, it touches desperately close to home.

HILL: You talked, too, about not just about the rhetoric but how journalists and journalism are both being attacked. Is that something that the two of you ever discussed, your concerns for your profession?

HIAASEN: You know, not physical concerns, especially -- Rob, working for a relatively small paper, you think if it's a hometown newspaper, it's almost you feel like a storefront operation. It's your hometown paper.

You have a little bit different relationship with a smaller town than you do if you are working for, obviously, "Washington Post," "The New York Times," "The Wall Street Journal." you are a bigger physical target and you have different layers of security that most small papers don't have and can't afford.

[08:25:09] And so, it was nothing he and I had ever discussed. We talked about the rhetoric and the hatred, but we also reminded ourselves that in our whole lifetimes and careers, working journalists have never been at the top of the popularity list. Authority and -- you know, if you're doing your job as a journalist, you're usually pissing somebody off.

HILL: Yes.

HIAASEN: Because you're putting out -- you're getting out information that some people don't want to be revealed. But in this case, this lawsuit that the alleged shooter -- it goes back years and years. It's been festering. His hatred has been festering for what, five, six, seven years.

How do you even predict or foresee or prepare yourself for that kind of madness and that kind of eruption? And I'm sure rob was aware that this guy had been tweeting, and you know, had had this gripe. But you know, you can't let it cripple you, you know, every day going into work with a sense of being haunted by it.

I mean, you go in and put out a newspaper. That's your job. And that's what "The Capital Gazette's" staff did yesterday, despite this horrible, horrible tragedy.

HILL: Saying we're going to put out a damn paper, and they did.

HIAASEN: We're going -- yes, he would have been so proud. He would have been -- he would have been so, so proud of them.

HILL: Before we let you go, is there a favorite memory you have of your brother, something that just, without fail, if you think about that moment, it brings a smile to your face? Maybe it makes you laugh, but it's something that --

HIAASEN: Well, I remember, as I said, he was a big guy. And when -- I was six years older than rob, and I would come home from school or from college, and our father had died fairly young, and so, rob had been unwittingly sort of the man of the house, but he was growing a lot.

And I used to be able to sort of take him on, you know, as brothers do. You tussle and you wrestle. And then I remember coming home from college one day, and I think he had just turned 15 or 16, maybe, whatever it was, and he just literally picked me up over his head and carried me in the house and threw me on the couch.

It was his way of saying, those days are over. You're not going to win this wrestling match anymore. He was laughing the whole time. He was enormously strong, but just, I remember laughing, like what have you been eating?

And we always -- you know, he always would kid about his size and just come into the house and sort of look down to the top of our heads. It was funny. But I just remember him being that strong and also that gentle, you know. I don't think he ever hurt a fly in his life.

HILL: Gentle, generous, and still giving to so many this morning. Carl, we so appreciate you taking the time. I know it is tough for you and your family. We send our thoughts and sincere condolences to you. Thank you.

HIAASEN: And please, please, for his kids and his wife, Maria, as well, and they've -- this is just the nightmare of nightmares.

HILL: It is something no one should ever have to go through.

HIAASEN: Thank you.

HILL: We'll be right back.