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EARLY START

Deadly Fort Hood Shooting; Search for Flight 370; Another Strong Quake Near Chile; Landslide Death Toll Rises

Aired April 3, 2014 - 04:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news this morning: four dead, more than a dozen others injured after a soldier goes on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood. New information this morning on the gunman's past and why he may have pulled the trigger.

Plus, what the shooter's wife had to say when she heard the tragic news. We are live.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans. It's 30 minutes past the hour this morning.

Fort Hood -- let's start there, Fort Hood, Texas, this morning. There are so many questions about what drove a soldier to open fire on his own colleagues, taking three of their lives, hurting 16 others, some of them critically, before turning the gun on himself.

Now, multiple sources have identified the soldier to CNN as Specialist Ivan Lopez. He is an Iraq war veteran. He was being treated or reviewed for mental health issues. Now, much more on him in a moment.

First, let's get the latest from the base. CNN's George Howell is there.

George, walk us through what happened and what officials are saying. For so many people waking up this morning, it's just shocking that something could happen at Fort Hood again.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, indeed.

What we understand about how this played out, moment by moment. Of course, people were told to shelter in place, to stay out of harm's way.

We understand that Ivan Lopez, Specialist Ivan Lopez went into a building, opened fire with a .45 caliber Smith and Wesson semiautomatic pistol, then went into his car, fired from the car, then went into another building -- these two buildings, a medical building and a transportation building -- opened fire in the second building. All that played out until he was confronted by a military officer, in which case, he used that weapon to shoot and kill himself. I want you to listen to some of the audio from dispatchers as this was all playing out here on Fort Hood.

Listen to what they were dealing with.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DISPATCHER: We have multiple gunshot victims. We also have people that are escaping through windows.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

HOWELL: It was a tragic situation. It was a dramatic scene here. People were told to shelter in place. Remember the last time that this happened was back in 2009. Major Nidal Hasan opened fire, killing 13, injuring dozens more. Again, this base going through another tragedy once again. We know that at least 16 people are in various hospitals here in this area, and again, three dead. That number not including Lopez, who shot and killed himself.

ROMANS: All right, George Howell. Thank you so much. And we certainly wish everyone well, their families this morning who are grieving, families this morning who are still waiting to hope that their loved ones can get better. Some of these are in critical condition. Thanks, George.

HARLOW: Absolutely. We'll keep you updated as we have more on that, but CNN has learned from multiple sources that the shooter is specialist Ivan Watson. Here's what we know about him -- excuse me, the shooter is Ivan Lopez. Here's what we know about him.

Lopez had served four months in Iraq back in 2011. He had only recently transferred to Fort Hood back in February and was in the process of being evaluated for possible PTSD. He was under treatment for depression and anxiety, and he only recently purchased the Smith and Wesson .45 caliber pistol used in the shooting. Neighbors say they were with Lopez's wife in the moments after the first reports of gunfire at the base.

Listen.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were outside, me and a few of my neighbors, all outside talking about it, and I saw her come out of her apartment and she seemed to be, she was, you know, she was worried and she was crying and she had a little girl with her. So, you know, I walked over to her, and you know, I tried to console her and confront her and let her know that everything was OK, but it didn't seem to pretty much sink in. And so, we sat outside with her, tried to keep her calm until her other family came, and that was pretty much it.

REPORTER: And did you know at this time that it was her husband? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, we had no clue. No one had a clue. She didn't each have a clue until a few hours had passed, and we all heard it over the news.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Now, we're told that Lopez's wife is cooperating at this hour with investigators.

ROMANS: Any time there's a shooting like this, questions turn to security, especially at a place like Fort Hood, the largest military base in the country, home to more than 70,000 soldiers, their families and civilian employees.

Lynn Adams lives off base with her husband, an Army soldier, she was locked down after the shooting.

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LYNN ADAMS (via telephone): Post doesn't really have any extra security. They check IDs at the gate, they do random checks at the gate, and they're trained to look out for things that might signify that someone might be up to something, much like airport security and things like that or police officers, but there isn't really a whole lot of extra protection for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Well, President Obama calling what happened heartbreaking, making a statement from Chicago last night.

Let's take a listen.

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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Any shooting is troubling. Obviously, this reopens the pain of what happened at Fort Hood five years ago. We know these families. We know their incredible service to our country and the sacrifices that they make. Obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with the entire community, and we are going to do everything we can to make sure that the community at Fort Hood has what it needs to deal with the current situation, but also any potential aftermath.

We're heartbroken that something like this might have happened again, and I don't want to comment on the facts until I know exactly what has happened. But for now, I would just hope that everybody across the country is keeping the families and the community of Fort Hood in our thoughts and in our prayers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Said we are heartbroken this has happened again, uses the word "again", because Fort Hood has been the site of tragedy before. Five years ago, Major Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, opened fire there at Fort Hood, killing 13 people, injuring dozens of others. General Russel Honore, once an assistant commander at Fort Hood, told Wolf Blitzer shootings like this make it difficult for soldiers to feel safe in the one place, the one place where they're supposed to be protected.

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GEN. RUSSEL HONORE, RET. LT. GEN., U.S. ARMY (via telephone): Army post by tradition, that's our sanctuary. That's a place we come back to, to be with our families, to train for the next mission or deployment, to go on that deployment, come back to our families that we leave, to those who remain behind as well as the surrounding communities, to take care of them. And when violence like this happens and breaks that trust between the soldier and his family and his community --

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ROMANS: Expect protection from your enemies, not protection from your friends and colleagues.

Stay with us. We'll bring you the latest on the shooting at Fort Hood throughout the morning.

HARLOW: Now back to the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Eight planes, nine ships looking over an area roughly the size of Utah today for any sign of debris. They have not found anything yet, and that jetliner has been missing now for 27 days.

This as Malaysia's prime minister sees the search operation firsthand. He is there in Perth, Australia, insisting his government will not rest until they figure out what happened.

Our Matthew Chance is live in Perth.

Matthew, it's interesting. You know, the Australian prime minister saying to Chinese leaders that the intensity of the search has been increasing. Specifically how?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no, well, what Tony Abbott, the Australian prime minister, has been talking about, I think, is the level at which there have been more flights going up into the skies, scouring the waters of the south Indian Ocean, about 1,000 miles off the coast of Perth, also surface vessels. There are at least nine of them that have been out today in the same area. Add to that a British nuclear submarine, which is expected to join the search shortly, and an Australian vessel called the Ocean Shield, which is carrying a bit of sensitive technology, brought in from the United States, in fact, to detect the pinger on the black box of the Malaysian Flight 370.

That's all leading to a sort of upsurge in the intensity of the effort that's been taking place here in order to try and locate some kind of debris from that missing plane. But at the same time, the Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, striking a sort of tone of caution as well, saying that this operation may not end successfully. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY ABBOTT, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: This is probably the most difficult search ever undertaken, the most difficult search ever undertaken. Even though we are constantly refining the search area, even though the search area is moving north, it is still an extraordinarily remote and inaccessible spot, at times subject to very difficult sea conditions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHANCE: All right, well, his Malaysian counterpart, as you mentioned, here in Perth today getting briefed by the search teams before they set off on today's round of missions trying to find some debris.

He struck a much more optimistic note. Najib Razak is his name. He said that this new, refined area, this search area they're looking at now, has given us more hope. And he said that we will carry on searching until the end, so trying to reassure the families of those aboard the missing plane that they wouldn't stop until they found the debris of the plane or some clue as to its whereabouts.

HARLOW: Absolutely, making that promise, we will not give up. Appreciate the reporting this morning. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, as for the investigation, the investigation, all 227 passengers on Flight 370 have now been cleared of hijacking or sabotage, but the crew, it appears, still under suspicion.

Let's get to Jim Clancy live in Kuala Lumpur for the latest.

Jim, are police giving any indication where they're turning now? I mean, it seems as though they're combing through everything and trying to rule out any scenarios.

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, they are trying to rule out any scenarios, but you know, when we look at this investigation and how little has been said, how little evidence has been produced, I think you have to stop and say, these investigators must understand something. They've come up empty. They really don't have anything right now. They are pinning their hopes on finding the plane, finding the flight data recorder, to give them some clues, because what they have, the evidence built up outside the plane in terms of the pilot's motive or the passengers' background doesn't seem to be leading very far indeed.

The latest news was that, you know, the pilot's flight simulator, the captain's flight simulator that he kept at home, no evidence there that would raise any suspicions.

Back to you.

ROMANS: All right, Jim Clancy for us in Kuala Lumpur. Thanks, Jim. HARLOW: And we're going to have more breaking news coverage of that tragic shooting at Fort Hood straight ahead, also the continued search for Flight 370.

First, though, breaking news in Chile -- powerful aftershocks rocking the country throughout the night. The latest damage report, straight ahead.

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HARLOW: Breaking news overnight: Northern Chile was rocked by another very strong earthquake, this one measuring 7.6, leading to evacuations along that country's northern coast. There are no immediate reports of damage or injuries at this point.

But this happened a day after an 8.2-magnitude earthquake rattled that same region. That left six people dead, thousands of homes damaged. So, nerves very frayed there right now.

ROMANS: All right, the location of that devastating landslide north of Seattle now a major disaster area. President Obama making that declaration overnight as the death toll rises again -- 29 people now confirmed dead, 20 more are still missing.

Now, the Army Corps of Engineers is making plans to build a channel to change the flow of the Stillaguamish River, which is threatening to flood that site.

HARLOW: Get ready for more money, a lot more money, possibly, in political campaigns. The high court in this country ruling in a 5-4 decision, throwing out the limit on how much one person can contribute in total to all political campaigns in an election season.

Now, here's the caveat, you will still be limited in how much you can give to a single candidate. Critics say the ruling has opened the door to big money controlling the political process even more than it has before.

ROMANS: All right, the search intensifying for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. Right now, planes and ships, they're shifting west. Only a few days left to find the data recorders, the black boxes.

We're breaking down the very latest on this shifting search and why we may never know why the jetliner crashed. We're live, next.

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ROMANS: The latest now on the deadly shooting at Fort Hood. Four people -- four people, including the gunman, dead, 16 others injured, some critically. Multiple sources tell CNN the shooter was specialist Ivan Lopez, an Iraq war veteran undergoing treatment for depression and anxiety. He shot himself after a military policewoman confronted him minutes after the shooting began.

Stay with us for the very latest on this breaking news story out of Fort Hood.

Now to Australia, where the search area for the Flight 370 has shifted slightly to the west this morning, some 1,000 miles off the coast of Perth. They've got eight planes, nine ships crisscrossing the area, trying to find debris from the missing Boeing 777. So far nothing.

But let's bring in Erik van Sebille. He's an oceanographer at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

Erik, we've had you on the show before and you've been so helpful in helping us understand what we're dealing with here in terms of the terrain. One map that I saw showed that part of the search area, at least previously, was over something called Broken Ridge, that makes it so extremely difficult to find anything, and we are specifically in search of the data recorder, the black box.

Tell us about this terrain and how much more difficult it's going to make it for all of those searching to find anything.

ERIK VAN SEBILLE, OCEANOGRAPHER: Absolutely. It is very rugged terrain. It's like a mini Himalayas underneath the ocean.

And why it's so difficult to search in an area like that is because the pinger, the signal that the black box sends, is essentially sounds. And sound, like anybody who's been in the mountains knows, there's a lot of echoes around. So, even if you were to hear it at some point, it's really hard to locate where it comes from, because there's just all these echoes around.

And if the terrain would be flat, it would be much easier to locate. OK, this sound comes from here. In this terrain, it's going to be very hard.

ROMANS: Wow.

Meantime, these ships and flights, really, have been coming back to Perth, and really about this time of the day they've been debriefing the reporters on what these pilots and the spotters are seeing, Erik, and they're not coming back with sightings of debris they think are tied to MH370. What will we be expecting from floating debris in this part of the ocean?

VAN SEBILLE: Well, this part of the ocean where they're searching now, you get closer and closer to the center of the garbage patch, which is an area where everything that's floating in the ocean kind of accumulates. There's garbage patches in all of the different oceans, including the famous one in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. There's also one in the Indian Ocean.

So, everything that's being thrown in the ocean or that got into the ocean from land in the last 60 years slowly accumulates there. And there's just so much floating debris around there that it's really like searching for a needle in a haystack, literally. There is just all this litter around.

HARLOW: Now, this location, possibly the only silver lining to this is that the location, again, moves the search area a little bit closer to land. So, it gives those planes a little bit longer to fly over the region. Do we know anything about the area that has shifted a bit west, I think a little bit north as well, about weather in that area? Is it any better for searching?

VAN SEBILLE: Well, I don't know about that. I haven't seen the latest weather maps, but in general, we are getting into autumn, and that is not the best time of year for us to be in the ocean. But then again, think about that, where they were searching a few weeks ago, in the southern ocean, so much further south, that was the area where we would expect really big storms, really high waves.

Here, it's actually much, in general, it's much calmer weather.

ROMANS: Erik Van Sebille, thanks for joining us again this morning. It's nice to see you.

HARLOW: We appreciate it.

All right. We'll be right back with more news after a quick break.

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ROMANS: All right, it could be a stormy day in much of the country.

Chad Myers has an early look at your weather.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey, good morning. You know, I know we had severe weather last night, but tonight is the big night. This is a severe weather outbreak likely here across parts of the plains.

The warm air is in place, the humidity is in place, and a cold front's going to try to push all of that warm, hot air straight up into the air, and that's going to make thunderstorms, those puffy clouds will start to build later on this afternoon. And there's snow in Minnesota, there's snow all the way back into Colorado and another area with more rain coming into the Pacific Northwest. They don't need that.

Look at these high temperatures. And then we go from 46 in Denver to 87 in Dallas. That is the cold air on one side and the very warm, muggy air on the other. There will be watches and warnings throughout the night tonight, and even a few maybe even tomorrow as we push this farther ahead.

I believe the energy, though, the real, all combining, all the ingredients happens today. There will be some ingredients tomorrow, but it may be not quite as put together as I think today will be, and there's the rain in through the Pacific Northwest for tomorrow afternoon.

And looking, finally kind of getting into your weekend, cooling down a little bit here -- 65 in Memphis, 76 Atlanta, and a cold front will push some cooler air through the Northeast for the weekend, but still about springtime temperatures, pretty close to normal.

Guys, back to you.

ROMANS: All right. We'll take it, Chad Myers. Thanks, Chad.

HARLOW: EARLY START continues right now.

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