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20 Years After the Oklahoma City Bombing; Lessons Learned from Oklahoma City Bombing; Murder Suspect Dares Officer to Shoot Him; Mother Fears Baby Taken from Hospital Decades Ago. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired April 19, 2015 - 06:30   ET


[06:30:03] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR: And we do have breaking news stories we're following for you this morning. First, in Southern California, where residents are waking up to a massive wildfire. The Highway Fire, as it's being called, has already burned 300 acres, forcing evacuations of 300 families. Rough terrain in the area has prevented firefighters from gaining the upper hand, at least so far.

And hundreds of people are feared dead after a boat carrying migrants capsized in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya. Malta and Italy are conducting a joint rescue operation. Officials say 49 people have been rescued but 23 bodies have also been recovered and the survivors say between 700 to 800 people were on that boat. We'll have more on both of this breaking news stories at the top of the hour.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: But you may be waking up today not realizing that today marks 20 years since the Oklahoma City bombing. The deadliest act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history. 168 people, including 19 children, were killed that day and more than 500 were injured.

Since then victims have gotten some justice. Timothy McVeigh, the mastermind behind the attack, has been put to death. His accomplice, Terry Nichols, serving a life sentence behind bars. Today that site, though, was with once strewn with death and destruction. I mean, take a look at it now. It's a place where there's memorial. And in just a few hours family and friends are going to gather there to remember the people that they loved.

Want to bring in CNN's Ryan Nobles. He is live this morning from Oklahoma City.

And, you know, I was there many years ago as well, Ryan. There is just almost a presence there, isn't there?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is no question about that, Christi. And it's especially impressive being here this early in the morning. The way that this memorial is lit up is absolutely beautiful and haunting. And we're expecting thousands of people here to honor the 20th anniversary of this active domestic terrorism that killed 168 people and changed this city forever. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NOBLES (voice-over): It is often the first thing people think of when they hear Oklahoma City.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The explosion has happened at the Federal Court Building in downtown Oklahoma City.

NOBLES: Someone had detonated a Ryder truck filled with explosives outside the building. The explosion destroyed or damaged more than 300 buildings in a 16-block radius and killed 168 people.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The bombing in Oklahoma City was an attack on innocent children and defenseless citizens.

NOBLES: Within days, the two men behind the attack were behind bars. An Oklahoma State Trooper pulled over Army veteran Timothy McVeigh for driving without a license plate 90 minutes after the attack. Shortly before his release, two days later, he was recognized as a bombing suspect. His accomplice, Terry Nichols, turned himself in the same day. McVeigh was convicted and given the death penalty. He was executed in 2001.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Timothy James McVeigh has been executed by lethal injection.

NOBLES: Nichols was also convicted and is serving life in prison.

In the years after the tragedy Oklahoma City banded together to turn the tragedy into something positive. They built this solemn memorial on the site of the former Murrah Federal Building. It was dedicated exactly five years after the bombing took place. Each victim is honored with a symbolic chair, including 19 smaller chairs in honor of the children that died.

The selfless actions that average people took in the moments after bombing and beyond became known as the Oklahoma Standard.


NOBLES: And there are a number of high-profile speakers expected here today, Christi, including former president, Bill Clinton, who of course was in office at the time of the bombing 20 years ago.

Christi, back to you.

PAUL: All right. Ryan Nobles, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

JOHNS: In February the Department of Homeland Security released a report warning that the threat of right-wing domestic terror is just as high as the threat from Islamic terror group. The big question -- could something like that in Oklahoma City happen again?

CNN's Victor Blackwell was granted rare access to the ATF's Center for Explosives Training and Research in Huntsville, Alabama, to take a look. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At this thousand- acre center, federal agents, police and military are learning how to prevent future bombings and to more officially investigate attacks.

We can't show you their faces due to the sensitivity of their work but the ATF program starts with in-depth explosives training which has expanded exponentially since the Oklahoma City bombing.

BILL JOA, CHIEF OF EXPLOSIVES ENFORCEMENT: In 1995, the Certified Explosives Special would have consisted of a two-week school to certify the agents.

BLACKWELL: Now their training is stretched over two years including graduate level engineering courses.

[06:35:05] JOA: The agents have a better understanding now of kind of the scientific principles behind the post-blast or behind the blast.

BLACKWELL: And scientific testing has accelerated. Agents who collected evidence at the Murrah Building in 1995 or at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta after the bombing in 1996 had to shift samples off to a lab for positive ID. Today agents used handheld scanners to analyze bomb ingredients at the scene. As ATF scientist Tim Shelley demonstrates.

TIM SHELLEY, ATF SCIENTIST: And here's our answer. It's telling us that that is sugar.

BLACKWELL (on camera): That was essentially 20 seconds?

SHELLEY: Roughly 20 seconds.

BLACKWELL: In a sample collected at the Murrah Building, how long would that have taken?

SHELLEY: Hours. Maybe a day to get the analytical results back.

BLACKWELL (voice-over): Precious time, it could mean the difference between losing a suspect and catching one. Gone are the days of simple scene mapping, developing and printing photos of scenes.

BILLY STAPLETON, ATF INVESTIGATOR: With this new technology, I mean, we are looking at light years beyond what we had just 10 years ago.

BLACKWELL: Starting with this spherical camera purchased just months ago.

STAPLETON: And these images are high-degeneration. It's a hundred megapixel camera which allows us to get a 360-degree view.

BLACKWELL: Agents can imbed lab test results, video, audio investigative reports, allowing prosecutors to lead a potential jury on a comprehensive virtual walk-through a scene in the case of a trial. And there's a huge logistical benefit, too. (On camera): How much space is this saving?

STAPLETON: A tremendous amount of space. From what used to be several binders, several feet of binders, we reduced this down to one CD or one thumb drive.

BLACKWELL (voice-over): The center's newest division, Research and Development, looks ahead to the next potential blast, building and detonating bombs like testing recipes in a cookbook.

KEVIN MONIELL, CHIEF OF EXPLOSIVE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: We went out and looked what was available on the Internet and what was being published by organizations that want to do nefarious things in the U.S.

BLACKWELL (on camera): Like "Inspire" magazine?

MONIELL: Correct. Like "Inspire" magazine.


(Voice-over): That's the glossy al Qaeda publication in which the Tsarnaev brothers found instructions to build pressure cooker bombs, detonated during the 2013 Boston marathon.

MONIELL: It allows us to look at warning, go that one is a real problem. And then we can start looking at supply chain stuff, we can start looking at investigative leads that when an even occurs, like where would they have gotten materials, where they would have gotten supplies, would helps investigator then follow up.


BLACKWELL: Agents say what may be the greatest advancement of the last 20 years, the cell phone. Think back to 1995. A cell phone looked more like a cordless home phone with a green screen and antenna, really basic. Well, now agents can take photos, shoot video and e-mail them back to a command center or a lab for immediate analysis. They also use apps to identify components at the scene and there are new phone based resources currently in development -- Christi, Joe.

PAUL: All right. Victor, thank you so much.

JOHNS: A police officer keeps his cool and a harrowing situation why this officer refused to shoot his firearm when a double murder suspect was charging at him.

PAUL: Plus we'll have more for you on the wildfire in Southern California. Hundreds of people are being evacuated as we speak, as we bring you updates live from the scene throughout the morning. More than 300 firefighters are out there. It is a very tough situation. Do stay close.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [06:40:33] PAUL: This week's "One to Watch" series examines the art of photography and we're traveling to France, I'm telling you, to meet this man you have never seen the world in the way that he brings it to us.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A moving image held still. One flash and a photographer is framed, lit, constructed a silent scene.

YANN ARTHUS-BERTRAND, PHOTOGRAPHER (Through Translator): They say in French, photography holds to the wall which means it has a place on the wall which a film will never have. There is a huge difference between a video and a photo. The same image you photographed in one- 500th of a second, it will remain there forever.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For over 20 years, the French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand has been constructing a portrait of the earth with his aerial photographers. His book "Earth From Above" sold over four million copies.

ARTHUS-BERTRAND (Through Translator): I needed to have a frame or format. Planet earth was the frame. It seemed extreme but in 1992 I decided to do a project of the beauty of the earth and on the impact of man on the planet. It's a work which totally transformed me. The earth was a lot more beautiful than I imagined. I think still today I'm astounded by the beauty of the world.


JOHNS: You can check out the full show at


JOHNS: A dramatic judgment call for one Ohio police officer after body cam video shows him refusing to use deadly force against a double murder suspect.

We're going to show you the entire video of Officer Jesse Kidder confronting the suspect who is rushing toward him and demanding that Officer Kidder shoot him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get your hands up. Get your hands up. Get your hands up right now. (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Stop. Stop right there. I don't want to shoot you, man. I don't want to shoot you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't do it, man. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) I'll shoot you, I'll (EXPLETIVE DELETED) shoot you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you won't. No, you won't.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get back. Get back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Get your hands out of your pocket.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get your hands out of your pocket now. No, man. I'm not going to do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shoot me. Shoot me. Shoot me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop it right now. (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Back up. (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Back (EXPLETIVE DELETED) off. Get down on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Be advised. Subject is running. Subject --


[06:45:15] JOHNS: Now later on, the officer was able to reflect and talk about the tense moments. Listen.


OFFICER JESSE KIDDER, NEW RICHMOND, OHIO POLICE DEPARTMENT: He got towards my face right as I lost balance. I'm thinking at this point that if he goes into attack me, I will have to use deadly force. Law enforcement officers all across the nation get split-second decisions that mean life or death. I wanted to be absolutely sure before I used deadly force.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For him to make the judgment call that he did shows great restraint and maturity. This video footage just eliminated all doubt that this officer would have been justified if, in fact, it came to a shooting.


JOHNS: So the suspect in the video has been charged with murder. Meanwhile, Officer Kidder revealed that the body cam he was wearing was actually given to him by one of his relatives and as a result of all this, officials say they hope they get funding in order to get other cameras for other officers.

We're going to break down the video with law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes coming up next.

Plus 300 acres burned. Hundreds evacuated and homes are being threatened. We will be following a raging wildfire in California as firefighters race to keep it under control.

And a tearful reunion decades in the making. A mother finally meets the daughter doctors told her had died. And now other mothers are coming forward with similar stories.



[06:50:13] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get your hands up. Get your hands up. Great your hands up right now. (EXPLETIVE DELETED).


PAUL: You look at that and you think would you have had it in you not to shoot when a guy like that is charging at you?

We just showed you this video, we want to talk more about it with Tom Fuentes because we've got this murder suspect charging at this police officer and screaming, "Shoot me," and the officer doesn't do so. He, in fact, backs up and takes a little bit of a tumble before they finally get this guy into custody.

But, Tom, when you watch this video, are you surprised that he didn't shoot?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Christi, I think watching that video I actually had a similar circumstance when I was a police officer and didn't shoot. You're really -- you're gambling as a police officer that if he pulls a pistol out of his pocket you can shoot him and stop him before he has time to get a shot off and kill you. And that might be a tenth of a second, you know?

The police officer already has his gun out so it's not high noon where they're both going to draw at the same time but he is calculating that he has a good aim on the subject. If he has to, he can still win if it turns into a gun battle or a knife and gun battle, but that's a -- that's a very difficult circumstance and that officer is gambling with his own life as well because he might miss. He might, under the stress of it, not get that shot off and stop the individual before the individual gets him first. It's a very tough decision.

PAUL: And, you know, I think anybody sitting at home watching this and seeing the guy charge at him, our instinct may be, my gosh, I've got to save myself. I've got to --I've got to shoot. Is it training that differentiates the fact, you know, that split second, my gosh, I'm going to do this to an officer, who feels like he can at least control the situation to some degree?

FUENTES: It is. Officers take hundreds of hours of shoot, don't shoot decision-making scenarios, as well as the proficiency. So if he was confident that he was going to be able to stop the individual, if he had to, and then go through all of the judgment.

Now the officer's mind is calculating a thousand things simultaneously to determine that he had not yet seen a weapon. The individual had not really charged at him. He comes forward. He keeps coming toward him.

(CROSSTALK) PAUL: And we listen, Tom -- I'm sorry, but we listen to him saying, shoot me, so you assume this may be a guy who's trying to get cop suicide as it's called, right?

FUENTES: Yes, suicide by cop. But the problem with that scenario is that many times it's actually suicide with cop. You know, we just saw a pilot do suicide by airplane, but suicide with 149 other passengers on that airplane. So that's the difficulty in these circumstances.

You might know what's in your mind but you don't know what's in his. And the excuse we hear have always mentally disturbed, that doesn't stop him from being able to inflict a fatal wound on that officer in less than one second.

PAUL: Right. Yes. And, you know, we heard him -- we heard the officer say there, I wanted to be absolutely sure before I was using deadly force and he was. So wow. It's something else.

Tom Fuentes, thank you so much for helping us break that down. We appreciate it.

FUENTES: Thank you, Christi.

PAUL: Of course.

Hey, new documents revealed just how much training the reserve deputy had before he accidentally shot and killed a man. Coming up at the top of the hour, could this new information change the course of that investigation and be a clue to his defense?


[06:57:31] JOHNS: We want to tell you about a really disturbing story now. Some mothers in the St. Louis area are living through a horrendous nightmare all over again. They were told their babies died shortly after giving birth decades ago. And now new evidence is suggesting their children may still be alive. One-by-one, desperate mothers are coming forward, looking for answers.


BRENDA STEWART, MOTHER: I have always said the last 50 years that my child lives somewhere.

JOHNS (voice-over): Brenda Stewart is one of many fearing her child may be alive after being told her child died at a St. Louis hospital years ago.

STEWART: I just sit straight up when I seen it.

JOHNS: That was her reaction when she saw the TV reunion of Zella Jackson Price and her 49-year-old daughter Melanie Diane Gilmore on a local newscast. Their story hauntingly similar to Brenda Stewart's. Zella had also been told her baby died after giving birth in 1965 at the same hospital Brenda Stewart gave birth. Homer G. Philips Hospital which closed in 1979. Hospital staff allegedly took the infant from Zella. DNA records

linked Zella as Melanie's mother years later. Little known to Zella, her daughter had been placed in adoptive care. Their past finally crossed when Melanie began seeking out her birth mother.

The story all too real to Brenda Stewart who now wonders if her child is still alive.

STEWART: As she came out, she cried. She was crying. They held her up for me to see her.

JOHNS: Stewart says she was never given an opportunity to hold her child and that the hospital staff allegedly returned to say her child was dead. Even more when Stewart's parents arrived at the hospital, staff allegedly told her parents they could not see the body because Stewart signed papers stating the body would be donated to science. Stewart denies signing such paperwork citing the fact that she was only 15 years old at the time.

STEWART: It still hurt me to know that my baby is out there because I never have believed that she was dead.

JOHNS: She's just one of many women who are coming forward to Zella with the unfathomable fear that their children may still be alive.



JOHNS: Now Price did tell a local affiliate she plans on getting attorney to investigate. And as I mentioned that station has received other similar reports since that story broke.

PAUL: Of course they would. I mean, if I had --


PAUL: If the same thing happened to me, you bet. I think any mother or parent out there would be thinking the same thing.

JOHNS: Because after all these years.

PAUL: And they have no idea why.

JOHNS: Right.

PAUL: Remember this -- as you said, as you heard the hospital closed in 1979.