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Sheriff: Deputy's Killing Was "Cold-Blooded"; Suspect Arrested In Bangkok Blast; Egypt Sentences Al Jazeera Journalists To Prison; Florida Governor Declares State Of Emergency; Schools Celebrate Recovery after Katrina; Person of Interest in Custody; Trump Rivals Talking China and Foreign Policy. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired August 29, 2015 - 08:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: A sheriff's deputy as we said shot and killed overnight. Officials this morning are calling Deputy Darren Goforth's death unprovoked and cowardly. They say Goforth was returning to his patrol car after pumping gas in Harris County when someone apparently walked up behind him and just shot him.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: All right, police tell us this is the killer. This is the still from the surveillance video there. There are now reports from affiliates in Houston that this man has been either taken into custody or someone has turned themselves in.

CNN has not been able to confirm either of the reports, but we are making calls. What we do know is Deputy Goforth was a ten-year veteran of that department. He leaves behind a wife and two children. The department, the community and his family are mourning his loss.

Let's bring CNN's Nick Valencia is here now with us. Nick, we have done this many times.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Many Saturday mornings we are talking about a deputy shot and killed.

BLACKWELL: And this according to the sheriff seems to have been unprovoked.

VALENCIA: Unprovoked. They are calling it a brutal attack. They are using the word assassination on the sheriff's deputy. He did not see it coming according to what police are saying. You are talking about local affiliate reporting, KTRK saying a suspect has been taken into custody earlier this morning at his mother's house.

A separate CNN affiliate, KPRC, saying that a person of interest has voluntarily turned themselves in. CNN cannot independently confirm that. We have been on the phone all morning long with the Harris County Sheriff's Office. They can't independently confirm that information. But they do say they are grieving and mourning the loss of one of their own.


VALENCIA (voice-over): A manhunt is underway in Harris County Texas after a suspect gunned down a sheriff's deputy at a Houston area gas station. Police say it appears to be an unprovoked execution-style killing.

DEPUTY THOMAS GILLILAND, HARRIS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: The witness called 911 to let us know one of our deputies had been shot. Multiple units arrived. Ems arrived on scene -- unfortunately, the deputy passed.

VALENCIA: The deputy is identified as 47-year-old Darren Goforth, a ten-year veteran who was married with two children.

SHERIFF RON HICKMAN, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS: I have been in law enforcement 45 years and don't recall another incident this cold- blooded and cowardly.

VALENCIA: Authorities say the uniformed deputy was refueling his patrol car Friday evening when this man caught on surveillance camera came up behind him and opened fire.

GILLILAND: The deputy then fell to the ground. The suspect then continued over to him and shot the deputy again multiple times as he lay on the ground.

VALENCIA: The suspect then fled the scene in a red or maroon-colored Ford Ranger pickup truck also caught on surveillance camera.

GILLILAND: It's a very bizarre incident. You know, people understand, you know, that it's tough enough being a deputy and being law enforcement in this country right now. But for people the way that they are right now, I have no words for what this type of person did.

VALENCIA: There's no apparent motive in the case. The deputy had investigated an accident about a half hour before the attack. Police are looking into whether there's any connection.

GILLILAND: So I think it's important to ask for the prayers of our community, for this deputy, his family and our department family.


VALENCIA: You can see the emotion on those deputies' faces, very difficult to watch them overcome with emotion. The FBI local field office there in Houston as well as the Texas Department of Public Safety and the U.S. Marshall Service are now all involved in this investigation of this deputy that who was ambushed and killed in Harris County, Texas -- Victor and Christi.

PAUL: I think one of the most disturbing parts of it is hearing how he shot him, the deputy fell and then he stood over him and kept shooting at him when he was still down.

VALENCIA: Without warning he goes into the gas station, comes on out and unseemingly had no idea that the gunman was there.

PAUL: And you have to think that the incident itself may be on surveillance video as well.

BLACKWELL: Hopefully that will offer some insight to catch this guy.

PAUL: Nick, thank you.

BLACKWELL: Let's bring in CNN law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes. Tom, I want to start with these conflicting reports we are getting from two CNN affiliates, the locals there, one saying that the suspect is in custody. The other saying that a person of interest has turned himself or herself in voluntarily. We'll let you expound on this. In the minutes and hours after something like this, there is a bit of fog of the moment.

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think, Victor, the media is in a rush to get a story as quickly as they can get it. And oftentimes we don't know if it is accurate right away. So I think there's time for the police to confirm that, but I would like to make a comment.

You know, I know the sheriff used the term it was unprovoked attack. Look where we are at in our society when a police officer trying to arrest a criminal, if the criminal kills him, is that a provoked attack? If a police officer stops a motorist for a violation and the motorist shoots him, is that a provoked attack?

[08:05:05] You know, I think that's where we are at. The police officer is unprovoked because he was absolutely not engaged with another person, wasn't trying to do an enforcement action. What a sad state of affairs for our country that any other kind of action of a police officer somehow provokes an attack from an assailant.

BLACKWELL: Yes, and I think probably hours later if that sheriff were part of this conversation, he might agree with you. That maybe the use of the word unprovoked was not the one they should have used. Let me ask you about the person of interest, who in this case would you be interested in speaking with beyond the obvious witnesses there?

FUENTES: Well, I think obviously the persons of interest, you know, if they do have somebody that they are interviewing or interrogating right now, that obviously would be critical. But, you know, as I mentioned earlier, I think they had a very good witness account.

A witness that was close enough to say that the gunman was shooting but never said a word. So that means that the witness was very close at hand to know that the person didn't speak when shooting the bullets into this police officer.

BLACKWELL: We've got this still of this suspect. I understand the decision not to release the full video of the murder. But what goes into the decision to release more than they have?

FUENTES: Well, I think there's a concern of possibly the witness is in the video somehow because of a security camera. There could be other concerns. I personally would like to see as much as possible put out because sometimes you can tell someone that knows another person can tell by the way they walk or the way they stand or the way they hold that gun. It may tell them a lot about who that is and recognize them just from that alone. I know during the Boston marathon bombing people called in because they would recognize the baseball hats that the brothers were wearing knowing if them and that itself helped identify them.

I would personally like to see more. I know there's sensitivity about it as well as sensitivity of the officer and his poor family, his widow and two children now that have to endure this tragedy.

BLACKWELL: All right. Tom Fuentes, CNN law enforcement analyst, thank you so much.

FUENTES: Thank you, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Also breaking this morning, an Egyptian court convicts three journalists from Al Jazeera on charges related to terrorism. We'll have a live report next.

PAUL: And Tropical Storm Erika headed for the U.S., but look what it did to the Caribbean. It killed more than a dozen people at this point. We'll give you that fact as well.

And speaking of storms, you know, ten years ago today the disaster of Hurricane Katrina claimed the lives of 1,800 people. We have a live report for you from New Orleans. Stay close.



PAUL: We are tracking a breaking story out of Bangkok this morning. We have new pictures of an arrest they made there earlier today. This happened a few hours ago. Thai police taking a man into custody they say is connected to the bombing of the popular shrine, the one that killed 20 people a couple weeks ago.

We have just learned this morning police said they found ball bearings in his apartment where they found him that are similar to the ones used in that blast. They also found several fake passports.

Saima Mohsin is following the moves from Bangkok here and she joins us on the phone. Saima, earlier today, police said they thought this was the main suspect in this case. They are backtracking on those earlier reports now, what changed?

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Yes, Christi, I think it's the difference between wanting to find their man and showing the country and the world that they have their guy and perhaps speaking a little too soon.

They have now clarified that they believe this man is definitely involved in the two bombings, both at the shrine that killed, as you say, 20 foreigners and Thai local people. It's a hugely popular place amongst international tourists.

And of course, there was a second bombing where thankfully no one was injured the next morning near a taxi pier. Now I'm standing outside the apartment where this man was arrested. It's a small apartment on the third floor of a building in the southern of Bangkok.

I'm surrounded by police vans, ambulances that are called in to be on standby. There are dozens and dozens of forensic analysts, police teams and military accord. There's the military in charge of the government here in Thailand after that coup last May.

They are now conducting their forensic examination still well into the evening here. We understand that they have been here since early morning Saturday local time. It's now the evening here in Bangkok.

They are still here in Bangkok, it is evening time, and they are taking things away piece by piece. They found four bearings. They found metal canisters, similar to the bomb that was planted at the shrine. They found dozens and dozens of fake passports.

It's a huge pile. It's astonishing. They thought this man was a Turkish national at first because they found a Turkish passport on him. It turned out to be fake and they found many more fake passports. It's a big mystery as to who is actually behind this attack -- Christi.

PAUL: All right, Saima Mohsin, boy, a very active scene there. Thank you so much for bringing us the latest.

BLACKWELL: Let's now go to another breaking story out of Egypt this morning. Three Al-Jazeera journalists have been sentenced to at least three years in prison. They were charged with aiding the Muslim Brotherhood, which is now considered a terrorist organization in Egypt.

Al-Jazeera is calling it a heavily politicized and unfair trial process. One of the journalists, Peter Greste, was freed earlier this year and was sentenced in absentia. He joins us from Sydney, Australia.

Peter, good to have you on the phone. I've read your reaction on Twitter, but 140 characters is limiting. Expound if you would your reaction to this decision.

PETER GRESTE, AL-JAZEERA JOURNALIST, SENTENCED TO PRISON BY EGYPTIAN COURT: It is absolutely devastating. We always suspected that there may be a possibility of a guilty verdict only because we felt that the trial needed so save some facing this. But we never really expected there to be a custodial sentence.

[08:15:00] Every single independent observer in that trial and there were many from diplomats to independent legal experts to journalists themselves, not one of them have seen any evidence that suggested we were guilty of anything, much less responsible for anything moral or unethical.

We did absolutely nothing wrong. We were working as good, responsible journalists and so --

BLACKWELL: I hate to interrupt, but for people who don't know the fuller story, explain how you were arrested in the first place.

GRESTE: Well, I was in Egypt only for a couple of weeks before the agent, security agent burst into the hotel at the Marriott Hotel where we were staying and hauled me out and my colleague was in another room. And they also went to my other colleague's home in Cairo.

And they threw us into some police cells and accused us of collaborating with the Muslim Brotherhood and broadcasting false news to support the Muslim Brotherhood.

Now we were working as journalists covering a very difficult time in Egypt's history, a very tumultuous political period, but at the time we were working there, the Brotherhood had not been declared as a terrorist organization.

With cues back to terrorism, it was not declared a terrorist organization. The Brotherhood six months earlier had formed the first legitimately elected government. It was overthrown in a popular uprising.

There was a lot of turmoil around the time, but any responsible foreign correspondent would do what we were doing, and that's sparked the Brotherhood to comment for reactions with the changes taking place in Egypt at the time.

BLACKWELL: So there was a trial last year, the three of you were convicted and then you were granted a retrial. Are there appeals that are still available?

GRESTE: Well, there are -- there is a possibility for appeal to what is called -- Egypt's highest court and that's available to my colleagues in particular. But there is also the possibility of a pardon from the president.

The president said in the past that if it comes to this, he will give pardons to those involved. People around the world have been watching this very closely to see just what Egypt's commitment to principles like the rule of law, due process, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and so on.

And what we have seen is a grave injustice and a failure in the commitment to those very principles. So President Sisi has the chance to correct this and to show respect for those principles. We hope that he will do that.

BLACKWELL: What is your message to the other two journalists that were sentenced in Sydney, but what is your message to them this morning?

GRESTE: My heart goes out to them and their families. I know very well what the conditions are like in prison. I know what they have to go back to. Believe me, it's no cake walk. This is not a fun place to be.

And I know what it's going to be for their families, too. I know one of the families. He's got two young children and a baby boy. In fact, his first birthday was yesterday.

And the other was married only a month or so ago, so he leaves a new wife behind. And this is absolutely devastating for all of them. And let's get back to the first principles here, they are innocent men, pure and simple and shouldn't be in prison.

We never should have been arrested in the first place. None of us should have to carry convictions as terrorists. It's an injustice whichever way you look at it.

BLACKWELL: Indeed. And the people from around the world, from the U.N. to the U.S., to the U.K. and on down the list have called this a tragedy, an attack on freedom of the press across the globe. Peter Greste, we thank you for your time this morning.

GRESTE: It's a pleasure. Thanks for talking to me.


PAUL: Tropical Storm Erika is barreling through the island nation of Dominica. Look at this. The tropical storm is still frightening, the power that it packs and is now heading toward Florida. We'll tell you what we know.

Also, remembering Hurricane Katrina ten years later, the lives destroyed. I know these images you remember. We're going to take you to New Orleans and see what's changed.



BLACKWELL: Tropical Storm Erika ripped through this country. This is the island of Dominica in the Caribbean, 20 people killed here. This dumped a foot of rain in fewer than ten hours causing mudslides, floods here. You can see the homes here wiped away.

Roads wiped away, too, and there could be more to come. Erika is now turning to Florida and Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency. Meteorologist, Allison Chinchar, is with us. Allison, new advisory at the top of the hour, what have we learned?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, we have learned that the storm is falling apart. We didn't anticipate that it would weaken considerably because it has hit some pretty high elevations over Hispaniola.

That really doesn't do much for the storm in terms of intensification. So again it's quite obvious when you look at it on the radar, it's a shrunken size that has really weakened. The question now becomes whether it can re-intensify and what track does it ultimately take?

Now still at this point, the National Hurricane Center is expecting it to slide just along the western edge of the state of Florida so places like Naples, the Keys, up along Tampa, and eventually up towards Pensacola. Again, it would not make it to the Keys until early Monday morning and then likely up towards the panhandle not until Wednesday morning. And here's more of an exact track of that.

Again, hitting right around Naples, 2:00 a.m. early Monday morning, hitting around Tampa just shortly by mid-Tuesday morning, and again, if the track holds together, it should slide up towards Panama City by early Wednesday morning. Again, rain will still be the biggest issue that we have with this storm.

[08:25:01] The winds not necessarily a factor but it's the wind. We're talking estimates around 4 inches to 6 inches in most places. But some areas, Victor, could exceed over 8 inches of rain.

Again, the ultimate question, Victor, has really been where does this storm go? But the end result is no matter where you are in Florida, you want to be prepared for this. Now, they have had folks in Miami that have been sandbagging and taking some precautions along the area just in case.

Even though now the track looks like it may end up going a little bit further west. Everybody does need to be on guard just in case the storm slides up there.

BLACKWELL: All right. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.

PAUL: We all have those images that we remember from Hurricane Katrina. Look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The power went out at the superdome where 30,000 people are holed up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who was at your house with you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife. She's gone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm in the water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me see you where I can see you.


PAUL: What are the images now ten years later? We'll take you live to New Orleans to see what has changed and maybe what hasn't.


[08:29:41] PAUL: Ten years ago today we were all transfixed, weren't we, in front of our TVs watching what was happening in New Orleans and along the coast there. Hurricane Katrina slamming the Gulf, it just devastated that area. As you know, it destroyed so many lives that ruined businesses. It wrecked buildings.

Well, the city has made some progress certainly since then. And really, you can contribute that to -- or attribute that to the resilience of the people who made it possible.

CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux is there. Suzanne, it's so good to see you today. I know that you've been talking to a lot of people down there. And one of the ways to really get normalcy I think back for a lot of folks is once you can get the kids back into school. Tell us what you saw at one of the schools that you visited.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure, you know, that's an excellent point when you talk about it because we talked about restoration and resilience of the city and the community and the people. And you mentioned the levees and you talk about coming back into your homes, but one of the things that was so important was for families to get their kids back into to school to get that routine to feel that sense of normalcy and really that there was a place for them in this city where their children could grow and have a future.

What has happened here in New Orleans is a dramatic shift in the public school system. Take a look.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: First day of school at New Orleans Bricolage Academy.

JOSH DENSEN, FOUNDER, BRICOLAGE ACADEMY: Yes, first grade. Did you have a great summer? Great -- hug, high five, hug. I'll take it.

What are you looking forward to the most?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Awesome. Love that.

MALVEAUX: Now in its third year, Bricolage is already one of the most sought after charter schools in the city.

DEBRA STEVENSON, BRICOLAGE PARENT: When I drop my babies off, I leave here with peace of mind because I know they're going to be taken care of.

MALVEAUX: Debra Stevenson has already seen a remarkable change in her two granddaughters, Journey and Sky.

STEVENSON: Last year Journey won top reader award. Sky is a wonder woman. She can do anything, and she tries everything because they give them that courage.

MALVEAUX: For Melissa Beese, innovation and creativity is what her son Tristan needed.

MELISSA BEESE, BRICOLAGE PARENT: I'm thrilled that we were able to choose the type of school that would be tailored to my child.

MALVEAUX: Josh Densen, founder and CEO of Bricolage says the student body is about 50/50 black and white from both affluent and disadvantaged families. DENSEN: We believe that bringing kids together from diverse

backgrounds is a great way to increase equity, to increase empathy, and to catalyze creativity.

MALVEAUX: When Hurricane Katrina hit in August of 2005, the public schools of New Orleans were considered among the worst in the country. The storm damaged and destroyed most of those schools, including ones like this, abandoned for ten years.

The state of Louisiana seized more than 100 schools, fired about 7,500 teachers, and turned the buildings over to independent school operators or charters.

DEIRDRE JOHNSON BURELL, EXEC. DIR. ORLEANS PUBLIC EDUCATION NETWORK: There was a narrative that was created that somehow everything and everyone here was broken.

MALVEAUX: But some community leaders say this experiment has destroyed community schooling and has disproportionately benefited whites over blacks.

ANITA BROWN, MANAGING EDITOR "NEW ORLEANS TRIBUNE": This brand of reform that has been employed in New Orleans and then touted across the nation as some kind of miracle is simply not working.

MALVEAUX: But a study by Tulane University shows under the charter school system, student achievement is up. With 63 percent of students passing state assessment tests in 2014 -- a 30 percent increase since 2005. And graduation rates are up from 56 percent to 73 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could everybody do that?

MALVEAUX: Initially charter schools were able to recruit the most desirable students. Now parents can rank their school choices and go through a centralized lottery process.

DENSEN: We have no influence over who attends Bricolage at all.

MALVEAUX: Parents say when a spot unexpectedly opens up at a good school, they run.

THERESA FIELDS, BRICOLAGE PARENT: When we got in, there were two spots left, and I said thank you, Lord. This one is for my baby.

MALVEAUX: But some students do not get any of their choices leaving some parents to question whether the program really works.

JANE KATNER, BRICOLAGE PARENT: I don't know that we're succeeding necessarily in that the same sort of quality education is available for everyone.

MALVEAUX: Ten years now after the storm.

Densen: We've gone from a school district that was an F to a school district that's about at a C level.

MALVEAUX: How was your first day?

New Orleans is still trying and won't stop until they get that A.



MALVEAUX: And one thing that is happening is that those teachers, those fired teachers -- 7,500 of those public schoolteachers are now bringing their case to the U.S. Supreme Court. That is just a part of the battle of education reform.

I want to bring in the head of the National Urban League Mark Morial who joins us this morning.


MALVEAUX: Good morning. Glad to have you here.

MORIAL: Great. Thank you. Thanks for having me.

MALVEAUX: First of all, talk a little bit about the charter school system because I talked to a lot of people in the community and there's 90 percent of the public school students who are African- American. There's a real sense among some in New Orleans that the black children are losing out. That they are not doing as well as the white children under the charter school system. Is that what you're seeing?

[08:35:08] MORIAL: Well, this is what I'll say. I think we should judge the school reform effort in this city by whether it gets results for kids. And I do see higher high school graduation rates. I do see a higher college enrollment rate.

But that's not to suggest that there's some miracle here. A miracle would be a 100 percent high school graduation rate. A miracle would be the end to economic educational disadvantage.

But secondly, and your piece sort of identified this, the way in which school reform was birthed in this city has left a deep scar, particularly on the middle class and the black middle class because we unceremoniously -- unceremoniously dumping 7,500 teachers when their homes were destroyed, when they were exiled to places like Houston, Dallas, Atlanta and Baton Rouge. It's just always going to be.

MALVEAUX: How do you bring them back to the fold? And how important is that that they are again a part of this community?

MORIAL: I think that the teachers now almost ten years later simply deserve to be compensated for the loss of their jobs. I think that would be the fair result. I know they've been fighting the battle in the courts.

But I don't think that we should ever lose sight that we have to evaluate whether it's a charter school, a public school, a union school, a non-union school -- are they getting results for all the kids? The truth in this city is that disadvantage still remains, but the other truth is that there have been 38 new school buildings and a lot of changes that are yielding some benefits.

So it's really, if you will, a mixed, if you will picture.

MALVEAUX: Yes. We have seen some beautiful schools. Mark talk to the big picture here because we see the French Quarter, we see the businesses, tourism -- that's to be expected that it's come back for the last 10 years. But even your organization's own statistics right, talk about the fact that half of African-American kids are still in poverty and more than half of the black men are still unemployed. So how do you bring the black community into this wonderful resilience and to this recovery?

MORIAL: In the second half, and I think this recovery is at half- time, in the second half there's got to be a commitment to equity in inclusion in every element of the recovery going forward. I do not say let's celebrate, I say but let's commemorate and let's continue. That's what this community needs. And inclusion, for those that remain locked out and left out, has to be the defining principle of the next phase in this recovery.

MALVEAUX: All right. Thank you -- Mark Morial.

MORIAL: Thank you Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Appreciate it. Christi back to you.

PAUL: Suzanne, great report. Thank you so much.

And by the way, tonight, CNN's Anderson Cooper is returning to the Gulf Coast for a CNN Special Report "KATRINA: THE STORM THAT NEVER STOPPED". You can see it right here on CNN 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

And you know, there's still work to be done. Just in that piece you saw. For information on how you can help support New Orleans, go to

BLACKWELL: Now, we have heard Donald Trump go after the U.S.'s approach to China. At his latest event the GOP frontrunner renewed his rhetoric and now his rivals are stepping up their criticism. They did it in dueling events just miles apart.

Next, we'll talk a little more about Trump but also the others and how he's affecting their approach to foreign policy.


[08:42:24] BLACKWELL: Pushing forward on this breaking news out of Texas, the deputy who was shot and killed late yesterday at a gas station. We're getting some new information about the search for that killer.

PAUL: Yes. And Nick Valencia has been talking to authorities there all morning. And they have given you some new information? NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We just got off the

phone with the Texas Department of Public Safety. Sergeant William Canard tells me the person of interest believed to be the gunman has been taken into custody. We are told that the mother of this person taken into custody had information that led her to believe that her son was somehow involved in this shooting.

So she called the Harris County Sheriff's Department and had them according to the spokesman that I spoke to, had them come talk to her son. That person has now been taken into custody. The quote from Sergeant William Canard with the Public Department of Public Safety is, "I believe he's the alleged gunman. Yes, according to the information that I have."

We'll be continuing to monitor this story and try to get you the latest information. But that's the latest from the Texas Department of Public Safety -- guys.

PAUL: And we have to think that when we see that image of the suspect, the image of what happened is also on that surveillance tape. And that is what -- part of what is so disturbing here because as we understand it, the deputy was simply walking back to his car. He was shot in the back of the head and then the suspect stood over his body as he fell to the ground and continued shooting?

VALENCIA: The description of this is just -- there's no other way to put it, it's just ruthless. He's standing over the sheriff's deputy, continuing to fire after he essentially ambushes this deputy.

The deputy Darren Goforth had just come from an accident 30 minutes before. Investigators were saying earlier this morning that they were trying to piece together whether or not that accident investigation had anything to do with this shooting.

But this man that you're looking at there on your screen, a ten-year veteran had a wife and two children goes inside the gas station while he's fueling up his patrol car. He's in uniform. And he exits that gas station only to be ambushed and assassinated according to deputies with the Harris County Sheriff's office.

But we are learning now guys from the Texas GPS that a person of interest believed to be the alleged gunman is now in custody.

BLACKWELL: All right. Nick Valencia, thank you so much.

PAUL: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Quick break, we'll be back.


[08:48:11] BLACKWELL: All right.

The race for 2016 now: Donald Trump heading to Nashville today. He spoke at a big event in Massachusetts and Trump made sure to note that it was not a fund-raiser at a fundraiser. One of the talking points of the night concerned his views on China.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You look at trade pacts, China eating our lunch, Japan like we're children. Mexico both in trade and at the border, what they're doing to us is terrible. And I have great respect for China, for Japan. I love the people. I love the people of Mexico. I love Hispanics. Nobody, nobody loves Hispanics like I do.

I probably have more than almost anybody working for me. They come in, they buy apartments, they give me a fortune, I love them. I love them.


BLACKWELL: All right. Let's bring in CNN politics executive editor Mark Preston. We have with us CNN politics analyst Josh Rogin.

First, before we get to Trump, I want to start with two foreign policy statements made. Two important addresses in South Carolina. We heard from Governor Scott Walker, also from Marco Rubio. Let's listen to a bit of those.


GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R-WI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When the cyber- attacks that happened of late, why would we be giving one of our highest honors, an official state visit to a country that's been involved in something that's directly attacked our own government. It just doesn't make any sense. If anything we should be taking them to the woodshed on this issue. Not to the White House.



SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Obama has hoped that by being more open to China we would make them a more responsible nation, but it has not worked. We can no longer succumb to this illusion that more dialogue alone with China and its current rulers will narrow the gap in values and interests that separate us.

[08:50:10] And that's why while I do not believe that we should cancel Xi Jinping's visit to Washington next month, I also do not believe that we should be rolling out the red carpet for him. This is an opportunity to speak bluntly to this authoritarian ruler, not to treat him to a state dinner.


BLACKWELL: Hey, Josh, I want to start with you and Governor Walker. He controversially cited his rank as Eagle Scout as a qualification to be president and he said at the CPAC meeting if I can handle a 100,000 unit of protestors I can take on ISIS. Did he say anything yesterday that would win over some of the skeptics?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICS ANALYST: Right. Governor Walker's task in his speech yesterday is the task of most of these GOP primary candidates which is to simply convince the voters that they're competent and capable to be commander in chief and leader of the free world. It's what we call the commander in chief test.

Now all of these candidates are governors or senators or businessmen. None of them have the experience of being president. None of them even have the experience of being secretary of state. So what they have to do is basically portray themselves as feasible as commanders in chief. To put forth a general broad position that criticizes the Obama/Clinton foreign policy as weak to promote a more assertive foreign policy and to spell out broad outlines.

Governor Walker is not trying to get into nuance. China bashing is something that all the candidates on the GOP side can put forth pretty plausibly without facing a lot of criticism in their own caucus. The -- nobody really votes for president on China or foreign policy. You can't win on foreign policy but you can lose on foreign policy. A lot of this is just to get to that bar and that's what I think we're seeing here.

BLACKWELL: Yes. What we heard from Governor Walker was -- there was some red meat there. There were larger themes. But Mark, to you, we heard some specifics and directed pointedly at -- pointedly rather I should say at China. And he did end some nuances there.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well no doubt. I mean as Josh says, it's en vogue right now to be very critical of China. They are in many ways probably the biggest threat or one of the biggest threats right. When you look at the United States, certainly when it comes to dealing with the currency and what have you.

You know, when you look at Marco Rubio and Scott Walker, what is interesting between these two gentlemen is two things. One is they are considered very serious candidates and they are very much at risk right now of losing more oxygen to Donald Trump. Donald Trump has sucked out every bit of oxygen of this Republican race.

And when you have the likes of Marco Rubio and Scott Walker who are, you know, losing a little bit in the polls, they need to get back on track. So that's the first thing.

The second thing is you have this really dynamic and we haven't seen in the last couple of months but we saw back in the spring where Marco Rubio had made a comment about governors not being ready to lead the nation when it comes to foreign policy, but yet someone like him is a senator who sat on the foreign relations committee did have it.

So when you had these dueling speeches yesterday, it's certainly set up an interesting narrative.

BLACKWELL: Yes, added that if he's the nominee, Hillary Clinton will not be able to lecture him on China. Josh -- back to you, have we heard a foreign policy statement more

than what we just heard in that sound bite from Donald Trump? Any indication that we're going to get more?

ROGIN: I mean Donald Trump to his credit has turned the debate towards foreign policy by bringing it up in almost every speech. He talks a lot about it often in contradictory terms. What his plan for ISIS on Monday, Wednesday and Friday is to surround the oil with U.S. troops and then sell that oil in the open market.

On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturday his plan is to bomb the oil field and send in Exxon to repair them quickly -- right. It doesn't really make a lot of sense from a policy perspective but it really is really great red meat for the base and it's forced all of these other candidates to really get into the discussion.

He's also been huge on bashing Jeb Bush for having seemingly shifting positions on the war in Iraq and for not being tough enough and having enough (INAUDIBLE) on foreign policy -- right. In a GOP primary debate, there's very little political upside, very nuanced, cautious policy. It's a simple calculation for these candidates.

They should get to the right of Hillary Clinton, they should reestablish the Republican Party as the pro-military, assertive, aggressive daddy party. And that's the stance they should go into in the general election. That's how they all think. And the fact that Donald Trump got there first has really pushed the other candidates to race to that exact position even if they don't endorse his policies which as I said don't really make a lot of sense.

BLACKWELL: All right. Josh Rogin, Mark Preston -- we've run out of time for this one. But I thank you both.

ROGIN: Thank you.

[08:55:01] PAUL: We're following breaking news this morning. This Texas deputy shot and killed. Police now say they do have somebody in custody. Those details are still unfolding -- straight ahead.


PAUL: Breaking news out of Texas where a sheriff's deputy was shot and killed, assassinated as (INAUDIBLE) while pumping gas in Harris County. The killer -- I want to show you here on surveillance video, took off from the scene. Authorities confirming just moments ago that a person of interest is now in custody and here's video from that arrest. They say he is believed to be the gunman.

BLACKWELL: And a New York TSA screener has been charged with sexually abusing a female passenger. This officer at LaGuardia airport is accused of telling a college student that she needed to go into the bathroom for a secondary screening. And that's where he allegedly touched her inappropriately. The screener has been fired and faces up to a year in jail.

PAUL: And he resigned -- the man who ran the dating site for adults where it was affected by a massive computer hack. Noel Biderman stepped down from his post as CEO of Ashley Madison's parent company Avid Life Media.

[09:00:02] BLACKWELL: All right. That's it for us. We'll see you back here at 10:00 Eastern for CNN NEWSROOM.