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FBI Looked into Florida Shooting Suspect Prior to Attack; Mom Hides in Pantry to Eat Candy. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired January 8, 2017 - 02:00   ET

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


[02:00:00]

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GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A disturbing past comes to light. Authorities reveal what they know about a gunman's past struggles with mental health before the deadly shooting that took place in Florida.

A call for closer ties: Donald Trump says the United States should warm up to Russia and insults any one who thinks otherwise.

Plus, a winter storm converges on the northeastern part of the United States, dumping heavy snow on parts of the South.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm George Howell, CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

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HOWELL: Law enforcement officials say the suspected shooter of Friday's attack at the Ft. Lauderdale airport has confessed to planning that massacre. The suspect, 26-year-old, Esteban Santiago, could face death penalty if proven guilty.

Prior to the shooting, he traveled to Florida from Alaska, where authorities say he was already on the FBI's radar. CNN's Dan Simon has more now from Anchorage, Alaska.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm standing in front of a motel for transients. This is one of Esteban Santiago's last known addresses. We know that investigators were here for several hours talking to people who work here as well as speaking to some of the residents and recovering evidence as well.

This place could be an important part in terms of piecing together Santiago's last few days before he went to Fort Lauderdale and carried out that shooting. As far as investigators are concerned the posture that they seem to be taking here in Alaska is that they did everything according to protocol.

That's when Santiago went to the FBI office last November, said he was hearing voices, that they did everything according to the book, first, by referring him to the local police department and ultimately facilitating a mental health evaluation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARLIN L. RITZMAN, FBI ANCHORAGE FIELD OFFICE SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: In November of 2016, Mr. Santiago walked into the Anchorage FBI office to report that his mind was being controlled by U.S. intelligence agency. During the interview, Mr. Santiago appeared agitated, incoherent and made disjointed statements.

CHRISTOPHER TOLLEY, ANCHORAGE POLICE DEPARTMENT: The NYPD was contacted by the Anchorage FBI requesting assistance with a mentally ill person having disjointed thoughts.

When APD arrived on scene, they were informed by investigating agents, Mr. Santiago had arrived at the FBI building asking for help. Santiago having terroristic thoughts and believes he was being influenced by ISIS. Santiago had a loaded magazine on him but had left his firearm in his vehicle prior to contacting agents.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON: We also know that Santiago had multiple interactions with Anchorage police over the past 12 months. One of those interactions resulted in a pair of charges, a criminal mischief charge for Santiago allegedly broke down a bathroom door at his girlfriend's house as well as an assault charge on his girlfriend.

Now those charges were said to be dismissed in March assuming Santiago lived up to the court's conditions.

The bottom line here is there's seems to be a host of mental health issues and investigators are going back and looking at all their interactions with Santiago to see what, if anything, they missed -- Dan Simon, CNN, Anchorage, Alaska.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Dan Simon, thank you.

Relatives say that Santiago was a changed man when he returned from a tour in Iraq. CNN spoke with his brother, who lives in Puerto Rico. He says, despite the voluntary mental health evaluation, Santiago still did not get the psychological help that he needed.

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SANTIAGO'S BROTHER (through translator): I want to clarify this for the Puerto Rican people and for all the people in the world, that the federal government already knew his reaction.

They already knew the thoughts that he was having and how they weren't good. He himself went after them to ask for help. And they did nothing. They had him hospitalized for four days. And then they let him go.

How are you going to let someone leave a psychological center after four days, when he is saying he is hearing voices, that the CIA is telling him to join certain groups?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Well, the investigation certainly continues. But, at this point. CNN has learned the names of two people, two of the five people killed in this attack.

Terry Andres (ph) was on vacation. You see him here. He was a ship worker from Virginia, he was celebrating with his 63rd birthday with his wife. A friend says, quote, "He was the ultimate family man."

Olga weltering (ph) was a great-grandmother from the state of Georgia. She flew into Ft. Lauderdale with her husband; they were going on a cruise together. Her priest says that she was joyful, loving and caring.

This story coming into the newsroom from Iraq: --

[02:05:00]

HOWELL: -- several news agencies are reporting a car bomb in Eastern Baghdad that has killed at least 12 people. It's wounded dozens of others. This information coming to them from police and medics. The blast reportedly hit a vegetable market in a mainly Shiite district.

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U.S. President-elect Donald Trump says the United States should build closer ties with Russia, even after learning how hard Moscow worked to influence the 2016 presidential race.

On Saturday, Donald Trump tweeted this, quote, "Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. Only," quote, "stupid people," he says, "or fools would think it is bad. We have enough problems around the world without yet another one.

"When I am president, Russia will respect us far more than they do now. And both countries will perhaps work together to solve some of the many great and pressing problems and issues of the world."

Trump also says he will get together with Britain's new prime minister in a few months. The exact date not yet announced.

He tweeted, quote, "I look very much forward to meeting Prime Minister Theresa May in Washington in the spring. Britain, a longtime U.S. ally, is very special."

Now to Ivory Coast: the president of that nation says the government has reached a deal to end a mutiny by soldiers. But some of those soldiers have rejected that deal and they are still fighting. They say they were promised salary bonuses for bringing the president into power but they never received the money.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I confirmed my agreement to take into account the demands relative to the bonuses and the better living and working conditions of the soldiers. I would like to repeat that this way of making demands is not appropriate.

Indeed, it tarnishes the image of our country after all of our efforts in economic development and diplomatic repositioning. Having marked my agreement, I call on all the soldiers to go back to their barracks in order to allow for these decisions to be executed calmly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Those soldiers are asking for written proof that they will get paid.

Ghana swears in a new president. Nana Akufo-Addo took the oath of office in a lavish ceremony in that country's capital on Saturday. Dozens of African leaders attended, including the outgoing president. The 72-year-old former opposition leader pledges to cut taxes and to boost the economy.

All right, now time to talk about a powerful winter storm that has hit the Southeast and part of the United States, it is barreling up the East Coast right now. It has turned roads into ice rinks in parts of the South. It is being blamed for dozens of vehicle pileups and car crashes.

The snow, the ice, the winds, they have knocked out power to thousands of people and have grounded thousands of flights. It's not only North America that is dealing with the deadly winter weather. Parts of Eastern Europe also feeling the grip of cold.

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[02:10:00]

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: This is in China. If you have ever seen ice sculpting before, well, this is the place to do it. This is the Harbin Ice Festival in China, north of Beijing.

Artists around the world competing to carve these masterpieces out of blocks from the nearby river. Wow, just amazing to see. There was actually one man, this guy right here, was actually creating an ice sculpture that was resembling a man doing tai chi.

HOWELL: My goodness. That takes skill.

VAN DAM: That takes some serious skill.

HOWELL: Derek Van Dam, thank you so much.

HOWELL: It can be tough to get some alone time when you are a parent. So one mom did what she had to do to eat some candy in peace. But even then, her kids weren't far away. This is a video that has gone viral, as Jeanne Moos reports for us.

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ASHLEY GARDNER, COVERT MOM: Say, hi.

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Need an escape from the kids?

This mom's solution went viral.

ASHLEY GARDNER: Mom desperately needed a treat to get through the rest of the night. So I am hiding in the pantry, eating a treat.

Is that wrong?

MOOS (voice-over): Well, Ashley Gardner did get some mean comments. But the Internet was smitten with the end.

ASHLEY GARDNER: They don't ever go away. They want everything you have.

MOOS (voice-over): When she moved her phone down to the crack of the door, that's when viewers cracked up.

GARDNER: See. She's always there.

INDIE GARDNER, QUAD: Hi. Hi.

ASHLEY GARDNER: Hi.

MOOS (voice-over): Three "Hi's," one eye. But she wasn't alone.

How many of them are there on the other side of the pantry door?

Four 2-year olds, nicknamed the Quad Squad. The Gardners of Orem, Utah, struggled with infertility for eight years until IVF paid off.

TYSON GARDNER, QUADS' DAD: Well, they split. And so here we are with quadruplets, two sets of identical twins.

MOOS (voice-over): Ashley titled her video, "Sums Up Motherhood in 34 Seconds."

ASHLEY GARDNER: I mean, my video was about being in the pantry, eating a treat. And a lot of other moms identify with the fact of just going to the bathroom for 30 seconds in peace, which never happens.

MOOS (voice-over): And who wants to eat Twizzlers in the bathroom?

The Gardners are no strangers to publicity. They blog about their family life almost every day and are even on a reality show about parenting.

MOOS: You did get some comments like, "You had them, deal with it," kind of stuff.

What do you say to those people?

ASHLEY GARDNER: They obviously don't know what it's like to be a parent.

MOOS (voice-over): The daughter peering through the crack, by the way, is named Indy. Her nickname...

ASHLEY GARDNER: Indy Pie.

MOOS (voice-over): And because she likes to say, "Hi," sometimes they call her Indy Pie Hi.

INDIE GARDNER: Hi, hi.

MOOS (voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN.

INDIE GARDNER: Hi.

MOOS (voice-over): New York.

INDIE GARDNER: Hi.

ASHLEY GARDNER: Hi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: I get it. Sometimes you just need a minute.

(LAUGHTER)

Thank you for being with us here. For CNN NEWSROOM, I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta. "MARKETPLACE AFRICA" is next. And I'll have your world headlines at the bottom of the hour.

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