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Disturbed Ex-marine Killed 12 People in California; A Man Stabs People in Busy Melbourne District; Taliban Participates in Historic Meeting; World Leaders Remembers World War I. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired November 9, 2018 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN HOST: We are following the breaking news out of Melbourne, Australia. Police there responding to a major incident in a busy shopping district.

I'm George Howell at CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

Here's what we know so far. One person has died and two others wounded after a stabbing attack in Melbourne. Police shot and detained a man with a knife, chaos happened Friday afternoon in a very busy shopping district. Police say they initially responded to reports of a car on fire and then were confronted with a man who was threatening them with a knife.

Let's go live to Hong Kong. Our Alex -- Alexandra Field following the story. And Alexandra, what have you learned?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: George, we have recently heard from Victoria police, they say that they are not looking for any additional suspect but they are looking for a lot more information.

This is just the early stages of the investigation. At this point they are saying that there is no known connection to terrorism. They're trying to figure out what could have motivated an attack that certainly must have seemed random to the people who were in that busy neighborhood. A shopping neighborhood full of stores and restaurants on a Friday afternoon at around 4.30.

A lot of what happened has been captured on video. People standing around with cell phones. The initial calls to the police came in for a car on fire and reports of people being stabbed. Officers are now saying that they responded to find that three people had been stabbed. One person died as a result of those injuries.

They then confirmed that the suspect who was wielding a knife, we did see a lot of video of that confrontation between the suspect and police officers. He lunges at them several times. Police tried to contain him. There is a tussle. There is a skirmish. Ultimately, though, it's the police who shoot him in the chest before detaining him.

He is now in a hospital said to be in critical condition. A bomb unit was called to clear the scene. People obviously being kept far away from the scene of the crime. The scene of that deadly attack. But police are asking people to come forward to reach out to them if they were there, if they were witnesses, if they have any video or photos that could be important to the investigation as it now proceeds, Georgia.

HOWELL: Alexandra, I have another question for you. But I want you to stand by as we play in full this video. We are getting some new video in. We just played it a moment ago. But this a video where you see the fire right there, that car on fire.

You can also see as the camera pans back over here in a second. You could see officers there you see on the ground there as well. This is my first time to view it in full here. But you could see officers there in the background. Seem to be, you know, -- to be interacting with -- with presumably the person behind all of this.

Alexandra, tell us more if you could just about where this happened and when it happened. Again, this busy shopping district, a lot of people on the streets at that time.

FIELD: Yes, and you can see bystanders who were in the background there. George, I've even seen some video on social media where one man picks up a chair trying to confront this man wielding a knife to push him back. You do hear on some of these videos, people in the background shrieking.

Obviously, this is an attack that's creating alarming chaos on the streets. Certainly, something that no one would anticipate in this neighborhood in the middle of the afternoon. That why police still need to work to find out what motivated it.

We don't know a lot about the sequence of events here. We do of course see that car that is on fire. It's not clear when the car burst into flames. It is not clear exactly when the man wielding a knife could have begun stabbing people who were seemingly out on that streets.

So, police do need to piece this together. They also need to learn a lot more about the man they shot and later detained. Of course, we do know that he's in critical condition. That will obviously impede efforts to speak to him to interview him directly.

But, of course, at this point, George, investigators would be reaching out trying to find family members and those who know him, and they'll of course be looking into social media any digital trail trying to glean any information that they can about him and what motivated this.

Again, we do need to say that police are saying that at this point there's no known connection to terrorism but they are underscoring the point that they are keeping an open mind as they proceed with the investigation.

HOWELL: Alexandra Field, thank you again so much for the reporting. We will keep in touch with you again as CNN continues to, you know, bring in new information of what happened there. Thank you.

HOWELL: Here in the United States, people are coming together for prayer vigils after a mass shooting in the state of California. Twelve people killed inside a bar there.

And as for the man behind the shooting, police have identified him as a 28-year-old Ian David Long, that's the gunman. A former marine as well. He took his own life. Authorities believe he posted a message on Facebook saying that he hopes after the shooting that people will call him insane.

[03:05:02] Our Kyung Lah has more on this developing story and we warn you many of the images you'll see, many of the sound you will hear, it is graphic and disturbing.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT: This is the scene inside the Borderline Bar just moments after a gunman opened fire. Terrified patrons took cover and escaped as soon as they had a chance. Officers who were on scene just two minutes after the first reports of the shooting about 11.20.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're making entry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're making entry--

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got multiple people down. We're going to need a lot of ambulance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are multiple shots being fired in the back-northwest area.


LAH: The man shooting was a 28-year-old gunman armed with a 45 caliber Glock handgun. The bar was packed with a crowd of 100 young people who would come for college country night. Many of them students from nearby Pepperdine University.


GEOFF DEAN, SHERIFF, VENTURA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: It appears he walked up to the scene, he shot the security guard that was standing outside. He stepped inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These big pops, pop, pop, pop. I saw him point to the back of the cash register. And he just started kept -- he just kept firing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He shot the doorman first and then he turned to the young cashier. And he shot her.


LAH: Victims were carried out one by one. And desperate lifesaving efforts took place in the parking lot. Still many remained inside.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our friends got the bar so we started screaming open the window so we could get out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're still missing two people. They were in the bar last thing we know, and we haven't heard anything. We can't find them.


LAH: Ventura County sheriff's deputy Ron Helus was one of the first officers to enter the bar. He was shot several times and would not survive. For 15 minutes first responders frantically pulled victims away from the club. Inside the gunfire had stopped. parents began rushing to the club searching for their children.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am in dark right now. And it's actually tearing me up.


LAH: Like Jason Coffman who later found out his son Cody was among the 12 victims.


JASON COFFMAN, CODY COFFMAN'S FATHER: Only he and I know how much I loved him, how much I miss him. God, this is so hard. Son, I love you much. Heavenly father, just please, be with me.


LAH: The investigation at this point now focuses on motive and frame of mind. FBI investigators have been at the shooter's house. A house he lived in with his mother. It's not that far away from the crime scene. And they've been pulling evidence out of the house trying to figure out what would have motivated this young man.

His mother was speaking to people in the neighborhood. She told them that she was worried about her son. That she wanted him to get help. That se refused. She scared that she worried her son might hurt himself. She never did say whether she worried he might hurt others.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Newbury Park, California.

HOWELL: Kyung Lah, thank you. And in Kyung's story we heard from Jason Coffman whose son Cody was killed in the shooting. Now hear from a woman who credits Cody for saving her life.


SARAH ROSE DESON, SHOOTING SURVIVOR: We frequent went along a lot. And I was with my friend who we've lost. Yes. I heard the gunshot. I remember looking it over and kind of seeing what happened. And I turned, I was near kind of facing towards the entrance and I saw the shooter with his gun drawn at the person at the register and I was -- I don't -- my friend Cody yelled get down. I fell to the floor and I hid behind him. I tucked myself in his -- in

his back. And when I -- I was on the floor I looked back, I see a smoke bomb going off. I saw like a bunch of sparks and then smoke everywhere and I think it was Cody who yelled or told -- it is a smoke bomb. He got up.

And honestly, he's such a hero. He stood up and said to us, get out. And I don't even remember in this blur but I ran for my life. I got up -- by the grace of God, I got up through the front entrance where I had seen the shooter.

[03:10:08] I guess he had gone to the other side of the building. And so, he was inside and I ran out. And I just ran down some stairs and face planted in the parking lot. And I was laying then I was like, he's behind me, like, I'm gone. I just got up and I kept running.

But I heard, when I was inside, I was there for the first rounds of the gunshots and it was -- it was traumatizing. I was able to get to a gas station. And I heard the second round of fire. I unfortunately found out this morning that my friend Cody had -- he didn't make it out.


HOWELL: Cody Coffman just turned 22 years old. And his father says Cody was talking to U.S. army recruiters about a career in the military. He was also head umpire for a local baseball league.

The death toll might have been higher if not for the action of a sheriff sergeant who lost his life.

Our Jason Carroll has more on this incredible hero


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One person advising there's a subject inside shooting.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just minutes after the first calls to 911 were made, and as gunfire was still ringing out at the Borderline Bar, Ventura County Sergeant Ron Helus and another highway patrol officer ran towards certain danger.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to the main entrance on the left with two CHP.


CARROLL: Sergeant Helus radioed to dispatch that he was entering the bar.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got multiple people down, we need a lot of ambulance and fire.


CARROLL: Soon after his radio goes silent.


GARO KUREDJIAN, CAPTAIN, VENTURY COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: He epitomizes what a cop does. When he heard the gunfire, he ran in. He ran in and no doubt saved others from being victimized.


CARROLL: Officials say shortly after the officers engaged the shooter, the gunfire inside stopped. Helus was badly hurt.


GEOFF DEAN, SHERIFF, VENTURA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: On going through the front door the sheriff sergeant was struck multiple times with gunfire. A highway patrol officer stepped back and secured the perimeter until additional units arrived and they rescued the sergeant out of the line of gunfire.


CARROLL: Helus was taken to a nearby hospital where he succumbed to his injuries in the early morning hours. Today he is being hailed a hero.


DEAN: Tonight, as I told his wife he died a hero because he went -- he went in to save lives, to save other people.


CARROLL: Helus was a 29-year veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office. He was a firearms instructor for recruits at the sheriff's basic training academy and taught gun safety to civilians. His colleagues says he had hoped to retire in the next year or so.

His Facebook page showed he was outdoorsman. Helus leaves behind a wife and a son. He was speaking with his wife when the final call to duty came.


DEAN: Sergeant Helus was having a conversation with his wife on the phone as he does several times during the shift. And he said to her, hey, I got to go, I'll handle a call. I love you. I'll talk to you later.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CARROLL: Today, a heartbroken community came together to say thank you and goodbye as Helus' body traveled down the street he once patrolled.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I look that man my life, and I mean, I was terrified for somebody that wasn't stuck in the situation to come and risked his life and end up dying for me, I'm truly blessed.


HOWELL: That was CNN's Jason Carroll, reporting in his own hometown. A place that he said he'd never would have imagine something like that happening there but there it was. It happened.

The first meeting of its kind underway in Moscow. Why the Taliban is sitting down with Afghan government officials. CNN is live in Moscow ahead.

Also, world leaders coming together in the French capital for a solid weekend commemorating the end of World War 1. CNN also live in Paris ahead.

Also images just moments ago in the State of California, the Wolves (Ph) fire and the winds there, they are not helping. We'll have it all for you as Newsroom continues. Stay with us.


HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom. I'm George Howell.

Historic talks are taking in Moscow between representatives of the Taliban and the Afghan high peace council. Other Central Asian and Middle Eastern countries are also attending the summit.

And following it our senior international correspondent, Fred Pleitgen is live in Moscow. Fred, given the amount of violence that we've certainly reported on in Afghanistan, is there any sense that these talks could help to ease tensions there?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, certainly not in the short-term, George, but they still are historical talks nonetheless. Because this is the first time that a delegation of the Taliban is taking part in these kinds of international talks.

Now they came in at the Taliban political office in Doha to take part in these talks. And the interesting thing about these talks is that the Afghan government itself is actually not taking part in the talks. But they allowed their high peace council to take part in an independent capacity.

And you're seeing these pictures from just a couple of minutes ago from Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister opening that meeting. Essentially what the Russians are saying is that none of this today is going to lead to a decrease in violence immediately. But certainly, that is the long-term goal.

It's interesting because the Russians have already given this conference in what they believe might be follow up conferences, too, which it could achieve more a title called the Moscow conference. Which, as you said, has the Taliban on board, has the high peace council on board.

Apparently, there's also an American representative who is observing these talks and then there are several Central Asian countries. So, there's certainly is the chance that somewhere down the road these talks could contribute to possibly decreasing the violence which as you said, has been increasing a lot over the past, not even the last month, but for certainly the last year or maybe year and a half, with the Taliban certainly gaining ground there in Afghanistan.

So, while today's talks might not yield very much immediately, they certainly are very, very significant in the greater scheme of things and of course trying to decrease violence in Afghanistan, George.

HOWELL: Fred, these talks taking place there in the Russian capital. How significant is that with regards to Russia's desire there, certainly, you know, reemerge as a global power.

PLEITGEN: Yes. Well, I think it's very significant for these talks to take place in Moscow and for these talks to actually work out this entire meeting to be taking place in Moscow.

Keep in mind, let's say, I think in August, the Russians already tried to put on these talks, at one time before and a lot of the key members then pulled out and the talks had to be postponed but now they are taking place.

[03:20:04] And it certainly does show that Russia is gaining a lot of significance and reemerging, if you will, as a major player on the international stage. Especially as you look at the flurry of conflicts that are taking place in Central Asia, and of course, the greater Middle East region.

We've had -- the Russians are already pushing talks on Syria, for instance, starting their own set of talks outside of the Geneva process which many people believe have a lot more influence in the Geneva process itself. And now, obviously also trying to get involved and trying to make some sort of headway in Afghanistan.

It's quite interesting because Sergey Lavrov when we saw before he opened that meeting and he said that he thought somewhere down the line or he hoped that somewhere down the line these talks could open a new page in Afghanistan's history.

Obviously, that's something a lot of powers and a lot of leaders have tried to achieve in the past. And certainly, and pretty much since the late 70s that has remained something that simply has not worked out.

So, the Russians obviously hoping that maybe down the line they might be able to yield something. But also, the fact that these talks are taking place in Moscow so many countries are actually taking part in these talks, certainly shows that Russia is gaining a great deal of influence on the international stage, George.

HOWELL: We'll see the result of these talks. Our senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen, live for us in Moscow. Fred, thank you for the reporting.

Now, to Paris. A grand but solemn weekend ahead there in France. World leaders coming together in the French capital, marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

Our man in Paris, Jim Bittermann, live there in the French capital. And Jim, if you could, tell us about what's ahead with this weekend and why it's so symbolic of course around the world.

JIM BITTERMANN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, George, as to why, I guess we have to start off with World War I itself. It was for the French no doubt one of the most significant events of the 20th century. There were over 40 million casualties from that war. There are 1.4 million French soldiers alone lost their lives. And totally somewhere between 15 and 19 million people were killed in World War I.

So, because of that and because of the significance of it, the French government has spent time a great deal of time planning here for this weekend, the 100th anniversary of the end of that war.

Emmanuel Macron, himself, the president, has spent the last week since Sunday on what he calls an itinerance, which is a kind of a wandering homelessness and he's been going throughout eastern France where many of the great battles took place and spending each night near the battlefields and commemorating the events with all kinds of musical events and young children coming out of schools and that sort of thing preparing remembrances of the Great War.

Now, this weekend, he will be joined by 60 world leaders including President Donald Trump, but also Russian leader Putin and others from around the world.

One of the big major events will come on Saturday afternoon when Angela Merkel from Germany, the chancellor will sit down Mr. Macron in what is called the armistice train car in Compiegne, France. The train car where the armistice was signed. It is a replica of the train car because it was actually destroyed in World War II.

But in any case, they'll have a ceremony there. Angela Merkel will make a speech. And later, on Sunday, which will mark the exact 100th anniversary at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 when the armistice was signed. The 60 world leaders will gather at the Arc de Triomphe behind me which is the site of the Unknown Soldier, grave of the Unknown Soldier here in France.

And there will be a number of speeches made including one by the president of France. Later on, that same day, President Trump will go to an American cemetery outside of Paris and he'll make a speech there for what is called Veterans Day in the United States. George?

HOWELL: And we will be covering it of course all here live here on CNN. Jim Bittermann live for us in Paris. Jim, thank you so much for the reporting.

A great deal has changed in the centuries since the armistice was signed including the way we view what came to be known as the Great War.

CNN's Nick Glass looks at how artists and historians are redefining our perception of World War I.

NICK GLASS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The trains of course are so much faster now. Just whistle through the station that left some 40 miles north of London. The station building itself hasn't changed that much in a century or so. The big difference on that summer's day way back in August 1914 was the main platform was crowded with men in uniform going off to war.

[03:24:58] The way we remember the war has suddenly changed. The images have been tinted. We began to see the war in color for the first time.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Private Walter Flanders and Private Bill Johnson. They had a tragically short war, and at least two chaps both killed by the same shell and buried alive.


GLASS: He's trying to identify all of the men on the platform and find out what happened to them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Corporal Arthur Ernest Boardman, he's the first man to fall.


GLASS: So far, he identified 11 of the men in the photo. Eight of them never came home. Their names are on the wall memorial just 50 yards from the railway station. Corporal Boardman, Private Flanders and Johnson, among a long list of other casualties. Just colorizing old black and white stills makes a story more accessible to a younger generation. Doing the same to moving footage has been infinitely more dramatic.


PETER JACKSON, DIRECTOR, THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD: It brings it to life. I mean, as a someone who has a long-term interest in this World War, these last two or three years, when we've been restoring these footages it had been incredibly exciting. I'm stunned. You see the faces, you see the people, you see the humanity.


GLASS: Peter Jackson's documentary, "They Shall Not Grow Old," gives us a rare insight into what it was like to fight in the trenches on the western front. Both electrifying, dunny, and sobering. A film about camaraderie and animal savagery. We learned what it was like to be an ordinary soldier.

This is the Welch grandfather Peter Jackson never met, Sergeant William Jackson was machinegunned at the Battle of the Somme in France in 1916. He was the lucky one he survived. Private Ted Ambrose didn't. He was 19 when he died. His suitcase was returned from the Somme to his mother in England. She could hardly bear to open it. And it was quickly confined to her attic for most of the 20th century.

Ted's pipe and tobacco, his cigarettes, including army issue red two (Inaudible), a locket with pictures of himself and his sweetheart and the service medals he never lived to received. The artifacts amount to a rare discovery, a poignant time capsule.

We began the centenary of the Great War in 2014 with the motto at the Tower of London filled with a sea of ceramic poppies. Some of them have now migrated across the Thames to the Imperial Was Museum, the cascade, a weeping window spilling down the building.

Britain's Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy has written a new poem to mark the centenary of the armistice, "The Great War," she writes, "is the wound in time. Will we ever remember it with quite so much intensity again."

Nick Glass, CNN, London.

HOWELL: Nick, thank you very much. Still to come on Newsroom, another mass shooting in the United States. Twelve people dead and the community dealing with a great deal of grief. of course, we'll have that story for you ahead.

Also, in the State of California, residents certainly fear that fire that you see there, the danger of course evacuating homes, we'll have that story for you next. Stay with us.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN NEWSROOM SHOW HOST: Welcome back to our viewers around the world, you are watching CNN Newsroom, I'm George Howell. The headlines we're following for you this hour, one person has died and two more wounded, this after a stabbing attack that took place in Melbourne Australia and this is video that we just recently got in. You could see exactly what is happening there on the streets in the busy shopping district. Police say they were responding to a car on fire when the suspect started threatening people with a knife. You see some interaction there with what we believe to be the suspect, of course investigators trying to figure out what happened there. We will bring you more information as we learn it.

Investigators also trying to discover why a U.S. Marine veteran decided to open fire inside of a nightclub filled with college students in the state of California. The gunman killed 12 people late Wednesday night before then turning the gun on himself. Surgeons in Australia, has successfully separated 14-month-old twins

in Bhutan. Bawa and Nema were joined at the stomach and grew up facing each other. They flew to Melbourne Royal children's hospital last month to meet with the surgical team there ahead of their surgery.

The states once again struggling with another deadly mass shooting. Our Scott McLean has more now from Thousand Oaks, California.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Authorities are learning more about the shooter at the borderline bar identified as 28-year-old Ian David Long. Long, United States Marine Corps vet served as a machine gunner and was honorably discharged in 2013. A neighbor says Long, was intensely private not sociable and his mother worried about what he might do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He actually live in fears.

MCLEAN: She told you that. What did she tell you exactly?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want to go into it. She was just worried about him so much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got multiple people down. We need a lot of ambulances.

MCLEAN: Police say Long walked into the bar just after 11 p.m. Dress in all black, armed with a 45 caliber Glock 21 and an illegal extended magazine. Students ran for the exits and others ducked for cover as he started shooting. Ventura County Sheriff deputies arrived within minutes. Sergeant Ron Helus was the first to go inside, exchanging gunfire with the suspect and he was shot multiple times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 54 year old, 29-year veteran of the Sheriff's office. He is married and with -- with a grown son. And as I said several times he went in there to save people and made the ultimate sacrifice.

MCLEAN: Helus and 11 others were killed and many more wounded. Long who also died at the scene shot himself?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm very emotional right now.

MCLEAN: Jason Coffman's 22-year-old son Cody was at the bar at the time of the shooting. Jason says he tracked Cody's phone afterward and waited agonizingly for word of his son's whereabouts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I talked to him last night before he headed out the door. First thing I said, please don't drink and drive, the last thing I said, son I love you. That is the last thing I said.

MCLEAN: Cody Coffman was one of the 12 victims in the shooting. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My first born son. Only he and I know how much I

loved -- how much I miss him. Oh, God, this is so hard. Son, I love you so much.

MCLEAN: Some of those inside the bar when the shots rang out have survived a mass shooting before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was in Las Vegas. (Inaudible) mass shooting, as well as, it is probably 50 or 60 people in this building at the same time. It is big thing for us. We're family and unfortunately this family got hit twice.

MCLEAN: Perhaps early sign of trouble with the suspect came in April of this year when the police were called out to his home for a disturbance.

[03:35:03] The sheriff said that he was irate when deputies arrived and they ended up leaving at some point, because they didn't think that he was a risk or danger to himself or the public. We're also hearing from friends, though, that say his personality seemed to change after a trip to Europe in 2016. He became distant and he stop returning calls but even though his friends never thought that he was capable of something like this. Scott McLean, CNN, Thousand Oaks, California.


HOWELL: Scott, thank you. Also in the state of California, wildfires, two of them, destroying everything in their path. To tell you about fires like this one. North of the City of Los Angeles. The so called hill fire has forced thousands of people to evacuate. It closed down parts of the freeway in both directions. And so far it burned nearly 3,000 hectares.

Also in northern California, the opposite side of the state, the authorities evacuate people as the so-called camp fire spreads east toward the city of Jericho. Out of control flames had already consumed more than 8,000 hectares and it is growing at an alarming rate, a rate of about 80 football fields a minute.

Tens of thousands of residents have already been forced from their homes on Thursday and have no idea what is left. The family of a reporter for CNN affiliate KEAF was among those who had to run for their lives. They recorded the terrifying escape. Terrie Javid- Morales narrates. Listen.


TERRIE JAVID-MORALES, REPORTER, CNN AFFILIATE KEAF: We are evacuating Paradise, California. We can't even see. We don't know where the fire is. So please, please pray for us that we get out of here OK. Oh my god. My god.

My family in distress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is unreal. JAVID-MORALES: As they navigates their way through the ash and smoke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are we going to do?

JAVID-MORALES: Trying to find a way out of the flames. My family and their pets making a narrow escape for their lives, but sadly two of their cats didn't make it.

How many cats do we have in the car? We're going to --

Young children surrounded by destruction, chaos and confusion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope mom is going to be all right. It is so hot.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It'll be all right. We just -- we just -- we will be Ok.

JAVID-MORALES: My family clinging to prayer hoping they were driving away from the fire, not toward it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is everywhere.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll be OK, just pray.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything is going to be gone.

JAVID-MORALES: They say by the grace of god those prayers were answered.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We made it through.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you my brothers.


HOWELL: Terrifying ordeal. Let's bring in our meteorologist, Derek Van Dam. Derek I am just thinking that, covering fires like that, the concern about trying to get down the road, can you get across as the fire cuts you off. The air quality so bad. To see the images of this reporter talking about her family trying to escape, it is just terrifying to think about what people are dealing with. The winds are not helping.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Difficult to hear as well. It is just amazing how quickly the scene can change in front of you in a matter of seconds as well. I think these images really speak for themselves. I saw one testament of a family trying to evacuate out of the paradise California region and talking about propane tanks exploding as they were trying to leave town and evacuate successfully to get to a safer area. Look at this wall of smoke associated with the camp fire. This is obviously a time lapse, so you could see how it billows up in the sky.

And by the way, people could see that wall of smoke from 250 kilometers away. Our satellite imagery really proves that. Here's the fire. Pay attention to the time frame stamp on the upper right- hand corner of the screen here. Notice the smoke associated with this traveled about 200 kilometers to the coast. We know that the fire started at 6 a.m. in the morning and it reached the coastline by about noon. So you do the math there. That wind traveled at least 35, to 40 kilometers per pushing that wall of smoke all the way to the coast and beyond.

[03:40:06] You can imagine some of stronger wind gusts in the valleys exceeded 50 - 60 kilometers per hour at time. That is why it is so difficult to fight these fires, because they change the moment's notice, the strong winds and low humidity level and the dry vegetation across the area, because of the lack of rain in California. We talk about that so much. That is simply the case.

We have a high wind threat that is continuing. It has relaxed somewhat in the Sacramento Valley. Still advisories in place. But in southern California this is what we're really concerned about. I'll draw on this map once again. Look at the direction of the wind coming off shore. This is known as Santa Ana winds that traverses over the Santa Ana mountain range across these area. Los Angeles and Ventura County could see wind gusts in excess of 100 kilometers per hour this morning.

And there are actually mandatory evacuations taking place in those two counties. We have a red flag warning in place for Sacramento Valley in Southern California that is ongoing through other early parts of the weekend. Lots of firefighting efforts taking place. Over 2,000 firefighters on the ground at the moment, including 747s with fire retardants trying to prevent these fires from spreading, including the hill fire in Ventura County. That one is over 4,000 hectares and unfortunately with both of these large fires burning out of control, George, these scenes will become all too familiar into this weekend. Back to you.

HOWELL: All right Derek, thank you. We'll stay in touch with you as well in this.

Protesters filled the streets in cities around the United States, still ahead, New York, Chicago, Washington and here in Atlanta, hundreds of people protesting, plus the U.S. midterms are not yet over. We look at that historic election of the first woman to become Muslim woman in Congress. Stay with us.


HOWELL: The sudden firing of the U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. It has certainly created a great deal of uncertainty about the future of the investigation into the Russia election interference. That uncertainty fueled protests in the streets of several cities. People demanding the investigation be protected. Their fear is that Sessions replacement not Whitaker will try to short circuit the probe. He own record is being against it, calling it ridiculous and fishy.

[03:45:00] Source tell CNN, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is drafting his final report on that probe. And lawyers for Donald Trump are reviewing the U.S. president's written answers to Mueller, but now there is a new acting Attorney General who may exert a great deal of influence over the matter. CNN's Pam Brown, reports.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN NEWSROOM SHOW HOST: A day after Jeff Sessions was ousted as Attorney General, questions surround the future of the Russia investigation. CNN has learned his replacement acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker has no intention of recusing himself from the Russia probe. According to a source familiar with his thinking. Despite being openly critical of the investigation as a CNN commentator.

MATTHEW WHITAKER, LEGAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: We see a scenario where Jeff Sessions is replaced with a recess appointment and that Attorney General doesn't fire Bob Mueller, but he just reduces the budget so low that his investigation grinds to an almost a halt.

BROWN: And during a radio interview last August before his appointment to the Department of Justice.

WHITAKER: I think it is fishy, but I just hope it doesn't turn into a fishing expedition. I will jump up and down for the limitations on that investigation to continue, because that is what we hope to be.

BROWN: The "Washington Post" reports Whitaker likely would reject a Mueller subpoena request to interview the President. President Trump spent the morning with Whitaker where he gave off camera remarks on a ceremony for new Supreme Court justice, Brett Kavanaugh. He later returned to the White House. Meanwhile Trump himself openly threatening the fate of the probe, claiming he could get rid of everyone involved in the Mueller investigation.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I could fire everybody right now, but I don't want to stop it. Because politically, I don't like stopping it. It is a disgrace. It should have never been started, because there was no crime.

BROWN: but critics say it is not just Whitaker's comments on Mueller, they point to his qualifications too. Whitaker's resume includes a stint on the advisory board of world patent marketing a company that had to pay a 26 million dollar settlement earlier this year for scamming the customers. The President is now looking for a permanent replacement for Attorney General. Possible candidates, Senator Lindsey Graham who accompanied Trump today. Graham was once critical of Trump desire to fire Sessions.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Jeff Sessions is fired there will be holly hell to pay. BROWN: But he since change his tune. Also on the list, New Jersey

Governor Chris Christie who was spotted at the White House today for prison reform roundtable and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. It nominated Christie who was a prominent campaign surrogate for Trump could face similar calls to recuse himself for the Mueller investigation that Sessions did.

But unlike Sessions, there is no indication he had contact with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign or transition. In the wake of regaining control of the House and after the firing of Jeff Sessions, key Democrats on Capitol Hill have already sent letters to talk Trump administration officials asking them to preserve any documents or evidence related to the Russian probe, as well as the firing of Jeff Sessions. They say, this is an effort to preserve any Mueller's evidence in the event. The administration tries to interfere in the investigation. Pamela Brown, CNN Washington.


HOWELL: Pamela Brown, thank you. Now it has been three days since the U.S. midterm elections in two key races in Florida still undecided. Both the U.S. Senate and governor's contest could be had for a recount. The governor of that state, Rick Scott, who was also running for Senate. He alleged voter fraud without proving any evidence and accused Democrats of trying to steal the election and in a tweet the U.S. president supported the governor's repeating of those allegations of election fraud. Again, no evidence to support it, though. Ryan Nobles has the latest for us.

RYAN NOBLES, WASHINGON CORRESPONDENT, CNN: It certainly seems that every time we checked the updated numbers in these big races in Florida for U.S. Senate and for governor, the margins between the two candidates are getting just a little bit closer and Democrats are particularly encouraged by the results in the race for U.S. Senate. Bill Nelson, the incumbent senator has cut the lead up by a Rick Scott who was the current government by more than 40,000 votes since, what we saw on election night and that means the margin between the two candidates is less than a quarter of a percent.

If that holds by Saturday, that means an automatic hand recount will take place at an exhaustive recount of some of these important ballots and then Democrats really believe that there's a possibility that Nelson could overtake Scott for the lead. Now the race for governor that the gap is a little bit broader, but it is still very close.

Andrew Gillum was the mayor of Tallahassee actually conceded on election night to Ron DeSantis, but now as the votes continue to come in. He has cut the lead to now less than half of a percentage point and if that holds that would mean an automatic machine recount. Now, Democrats feel that their chances are much better in the Senate race than they are on the governor's race. They remained -- they remain realistic in their chance of four or a victory in the governor's race, but still they want every vote counted.

[03:50:09] The next big benchmark we are waiting for is Saturday. That's when the votes have to be headed in to the Secretary of State and that's one will know if we're on the precipice of another historic recount here in the sunshine state. Ryan Nobles, CNN, Tallahassee, Florida.


HOWELL: Ryan, thank you. Some of the races that have been decided include the first ever election of two Muslim American women to Congress. One of the, Rashida Tlaib, who is blazing a trail from America to the West Bank. CNN's Oren Liebermann spoke with her family about her victory and what it means to them.


OREN LEIBERMANN, CNN CORESPONDENT: The victory party was all but assured in Michigan's 13th district. Rashida Tlaib knew she would likely be the first Muslim woman and the first Palestinian in Congress when she won the primary back in August, the Republican run against her in the general election.

Even so her victory is historic in Washington D.C. and in the West bank. In the village of (Inaudible) every revisit of the Tlaib family home was greeted with coffee and sweets, a traditional celebratory snack. Her cousin shows us around the family home. Tlaib was born in Detroit, but she has visited often over the years. Her family says you also came back here for the wedding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (TRANSLATOR): We as her family are very proud of her as Palestinian Arabs and Muslims.

LEIBERMANN: Tlaib is proud of her past main roots, in interviews she has drawn parallels between civil rights struggle in the U.S. in the 1950s and 60s and the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. She was accused of flip flopping in a key issue for voice and support for trusted solution and independent Palestine sitting next to Israel to support for a single integrated state made up of Arabs and Jews. That cost her the backing of liberal Jewish advocacy group J-stream. Put her at odds with political authorities here in the West bank.

In her ancestral village family members just hope that she can help shine a light on the Palestinian cause.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (TRANSLATOR): We as Palestinian need someone like her to pass our message to the American administration and people that don't know much about our lost rights.

LEIBERMANN: Tlaib run to the left of the Democratic establishment scoring endorsement from the progressive justice for Democrats. Her victories part of a new wave of politics and the new wave of diverse women heading to Washington D.C. Oren Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.


HOWELL: Oren, thank you. The 90's pop group Spice Girls are hitting the road all the details after the break, so you'll be there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HOWELL: Welcome back. The iconic 90s girl group Spice Girls have

announced their reunion tour, but not all members say the group of the group say they will be there. Anna Stewart has the details for you.



ANNA STEWART, CNN PRODUCER: They've been missing action for six years, but they're back. The spice girls, showing that girl power has staying power with a surprise announcement, they're returning for a reunion tour next year, minus hush spice.

[03:55:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come and sit down. The spice girls are here.


STEWART: Came as a shock through social media, for Spice Girls fans around the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All going to be in black tuxedo. Now ask yourself, is that a black tuxedo?

STEWART: While teasing fans, there may be more surprises.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just take things slowly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See how it goes. See how Melby behaves herself.

STEWART: And Spice Girl fans waiting to see if Posh Spice, Victoria Beckham has a change of heart.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Victoria doing the tour -

STEWART: Beckham announcing by Instagram she won't be there for the reunion which she says will be amazing and fantastic. For six years, the Spice Girls caught the spirit of the late 90s, dominating the pop world. They were identified with a brand and the message of girl power.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were the ones teaching younger girls. And I had been a bit of message of girl power, that we weren't hearing it before and every girl grow up being like yes, I can do whatever I want.

STEWART: A generation of girls remember growing up with the Spice Girls.

And some were inspired to dream big like this young fan growing up to show her own girl power. Adel.


STEWART: Tell me the significance in this decade.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is one of the (inaudible).


STEWART: Alison is a Spice Girl super fan and one of the biggest collectors of Spice Girls memorabilia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got babies there and I got Ginger here as you can see it is little bit different. Stamps on it. It is a different color.

STEWART: It is not an everyday outfit I would say. With an exhibit that opened in London, featuring thousands of Spice Girls memorabilia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are literally hundreds and thousands of collectors around the world.


STEWART: But the real collectibles, for Spice Girl fans might just be the memories of their favorite songs.


Anna Stewart, CNN, London.


HOWELL: Ana, thank you. Thank you for being with us for CNN "Newsroom". I'm George Howell at the House ted built, CNN World Headquarters, Atlanta. The news continues with my colleague Bianca Nobilo, live in London. You are watching CNN, the world's news leader.