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A Gunman Opens Fire in California Synagogue; One Week Since The Sri Lanka Deadly Easter Sunday Terror Attacks; Spain's Political Crossroads. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired April 28, 2019 - 03:00   ET



NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Natalie Allen, and this is CNN.

Worshippers targeted, a gunman opens fire in a California synagogue on the final day of Passover. We're at the scene of this horrific attack. Also, Sri Lanka remembers marking one week since the deadly Easter Sunday terror attacks there.

Also, Spain at a crossroads, voters head to the polls for a general election that could see a far right resurgence.

These stories are all ahead this half hour. Hello everyone, I'm Natalie Allen from CNN Center Atlanta. This is CNN Newsroom. And we begin in California where gunman has killed at least one person, a woman and wounded several others at a southern California synagogue.


It happened in the city of Poway on Saturday, officials saying a 19- year-old suspect, the college student, is in custody and he reportedly wrote a manifesto. It references past shootings and claims responsibility for arson also at a California mosque. That happened just a week ago sum nine miles away.

U.S. President Donald Trump says Saturday shooting looks like a hate crime.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE U.S.: America's heart is with the victims of the horrific synagogue shooting in Poway, California just happened. Or entire nation mourns the loss of life, prays for the wounded and stands in solidity (ph) with the Jewish community.

We forcefully condemn the evil of anti-Semitism and hate which must be defeated. Just happened, must be defeated.


ALLEN: CNN Sara Sidner is at the scene of the attack.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The city of Poway, California is in mourning after a 19-year-old suspect opened fire in a synagogue shooting those who were there to celebrate the end of Passover.

This is the eighth day of Passover, a day when Jews remember those who have died, their relatives who have died. Now there is fresh pain after one woman was killed, three others injured, including the Rabbi, one of the Rabbis here at the synagogue.

Now, what we know about the suspect is that he was captured a couple of miles from the synagogue at least 19-years-old. And police say that he actually was engaged by an off duty border patrol agent who happened to be here inside the synagogue when the shooting took place.

This also happened on the very same day six months ago of the worst and most deadly anti-Semitic attack in recent U.S. history. That happened in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the Tree of Life synagogue. And that mayor reached out to the mayor of Poway and here's what he said.

STEVE VAUS, POWAY MAYOR: They'd be standing with us, they'd be praying for us and they're having a vigil there starting shortly for the community of Poway.

SIDNER: The police also say that they are looking in to what they are referring to as an open latter that they believe was written by the suspect. In that open letter, the suspect refers to other attacks on other places of worship including the devastating attack in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life synagogue and (inaudible) at the mosque there.

They are also diving in to his background; looking in to if he is affiliated with any other particular groups.

At this point, they have not found any affiliations. We should also mention that this is a community shocked by this in part because there is a very strong interfaith community here.

If you will look behind me, you will see the synagogue. Just down the street, just down the street, just walking distance there are two churches, one of them an orthodox church that will be celebrating Easter, eastern Easter if you will tomorrow.

We do expect a lot of folks bringing flowers, a lot of people showing that this community is strong and this community plans on sticking together through one of their most tragic days. Sara Sidner, CNN, Poway, California.


ALLEN: Joining us now is CNN law enforcement contributor Steve Moore. Steve, we always appreciate you joining us, I want to begin though with what we learned from the sheriff from San Diego that they had recently met with this synagogue and talked about security.

And there was an off-duty armed border guard on the premises who ran after that shooter. How might this have helped that situation?

[03:05:00] STEVE MOORE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTRIBUTOR: It really likely could've saved a bunch of lives. What we've learned with active shooters is that the first time they are confronted by organized resistance and organized resistance can be one person with a gun.

They usually stop what they're doing and either end their own life or in this case run away. And either way you've saved lives.

ALLEN: Right. We know that though he drove away and then ended up calling 9-1-1 and turning himself in. This was a 19-year-old; never have a criminal record before. What do you make of that?

MOORE: It's funny -- I don't know whether there's a pattern here. But I worked in a shooting at a Jewish community center where when I interviewed the guy who had shot the kids in this case, I asked him did you not mean to go in and go out in a blaze of glory? And he goes yes, I did.

But I chickened out. And you're wondering if somebody who is cowardly enough to shoot unarmed people maybe just didn't have the guts to go through with his entire plan.

ALLEN: Right. We know that one woman is dead, a girl and two men were shot and wounded. The suspect is described as a 19-year-old college student, as we mentioned no criminal record.

Also, he did mention allegedly there was a manifesto attached to his name we should say and talked about the Pittsburgh shooting at the synagogue, talked about the New Zealand shootings at a mosque assuming to support that.

So, again this is someone with no criminal record but decides to act and take out such a -- do such a heinous act. It just doesn't make sense. That we see the people too that did this in New Zealand and Pittsburgh, also there no criminal record.

MOORE: And the ones I have worked, no prior criminal record. It seems to be again a pattern of how these people -- this is a kind of common theme with people who want to commit mass violence whether they base their mass violence on religion, race, or just wanting to go in and shoot people in the school.

I mean what you're finding is there's almost always a manifesto. And they're always looking back at the last attacks and trying to be bigger, trying to make their name more infamous. And it's becoming something that's almost predictable in these cases.

ALLEN: Right. And that's part of it and that's why we try not to say these shooter's names often to bring to attention because that is in part what they want, isn't it?

MOORE: Absolutely. And I love the fact that we're not using the name because you're denying them the reason that they did it in the first place, notoriety for being something, for being something if only for being something evil so that their name will live on. Well, let's take that away from them.

ALLEN: Steve Moore, we appreciate your insights. Thank you so much for joining us. Now we turn to the terror attacks in Sri Lanka. It has been one week since the Easter Sunday massacres. The archbishop of Colombo held mass inside his home after suspending services at the nation's catholic churches. Many of the 253 killed were celebrating Easter mass when those bombs all exploded. Sri Lanka's president, prime minister and opposition leader were among those at the archbishop's Sunday mass.

CNN's Nikhil Kumar joins us from the capital of Colombo. Now, this was understandably a quiet Sunday after last week's horror. What can you tell us?


NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: That's right, Natalie. Far quieter than a normal Sunday and of course it's because we are one week on from these devastating attacks that shook this island nation. And there's still a very real threat for the attacks of further terror over here.

On Friday, we had a shoot out in eastern Sri Lanka when forces raided some safe houses. They discovered a massive hole of explosive, 150 explosives stakes, 100,000 ball bearings, ISIS flags, a drone camera all underlining something that we have been talking about all week ever since those attacks took place one week ago.

Which is the sophistication of the perpetrators who mounted those attacks, these were multiple bombings and clearly the resources that were uncovered on Friday in which a number of people died including six suspected terrorist, one of them believed to be a prominent member of the local Islamic group believed to be behind this attack.

[03:10:00] The brother-in-law of the spiritual leader of the group, Zahran Hashim, who we're told died in the attack on the Shangri-La Hotel not too far from where I'm standing.

All of it underlines the sophistication of these bombers, of the cell and the continuing threat over here as authorities here try and get ahead of that threat, try and nab other potential attackers who might be out there which is why it was very quiet.

The archbishop held service in his home in Colombo which is not very far from where I am; about ten minutes drive from where I am. The president, the prime minister you mentioned and the opposition leader were all there mounting a show if unity.

It was all broadcast live on television to show worshippers could join that mass remotely really because of this call from authorities over here, the catholic authorities for mass not to take place in churches because of the threat out there, a show of unity to really show that the government is doing what it can to come together and deal with this threat.

And this of course after revelations that the government here had prior warning, three prior warnings ahead of those attacks.

So, a much, much more subdue Sunday than you would expect much like the Friday -- the Friday prayers the mosques in this city were also very subdue as this nation as it mourns, as it tries to come to terms with the devastation of one week ago. It also is living with this very powerful fear that more attacks could yet happen. Natalie.


ALLEN: Yes and how could they come to terms with all of that is just surreal, isn't it? We appreciate it, Nikhil Kumar for us in Colombo. Thank you so much. The polls are open now in Spain in its third general election in four years.

The result is far from certain and may just add to the country's political turmoil. Voters will choose from five parties but none are expected to win outright and forming a functional coalition government, well that could be a daunting task.

Also, for the first time since the death of Dictator Francisco Franco, a far right party could pick up seats in the country's parliament. Let's talk about this with broadcaster; Sara Canals joins me from Barcelona.

Sara thanks so much for talking us, voters now going to the polls. This is Spain's third general election as we mentioned and four years due mainly to political instability. What's causing it?

SARA CANALS, BROADCAST JOURNALIST, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, there's a lot of expectation on what will happen today and most specifically -- the specific (inaudible) election is that Catalonia has been a central issue in this political campaign. The outcome of today's election will have a significant impact on the Catalonia crisis.

And there are two major reasons why this is important. First of all, the election results will review how (inaudible) people wish to proceed regarding the Catalonia independence crisis. And currently there are three main approaches on the table.

We've got the right wing party, the (inaudible) who wants to take article one by five, they want to impose direct rule on Catalonia and taking over the Catalonia institutions and they reject any sort of dialogue with the pro independence party. Then on the socialist party currently in power who wants to lower tensions with the Catalonia.

They are willing to dial up but they apposed a referendum of independence. And then we've got (inaudible) party (inaudible) to support a referendum of independence.

And the second reason why the outcome of today's election is important is because this election is an opportunity also for the independent states to evaluate the momentum of the independent movement which (inaudible) independent movement is united and organized in the streets from either side of perspective.

The pro-independence parties are very divided. And this is a concern for the independence movement. And if the result comes out in favor of the pro-independence parties, then it could be used as a bargaining (inaudible) which has happened before with (inaudible) government. And given that's where Catalonia either are being prosecuted un the (inaudible) Supreme Court for organizing the referendum of independence and other leaders like in Europe in order to avoid being prosecuted.

ALLEN: Yes, Sara, I want to ask you about the emergence of the far right party Vox. It's controversial but at the same time its gaining unpopularity. And I know that the prime minister had said watch out for the far right.

He said I thought Trump wouldn't win and he won. I thought Brexit wouldn't happen and it happened. This is a very threatening reality, we need to avoid. Will his words resonate with voters?

CANALS: Well, this is also one of the main topics that a lot of people are expecting to see how it's going to unfold because with the emergences of far right party Vox which is formed by old members of the conservative party.

[03:15:00] And Vox already made a breakthrough in to politics in the (inaudible) elections where they gained 12 people in parliament. And according to polls, they could also gain place in congress. And if this happened, it would be the first time since the Spanish dictatorship that a far right party gained in parliament.

Some of their politics just to get an idea of what are their theories; they want to ban any party or organization defending independence. They don't want to (inaudible) Dictator Franco from his grave for example. They follow to abandon any (inaudible) idea and they're in favor of racist (inaudible) xenophobic and anti-feminist qualities.

ALLEN: Right. Yes, they throw that in too, the anti-feminism part too. Well, we'll be watching it and see what the outcome is and if it is a decisive one for the people of Spain or not. Sara Canals, thank you so much.

CANALS: Thank you.

ALLEN: Some British children as young as four are being taught in school about same sex prelateships and gender identity.

And for many parents, that is far too early for those discussions. We'll take a look at the controversy coming next. Also, fears of more flooding and mudslides in Mozambique. It has been hammered now by two powerful cyclones. We'll have the latest on the continued threat.


ALLEN: A terrible incident to tell you about in Seattle, Washington. It claimed four lives Saturday.

This large construction crane broke loose from the roof of a building and toppled to the busy street below. Six vehicles were smashed. Emergency officials say two crane operators were killed and two people in cars also died. Several other people were hurt. The strongest tropical cyclone to ever hit Mozambique has claimed the lives of at least five people. Officials say Cyclone Kenneth destroyed more than 3,000 homes and left 18,000 people displaced.

The country have been trying to recover from an earlier cyclone which struck just six weeks ago, hundreds were killed there. Meteorologist Ivan Cabrera is here to tell us what we know about this so far, Ivan.

IVAN CABRERA, METEOROLOGIST: Well, a lot of information coming in here and I think we're now beginning to see the scope of this and unfortunately I don't know that decimals going to stay this slow. From the images I have seen, it is hard to imagine that a lot more lives weren't taken here.

Take a look at the destruction. This particular image really cought my attention because this is the first indication of a significant storm serge. That is when the ocean comes in to a coastline as a result of the wind getting pushed by the water, that's basically all that's happening here.

And where you see where there were roads, now you see sand and that is a tell sign of the water coming in, the storm serge comes in and it eventually obviously goes back out. But as it does so, it leaves those sand deposits there.

[03:20:00] And look at the homes, they're just completely leveled here and that will be indicative certainly of storm serge meters high. And that is a result of 220 kilometer apparent winds is naturally mentioned, the strongest tropical cyclone to ever hit northern Mozambique here.

So ongoing heavy rains, that's going to be my concern as it has been the last few days because just like Idai, this thing is going to be prolific as far as the rain making potential. Look at this, I mean it has been in land for a couple of days now. It is still pumping moisture.

It is no longer a tropical cyclone but it is producing tropical rains and that means that we could put down significant amounts of rain in a very short amount of time and that's when you start getting in to a heap of trouble here with the flooding. After all the devastation they have gone, now they're having to deal with that.

And by the way, we're still looking at the potential for two, even an additional 3000 millimeters of rainfall in the next five days. It just continues here right along the coast. And of course all that water as if falls from the sky has to get back out to the channel. And as it does so, it floods homes as a result of rivers going up and streams as well.

And we saw that happening further south with Idai. The recovery forecast unfortunately looks terrible, right, as folks try to assess the damage. And try to get some help to the people that need it very badly here as we take a look at additional pictures coming up here.

And by the way, not just chanting homes we're talking about, I've seen some homes that look to be constructed well and they have lost their roofs and some are just no longer standing in particularly in (inaudible) island. That is resort town and some of the hotels sustained significant damage.

So, obviously an indication there of what the kinds of winds we're talking about and of course the storm serge as well so, still ongoing as far as the threat. I think the rain is going to be the issue now.

ALLEN: And again as you have iterated, this is just unprecedented that two cyclones this powerful hits an area that doesn't necessarily or typically see such powerful storms.

CABRERA: Yes, literally hasn't happened before, at least in modern history that we know of. And for a storm to get that powerful and that far north is an indication of our climate and how we're going to have to deal with things so these storms are going to get stronger, they're going to hit areas that usually don't get hit. So, there we go.

ALLEN: The new day.


ALLEN: Ivan, thank you. But the annual White House correspondent's dinner was held Saturday night in Washington.


The U.S. president noticeably absent, the third year in a row Donald Trump has boycotted the event. In fact, his entire administration was a no show. Historian Ran gave what could be described as a pep talk to the assembled journalists who are often blinded by the president as the enemy.

RONALD CHERNOW, HISTORIAN: This is as good a time as any to take stock and rededicate yourself to the higher standards of journalistic integrity and accuracy. Donald J. Trump is not the first and won't be the last American president to create jitters about the first amendment.

So be humble, be skeptical and beware of being infected by the very things you're fighting against. The press is a powerful weapon that must always be fired with reluctance and aimed with precision.


ALLEN: President Trump held a campaign rally in Wisconsin while the dinner was taking place. Well some parents in Birmingham, England are upset over new classroom materials being presented to small school children.

The curriculum called No Outsiders in Our School is meant to teach tolerance. But angry parents say the lessons go too far in discussing gender identity and sexual orientation with children as young as four. CNN's Milena Veselinovic has our report.


MILENA VESELINOVIC, CNN PRODUCER: Angry protests in front of a primary school in Birmingham central England. The community demanding that the school stops teaching children about the existence of same sex relationships and gay rights. Amir Ahmed is one of the leaders of the protest campaign.

AMIR AHMED, PROTEST ORGANIZER: We basically feel that the school has been proselytizing homosexuality on to our -- on our children and has been changing their moral position on it.

VESELINOVIC: The lessons are part of a boarder curriculum promoting equality and diversity called No Outsiders in Our School. It's not compulsory, but schools that adopted teach pupils aged four to eleven about different races, religions, gender identity and sexual orientation, a key point of contention for the protesters.

AHMED: This community in terms of sexual relationships, we are very tradition and conservative and we believe that only sort of moral relationship to have sexually is within a marriage and that too in a heterosexual relationship.

[03:25:00] VESELINOVIC: Schools say that the program is meant to show kids it's OK to be different. But many parents in this largely Muslim community in Birmingham say their children are too young to learn about homosexuality and that teaching them about same sex relationships contradicts their religion.

Parents pulled nearly 600 children from class for a day at Birmingham's Parkfield Community School where nearly all students are Muslim, backlash against the curriculum spread, leading Parkfield and four other schools in the city to suspend teaching it.

For now, protests are suspended too. But we couldn't speak to parents because their negotiating with the school to try to find a solution. However, a leading Muslim LGBT campaigner in Birmingham says the protestors' message has already been harmful.

KHAKAN QURESHI, MUSLIM LGBT CAMPAIGNER: Parents pulling (inaudible) is 100 percent that they are homophobic, even though they're seeing that they're not homophobic with like Parkfield for instance is about 700 pupils there.

600 children were withdrawn and I'm sure there's going to be a handful of children who are going to identify potentially as part of the LGBT community. And I think for them it will be maybe pushing them back in to the closet as they were. And making them feel fearful or insecure within themselves.

VESELINOVIC: As pressure grows on Parkfield School to permanently drop the lessons, the award winning teacher who created the No Outsiders program says he's received death threats which the police are investigating.

ANDREW MOFFAT, ASST. HEADTEACHER: What I am doing is teaching children about different family mortals and making sure that any child that does have two moms or two dads, they know that their family is normal, it's accepted and it's welcomed in school.

VESELINOVIC: A message that some conservative parts of this Birmingham neighborhood find hard to accept. But the lessons have the backing of U.K.'s Department of Education which told CNN--

UNKNOWN MALE: There is no reason why teaching children about the diverse society that we live in and the different yes of loving healthy relationships that exists cannot be done in a way that respects everyone's views.

VESELINOVIC: In this dispute over what values will shape young minds are compromised for now seems out of reach. Milena Veselinovic, CNN, Birmingham.


ALLEN: We turn now to London next hour; more tan 41,000 people will run in the London Marathon. And when they're thirsty at kilometer 37, they will have an environmentally conscious way to rehydrate. Check this out.


These are capsules made of seaweed and they can be filled with water, sports drinks and any beverage. They're produced by a British startup that hopes to reduce plastic waste with its ambition. The pods are edible and tasteless and can be cheaper to produce than plastic.


Good luck runners with your pods. That's CNN Newsroom. I'll be right back with our top stories.