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Democratic Hopefuls Court Black Voters In South Carolina; Four Democrat Candidates Attend S.C. Black Economic Alliance Forum; Beto O'Rourke On Joe Biden: We Can't Return To The Past; Polls: Warren In Tight Race For Second Place; U.S. Official: Iran Fired Missile At U.S. Drone Before Attack On Oil Tankers; Son Speaks After Mother's Death At Dominican Republic Resort; Notre Dame Holds First Mass Since Devastating Fire; Man Arrested Outside N.J. Elementary School With Gun Had Posted He Was Homeless; NYPD Commissioner Declares A Mental Health Crisis After Three Officers Die By Suicide Over 10 Days; Mexico Moves To Implement New Agreement With U.S. On Immigration. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired June 15, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:49] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me again. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
It is all about South Carolina today if you are on the road to the White House. The 2020 hopefuls are out in full force. Many of the candidates are spending the day in the crucial state of South Carolina, hoping to win over voters. Right now, these four candidates are attending the Black Economic Alliance Forum and making their pitches to African-American voters there.
Let's check in now with CNN's Political Reporter, Rebecca Buck.
This is extremely important, any appearance in South Carolina. What messages do these candidates need to deliver?
REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, that's right, Fred. As you know, the majority of Democratic voters, the Democratic electorate here in South Carolina will likely be comprised of black voters. So the message that the candidates will be sending here today is directly going to impact their chances here in the Palmetto State in the Democratic primary.
And this is a place where Vice President Joe Biden remains extremely strong, even among African-American voters. So these candidates are going to be looking to chip away at his strength, to make their case to these voters they will be the ones to best represent not only the economic interests of African-American voters, but the interests of these voters, this key demographic in the electorate.
So here today, in the building behind me, we will have Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, all making their case.
Interestingly, not here today, three top-tier candidates who are looking at South Carolina as a key state to their strategy. I mentioned Joe Biden. Also Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris not at this event today.
But next weekend will be a major weekend in South Carolina with 22 of the 23 candidates in the race expected to be here for Congressman Jim Clyburn's fish fry, among other Democratic events on the calendar.
So it will be a process. It is not just one weekend. They are trying to get out here as much as they possibly can.
But for the four candidates here today, a really important opportunity for them to make the case to African-American voters. Cory Booker has been putting South Carolina really at the center of his strategy.
But for Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke and Pete Buttigieg, they're really trying to make headway with African-American voters. Pete Buttigieg, in particular, has struggled with people of color. So far, he doesn't have those connections so he is trying to deepen his network here in the Palmetto State -- Fred?
WHITFIELD: Rebecca, many are there for the forum. But I can't help but notice there's a lot of volume coming behind you. Is it related to this forum? What is going on?
BUCK: So this protest that is coming our way is, I think, just out of frame for you, Fred, is fighting for a $15 minimum wage.
Some of the candidates have been making the rounds here today as well with striking workers at McDonald's. Cory Booker was there earlier today to show his support to rally those workers as well.
So this is a key part of the Democratic message, fighting for workers, showing that they can also be sort of a populous party. It has been a big part of Donald Trump's success, as you know, and so Democrats are trying to take back those key voters -- Fred?
WHITFIELD: All right. Low wages central to so many issues that American voters want to hear some solutions to.
CNN's -- thank you so much, Rebecca Buck.
Meantime, CNN's Jeff Zeleny is also in South Carolina covering today's 2020 candidates. He caught up with Beto O'Rourke earlier at a rally for increasing the minimum wage.
Here is what O'Rourke had to say about the crowded Democratic field.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Your first day on the campaign trail you said you were not going to talk about other candidates. This week that changed. You talked about Joe Biden. You said it was time for a new generation. You talked about some of his votes. Why the change?
BETO O'ROURKE, (D), FORMER CONGRESSMAN & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I was asked a direct question and I answered it. But I remain firmly focused on the future, what it is that I think that we can bring to not just this race, but the movement that we can lead that can defeat Donald Trump and make sure that we bring this country together around the big challenges that we face.
ZELENY: Was Joe Biden the past and you're the future?
O'ROURKE: Well, look, I'm going to focus on the future. And I think that this campaign represents the kind of bold, aspirational ideas that will allow this country to fully fulfill its promise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[13:05:05] WHITFIELD: All right. More on that interview later on.
Let's talk more about the crowded Democratic field and the focus in South Carolina for many of those candidates right now.
Joining me right now, former U.S. Congressman from Pennsylvania, Charlie Dent.
Good to see you.
So you heard, in that Rebecca Buck live shot, you heard a number of people in the background. She said they were talking about and, you know, protesting against, you know, low wages and certainly trying to encourage candidates to have some answers to bringing up wages. These are universal issues.
But particularly in South Carolina, many of the voters want to hear about answers to the disparities, about these, you know, common issues that Americans are facing, but in a much more magnified sense among black American voters.
So, Charlie Dent, is it enough for these candidates to just simply acknowledge that these are problems that need addressing or do -- how do they need to come to the table with some answers to really resonate with these voters?
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, clearly, black voters are concerned, just as white voters are, on economic issues. That black economic survey that you just presented in a previous segment made clear that black voters were concerned about high health care costs, high childcare costs, student debt, minimum wage, all economic issues.
I guess my answer would be Democrats, you know, if the answer is a $15 minimum wage, I got to tell you, I don't think that's the answer. Periodic adjustments to minimum wage are fine, but this is not a new idea. Maybe they have to get more creative with the earned income tax credit.
On health care, they probably need to talk about how they're going to fix Obamacare and make it better and make sure subsidies are available to people and that the program is solvent.
Those are things they probably should be talking about rather than some of the more extreme proposals you have heard from some of the candidates, like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren talk about free and free light. Everything is free and we're going to have millionaires pay for it, but the math doesn't work and everybody knows it.
Former South Carolina House member, Bakari Sellers, is also with us.
Bakari, you obviously know the South Carolina electorate very well, being a native son to it. You are joining us from Charleston.
The protesters or demonstrators -- I would rather use the word demonstrators because people are wanting attention being paid to disparity, the gap in minimum wages. That's one of the issues they want the candidates to address.
Is it enough -- I will ask you the same question. Is it enough that the candidates who are there for the economic forum to acknowledge it or is it imperative that they have some real answers or proposed solutions to these problems?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I was actually marching this morning with the March for 15 workers, and we did the McDonald's strike. I can tell you there's a lot of energy around this issue.
And I was listening earlier. The fact is raising the minimum wage is a part of the issue. You can't -- there's nobody listening, there's nobody on this panel, there's nobody that's in the control room that can live off $7.25, $7.50 an hour. That's just not the case.
But while we're here and talking about these economic issues, we are also specifically talking about issues that affect African-American voters. The fact is, 400 years ago in Virginia, that was the first time slaves came into the country and there's been a continuum that are the results of that enslavement.
So we are talking about making sure that you're dealing with issues that directly affect the people in this country who have been persecuted and oppressed a long time. Whether or not you want to acknowledge that is one thing.
But these candidates are coming with a black agenda, you have to have one now, and they're going to be held accountable and talking about these issues.
WHITFIELD: And 2020 candidate, Beto O'Rourke, was asked yesterday whether he supports reparations for slavery and this is what he had to say. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O'ROURKE: The answer is yes. The path there, though, has to come through telling, learning and sharing this American story with everyone. Then I think we define what reparations look like and how we begin to make that repair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So, Bakari, you first.
Was that the answer that you're looking for from Beto O'Rourke?
SELLERS: It was a great answer. I mean, anyone who first can acknowledge the fact that we have to have a robust plan around reparations -- and I know some viewers are shaking their head. They're like, oh, my god, Bakari, you're 34 years old, what do you know about slavery? Well, we have to educate viewers and we have to educate voters. That's not exactly what we're talking about.
My parents actually went to school in the segregated south which were remnants of slavery. We are still dealing with systems in the country that directly affect African-Americans.
You are talking about Flint, Michigan, where you don't have clean water. Here in South Carolina, to our shame, hospitals are closing that effect black communities.
[13:10:09] So we are talking about policies and plans, not necessarily a check in the mailbox, but specific investment into the countries, HBCUs, et cetera, that lift up these communities. I know some people want to say a rising tide lifts all boats. Well, black people in many parts of the country don't even have boats in many places.
WHITFIELD: So right now, among the issues that every candidate is asked their opinion of, Senator Elizabeth Warren, she has been very candid about her feelings on all of that.
Right now, she is nipping at the heels of second place, Senator Bernie Sanders, two weeks ahead of the first, you know, two-night Democratic debate. On that first night, Warren is in a line-up with Senators Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar.
Charlie, we heard about the president. He has been attacking Biden, but is it likely that his focus will return to Elizabeth Warren, particularly as her numbers seem to rise?
DENT: Yes, I think the president will take great pleasure in attacking Elizabeth Warren. He always does, you know, with the name calling.
But Elizabeth Warren is an inviting target for President Trump, let's be honest about that. Elizabeth Warren, in many respects, represents the fringe, the far left of the Democratic Party.
And there are a lot of people out in this country who voted for Donald Trump, with great reservations, and they will vote for him again if Elizabeth Warren is the candidate because the center of the country will not be spoken to.
I think it is going to bring rise to an Independent candidacy for president, a serious one, if the choices are Donald Trump and Elizabeth Warren, because her platform is very aggressive.
You know, she speaks to an economic anger, the same way President Trump speaks to a cultural anger. I don't think most Americans are this angry. And I think that's a big part of the problem for her candidacy. I would say the same thing about Bernie Sanders as well.
So, you know, if I'm Donald Trump, I would say, yes, you want Elizabeth Warren rising in the polls so he can take her on because I think it actually benefits him.
WHITFIELD: We will leave it there for now.
Former Congressman Charlie Dent, Bakari Sellers, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.
Still ahead, hours before an attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman this week, a U.S. official tells CNN the Iranians spotted a U.S. drone flying overhead and then launched a surface-to-air missile at the unmanned aircraft.
[13:16:16] WHITFIELD: Welcome back.
The U.S. is leveling new accusations about Iran's possible involvement in an oil tanker attack in the Gulf of Oman. A U.S. official says Iran launched a missile at a U.S. drone flying over the gulf hours before the attack. The missile didn't hit its target. And it isn't clear if the drone captured the full attack on the two ships. Iran maintains it had nothing to do with the attack.
Fred Pleitgen joining me from Tehran.
Fred, the U.S. is accusing Iran of a deliberate provocation.
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
WHITFIELD: What specifically is Iran's leadership saying today?
PLEITGEN: It's been quite interesting the reactions we have seen from the Iranians. One the one hand, they are not commenting about the allegations of shooting a missile at an unmanned aerial vehicle and also that video we have seen surface of the Iranian patrol boat coming to one of the tankers, allegedly, and taking a sea mine off one of them, a sea mine, an unexploded one. The Iranians also are not commenting on that.
However, they are standing by their story saying they had nothing to do with the attacks on either of the two tankers.
One of the things playing big in Iran is the company that owns one of the tankers, the one in the initial video, is saying its sailors told management they don't believe their ship was actually struck by a mine. They say that the sailors thought there were projectiles fired at the ship and that is what caused the damage.
That is something that is really getting a lot of air play here on Iranian media and with Iranian officials.
At the same time, you have Iranian senior officials verbally firing back at the United States. The Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accusing the United States of economic terrorism because of the sanctions against Iran's oil sector, making it difficult for them to export oil. And accusing the U.S., as he puts it, of trying to destabilize the situation here and to try to undermine some of the diplomatic efforts going on.
Of course, one of the things we have to point out, Fredricka, is these attacks happened as Iran's supreme leader was meeting with the prime minister of Japan -- Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: Fred Pleitgen, thank you so much, in Tehran. Appreciate it.
Still ahead, questions are being raised after another American tourist died in the Dominican Republic. Her son says she was told she died of a heart attack but he doesn't believe it.
[13:22:23] WHITFIELD: New questions being raised after the death of another American tourist in the Dominican Republic. At least seven tourists have died there in the past year under different circumstances.
But now CNN affiliate, WATE, reports another American tourist has died at a resort.
The son of 53-year-old Layla Cox says his mom was in the D.R. celebrating her birthday when she was found dead in her hotel room. William Cox says he was told she died of a heart attack but no toxicology report was ever ordered. He says he was told the toxicology machines were broken.
CNN Correspondent, Patrick Oppmann, is in Santo Domingo.
We are hearing there are conflicting bits of information about this latest death. What is going on?
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there are, and it is a tragedy. But is it a coincidence or a pattern? That's what really people are wondering because this individual, she was here on her birthday apparently. Her son told our affiliates she had been here before in the area of Punta Cana, which is a popular tourist destination. But it also has been the site of other deaths that are being investigated.
And her son tells our affiliate that people in the hotel found her passed away dead in her room. We spoke with the actual hotel and they said that she was taken to the hospital. So a bit of conflicting information there.
Once again, as has been the case now, because this is the fifth American tourist to die here this year, the authorities are not saying much. So much of this country's economy depends on tourism. About had half of the tourists that come here every year are Americans, so it is bad for business. We have already heard from tour operators they've had cancellations, that people are concerned.
No word yet from the American embassy if there should be any alarm, if it is anything more than just people with preexisting health conditions falling ill and dying, which, of course, happens when people travel.
The FBI is helping Dominican authorities, Dominican officials with the investigation.
And in a couple of weeks, as expected, if as expected, the toxicology reports come back we should know a lot more. But it certainly has people on edge for the moment.
WHITFIELD: Yes. On edge there and everywhere.
Patrick Oppmann, thank you so much.
Meantime, we expect to get details on the motive for the shooting of baseball legend, David Ortiz, also in the Dominican Republic. We expect those details as soon as next week.
[13:25:00] Prosecutors have charged eight men and one woman as accomplices in the shooting. Ortiz was shot in the back at a nightclub in the Dominican Republic last weekend.
The accused gunman says Ortiz was not his intended target and that he got confused by Ortiz's clothing. Rolfi Ferreira Cruz told media from his cell he was hired to carry out a hit but was only told the color of the victim's clothing, which Ortiz happened to be wearing that night. Prosecutors say he's making that up. Ortiz is recovering and in guarded condition at a Boston hospital.
Still ahead, Notre Dame finally opens its doors for its first mass since the cathedral was nearly destroyed in fire. A look at the service, next.
WHITFIELD: Notre Dame Cathedral held its first mass since it was nearly destroyed by fire two months ago today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED PREIST: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGAUGE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: The service was small, only about 30 people allowed to attend. And they all wore hard hats throughout the mass over safety concerns.
Jim Bittermann is in Paris for us. Jim, how important is this service? How symbolic, you know, is it
really to have had this service, albeit the attendees were mostly priests? But to Catholics around the world, talk to me about the importance of having this first mass.
[13:30:10] JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I would say, Fred, it was symbolic as much as important. It was very simple mass. It lasted about 45 minutes and followed the regular order of mass.
But what was extraordinary was the person that celebrated was the archbishop of Paris. And what was also extraordinary is this is just two months to the day since the fire that destroyed, devastated anyway, the cathedral of Notre Dame. So they particularly wanted to have this mass today.
The cardinal said it is because they wanted a sign of hope. But as well this is a day that the Notre Dame normally would celebrate the dedication of the high altar at Notre Dame, which marked the beginning of the church here in Paris. So it was a significant date in that respect as well.
So I think for the people that took part, the very small group of people, half of them were priests. Some of them were involved in the firefighting efforts that saved the cathedral.
For them, it was a really emotional experience to celebrate mass in such a surrounding and in a place where, in fact, you could still see the devastation of the fire. You could see the smoke stains on the main cross that hung above the high altar. You could see the hole in the roof. You could see all sorts of things, piles of debris and what not.
But it was clear, I think, that they wanted to send a message that there's hope out there. And the cardinal said, in fact, just to that, he said that he hoped they could regain the spirit of those who built the cathedral in the first place -- Fred?
WHITFIELD: And how about the general public since, you know, only about 30 people were inside? How were they able to, you know, partake in this mass? Were there jumbo screens outside or was it strictly French television stations? What?
BITTERMANN: Well, in fact, it was broadcast on Catholic television, Catholic television channel here. But apart from that, was fairly difficult to see it because, in fact, the 30 people that were allowed in were only those allowed in by authorities because they were fearful about the safety of the building. It is still quite fragile.
And the Catholic Church had wanted to have a big outdoor mass in front of the cathedral, but the authorities said no because of what is happening underneath the cathedral. The vaults underneath are still in fragile shape -- Fred?
Jim Bittermann, thank you so much for bringing us there. All right. Next, the New York police commissioner declares a mental
health crisis in the ranks of the NYPD after three officers kill themselves over just a 10-day period. Now he is vowing to take action.
[13:36:49] WHITFIELD: Actor Cuba Gooding Jr is facing legal trouble after being accused of groping a woman. The Oscar winner was in court on Thursday. He pleaded not guilty to forcible -- forcibly touching anyone after surrendering voluntarily to police.
TMZ released a video allegedly showing that there was some interaction here at a New York nightclub last weekend. The 29-year-old accuser says Gooding grabbed her breast.
The New York police department has not commented on the authenticity of the video at this time. And it is difficult to make out exactly what is happening here.
But let's bring in Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor, and Richard Herman, a criminal defense attorney.
Good to see you both.
AVERY FRIEDMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good to see you, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Richard, you first.
Based on what you can see and based on the allegation, how are you envisioning this case?
RICHARD HERMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it looks like to me -- and, excuse me, but it looks like the accuser is saying, show me the money because he's a celebrity.
The videos and other videos there show she had been talking him for about two hours before she sat down on the couch next to him and his wife.
And during that encounter, you can see on the video he does touch her leg and you see his hand move up. You do not see him squeezing her breast. And that's the key to the whole case here.
If he did that, Fred, you do not see her, the alleged victim here, jump back. You don't see her stand up. You don't see her start yelling at him. She sits right there. There's no adverse movement by her at that time. Then he grabs her hand and kisses it. Are you kidding me?
Based on this, Fred -- and his defense counsel is going to get affidavits from other witnesses -- there's no way a New York jury would convict Cuba Gooding Jr based on this video. This case is really kind of ridiculous, Fred. It really is. WHITFIELD: Avery, how do you see it? Because I'm squinting as I'm
looking because it is difficult to kind of make out, you know, all that's transpiring. Of course, the case is going to be about more, right, than just this captured moment. So how do you see things playing out, Avery?
FRIEDMAN: I think it is an eye-popping video. I have watched it about 30 times. I think it is obvious. You see Cuba Gooding's hand reach on the inside of her thigh and then it heads north from there. It looks like he is touching up in the mammary area. In any event --
HERMAN: Oh, no, beyond a reasonable doubt --
FRIEDMAN: In any event, in any event, what's going to happen is that Gooding is never going to testify. He will never testify in a case like this. The victim will.
I think the other witness is Claudine De Niro, the ex-daughter-in-law of Robert De Niro, who is the person next to Cuba Gooding Jr, and I don't know what she's going to say.
The video, itself, I think puts him in an enormously difficult situation. I don't think it has anything to do with money. This is a criminal case. But let's see what happens.
[13:40:04] There's much more evidence. There are other people around. You will see later on in the video, Fredricka, a young man approaches --
FRIEDMAN: -- and absolutely Gooding reaches out to him also.
WHITFIELD: Right. Well, you see him coming in.
FRIEDMAN: There it is.
WHITFIELD: You see the 29-year old. You see her arm going up. I'm not really sure. Cuba Gooding seems to back up and then you see the other individual.
WHITFIELD: Of course, it is difficult and we're not going to try to solve the case by looking at the video.
FRIEDMAN: Right. Right.
WHITFIELD: This is just an element, right?
WHITFIELD: Go ahead.
(CROSSTALK) FRIEDMAN: Ascribing the fact that this victim -- I mean I don't know how you explain away Gooding's inside touch of her thigh, like that doesn't count? I mean --
HERMAN: That's not the conviction. That's not the case.
FRIEDMAN: Well, that --
HERMAN: That's not the case.
FRIEDMAN: The fact that there was touching and it was forceful and --
HERMAN: It is the breast.
FRIEDMAN: And, frankly, a lot of victims -- let me say this very quickly. A lot of victims who go through this kind of problem --
HERMAN: Oh, my god.
FRIEDMAN: -- men are expecting them to jump up and leave. Many women would. But it doesn't happen all the time. She thought about it. She reported it.
HERMAN: Fred --
FRIEDMAN: There was an arrest. Let's see what happens.
WHITFIELD: OK, Richard?
HERMAN: You don't see the touching. You do not see the touching in the video. You can't see it. You can't -- it is beyond a reasonable doubt. You can't see it. You do not see her jump up. You do not see his wife smack him.
FRIEDMAN: She doesn't have to jump up. You don't have to jump up.
HERMAN: But there's no reaction. If an adverse touching took place you would think there would be a reaction by her, a negative reaction, something.
FRIEDMAN: Some women will, some women won't.
HERMAN: Fred --
HERMAN: -- his wife sat next to him. His wife didn't smack him. His wife didn't yell at him. In fact, when she left, they were making out on the couch after that. So, come on. This is really ridiculous.
WHITFIELD: So Gooding voluntarily turned himself in.
WHITFIELD: Gooding's attorney has been extremely critical of NYPD and prosecutors in this case. Take a listen to what was said.
FRIEDMAN: Of course.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK HELLER, ATTORNEY FOR CUBA GOODING JR: I have never seen a case like this one because there's not a scintilla of criminal culpability that can be attributed to Mr. Cuba Gooding Jr after I have extensively with my staff reviewed the video.
Look at the video and make your own choice rather than relying on the overzealous policing in this matter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Now after hearing that, Avery, as your point of been influenced in any way?
FRIEDMAN: Look, it doesn't affect me at all. Understand that women who go through these kinds of problems react in different ways. Sometimes other women, it will detonate women, jumping up and leaving. It will be others who don't know what to do when that sort of thing happens.
So the idea of calling it ridiculous, of treating it something south of serious, is very typical of how these cases are defended.
I see the victims. I understand what this is about.
You want to know something? If it gets to a jury, if it gets to a jury, I think Cuba Gooding has a big, big problem here.
HERMAN: Good. Let's put money on that, you and me. Let's put a big bet on that.
FRIEDMAN: You bet, buddy. We'll put money on it.
HERMAN: Fifty/fifty --
FRIEDMAN: He's not walking out a free man.
HERMAN: Fifty/fifty, the case will be dismissed. How is that? It will be dismissed before it goes anywhere. The lawyer's going to make a motion for the case to be dismissed this week. Secondly --
FRIEDMAN: Let's see what the rest of the evidence looks like, all right?
HERMAN: Here's the distinction, Fred -
FRIEDMAN: Before you start putting a bet down --
FRIEDMAN: Why don't we get all of the evidence.
HERMAN: Here is what happens. State cases --
WHITFIELD: Evidence is important.
HERMAN: -- they arrest while still investigating. In federal cases, it is done.
They never interviewed his wife who sat in the middle there, Fred. They never interviewed her. Come on. This is going nowhere.
WHITFIELD: So gathering information, gathering evidence.
WHITFIELD: Yes, it is still early stages.
All right, Richard Herman, Avery Friedman --
FRIEDMAN: We'll see what happens next time.
WHITFIELD: -- appreciate your points of view.
HERMAN: All right. See you later.
WHITFIELD: Good to see you, guys.
HERMAN: Thank you.
[13:44:01] WHITFIELD: We'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: All right. We are now learning more about the man who was arrested outside a New Jersey elementary school with a gun and multiple rounds of ammunition. Police arrested 46-year-old Thomas Wilke Thursday afternoon in the town of Westfield.
Earlier in the week, he had indicated on Facebook that he was homeless. On Monday, he posted, "To all my F.B. friends out there, I'm currently living in my car and have nowhere to go. If I could surf someone's couch for a safe place to stay, I would be eternally grateful."
CNN National Correspondent, Brynn Gingras, breaks down what happened.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Police in New Jersey said Thomas Wilke showed up to the elementary school armed with a handgun, bullets and 130 rounds of ammunition.
When officers arrived on the scene, they said they found him on the front seat of his car in the parking lot of the school. The school was immediately placed on lockdown as after-school activities were in sessions.
Wilke now faces three separate charges. He was not on law enforcement's radar. He will be in court though next week to face those charges.
Brynn Gingras, CNN New York.
WHITFIELD: Right now, the NYPD is mourning the loss of three of its officers who have killed themselves in the last 10 days.
The latest death happened on Staten Island. A 29-year-old officer with six years on the job was found dead outside the precinct where he worked.
That left NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill to release a statement, saying, in part, "This is a mental health crisis and we, the NYPD and the law enforcement profession as a whole, absolutely must take action. This cannot be allowed to continue."
CNN's Mark Morales joins me from New York with more on what you are learning -- Mark?
MARK MORALES, CNN REPORTER: Well, right now it is about outreach. As you saw, the NYPD commissioner is putting out -- has put out that statement. They are asking for anybody that has any sort of an issue to reach out. Even the chief of department, Terence Monahan, has put out video.
The message is clear. If you are an NYPD officer and you are going through something very difficult, if you have suicidal thoughts, if you are depressed, you need to say something.
They are pushing out the phone numbers and contact information for different sections within the department where officers that are having trouble can reach out and find help
[13:50:08] WHITFIELD: Is there almost like an admission that there are officers reluctant to speak out on what may be troubling them?
MORALES: It seems that that might be an issue right now. Amongst the rank and file, there's always been this notion that admitting to something such as having suicidal thoughts or being depressed could put your career in certain types of jeopardy. All of a sudden, you're not up for certain positions within units or you might have your weapon confiscated for the time being. I mean, it's a very large department. There's 35,000 members within
the entire NYPD. But it's also very small, and that word gets around very quickly.
And right now, there's meetings being held within the department to try and dispel this statement. They want to get the word out, in addition to needing help, that if you do reach out for help, it's not going to negatively affect your career. You're not going to lose anything.
WHITFIELD: All so troubling.
Mark Morales, thank you so much.
MORALES: Sure thing.
WHITFIELD: Still ahead, Mexico follows through on its deal with the White House, promising to curb the number of migrants crossing the southern border. But the country says it cannot do it alone. Details next.
[13:55:01] WHITFIELD: Mexico is announcing details of a new immigration plan aimed at avoiding a confrontation with the U.S. It includes sending National Guard troops to Mexico's southern border by Tuesday to curb the influx of migrants fleeing Central American countries on their way to the U.S.
CNN's Michael Holmes has the story.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Low-tech illegal migration in action on the Suchiate River. With just over a dollar a head, homemade pontoons ferry people and goods between Guatemala and Mexico.
Much of this traffic commerce avoiding taxes but also a popular way for migrants to head to the United States. No one here to stop it, yet.
A few miles away, the beginnings of what Mexico has promised Donald Trump. Marines watch over immigration workers checking vehicles. Every now and then, an illegal immigrant's dreams shattered or at least interrupted, taken away to detention and processing centers. At this one checkpoint, sometimes 100 dreams a day end this way.
The Mexican government Friday outlined its plan to curb immigration. Thousands of National Guard, police and others will be in place by Tuesday at several key places along the border, trying to arrest what Mexico's foreign minister said was a $6 billion-a-year trafficking industry that even involves children being rented to migrants to improve their chances of getting into the U.S.
MARCELO EBRARD, MEXICAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translation): Let's all work together to disarm traffickers. This is slavery we're talking about here.
HOLMES: At a migrant processing center in the town of Tapachula, they queue sometimes for days, sleeping on the streets with little children, waiting for a piece of paper that will allow them to stay in Mexico at least temporarily.
Among them we find Elkin Santos and his 3-year-old daughter, Allison Brigette (ph). Hoping to get into the U.S., his story typical of so many here.
ELKIN SANTOS, ILLEGAL MIGRANT (through translation): I fled from the M.S.-13 gang because I received threats when they came to charge me with attacks.
HOLMES (on camera): Did you think they would kill you?
SANTOS (through translation): Exactly. So I took my daughter and left. It's easier to get to me through her.
HOLMES: Mexican authorities tell us, in the first 12 days of this month, nearly 12,000 migrants arrived here in Mexico. And that's just a drop in the bucket, obviously. They tell us horror stories of what they fled, family members killed in gang violence, and so on.
So much fear that most of them won't talk on camera but they will talk privately. And the stories are tragic.
The one thing they have in common is a determination to keep going.
UNIDENTIFIED MIGRANT (through translation): Nobody is going to stop. Migration will never stop. It's like someone trying to stop crime. Trying to take away air. Trying to do something that is impossible. They'll never stop this.
HOLMES (voice-over): Michael Holmes, Tapachula, Mexico.
WHITFIELD: Hong Kong says it's suspending a controversial China extradition bill as officials try to head off another round of massive protests. Critics say the bill would allow Hong Kong residents to be extradited to main land China for political reasons. More protests still plan for tomorrow. The organizers of last week's protest say more than a million demonstrators filled the streets to protest the bill.
Don't miss an all new episode of CNN original series, "THE REDEMPTION PROJECT" with Van Jones. Here's a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VAN JONES, CNN HOST, THE REDEMPTION PROJECT & CNN HOST, THE VAN JONES SHOW: Nobody thinks of this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody.
JONES: What were you doing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was just stealing stuff out of the stores and everything. Going to school, selling them.
JONES: What was the money for?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White Jordans. I like shoes.
JONES: Sneaker head.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm a sneaker head. I got to love the shoes. I have to keep up with the shoes.
JONES: Why didn't you ask your mom for the money?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I seen my mom go through a struggle a lot of times. And I hate to hear my mom cry when she couldn't do what she wanted to do for her kids. But my mom made a lot of sacrifices.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How is she going to pay this bill, to make sure we eat at times. I thought I'll help her out. So I did, buying groceries. I told my mom a lie. I told my mom, I bought groceries. How did you get the money? I lied to her, like, I saved it, you know, I saved it. You saved it? Yes. She's like, all right, I'm proud of you. Like, yes. But at the same time, consistently lying to her about what I was doing. I never told about what I was doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Watch "THE REDEMPTION PROJECT," tomorrow night, 9:00 Eastern and Pacific, only on CNN.
Hello, again, everyone. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
South Carolina is in the spotlight for the 2020 hopefuls today. Many of the candidates, Democrats, are spending the day in the crucial state hoping to win over voters.
[13:59:57] Right now, these four Democratic candidates are attending the Black Economic Alliance Forum and making their pitches to African- American voters in particular.