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Arrests for Violent Threats; Trump Cancels Denmark Visit; Pompeo Issues Warning about Iran Oil Tanker; California School Opens Nazi Salute Investigation. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired August 21, 2019 - 06:30   ET


[06:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Idea that now you can keep children in there indefinitely obviously has all sorts of repercussions.

So we have Jeff Merkley, Senator Jeff Merkley, coming up. He has just written a book about all of this, about what this means for the country.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Chris, Arlette, Kaitlan, thank you very much.

Since the massacres in El Paso and Dayton, dozens of people have been arrested for threatening to carry out violent acts across the country. We're getting new information in this morning. We have a live report next.


BERMAN: This morning, as millions of children head back to school, and as we are learning that the president is retreating from plans to expand background checks to buy guns, we're getting new information on law enforcement efforts to address at least 26 violent threats. Twenty-six since the deadly El Paso and Dayton shootings.

The latest involves a 15-year-old Florida student. He's among those charged after expressing his desire to carry out a school shooting on a video game platform.

[06:35:05] Our Rosa Flores is live in Florida with the details on these cases.

Extraordinary, Rosa.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is, John, good morning.

You know, even though these cases are happening all around the country, they have some of the same characteristics. It usually starts with a tip into police. Then those police officers do some police work. They follow leads. It usually involves a male making a threat either online or through text messages. And once probable cause is made, then police make arrests. And in all of these cases, most likely tragedy was prevented.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But it's just a comment, so how is there an arrest?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). There's a Florida state statute that says you cannot make a written threat to cause a mass shooting.

FLORES (voice over): Listen as police body camera footage shows authorities reading a threatening message they say was sent by a Florida teen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I Dalton Barnhart vow to bring my father's M-15 to school and kill seven people.

FLORES: His mother watching as the 15-year-old is taken into custody after authorities received a tip from the FBI saying the teen posted the message to a video game chat room using a fake name.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But he's just a little kid playing a video game. (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And all these kids keep getting arrested. And that's why the FBI and the local law enforcement is spending so much time because how do we know he's not going to be the kid from Parkland?

FLORES: The Volusia County Sheriff's Office releasing a statement saying, joke or not, these types of comments are felonies under the law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why don't you go ahead and lean up against the car for me.

FLORES: This arrest last week, the same day police in the same county arrested 25-year-old Tristian Scott Wix after his ex-girlfriend showed authorities texts indicating he was planning a mass shooting. And Eric Lin, also charged in Florida after federal agents saying the 35-year- old sent FaceBook messages where he called for the extermination of all Hispanics, made pro-Hitler statements, and referenced President Trump launching a racial war and crusade.

Authorities nationwide arresting at least 25 people this month. All but one accused of making threats through text messages, phone calls, or social media. Like 38-year-old Thomas McVicker, who the FBI arrested in Indianapolis Monday based on text messages to his friend. One reading, quote, I was thinking about shooting a church up, but I'm afraid how it will affect my family. So I think I'm just going to kill some people on the street.

Chicago prosecutors say a 19-year-old threatened to kill people at a local women's reproductive health center, posting on social media site iFunny, quote, I am done with my state and their expletive abortion laws allowing innocent kids to be slaughtered for the so-called women's right, end quote. Court documents say the teen mentioned another iFunny user, Justin Olson, who was arrested in Ohio two weeks ago after posting his support for mass shootings. (END VIDEOTAPE)

FLORES: And according to charging documents, authorities recovered 25 guns and 10,000 rounds of ammunition from Olson's home. And, Alisyn, you and I have covered so many mass shootings around the country that it's nice to cover stories like these where plots are foiled before tragedy happened.


CAMEROTA: Thank God for good police work, Rosa. Thank God that police are looking at all of this or we can't even imagine what would happen.

But, you know, we have a teenage boy problem, also, when you look that the pattern here of who are texting here and who are making all of these threats. And it would be great if our lawmakers could address any of this.

Rosa, thank you very much for bringing all of that to our attention.

Unfathomable, incalculable, smug, and disrespectful. Those are just some of the words from Danish leaders after President Trump abruptly canceled his trip to Denmark because they do not want to sell Greenland. The former U.S. ambassador to Denmark with more choice words, next.


[06:43:01] CAMEROTA: President Trump announced on Twitter that he is canceling his scheduled trip to Denmark after the Danish prime minister said his idea of buying Greenland was, quote, absurd.

Let's get reaction from Copenhagen. Joining us now is Rufus Gifford. He is the former U.S. ambassador to Denmark.

Ambassador Gifford, thanks so much for being here.

So the prime minister used the word absurd. You used the word sad.


CAMEROTA: What do you mean that this episode is sad?

GIFFORD: I think it's sad, honestly, because this is just not the way you treat an ally.

So if we look at what's happened over the course of this last week or so, or the last few weeks, he committed to come, and it's not just a bilateral visit with the prime minister, this was a state dinner. The first state dinner that a sitting United States president has done in Denmark since Bill Clinton in 1997. It's a big deal here. It's a big deal here. And, in essence, he made this visit his -- his visit contingent on the kingdom being willing to negotiate the sale of part of their territory.

Now, this is a country, Denmark, that has fought and died alongside American soldiers. I had the great privilege -- I had the great responsibility of going to the Danish government and requesting troops to go to Iraq, to Syria. And they went and they fought alongside our troops and they died alongside our troops. This is not the way you treat a loyal ally who is with centuries of diplomatic relations. It's just a sad chapter to me.

CAMEROTA: And just out of curiosity, what happens in Denmark when somebody cancels last -- when a president cancels last minute like this? I mean there were all sorts of plans and preparation and money spent, correct?

GIFFORD: Oh, sure. Money spent. Both American money and Danish money. That, you know, the royal guards, you imagine, I mean this is a monarchy. It's a -- when you have a visiting head of state like the American president, there's months or weeks of preparation. And it's a big deal.

[06:45:10] Look, Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics. I think that's obvious. But, you know what, they are a big fan of the United States of America. And the fact that they had an American president visiting was a big deal for them. And to cancel the trip in this way is just a shame. It's absolutely a shame. And I think it's a -- you know, it's -- it just speaks to, again, the way I think this president, that Donald Trump, the way he views these traditional alliances. And not just Denmark. It's NATO more broadly. These alliances that keep the west peaceful and prosperous for so many decades.

CAMEROTA: There's a lot of speculation back here that this is just the art of distraction. That this whole Denmark, that the off -- that the desire to buy Greenland, that now the cancellation, that it's all just a big distraction. But do you believe that? And, if so, what's it distracting from?

GIFFORD: That I -- that I don't know. I mean, look, I -- I really don't know if it's a distraction or not. I -- if it is, I don't necessarily think it reflects very well on the United States nor the Trump administration. Again, to me, this is not the way that you conduct foreign policy. Foreign policy, diplomacy amongst friends is about sitting across the table and maybe disagreeing on some things and hammering out those disagreements. And it is not -- it is a foreign policy by Twitter. It just is -- it's, again, I think it's a shame. Not only does it make the United States look bad, and it does, it's -- it weakens some of these great and long standing alliances that we've had.

So is it a distraction? It absolutely is a distraction. But I certainly don't think it reflects well on the Trump administration. So I don't think it's played particularly well for him.

CAMEROTA: Ambassador Rufus Gifford, thank you very much for your perspective from Copenhagen for us.

GIFFORD: Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: John. BERMAN: All right, ahead, a new case of high school students being caught on video giving a Nazi salute. What's going on and why do these children think it's OK? The story ahead.


[06:51:24] BERMAN: This morning, the United States issuing a new threat to Iran. The State Department tells CNN they're aware of reports that an Iranian tanker, recently released from Gibraltar, against the U.S. government wishes, is now headed to Syria.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is warning the international community not to help tankers believed to be carrying illicit crude oil.

CNN's Clarissa Ward live in Tehran with the very latest here.

Clarissa, what's going on?


Well, we're hearing multiple reports that the Bonita Queen, a tanker, is reportedly heading towards Syria with hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil on board. A source telling CNN that the company that manages this tanker is the same company that manages the Grace 1 tanker, now called the Adrian Darya tanker. That source also telling CNN that roughly 3 million barrels of oil are smuggling into Syria every single month.

Now this comes as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a stern warning to any other countries or organizations that might be thinking of helping Iranian vessels carrying illicit oil. He was speaking at the U.N. Take a listen to what he had to say.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Made clear that anyone who touches it, anyone who supports it, anyone who allows a ship to dock is at risk of receiving sanctions from the United States of America. So if that ship again heads to Syria, we'll take every action we can consistent with those sanctions to prevent that.


WARD: Meanwhile, everybody here is watching very closely to see whether Iranian authorities are going to release the British tanker that they seized in late July as a response to the capture of the Grace 1 tanker in Gibraltar. We know that a court hearing has been underway here but no word yet as to when and if that British tanker, the Stena Impero, will indeed be released.


CAMEROTA: Clarissa, it is wonderful to have you in Tehran reporting for us. Thank you so much. There's this disturbing video of high school students giving a Nazi salute. So we'll bring you the story of what the school says is happening there, next.


[06:57:41] CAMEROTA: A California school district is reopening an investigation after this video shows a group of students giving the Nazi salute and singing a Nazi marching song. It resurfaced this week.

CNN's Sara Sidner is live in Los Angeles with more.

What's going on at this school, Sara?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's what a lot of people want to know because a lot of people were not told that this had actually happened.

You see the video there. This is Pacifica High School in Orange County, California. You see the students there throwing up a Nazi salute. The video went public. And suddenly it prompted the Garden Grove, California, Unified School District to decide to reopen an investigation.

The school district says that this happened at an athletic banquet off campus, but it was a school sponsored thing. A banquet off campus that these students were there unsupervised in another room before the banquet happened.

This happened in 2008 and it was posted to Snapchat. The school says it didn't know anything about it until March of 2019 and took immediate action and addressed the situation with all of the students involved. But five months later, this video comes out into the public. It was first put out there by "The Daily Beast."

And then teachers and parents at the school, as well as other parents of students at the school, were outraged because they had not been told anything about this.

Here's what happened, just partially at the school board meeting, the regularly scheduled school board meeting, in the area at the Unified School District there.


ANA TOURTELLOTTE, TEACHER, PACIFICA HIGH SCHOOL: We were completely blindsided and we feel outraged. We are not here to blame any one person, nor to dwell on the past. We're here to highlight what we see as systemic problems.

STEVE OSBORN, PRINCIPAL, PACIFICA HIGH SCHOOL: We did a disservice to the entire school community by limiting our action to this small group of students involved.

We are sorry that our investigation and our transparency with the Pacifica community fell drastically short. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER: That was the principal of Pacifica High School there in Orange County responding with the mea culpa. A lot of people upset here that they first learned about this, even though they taught at the school, even though they have children at the school, even some of the former students who were there at the school at the time.

[07:00:04] And, again, I want to reiterate, this happened in 2018. We are told that these are members.