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Waterspout Destroys Homes In Emerald Isle, North Carolina; Beyond The Call Of Duty: Boy With Autism Reunited With Transit Officer; New Charges In Case Of Missing Connecticut Mother. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 6, 2019 - 07:30   ET



ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But this money had been specifically appropriated by Congress. Democrats are saying this is exactly why you have congressional approval.

So now, to get those projects back on track -- to get the construction going again -- the money needs to be reapproved by Congress, setting up a bitter political fight -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: No question, Alex, people are losing in this scenario. Thank you very much. Some people, I should say, are losing. Alex Marquardt, thank you.

We're watching Hurricane Dorian closing within miles of North Carolina's Outer Banks. Look at this. In some towns, the damage is already done.

Coming up, we'll survey the destruction after dozens of tornadoes touched down.



BERMAN: All right. This morning, the rain and storm surge not the only consequences of Hurricane Dorian, which has just been a huge, persistent storm. Twenty-four tornadoes have been reported in North and South Carolina this week.

Take a look at this video. This waterspout off the coast of North Carolina -- it came ashore at Emerald Isle, destroying homes in an R.V. park.

And joining me now is the mayor of Emerald Isle, Eddie Barber, who, we should say, is sitting in the dark at home because he's lost power. Mr. Mayor, thank you very much for being with us.

First off, tell us, as far as you know, is everyone safe this morning in Emerald Isle?

MAYOR EDDIE BARBER, EMERALD ISLE, NORTH CAROLINA (via telephone): Yes, as far as we know, everyone is safe. We're doing assessments right now. Most of the island does not have electricity and they cannot put -- fix the electricity until the winds start calming down.

BERMAN: All right, we've seen the images. First of all, the waterspout but also some of the damage that was done in parts of your town, and it's just harrowing.

BARBER: And the waterspout was really, really bad. It's probably the worst waterspout we ever had.

BERMAN: Talk to me about seeing -- talk to me about seeing the pictures there. What happened?

BARBER: It was just one of the feeder bands of the storm that came in and it did a waterspout. And I was down there immediately after it happened and I just could not believe the damage from the waterspout.

Sometimes you get small waterspouts, but this was a really, really large waterspout and it just did a lot of damage down there at the R.V. park and it was just really sad to see. There were several people inside the trailers or mobile homes when it happened and believe it or not, they came out with just minor injuries. So that was a miracle in itself that no one was seriously hurt.

BERMAN: Well, that's good news. That's very good news that no one was hurt there.

But describe the scene. Describe the damage that you saw.

BARBER: Oh, there were trailers on top of each other -- trailers just destroyed. There were parts of trailers all up and down the highway. It was just a -- it was just really sad to see the damage. It really was.

BERMAN: Now, you issued a mandatory evacuation order prior to the arrival of the storm. Was that heeded by everybody?

BARBER: I would say probably 50 to 60 percent heeded the mandatory evacuations. We do that for public safety because we knew it was going to be a bad hurricane. And I think after the waterspout, even more people left when they realized the power of the storm. So we did the mandatory evacuations for public safety.

BERMAN: I've got to say, some of these pictures are a clear argument. You can't see them because you've lost power. We have them up on the screen right now, Mayor.

Some of these pictures are a clear argument for evacuating when the order comes down and I think this may be an effective argument going forward if you ever issue them again, correct?

BARBER: I agree 100 percent. I think that was an eye-opening experience to see the damage from the waterspout.

BERMAN: One of the things -- I was down in Charleston, South Carolina yesterday. I was in Wilmington, North Carolina last year at this time from Hurricane Florence, so not far from you. This seems like an annual event right now. It's been several years of this.

BARBER: It is. We're tired of them. We hope this is our last storm of the year -- we really do.

But it's a great beach and it's a great place to visit. We hope people who come down and visit us after the hurricane and we'll be open for business as soon as we can. And it's just a great -- a great beach town. So please come down and visit with us after the hurricane.

BERMAN: It is a great beach town and we know you'll get back on your feet. We hope you get your lights back on and get a chance to go outside soon.

Mayor Eddie Barber, thank you very much for being with us this morning -- appreciate it.

BARBER: OK, thank you so much. Bye-bye.

BERMAN: Stay safe.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, John, here's a strange and disturbing story. An American woman charged with trying to sneak a newborn baby through security and onto a plane. We'll give you the backstory here.


[07:43:03] CAMEROTA: We do have some breaking because "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting that state attorneys general are launching separate antitrust probes into Facebook and Google starting next week. The "Journal" is reporting that New York's A.G. will lead the probe into Facebook, with the investigation focusing on practices that may endanger privacy.

Facebook did not have a comment on this investigation.

CNN has reported the attorneys general are also preparing an investigation into Google's advertising practices. Google says it will cooperate with this inquiry.

BERMAN: New information this morning about the gunman in the Odessa, Texas shooting rampage. Documents from a local sheriff's office reveal that the gunman, in 2001, threatened to kill a woman's son, then tried to kill himself.

He had been ruled mentally unfit to buy firearms but was able to purchase the weapon used in the mass shooting through a private sale, which are not covered by any kind of background checks right now, which are the subject of many of the expanded background check proposals, we should say.

Seven people were murdered before the gunman was killed by police.

CAMEROTA: So in the wake of three mass shootings last month, five major retailers are asking customers not to openly carry guns in their stores, even in states where it is legal.

Walgreens, CVS, and Wegmans are joining Walmart and Kroger. The companies will still allow people to carry firearms.

Gun control advocates are applauding these new policies.

Walmart announced earlier this week that it will also end some gun and ammunition sales.

BERMAN: All right.

This morning, an Ohio woman is being charged with human trafficking in the Philippines.

Forty-three-year-old Jennifer Talbot allegedly tried to smuggle a 6- year-old (sic) baby -- look at this -- out of the country by hiding the infant in a shoulder bag. She was stopped at the airport in Manila before she could board a Delta flight to the United States.

According to authorities, Talbot said the mother was an unmarried, single parent but gave no information on whether the baby had been given or even perhaps sold.


CAMEROTA: OK, we need to follow up --


CAMEROTA: -- on that story.

Meanwhile, there's this sweet reunion after a transit officer in Washington, D.C. went beyond the call of duty for a boy with autism. The officer kept the boy company when he was having a tough time riding the D.C. Metro. The gesture warming the boy's mother's heart and going viral.

CNN's Jessica Schneider was there.



JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a heartfelt reunion for 5-year-old Andrew Pomilla and Metro transit officer, Dominic Case.

CASE: Alrighty, buddy. You ready to go on the train?

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Weeks after this picture and their story went viral, the two met up again on the Washington, D.C. Metro where they first became unlikely travel buddies.

TAYLOR POMILLA, ANDREW'S MOTHER: He got, literally, right here on the train and started freaking out. Let's go home.


POMILLA: He threw his shoes off and he was barefoot, and he hit someone with his shoe.

OK, ready?

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Taylor Pomilla knows that tantrums come with the territory given Andrew's autism, but this particular outburst outlasted her patience and she soon pulled him off the train.

T. POMILLA: He continued just to freak out right on the edge and we were, you know, right next to the tracks. And, of course, as a parent, I didn't want him to fall into the tracks.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Officer Case happened to be right there on patrol and decided to step in.

SCHNEIDER (on camera): Would you say this was more instinct or training?

CASE: I would say a little of both and just as a parent. I mean, I've seen Taylor and Andrew -- you know, that's something that's happened to me plenty of times, you know, out in public.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): It was a seemingly simple gesture but it lasted more than 30 minutes. Officer Case rode side-by-side with Taylor and Andrew for several stops until their final destination at their home station in Virginia.

CASE: My presence around Andrew just seemed to calm him so it just seemed like this was the right thing to do at the time.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Taylor's initial way of saying thanks was by posting this photo on Facebook. It got thousands of likes.

T. POMILLA: What I loved, though, is that I was getting all these comments and all these people were loving how, you know, it made them feel like there was still good in the world and that they could relate if they had a child with autism.

SCHNEIDER (on camera): So the officer warmed your heart and then you warmed others' hearts --


SCHNEIDER (on camera): -- sharing this.

T. POMILLA: No, I didn't even -- I mean, I couldn't have asked for a better outcome, though.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): But eventually, she sought out Officer Case to officially say thanks. T. POMILLA: I tried in a million ways to say thank you for everything, but I -- because I really -- it meant more than what I think you even thought at first.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): A special friendship formed on public transit that has warmed the hearts of parents of autistic children online.

Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


CAMEROTA: Somebody hand us a hankie.

BERMAN: I love Officer Case.

CAMEROTA: I do, too.

BERMAN: Officer Case seems like the nicest guy. His training -- being a parent is training. And also, I have to say Andrew's bow tie is everything --

CAMEROTA: It is beautiful.

BERMAN: -- everything.

CAMEROTA: I know. You know how sometimes we do stories and then afterwards I say I don't like people? Now, I love people.

BERMAN: Good. I'm glad you have such a spine.

CAMEROTA: I love them now.

BERMAN: Good, excellent. Let's see how long that lasts.

We're approaching the top of the hour. The new 8:00 a.m. advisory for Hurricane Dorian expected within the next few minutes. We'll give you that latest update, coming up.


[07:53:04] BERMAN: New developments this morning in the disappearance of Jennifer Dulos, a Connecticut mother missing since May. Michelle Troconis, the girlfriend of Dulos' estranged husband, turned herself in to police Thursday, a day after Fotis Dulos was arrested for a second time in connection with the case.

Jennifer's body has still not been found.

CNN's Brynn Gingras with the very latest on this.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The appearance of normalcy for Fotis Dulos, where he's been spotted exercising and grocery shopping in his Connecticut community. But behind that normalcy, many questions. Dulos has posted bail twice on charges related to the disappearance of his estranged wife, Jennifer, who vanished on May 24th. Those charges, tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution.

Dulos' girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, has already pleaded not guilty to charges in the case. Thursday, State Police adding more charges of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence. She is free on bond. Her lawyer did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: There's no question that she's the lynchpin in terms of putting him away and getting the murder charge established.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Dulos' latest arrest warrant details surveillance video from the morning of Jennifer's disappearance, which police say shows him driving his employee's personal vehicle on a 60- mile drive to New Canaan, Connecticut where Jennifer lived with her five school-aged children.

Police believe Dulos was lying in wait near Jennifer's home until she returned from dropping their children off a school.

The affidavit goes on to state, "The crime and clean-up are believed to have occurred between 8:05 a.m. and 10:25 a.m. when Jennifer's SUV is seen leaving her home. Dulos is believed to be operating the victim's vehicle which is carrying the body of Jennifer Dulos."

Detectives say forensic testing later showing Jennifer's blood was in the vehicle.

JACKSON: I've seen people convicted with less -- much less arrested with less. And so, the fact is I get police want to be meticulous, they want to dot i's, cross t's.


GINGRAS (voice-over): Dulos and his girlfriend were also allegedly spotted on surveillance video the night of Jennifer's disappearance, putting bags in trash cans on a busy city street several towns away. Police later found those bags contained clothing and a sponge with Jennifer's blood.

The couple were involved in a contentious divorce battle after Jennifer filed back in 2017. Her parents say, in court documents, that they funded Fotis' business as well as the couple's home, and he still owes them money.

In the days after Jennifer's disappearance, Dulos' employee tells police his boss was acting strangely, going so far as to take the truck he borrowed to get professionally cleaned and insisting the employee replace the front seats. Authorities later finding evidence of Jennifer's blood on the seats.

Fotis Dulos maintains his innocence, as he did after the previous charges, saying after his arrest Wednesday --

FOTIS DULOS, JENNIFER DULOS' HUSBAND: It's an exhausting fight. I love my children and that's about it.


GINGRAS: Yes, and that arrest warrant just went into stunning detail by the Connecticut State Police.

His attorney making a statement. I want to read part of it to you.

He says, "It sounds like the state is trying to convince itself that Fotis is responsible for Jennifer's disappearance. When and if the state decides it can prove its case, we will welcome the chance to meet the case in open court."

And both Dulos and Troconis are expected back in court sometime later this month -- John and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Brynn. Thank you very much for following that for us.

All right. Meanwhile, it's a Washington whodunit, though there are certainly a lot of clues. Who scribbled that ominous Alabama addition to an official hurricane forecast map? And much like the game of Clue, who was in the Oval Office with a Sharpie?

John Avlon is here with our reality check. Hi, John.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning, guys. I appreciate the Clue reference.

Well look, let's be clear. Sharpiegate is absurd. There's a real hurricane going on that's caused massive destruction and a death toll that's likely to rise. And yet, President Trump tweeted about Alabama at least five times on Wednesday, alone.


AVLON (voice-over): There's something President Trump can't let go, insisting he was right when he said last weekend that Hurricane Dorian would hit Alabama hard days after projections showed it would give the state a pass -- day after day, defending the inaccuracy.

Then things escalated to peak absurdity when someone was caught doctoring a week-old National Weather Service map with a Sharpie, in the Oval Office, to prove the president's point, all of which caused an exchange that seemed straight out of "VEEP."

REPORTER: And that map that you showed us today looked like it almost had like a Sharpie on it.


AVLON (voice-over): Not convinced? Well, then the White House tried to explain away the whole snafu by saying that one of the officials in the Oval Office used the black marker unprompted to show that the hurricane could have been way worse. A source familiar with the briefing notably did not deny that

President Trump was that official. Now, "The Washington Post" is reporting an anonymous White House official saying it was, indeed, President Trump.

But let's do some sleuthing ourselves to solve this mystery of Sharpiegate.

First, who in the Oval Office loves him some Sharpies? I'll give you a guess. Yes, that's the president's customized black Sharpie with his signature on the side.

He told Axios that he asked the company to make one for him when he decided that official government pens didn't write well.

TRUMP: So I called up the folks at Sharpie and I said, "Do me a favor. Can you make the pen in black? Make it look rich?"

And he said, "Not only we can do that, we can put your signature on it."

AVLON (voice-over): And, of course, we know that the president has long been fond of writing quick notes with said Sharpie, featuring his slashing signature, to congressmen and heads of state like Canada's Justin Trudeau.

You might have also seen his Sharpie at work on edits to public statements like that time he wrote "there was no collusion" on this effort to clean up the fallout from the Helsinki summit where he failed to stand up to Putin about election meddling, while also notably crossing out a line that he would bring, quote, "anyone involved in that meddling to justice."

Or who could forget his talking points written on a card when meeting with victims of the Parkland shooting in which he reminded himself to say "I hear you."

Trump's Sharpie habit was in effect long before White House, like when he reportedly kept sending the former editor of "Vanity Fair," Graydon Carter, pictures of his hands circled with a gold Sharpie in what Carter described as "a valiant effort to highlight the length of his fingers" -- an apparent rebuttal to a decades-old description of Trump as a "short-fingered vulgarian."

Look, imagining Trump without a Sharpie and a grudge is like imaging Picasso without a paintbrush or John Wayne without a gun.

So we could choose to believe what the president says or our own lying eyes -- or the National Hurricane Center map showing the path where Trump started his Alabama rant. Or the Birmingham office of the National Weather Service, which tried to assure folks they were in no danger despite the president's remarks. Or even a Fox News meteorologist who called the Sharpie-enhanced map in the Oval Office "inaccurate, misleading, and fake."

But, Sharpiegate is not a. END