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Oregon Shooting; Las Vegas Shooting; Anti-Government Extremists

Aired June 10, 2014 - 14:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Pamela Brown.

And we come to you this hour with breaking news. A deadly shooting at a high school in suburban Portland, Oregon. We know there is at least one victim, a student, killed by a gunman. The lone shooter is also dead, we're told by authorities, although we don't know how he died.


CHIEF SCOTT ANDERSON, TROUTDALE POLICE: A gunman entered the high school this morning, shot one student. Unfortunately, that student has died. The gunman was located and the gunman is also deceased.

LINDA FLORENCE, REYNOLDS SCHOOL DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENT: This is a very tragic day, one that I had hoped would never, ever be part of my experience. And as we are able to get more information, the district will provide that to the public. We feel very sorry for our parents. Our kids were absolutely wonderful today at exiting the building.


BROWN: Still a very active scene there. And it's still unclear if any other students were hurt. But here's what we do know.

At 8:07 this morning Pacific Time, shots were fired at Reynolds High School in Troutdale. That's about 12 miles east of Portland. These shots reportedly came from a semiautomatic weapon. The shoots happened as classes began for the day. Police and tactical teams responded, evacuating students from the school, as you see right here in this video. They were led off campus in droves with hands over their heads. Surrounding the school, a huge police presence. Armored vehicles, SWAT teams and dozens of officers from multiple agencies, from several different cities in that area.

Also outside the school, parents waiting anxiously to hear that their kids are safe. Relief as the buses pull up, reuniting parents and students.

And one extraordinary moment caught live on TV with one of our affiliates. Take a look here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're sure he's OK, but, you know, until you hear that -- until you hear the final word, you always have the thought. We're just waiting.

Hello. Good. That's what we were waiting for. That's OK. I -- yes. Yes, I know, that's what they were saying, so -- I am glad to hear from you. All right. So are you almost ready to get on the bus to come down here or what's the deal?



BROWN: That says it all, just the emotion those parents are feeling when they heard their child's voice. Evan Perez, justice reporter, joins me now to talk about this.

And, Evan, we're still waiting for a lot of details. They haven't cleared the building yet, we're told. Do we have any update on possible injuries and whether this student that was killed, whether that student was targeted by the gunman?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Pamela, this -- very scanty details still at this point. The police are still trying to work through the scene there, going classroom by classroom, room by room, to try to clear the building, to make sure that there is no further danger, to make sure there's no other further injured students perhaps that have been hiding in place.

We do know that they believe - they believe the shooter is dead and that we don't (ph) know whether he took his own life or whether there was a first responder who was able to kill him. But we do know that the shooter first killed a student. And that -- based on the fact that they believe he had a semiautomatic weapon, we know that, you know, he could have done a lot more damage than what he did. So at this point it appears - it appears, indications are that he was probably targeting this person. Again, this is something that the police are going to have to give us more information about, when they have their press conference in the next hour, Pamela.

BROWN: And as we await those details, Evan, I know that you've covered a lot of these types of shootings. If you would, walk us through how the investigation will unfold from here. What authorities will be doing to try to figure out the motive, why this gunman did this.

PEREZ: Sad to say, there have been dozens in these things in the last - in the last few months and so, you know, we -- these scenes where the police come in and they try to figure out whether or not the shooter had any motivation perhaps that they've - that they've expressed to other friends and family members, they'll go through their computer, they'll go do a search warrant, I'm sure. At this moment, the police are doing search warrants right now to try to recover any social media, any things on computers, anything written that the shooter might have left behind.

Now, they, obviously, know who it is. They haven't released that information yet. We don't even know whether this is a student or not. But again, that's where they're going at. Now, the ATF is at the scene. The FBI is on the scene. They, obviously, as you - as you well know, Pamela, have done too many of these scenes in the last few years and so they can lend assistance. The ATF is going to help trace the firearm to see where it came from and the FBI is going to help do -- bring in its behavioral specialist to try to determine whether or not there was anything that might have been missed here that could maybe tell us for the next time this happens, Pamela.

BROWN: Yes, certainly all hands on deck from law enforcement there in Troutdale, Oregon. Thank you so much, Evan. We'll talk to you again soon.

And now we want to go straight to John Marino (ph). He was a student there. He's on the phone with us now. And he's here to tell us what it was like, the chaos, as the scene unfolded when that gunman opened fire this morning.

John, if you would, just - if you would, just describe the scene for me, please.

JOHN MARINO, STUDENT (via telephone): It was scary. It was like -- it was like shocking. It was shocking, I would say.

BROWN: If you would, John, paint a picture for me. Walk us through what happened, what you heard, what you saw, what was going on around you.

MARINO: OK. So just imagine you were walking through a hall, through a big hall. And imagine hearing the bell that says we're on a lockdown, everybody get in your classrooms. You never really expect it because we never really have -- we never really have those. But after that bell - after that bell rung, like you could see everybody - like all the kids running through the hallways, all the teachers yelling, get in your class, get in your class. So you like get in your classroom. It's just like, what's going on, because they don't give you information until (INAUDIBLE) further (ph) notice.

BROWN: And at that point, John, what was going through your mind?

MARINO: Well, at first I thought it was like a tardy sweep. But then I realized that it's not. Because it was more serious than what it had to be. And - you know, I don't know. I don't know. I was kind of just out of it. It was - it was crazy.

BROWN: You know, a lot of schools have drills to prepare for these types of situations. Is this something that you all have gone -- trained for to deal with an active shooter situation?

MARINO: We've gone and trained to go through a lockdown. So we've never actually been trained to go through a situation where there - where a shooter can come into your school and actually, like, shoot up the school.

BROWN: And, John, you know, myself included, a lot of people are going to social media to see what was unfolding. How did that play a role for you? I know a lot of students were on social media tweeting about what was unfolding.

MARINO: Well, that was the - that was pretty much the way everybody found out about what was going on, through Twitter. Everybody from school saw what was going on. Everybody from other schools saw what was going on. And that's how everybody was (INAUDIBLE) informed.

BROWN: Yes, John, we -- earlier on the show we showed a phone call where one of the students called his parents, and obviously there is a great sense of relief from the parents, understandably. How about you? Have you talked to your family yet? If so, what was their reaction when they heard your voice?

MARINO: I didn't get to speak to them until I got to the - to the place where they took us, which was the Fred Meijer store. And when they saw me there, pretty happy. They were really happy, actually.

BROWN: I can imagine. That's an understatement.

John, thank you very much for talking with us. We appreciate it. And just hope that you and the rest of the students there and staff at the school will be able to recover from this horrific incident there. Just one day left in the school year.

And now I want to go to Andrew Lampri (ph), former sergeant with the Los Angeles Police SWAT team, to walk us through what happens when officers arrive at a scene like this.

Nice to have you here with us, Andrew.

As we've seen in the video, there's a lot of different agencies that sort of converged at the school. We've seen dogs there on the scene. Can you just walk us through what's going on right now in the investigation, most likely?

ANDREW LAMPRI, FORMER LOS ANGELES POLICE SWAT TEAM (via telephone): Sure, as best I can. Obviously my agency operates differently than other agencies throughout the United States. Not to say one is right and one is wrong. But since the increase in school shootings has occurred, most police agencies have developed what we call a rapid deployment situation. And it used to be that the SWAT teams or special operations units would respond and they would deploy rapidly without even forming a game plan. Immediately upon arrival, the first arriving SWAT team officer or two that enter the structure on to (ph) the school and try to handle the situation.

However, we found that oftentimes the first people on scene in the law enforcement capacity are police officers, patrol officers, traffic officers who now need to assume that responsibility. We're past -- well past the days when we could afford to sit around and form a game plan and then deploy on the school. And so now patrol officers often find themselves in the situation of having to immediately deploy upon their arrival at the scene of the shooting and hopefully engage the shooter and neutralize him or her.

BROWN: And let's talk about that.


BROWN: Oh, go ahead.

LAMPRI: I was just going to say, I'm not sure if that was what took place in that situation or not.

BROWN: Well, we have learned from authorities there, Andrew, that the shooter was neutralized. We don't know whether the shooter committed suicide or if authorities were the ones to shoot him. But - so we're still waiting for those details to come out in a press conference soon.

But tell us, once you determine the shooter is, in fact, neutralized, where does the investigation go from there?

LAMPRI: Well, once the encounter is made with the shooter, then, of course, deadly force is going to be used to cease his behavior and hopefully put him down and render him helpless, or her. Most of these, if not all of these shooters are males.

And then the officers will close on the shooter, quickly take control of them, put them in handcuffs. And then at that point, it may be still an active shooting site where if there's more than one shooter, other officers are going to have to continue to search the school structures, go throughout the classrooms, administrative facilities and render the school safe and make sure that there's not an additional shooter or shooters.

BROWN: Andrew, I'm curious to know what your thoughts are on this. If you look at the shootings, not just school shootings, but just across the board in the past few years, it seems like in most of these shootings it's a single male, a male acting alone. What are your thoughts on that? Do you - is there -- from your experience, a common thread that you see with these shooters?

LAMPRI: Well, most of these shooters, if not all of them, well, I would just say it's safe to say all of them have mental issues. We engage in services of forensic psychologists. I think probably most law enforcement agencies do. We have full-time staff of forensic psychologists here in Los Angeles who will respond to scenes where barricaded suspects are to assist in analyzing what their intentions might be, particularly if there's negotiations underway.

But the human mind is very fragile. Each one of these people have their own individual issues. And it's almost impossible to know ahead of time what their behavior's going to be, short of having an armed encampment surrounding the school with law enforcement personnel to prevent these issues, which is not going to happen. We're simply at the mercy of all the mental health communities to assist and identify those suspects - or those individuals who may present a risk somewhere down the line and hopefully treat them. But short of that, it's a very challenging situation to try to prevent these situations from happening.

BROWN: Yes, really, just a sad reality we live in. Andrew Lampri, thank you very much. And we're going to have much more on this breaking news coming up as

we await a news conference.

But first, just ahead, they thought the government was out to get them and use their anger against innocent people, including police officers. We're now hearing from the woman who let this couple stay with her and she's revealing what she saw before their shooting rampage. That, and more, when we return.


BROWN: They saw police as the enemy. Then a Las Vegas couple turned their extremist views into violence. Jared and Amanda Miller carried out a horrific ambush taking the lives of two police officers at a pizzeria, and a bystander at Wal-Mart. And today we're learning the warning signs were there. The couple had been staying with Kelly Fielder, who called the Millers her friends. Fielder talked to CNN's Kyung Lah.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Did you see anything like a yellow flag or swastikas or anything like that?

KELLY FIELDER, NEIGHBOR OF JARED AND AMANDA MILLER: He's got the "no tread on me" flags. That's what put on that cop. And, yes, those swastika pins. And he said every (INAUDIBLE) - this exact words, every popo he claims he's going to put a swastika on them. And I didn't know about the yellow tread - the "no tread on me." I didn't know about that until later.

I can't even sleep in my own home. Nightmares do I -not even compare because I've got five deaths on my shoulders. I should have called the cops. Two cops who's got families that are dead. And I got -- my best friend is dead. All because of the fact that he was the one.


FIELDER: I didn't realize that he was going to be that serious. Didn't realize it. And I am so, so, so sorry.


BROWN: Among the clues, a don't tread on me flag and a Nazi swastikas the couple placed on one of the police officers. Amanda Miller's best friend in Indiana is shocked by the killing spree.


JESSICA BERNARD, AMANDA MILLER'S BEST FRIEND: The only thing I can think of is saying that she kept saying that something about the government -- like watching their every move. I was a little skeptical of Jared when I first met him, but I - I was there for her because I know she loved him and I tried to see through everything.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: Friends of the fallen officers held a vigil Monday night, and we're also hearing from gunmen Jared Miller's mother today, telling CNN's Dan Simon, "we wish to express our greatest sympathies. Thoughts and prayers to the families who have lost their loved ones in this horrific act of violence. We are profoundly saddened, confused and in shock over the senseless actions of our son and his wife."

Let me bring in now CNN's Stephanie Elam to discuss this.

Stephanie, you talked to the family of one of the victims. Tell us, what did they tell you?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Pamela, I also spoke to the man that was actually with Joseph Wilcox, the man who was inside that Wal-Mart. And instead of running out the store, ran to try to intervene to stop these two killers. What I learned was that these two men had been longtime friends, that they wanted to just return something and then they were going to go out and do some swimming. It was supposed to be a nice Sunday afternoon.

But instead they saw these two people come in with sort of fatigue type gear. And at that point they said everything, or talking to Jeremy, said that everything started to happen very fast. Take a listen to what he had to say.


JEREMY TANNER, VICTIM'S FRIEND: I turned back around to grab, you know, just, you know, to see what Joseph, you know, ask (ph) who it is. He started to head in - towards the store, reaching for his gun, because he does carry a concealed weapon. You know, he has conceal to carry. He carries a gun. And Joseph had the option to go, you know, to go left and exit the store to safety, but he, instead, he went into the store and chased after the gunman.


ELAM: Now, the problem was, is that allegedly what we are now learning is that Joseph did not realize that Amanda Miller was also with Jared. So she is the one that shot and killed him.

At this point, Jeremy runs out of the store. He's waiting for his friend to emerge, even calling 911, he says, to let them know that there's a civilian in there with a gun who's trying to help. He said it was hours before he found out what happened to his friend.

We also had the chance to speak to Joseph Wilcox's younger sister, and she was telling us a bit about the kind of man her brother was. She said he always put family first and he was an adventurous type. And that the reason why he believed in carrying a gun was for reasons just like what he encountered on Sunday morning. Listen to what she said.


CJ FOSTER, VICTIM'S SISTER: My brother's gone and he's not coming back. And I keep waiting for him to walk through the door and say he's just tired and exhausted from everyone questioning him. And it's just not going to happen. And I keep going into his room and he's just not there. And I keep sitting in his chair. And he's not there and it just -- it hurts.


ELAM: The emotion there just extremely raw. This family is still grappling with this. Although they do believe that their loved one is a hero and that is how they're remembering him, Pamela.

BROWN: He certainly had so much courage to do that. Just hard to hear her speak about her brother. Stephanie Elam, thank you for bringing that to us.

The crime scene and their apartment showed scary (ph) revelations from the pair of Las Vegas shooters. Police say the violent young married couple held anti-government hatred. They were asked to leave a ranch belonging to Clive Bundy, while the Nevada rancher was in a standoff with federal authorities over land use. Jared Miller talked about law enforcement while he was there. Take a listen.


JARED MILLER: I feel sorry for any federal agents that want to come in here and try to push us around or anything like that. I really don't want violence toward them, but if they're going to come, bring violence to us, well, if that's the language they want to speak, we'll learn it.


BROWN: So, does this confirm domestic extremists on the fringes remaining a threat in America? The Southern Poverty Law Center says there are more than 1,000 such groups in America. So let me bring in CNN political analyst and editor in chief of "The Daily Beast," John Avlon.

John, great to have you here with us.


BROWN: I've been reading your article and you make some pretty bold claims in this article. And I want to read one paragraph here. You say, "these are the wages of hate. Two dead police officers and one innocent civilian, all with young children, sacrificed to fulfill a twisted vision sold by online snake oil salesmen and professional polarizers." Who's to blame here, John?

AVLON: The deal is that this is not happening in a vacuum. That this online radicalization of the Millers occurred over time and going through their FaceBook posts, as I did to researching that column, it's very clear that they've internalized the rhetoric of hate and hyper partisanship and polarization, of buying into this narrative that it was - that America was facing with a choice between freedom and tyranny, identifying the federal government with fascists and Nazis, which is why they placed the swastikas presumably on the bodies of the two officers. This was a political act driven by instability, as well as fundamental instability on the two folks.

And when we have these sorts of overheated debates in our culture, eventually it can attach itself to an unhinged individual and result in a real tragedy.

BROWN: And in the article that you wrote, John, you placed the blame squarely on right-wing radio, on the NRA leaders as well. Tell us, how so?

AVLON: Well, what I do is look at who he -- this fellow was parroting. The rhetoric he was parroting. He had liked organizations like the NRA. I don't believe the NRA is culpable for this. We can have a larger conversation about gun culture. He identified himself as a strong Ron Paul supporter. This has nothing to do with Ron Paul.

But the rhetoric he is parroting really did echo a lot of what we hear on far right-wing talk radio, things like "The Alex Jones Show," who immediately said this was a false flag operation, which is a complete, you know, it's just idiocy and a high level version of CYA. The rhetoric that gets used in these folks who traffic in anxiety and anger to get listeners to tether to their message, that really - these folks gravitated to it, they latched on to it and they ultimately acted on it. So when people use a language like, oh, the (INAUDIBLE) 1984 to 1776, as Alex Jones does, the message there is one of revolution. That is explicitly one that these folks tried to act on. So this is very much a case of the echo chamber being taken to heart and these acts did not happen in a vacuum.

BROWN: And - but, you know, you've got to look at personal responsibility here because that rhetoric isn't going away. You look at the historical context here, John, the 1960s and 1970s, the threats came from the revolutionary left, as you alluded to. How are today's extremist groups different, do you think?

AVLON: Well, you make a really important point. In the late 1960s and early '70s, the anti-government violence in the United States was primarily on the left with groups like The Weathermen (ph), the Black Panthers. In recent decades we see the energy more on the right, during the Clinton era, the militia movement and the Christian identity movement, the Sovereign Citizen Movement, that ultimately really were expressed in the Oklahoma City bombing. And then a falloff until the Obama years, in which we've seen an explosive growth of the number of patriot militia groups as detailed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. And this kind -- we've seen isolated incidents before. Some shootings on fairly ascribed (ph) to political motivations. Some explicitly reflecting this kind of right-wing hatroit (ph) politics. And this definitely falls under this camp. This is not simply an issue of mental illness and access to guns. This is motivation by ideology in politics and the kind of - the kind of hyper partisan agitated talk that resonates in these online echo chambers that apparently serves as a dark inspiration for this couple.

BROWN: But bottom line, regardless of all of this, John, you can't explain crazy. You know, when people do things like this, you want to apply reason to it, but so often there's no reasonable explanation for a crazy act like this. John Avlon, thank you very much. We appreciate you coming on the show.

AVLON: You -

BROWN: Go ahead. You want to say one more thing, quickly.

AVLON: Thank you, Pam.

BROWN: All right, thank you.

AVLON: All right, here's the -- here's the point, is that words matter. Ideas matter. And when people act on ideas they've incubated, there is a line. It's not causality, but there's a connection and it needs to be analyzed, discussed openly and directly.

BROWN: All right. And it is discussed in your article on John Avlon, thank you for adding in that last comment there.

AVLON: Thank you, Pamela.

BROWN: Good to see you.

And coming up right here in NEWSROOM, we'll have more on that school shooting at a high school just outside of Portland. One student is dead, along with the shooter. We are expecting a press conference and we're going to bring that to you live.

Plus, as Hillary Clinton begins her book tour, that some analysts are calling a campaign, is the media giving her a free pass? We're going to discuss that, up next.