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Prop Gun Kills Crew Member on Alec Baldwin Movie Set; FBI Identifies Human Remains as Brian Laundrie; Biden Backs Filibuster Change to Protect Voting Rights; Gang Leader Threatens to Kill Missionaries Held Hostages; Multiple Storms to Bring Heavy Rain and Snow to West Coast; President Biden's Climate Agenda Hitting Major Roadblocks; Russian President Will Not Attend COP26 Climate Summit. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired October 22, 2021 - 04:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a very warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and right around the word. I'm Isa Soares in London. And just ahead right here on CNN NEWSROOM.

Breaking overnight, the actor Alec Baldwin accidentally shoots two people with a prop firearm on a movie set, killing one of them.

New details this morning about what investigators found in a Florida nature park while searching for Brian Laundrie.

And as Nicaragua soon heads to the polls for a presidential election, its critics and opposition leaders are being thrown to jail. I speak to the family of one of Nicaragua's many silenced voices.

ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Isa Soares.

SOARES: Hello, everyone. It is Friday, October 22nd, and we begin with breaking news overnight in the United States. Police say actor Alec Baldwin was holding a prop gun on the set of his upcoming movie "Rust" when it discharged, killing the film cinematographer and injuring the director. An investigation is currently underway. CNN's Sarah Sidner has all the details for you.


SARAH SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A real tragedy unfolding on a movie set in New Mexico. We are told by the sheriff's department in Santa Fe County that their investigators say it appears that a scene was being filmed in this new movie called "Rust." And in that scene, there was a prop firearm that was being used, and that firearm was discharged. And two people were suddenly hit with some kind of projectile coming out of what was supposed to be a prop.

Now, we have learned that the two people who were hit are the director of the film, Joel Souza, 48-years-old, taken to the hospital, and a 42-year-old director of photography. Her name, Halyna Hutchins. She actually died from her injuries. A shock to everyone there on set, and to the rest of the community -- the filming community. What we also know is that the person holding the firearm and in the scene was producer and well-known actor Alec Baldwin.

Alec Baldwin there on the set helping to produce this new film called "Rust" which is a western that is sort of based in the 1880s, and as you might imagine, you know, there would be shootouts that are often filmed in westerns. And we see photos of him that appear to show him extremely distraught on the set after this happened.

We know that he and many others were excited about being able to go back to work and be there in person with a whole big crew doing the job that they love. But now one person has died and another injured, two integral people to this film. And the investigation is currently active and underway, but so far, no charges have been filed in this case. Back to you.


SOARES: Thanks very much, Sarah Sidner. Of course, we'll have much more on that story in roughly 50 minutes or so on EARLY START.

Now I want to stay in the United States. There's been a major development in the Gabby Petito case. The manhunt for her fiancee Brian Laundrie has officially come to an end. But questions still remain surrounding the time line of his disappearance. CNN's Leyla Santiago has more for you.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, the FBI has confirmed that skeletal remains found in the Carlton Reserve are those of Brian Laundrie.

The FBI confirming in a tweet, a comparison of dental records on Thursday confirmed that the human remains found at the T. Mabry Carlton Jr. Memorial Reserve and the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park Wednesday are those of Brian Laundrie.

JOSH TAYLOR, SPOKESMAN, NORTH PORT POLICE: Certainly, the clothing, you know, that was there as well, it's consistent what we believe he's wearing.

SANTIAGO (voice over): The Laundries were informed this evening when police visited the house. Their attorney putting out a statement on their behalf saying, Chris and Roberta Laundrie have been informed that the remains found yesterday in the reserve or indeed Brian's. We have no further comment at this time and we ask that you respect the Laundrie's privacy at this time.

Investigators continue to process items found near the remains, items believed to belong to Brian Laundrie, including a backpack and a notebook.

TAYLOR: The notebook to my understanding has not been opened. That will need to be processed. We want to make sure that that's handled as carefully as possible. [04:05:00]

SANTIAGO (voice over): Also today, North Port Police pushing back on the account the Laundrie's attorney gave to CNN Wednesday night about how quickly Brian disappeared.

STEVEN BERTOLINO, LAUNDRIE FAMILY ATTORNEY: Let the record be clear. The Laundries reported Brian did not come home the night he went out for the hike. I actually reported that to the FBI personally. On Friday the 17th, the FBI called me, we didn't call them. They called me and said we have a tip that Brian was seen in Tampa and we want to see if he's in the house.

On Friday, when the FBI came to the Laundrie residents, we then said, yes, we will fill out a missing person's report. And that got twisted as though the family waited until Friday to report him missing which is not how it happened.

SANTIAGO (voice over): Today, North Port Police Department Spokesperson Josh Taylor telling CNN that's not true.

TAYLOR: If we had that information, there's a million things we would have done differently. I mean, you can look at our actions very publicly that don't coincide with that information at all.

SANTIAGO (voice over): For example, he says, North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison publicly called out the Laundrie attorney on Twitter Wednesday, September 15th.

Saying: Mr. Steven Bertolino, esq., the North Port Police needs your help in finding Gabby Petito. Please call us to arrange a conversation with Brian Laundrie. Two people left on a trip and one person returned.

TAYLOR: We received no response. I mean, I think most people would find it appropriate to get a response saying he's missing. That didn't happen.

SANTIAGO (voice over): As to why he thinks the lawyer is saying this now ...

TAYLOR: Well, he's protecting his clients.

SANTIAGO: And the attorney for the Petito family saying in a statement, in part, they are grieving the loss of their beautiful daughter. Gabby's family will make a statement at the appropriate time and when they are emotionally ready.

Leyla Santiago, CNN, North Port, Florida.


SOARES: Now, there's new optimism from Joe Biden this morning that he can get his infrastructure bill and sweeping social spending plan through Congress. At a CNN Town Hall, the U.S. President mentioned that a number of his proposals could be cutback or scrapped altogether. But he says he's confident lawmakers can find a way to pay for the package without increasing corporate tax rates as originally planned. Mr. Biden also hinted that he's willing to look at possible changes into a U.S. Senate main stay, the filibuster.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Are you saying once you get this current agenda passed on spending and social programs, that you would be open to fundamentally altering the filibuster, or doing away with it?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, that remains to be seen. Exactly what that means in terms of fundamentally and whether or not we just end the filibuster straight up.

There are certain things that are just sacred rights. One is a sacred obligation that we're never going to renege on a debt. We're the only nation in the world. We have never, ever reneged on a single debt.

COOPER: But when it comes to voting rights --

BIDEN: Voting rights is equally as consequential.

COOPER: When it comes to voting rights, just so I'm clear, though, you would entertain the notion of doing away with the filibuster on that one issue? Is that correct?

BIDEN: And maybe more.

COOPER: And maybe other issues?


SOARES: So, how exactly would it change in the filibuster work? CNN's chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is traveling with the president.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, President Biden made a significant amount of news in this CNN Town Hall in Baltimore. Perhaps most symbolically on the filibuster, saying that there could come a point where they have to fundamentally alter it, though, of course, they do not have the 60-vote threshold in the Senate that has prevented the president and Democrats from getting some of their biggest priorities through, including, of course, voting rights legislation, something that Republicans have blocked three times in this Congress. And the president saying that could be a reason to alter the filibuster, and potentially other reasons as well.

But saying right now he does not think it's the time because he would lose potentially up to three votes on, of course, the sweeping economic package that he is currently negotiating with Democrats. But saying that that time could come. Of course, the president does not have a vote when it comes to changing the filibuster. But given he is a Senate institutionalist, it is a significant step for the president to be open to changing it. It remains to be seen how those on Capitol Hill respond to that, but

it did come tonight during the Town Hall, the president got into several details of the negotiations that are underway with Democrats. Revealing positions that those two moderate holdouts, Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema have that they themselves did not necessarily reveal in public.

The president seemed to concede that paid leave is not going to be 12 weeks as he had initially proposed but will be down to four weeks. He talked about some of the climate provisions potentially changing.


Also confirmed community college, it is two free years that he had promised, and touted several times on the campaign trail are not likely going to make it in here.

He also said that Senator Sinema is opposed to expanding those Medicare benefits on the level that you see people like Senator Bernie Sanders push for. So certainly, some big alterations could happen to this bill from that initial proposal. And from we've even seen this week as Democrats do figure out a new way to pay for it.

One other front where the president made news is he said he should have chosen his words more wisely, when he talked about those Justice Department potential prosecutions of those like Steve Bannon, former President Trump's ally, who defied those January 6 Congressional subpoenas. The president saying, he will not call the Attorney General and tell him who he should prosecute, though he did note he answered that question honestly.

Kaitlan Collins, CNN, traveling with the president in Baltimore.


SOARES: Well, the U.S. Attorney General is not revealing what the Justice Department will do after the U.S. House voted to hold Steve Bannon, a close ally of former U.S. President Donald Trump, in criminal contempt. Bannon defied a subpoena from the bipartisan committee investigating the violent January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Thursday's vote marks a major escalation in how far lawmakers are willing to go to punish people who refuse to cooperate. Take a listen.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Do not believe for one moment that if we fail to hold Steve Bannon accountable that he will be the exception. He will become the rule, not a rule of law, but the misrule of men. Either we are all equal before the law or none of us is. This is the essence of our democracy.


SOARES: Well, the Justice Department will now have to decide whether to prosecute, if Bannon is found guilty, punishment could result in a fine and up to a year behind bars. But the process rarely leads to jail time and could take years.

Now, the U.S. State Department believes a new video showing a Haitian gang leader is legitimate. A senior department official spoke after the gang leader apparently threatening in the video to kill his 17 hostages. They are Americans and one Canadian who were kidnapped while doing missionary work. Matt Rivers has the story for you.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In a disturbing new development in this kidnapping case here in Haiti, in a video posted to Facebook on Thursday afternoon -- a video that CNN is choosing not to show nor to quote directly from -- the leader of the 400 Mawozo gang -- which is the gang that is accused by authorities of carrying out this kidnapping. The leader of that gang Wilson Joseph is heard saying that he is willing to kill these people he has kidnapped, him and his fellow gang members, if his demands are not met.

CNN has previously reported that the gang is demanding $1 million per person as a ransom, according to a source in Haiti's security forces. That would bring the overall ransom amount that the gang is asking for to $17 million. This video on Facebook was taken at a funeral for some of these gang members that the gang alleges were killed by Haiti's police forces.

Now, a source in Haiti security forces also tells us that the kidnappers have provided proof of life, proof that the kidnapping victims are still alive. That the security force believes is it credible. Authorities do believe that all of the people that have been kidnapped are still alive. So that is an important development.

And really for the first time we heard from some family members of some of the people who were kidnapped when a statement was read in Ohio which is where Christian Aid Ministries -- the group that these missionaries were here working for -- is based.

And in that statement, it read in part, quote, God has given our loved ones the unique opportunity to live out our Lord's command to love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you.

So that's these families that are going through a very difficult time right now as they continue to await word on the negotiations that are ongoing to try and free their loved ones.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.


SOARES: Now the dire warnings from climate change just keep coming. No country will be spared as temperatures rise and tensions flare. Why intelligence agencies said this particular threat is a game changer.

Plus, booster shots are outpacing new vaccinations in the United States. Now Americans have two more boosters to choose from. We'll have much more ahead for you when we return. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.



SOARES: Now, the West Coast of the U.S. is about to be hit with multiple storms. But will it bring relief to the extreme drought, of course, in the region? Let's turn to CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam. Derek, good morning to you.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Isa, we've got a wild weekend of weather unfolding across the Western U.S. anywhere from Seattle to San Francisco, heavy rainfall with heavy mountain snows in the forecast. Just look at this radar imagery, taking you into the future. You can see it lighting up like a Christmas tree. Of course, shades of white indicating the snowfall. With the coloring of oranges and yellows, that's the heavy rain that's moving on shore.

We're going to be measuring snow in feet for the higher elevations, and several inches of rain for the coastal areas. The other story that's going to unfold this weekend will be the strong winds. Really culminating into Sunday and Monday along the coast line of Washington, Oregon, as well as Central and Northern California. We have the potential for winds in excess of 50 to 60 miles per hour. That will most certainly take down some tree limbs if not some smaller trees as well.

This is all part of several atmospheric river events taking aim on the Western U.S. And this is going to just produce copious amounts of precipitation. Heavy snowfall for the northern Rockies, in the Cascades, as well as the Sierra Nevada mountain range across Central California. Look at the snowfall totals there -- 1 to 3 feet. Rainfall totals for the lower elevations, San Francisco northward, could potentially exceed half a foot of rain with locally higher amounts. So, flash flooding certainly a possibility. National Weather Service recognizes that. They've hoisted flash flood watches across the region.


Now, you think this would be good news for the ongoing drought over the Western U.S. 100 percent of the state of California under drought conditions. With the copious amounts of precipitation, perhaps it's just a little bit too much too quick, and that could lead, of course, to the potential of flash flooding and local mudslides as well. Think about the burn scars that are left over from the wildfire season over this particular area. Those are flash flood watches.

We have storm watches posted for the Sierra Nevada mountain range. So, it'll tricking driving conditions across this area to say the least. Seven-day forecast shows rain for San Francisco right through Tuesday of next week. Isa, back to you.

SOARES: Thank you very much, Derek.

Have a look at this. You're looking right now at a human chain in India trying to rescue people stuck in a flooded shop. At least 200 people are dead after torrential rains and flooding hit northern India as well as Nepal. Crops are destroyed. Bridges and homes collapsed and washed away by massive landslides. It comes amid an unusual long monsoon season that experts blame, of course, on climate change.

Well, a new round of dire warnings about our warming planet. They come from the Biden administration with the headline, climate change will be far reaching and create problems for every country. Four major reports were released on Thursday that really examine current and future threats to the United States. Just days before the big U.N. climate summit in Scotland. President Biden is trying to bring ironclad commitment to the conference but keeps running into domestic opposition. CNN's chief climate correspondent Bill Weir explains.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: The first acknowledgment that climate change is a so-called threat multiplier came from the U.S. naval war college over 30 years ago. But now for the first time ever, all 18 elements of the U.S. security apparatus have put out a consensus report saying this will be a game changer when it comes to national security.

At the top of their concerns is migration -- climate migration. What happens if the 80 million people in the Nile delta run out of airable land and freshwater and have to go is north into Europe? What happens when the glaciers in the Himalayas stop providing enough freshwater for both Pakistan and India?

Here in Charleston, South Carolina, it's so real they're planning for a billion-dollar seawall, and they're completely rezoning this historic city to deal with the realities. But the politics in Washington continue to whistle past this graveyard. Joe Biden's Build Back Better plan would spend about $350 billion a year including a big carrot and stick program for big utilities to move away from planet- cooking fuels and into renewable resources like solar and wind. But Senators like Joe Manchin say that's too expensive.

In the meantime, they approved a $750 billion a year budget for the Pentagon, 10 billion more than they asked for going forward there. Of course, all of this comes as we count down the days to COP26. That is the conference of parties who signed onto the Paris agreement. That's happening in Glasgow where all nations are expected to come with even more ambitious promises than they made a few years back. But so far Joe Biden's ambitions are falling short in the halls of Congress.

Bill Weir, CNN, Charleston, South Carolina.


SOARES: Well, leaders from around the world will head to Scotland soon for COP26. But Russia's president won't be among them. The Kremlin announced this week that Vladimir Putin is sitting this one out, although Russia will participate in the summit. The decision is just one of the dramatic developments and puzzling foreign policy moves coming out of Moscow. CNN's Sam Kiley is there for more. Good morning to you, Sam. I mean,

given what we've just outlined there, what is Putin's strategy here? I mean, he doesn't seem to be making many friends.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, no, but making friends is not really what Vladimir Putin has been all about for the last 10, 15 years. His troops, of course, illegally occupying east Ukraine, have illegally annexed the Crimean Peninsula. He has troops in Georgia. All of this in response, though, from the Russian perspective to moves by NATO to encourage countries like Ukraine and Georgia to think that one day they might join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

An organization that Lloyd Austin, the U.S. Defense Secretary, again on a recent tour to both of those countries, reiterated his view that Russia is perceived as a danger and a threat to its neighbors. So, in that context, Vladimir Putin is flexing his muscles, playing a bit hard to get, getting a bit of extra attention by not appearing at COP26. We're all talking about his non-appearance. We wouldn't be talking about him if he were going. And similarly, with the G20 saying he's not going to go to that appearance either.


Meanwhile at home, Isa, the COVID pandemic is beginning to spin not quite out of control, but certainly out of control of the Moscow authorities and indeed the national government. With Vladimir Putin signing a decree just a couple days ago to enforce a week-long national holiday at the end of this month to try to get -- try to break the cycle of infections that are now seeing daily death tolls of over a thousand, they've been climbing every day -- Isa.

SOARES: And very quickly, I mean, how much of this is a distraction, Sam, from exactly about what is happening at home?

KILEY: Well, I think it's a distraction in terms of the international community who are always slightly on the back foot having to kind of respond to Vladimir Putin's initiatives. At home, though, given the extent to which he's muzzled the local press and been able to essentially dilute any effective opposition with the jailing of Navalny, the leading opposition figure here. Vladimir Putin is able really to side step a lot of these very serious domestic issues whilst occasionally focusing attention externally which clearly, he's doing with COP26 -- Isa.

SOARES: Yes, indeed. Sam Kiley for us. Thanks, Sam.

Coming up after the break, two more vaccines are given the green light to be used as COVID booster shots in the United States. We'll explain what that means for millions of Americans.



SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: I'm Salma Abdelaziz. Join me after the break in London where I'll be giving you the latest health updates on the Queen.


SOARES: Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Isa Soares. If you're just joining us, let me bring up to date with our top stories at this hour.

A tragic accident on the "Rust" movie set. Actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun, and it discharged killing the film's director of photography and injuring the director.

And according to the FBI, dental records show remains found at a Carlton Reserve.