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CNN This Morning

Unruly Passenger Must be Restrained on Flight after Attacking Flight Attendant with Makeshift Weapon; Four Americans Kidnapped in Mexico; Authorities Believe Drug Cartel Kidnapped Four Americans Due to Mistaken Identity; Tucker Carlson Attempts To Downplay Jan. 6th Attack With New Footage; FL Legislature Returns With DeSantis Agenda In Spotlight. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired March 07, 2023 - 08:00   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: In a moment we're actually going to speak with a witness who watched it all unfold.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Can't wait to hear from her, my goodness.

So plus, four Americans kidnapped at gunpoint in one of Mexico's most violent and dangerous cities. The desperate search to find them is underway. What we just learned about why they were there.

Plus, this.


TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT: They were peaceful. They were orderly and meek. These were not insurrections. They were sightseers.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: That is Tucker Carlson trying to rewrite the history of January 6th with surveillance video provided to him by the House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, provided to him and only him. Former January 6th Committee member Adam Kinzinger is here to wee in.

LEMON: But here's where we begin. We begin with a flight attendant attacked by an unruly passenger. Federal investigators say this man tried to open the emergency exit door during a flight from Los Angeles to Boston and then tried to stab a flight attendant in the neck with a broken metal spoon. Other passengers tackled him to the ground, and he was zip-tied until the plane landed.

CNN's Pete Muntean joins us now with more on this. Pete, good morning to you. He told investigators he wanted to jump out of the plane?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Don. This is the second high-profile incident of an unruly passenger we have seen in as many weeks. Department of Justice now looking into this. What's really interesting here is that the number of unruly passengers went down by half over last year, but this has to be one of the most dramatic we have seen recently. The flight crew first became alerted to this when this passenger tried to open the emergency exit door and they got an alarm in the cockpit. Here is the incredible video.


MUNTEAN: United airlines flight 2609 from Los Angeles to Boston, it was a smooth flight for the first five hours on Sunday until --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So where is the Homeland Security with the gun? Because I'm waiting for them to point the gun at me so I can show everybody that I won't die when I take every bullet in that clip to wherever in my body they shoot it, and then I will kill every man on this plane.

MUNTEAN: The agitated passenger is Francisco Severo Torres of Massachusetts. The video obtained by CNN was recorded by a passenger. It shows Torres having violent outbursts towards other passengers and flight attendants.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am coming for you.

MUNTEAN: Four minutes nervous passengers sat down and listened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody cares. Nobody cares. Where is Homeland Security? There should be Homeland Security. Where are they diverting us? Because wherever there is, it's going to be a bloodbath.

MUNTEAN: Fifteen second later, Torres walks out of his seat, pulls what appears to be a makeshift weapon out of his jacket pocket, and said what no airline passenger ever wants to hear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm taking over this plane.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm telling you right now --

MUNTEAN: While United Airlines says there were no reported injuries, the Justice Department says Torres rushed towards one of the flight attendants in the stabbing motion with a broken metal spoon, hitting the flight attendant on the neck area three times. Torres also told law enforcement that he tried to open the emergency door to jump out of the plane. Torres also claimed he was defending himself because he believed the flight crew was trying to kill him.

Video shows passengers and crew members tackling and retraining Torres. A passenger told CNN Torres remained restrained for another 30 minutes before the plane landed safely at Boston Logan International Airport where Torres was arrested.


MUNTEAN: United Airlines says Torres has been banned from future flights on the carrier. He is detained right now pending a hearing before a judge on Thursday. Don?

LEMON: So Pete, you had this. But we are learning of a new runway incursion that is under investigation this morning, the sixth recorded this year. What do you know?

MUNTEAN: Well, this we are just learning about. It happened February 16th according to the NTSB, but its investigating this incident now as these planes were both on the runway near the same time. American Airlines flight cleared to land on the runway at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport as an Air Canada Rouge flight was taking off. We know the NTSB is investigating this. No doubt it will come up tomorrow during a Senate hearing with the acting administrator of the FAA, another safety incident on America's runways, Don.

LEMON: Pete Muntean, thank you.

COLLINS: And joining us now is Lisa Olsen who was the passenger on that Los Angeles to Boston flight. She actually captured the video that we have been showing you this morning. And Lisa, first off, oh, my goodness. And we are so glad you are OK because, obviously, this could have gone terribly, and we are grateful that you can join us this morning. What was it even like to be on this flight?


LISA OLSEN, PASSENGER WHO RECORDED VIDEO OF MAN ATTACKING FLIGHT ATTENDANT: The first five hours of the flight was uneventful, quiet, normal flight. I was on with my husband and my daughter. And about 30 minutes before we were landing, I heard a commotion. He was getting louder. He was about two rows diagonally in back of me. And he started rambling about his father is Dracula, the Nazis, just a lot of rambling. And he was just getting louder and louder.

A couple of passengers tried to talk to him to calm him down. It was only making him more agitated. A woman tried to approach him and say that he was scaring the passengers. He didn't care. He was getting louder. And then a very large, like built guy started walking from the back of the plane up to him, and when he saw that, he kind of jumped out of his seat and got in the aisle and started to like fight him, or attempt to kind of pretend to fight him. I didn't see a weapon in his hand at that point, but he was -- my husband was in the aisle seat, so he was standing like right next to my husband. I didn't see the spoon shank until I saw the video after, after that.

And then he turned and ran towards the front of the plane. The United crew was amazing. They locked the first class entrance which led to the cockpit. The flight attendants were there. Many men from the plane jumped up, followed him, tackled him to the ground, and there were probably about four to six of them that sat on top of him to restrain him. The flight crew immediately had zip-ties to zip-tie his feet and his arms. He was still screaming. And he somehow escaped from the zip- ties. They put new ones on him, and as the men were getting tired from retraining him, they kind of swapped out, and the ones that were tired would come back to sit down. People were thanking them and very appreciative that they jumped into action so quickly.

COLLINS: Yes, he actually escaped from the zip-ties at one point?

OLSEN: He did. I think he was so out of control. I don't know if they didn't get them on tight enough. I don't know exactly what happened, if he busted out of them or if he just wiggled out of them. But he was still very combative for the beginning part. So it may have been that. People at that point, once we knew that there were only one additional set of zip-ties left, people were sending up their belts to help restrain him.

COLLINS: It's remarkable to see how quickly all of your fellow passengers responded, the fact that you were able to have the presence of mind to record this when you were sitting so close to him is remarkable. I can't believe there was just one pair of zip-ties left. Did you notice anything beforehand when he was boarding the plane? That's a really long flight. Had you noticed any weird behavior from this man before then?

OLSEN: I did not. And I questioned myself on that, but he was in back of me. So I didn't see him board. He was sitting in the exit row in the middle, but he was two rows in back of me on the opposite side, so he was kind of diagonally in back of me. I didn't notice him until I heard him.

COLLINS: Yes. He attacked a flight attendant. Do you know how the flight attendant was doing? What was it like getting off the plane after you safely landed?

OLSEN: So when he stormed to the front and was on the ground, the last, it was probably 30 minutes they had him down there. Towards the end probably five minutes, maybe 10 minutes he was quiet. He was screaming a lot before that. And as soon as the plane landed, I think the flight attendant was OK. I don't think it was a deep puncture wound. But he was in front of the door when they had him on the ground. The Massachusetts state police came onboard, cuffed him, took him off the plane. The EMTs came in and attended to the flight attendants, and then they came back and questioned some of the passengers.

COLLINS: Listen, this is a pretty jarring experience. And we have been talking so much about close calls with flight takeoffs and turbulence and all these things that have been happening in the skies, this incident happening now as well. Does it make you hesitant to fly or scared to fly at all?

OLSEN: Ironically, no. My husband actually jumped on another flight yesterday morning and left.


I had my 17-year-old daughter with me. She was very upset during the whole time. She was crying. She thought that we were going to crash. But for whatever reason, the United crew, plus all the passengers being able to act so quickly just was very comforting. I had confidence, complete confidence that they had had everything under control, and I didn't feel unsafe or in danger during that time period.

A lot came out after the fact. I think that I assumed that when he started yelling because he was quiet for the first five hours that I thought maybe it was drugs or something happened where it just -- it just set him off. I didn't realize that he was planning this from the beginning. He was in the bathroom for a long time before that with his backpack. I heard that once the police officers were questioning the people in back of him, because there was a woman back there that noticed he did take his backpack into bathroom. He was there for a long period of time, which is odd. And the officers grabbed his backpack.

Then the other odd thing that I noticed was I was expecting it to be kind of messy. And it was a neat black backpack. It had hand sanitizer in the side pocket. Just the whole situation was a little surreal.

COLLINS: The entire situation is surreal. Lisa, we're grateful that you recorded this so we could see it and you and your fellow passengers were so quick to respond to this. Thank you for coming on and for sharing that with us. We are so glad that everything is OK. Please tell your husband and your daughter that we are thinking about them as well.

OLSEN: Thank you.

COLLINS: Just amazing to hear. She said people were passing out belts and stuff when they ran out of zip-ties.

HARLOW: And he got out of them.

COLLINS: And they were running out of zip ties.

LEMON: We always say, oh, if I was in that situation, I'd do this or I'd do that. But you don't know.

HARLOW: That's what I was saying last hour. You hope that your reaction would be bravery, but you don't know. And then she said her daughter was terrified.

LEMON: My initial reaction would be to act first. I would probably, honestly try to hit him or something or throw him off by saying something and just getting him out of what he is doing. But you don't know. You don't know until you are in that situation.

HARLOW: I am getting on a flight, as you guys know, right after this show and it makes, yes, all of this stuff going on, like you asked her, makes me uneasy.

LEMON: You will be all right.

HARLOW: Thank you. I'll see you back here tomorrow morning.

COLLINS: Bring your zip-ties.

LEMON: They did. They acted properly. And we are glad everybody is OK.

HARLOW: Yes, we certainly are.

Happening right now, a search is underway in Mexico for four Americans who have been kidnapped there at gunpoint, by the way, in broad daylight. Investigators believe a Mexican cartel mistook them for Haitian drug smugglers. CNN is also now learning their identities from family members who say Latavia Washington McGee, Shaeed Woodard, Zindell Brown, and their friend Eric were all four traveling together so that one of them could undergo a medical procedure. Our Dianne Gallagher is live in Lake City, South Carolina. That's home to one of the kidnapped Americans. What can you tell us this morning?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, this is a tight group of friends. At least three of the four grew up here in the Lake City, South Carolina, area. They were traveling down to Mexico we are told so one of the friends, Latavia McGee, they call her Tay, could have that medical procedure. But according to McGee's mother, she never showed up for her doctor's appointment on Friday. And then on Sunday, she said the FBI told her that her daughter had been kidnapped and that she was in danger.

I do want to show you some video. It might be hard to watch. CNN has not independently confirmed the individuals in the video are in fact those abducted Americans. But the incident captured on camera does match what authorities say happened as well as the photos that CNN has confirmed and geolocated. McGee's aunt tells CNN that she saw video on Sunday that did show her niece being kidnapped. She says she recognized her blonde hair as well as the clothing that she was wearing.

Investigators believe that the cartel likely mistook these Americans for Haitian smugglers. And, again, these are friends who grew up together here in small town South Carolina. They are tight. The sister of one them, Zindell Brown, says that the group was like glue when they were together. His family did speak with him on the trip down there. His sister now saying that she had a bad feeling, and she told him that. His mother is relying on faith and still holding out hope.


ZALAYNA GRANT, SISTER OF MISSING AMERICAN: I felt a little uneasy because I told them I had a dream. I said, so I'm just checking on you. That's what I told them Thursday. And then like I said, Friday morning, I texted, and I didn't get anything.

CHRISTINA HICKSON, MOTHER OF MISSING AMERICAN: The waiting is the worst part. It has advantages and disadvantages. But however, no news is good news. That's the way I'm staying with it. No news is good news.



GALLAGHER: Now, look, according to her family, this is actually the second time that McGee has gone to Mexico for a medical procedure. The first time was about two or three years ago. But Poppy, look, everybody is holding out hope that they are going to be returned safely. Perhaps, no one more than McGee's six children here in South Carolina. HARLOW: It's exactly what I was thinking. Dianne, thank you very much for the reporting.


COLLINS: Mostly peaceful chaos. That was the depiction of January 6th, on Fox News last night. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has just weighed in, announcing that he'll discuss the quote outrageous manipulation from Tucker Carlson on the Senate floor in just moments from now. And Adam Kinzinger who was one of the people that took Carlson singled out. Is going to join us live with his take, next.

HARLOW: Hey, Lauren, (PH) I have a quick question for you.


LEMON: So, Tucker Carlson, trying to rewrite history of January 6th of the Capitol attack. The Fox News host revealing a small portion of the 40,000 hours of footage given to him and only him by the House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Carlson use a portion of the video to try to sanitize the violence from that day.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST (voiceover): The crowd was enormous. A small percentage of them were hooligans, they committed vandalism. You've seen their pictures again and again. But the overwhelming majority weren't. They were peaceful, they were orderly, and meek. These were not insurrectionists, they were sightseers. Footage from inside the Capitol overturns the story you've heard about January 6th. Protesters queue up in need little lines. They give each other tours outside the Speaker's office. They take cheerful selfies, and they smile. They're not destroying the capital, they obviously revere the capital.



LEMON: So, many were actually charged with crimes for what they did that day. 326 of them charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers or employees. Justice Department reports at 140 officers were assaulted at the Capitol. Some left with head wounds, cracked ribs, smashed, spinal discs, and burns. So, joining us now CNN Senior Political Commentator and former Republican Congressman, and a member of the January 6th committee, Adam Kinzinger. Good morning, I was watching your face, when he said that they actually revered the Capitol, and you had a visceral, physical reaction. What were you thinking?

ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, just it's disgusting. I mean, look, you know, the sad thing is, you're going to have people that have only gotten their news on Fox News, that are never going to have the opportunity to hear the truth. Because what Tucker Carlson employees here, he's employed it, basically, probably his entire time. He's been a grifter T.V. show host because he knows better than this, by the way. If he takes it, he takes a cutscene and creates a straw man.

So, first of, on the opening there where he says, look, there's only like a handful people here. Like, I know, one of those rooms, particularly statuary hall was filled with people. There's tons of pictures of that. At some point leading up to being filled or after it's filled. There's going to be moments when there's only a few people in there. Secondarily, you look at like -- OK, one of the things he said Josh Hawley was running. Yes, but so was every other member of the Senate. He's like, OK, yes, because there was violence that day. He said, officer Sicknick, didn't die at the riots.

He was walking around at the end of the riots, at the end of the insurrection. Nobody ever claimed that officer Sicknick died that moment. He died a day later, and then the (INAUDIBLE) up staff saying, well, he was there 30 minutes after the things. He creates a false- like thing that has been claimed. So, it's like, hey, look, there isn't purple paint, spray paint. And everybody said they spray-painted the entire Capitol purple. Nobody said that, you just said that. But unfortunately, people are never going to see the truth.

HARLOW: So, the damage is already done. You're saying?

KINZINGER: I think so, look, I think, that in terms of history, nobody that believes any of that garbage talker was spewing. None of their kids will ever believe that garbage. And in fact, I think in five or 10 years, the people that believe the garbage today, that have kids will never admit to their kids that they believe that. Because I think we set history straight on the committee. But today, there are people that are so invested in the emotional politics and tribe. That if Tucker gives them a narrative to hold on to, that makes their side look OK. They're going to hold on to that, unfortunately.

COLLINS: Well, he also invoked the committee several times saying essentially, you know, this is access that footage that you've had access to parts of it, that the committee did not air. Do you have a response to that? And also, you know, that he said, you -- are you were a liar, and Liz Cheney was a liar, and that you guys perpetuated this lie.

KINZINGER: Yes, I mean, look, obviously, everybody knows even in their heart, even those that think, that are -- or they will say out loud, that the insurrection didn't happen, they know in their heart that it did. So, you can call me a liar all you want. I just know that means we're over the target, typically. Look, I can look at myself in the mirror. I know Tucker Carlson, he has a lot more money than I do. But it's probably much harder for him to wake up and look in the mirror. Because he knows what he's doing to a country, that I've sworn to defend both in uniform and in Congress that he's never taken that similar oath.

So, that's fine, not everybody has to take that oath, but he hasn't, and I think that's clear. But look, in terms of saying that we've hidden this footage. We had one of the most transparent hearings in history with the most footage we've ever shown in history. And every single almost witness that came in front of us was a very partisan witness. They were all Republicans that came in front of this committee.

LEMON: I like how you turn that. What do you think of Kevin McCarthy? I mean, come on.

KINZINGER: Look, he -- Kevin has to be in power in his mind. Like he has no other opportunity. You know, and I think he made -- I think he made the commitment to somebody. That he would release us to Tucker Carlson. If he didn't say, Tucker Carlson, then, look, I know Kevin McCarthy. Whenever you're in a meeting with him, at some point, he'll pull out his phone and say somebody famous he's texted with or knows because that's how he kind of feeds. And I think he's just trying to win some points with Tucker Carlson.

It's probably a brilliant move on his part, just straw, you know, straight up politically. I just also wouldn't be able to work in America. Well, because if you went over Tucker Carlson, if you give Tucker Carlson everything he wants. He's never going to say a bad word about you. And I got to tell you, between Marjorie Taylor Greene and Tucker Carlson, they're even more powerful than Donald Trump. I mean, Donald Trump gets his talking points from Tucker Carlson.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, Adam. Adam's got the last word. Thank you, I appreciate it.

KINZINGER: Thank you.

HARLOW: Today, Florida Republicans are poised to hand Governor Ron DeSantis a legislative way ahead of his anticipated presidential bid the new proposals on the table. We'll explain them ahead.

LEMON: I don't think Trump's going to like that.

HARLOW: I don't either.



COLLINS: Florida lawmakers are returning to work today to kick off a 60-day legislative session. It's going to be a chance for Governor Ron DeSantis to really check off his wish list and maybe provide him with a campaign platform, on the other side of it. With DeSantis backing or urging, Republican Lawmakers in the State have filed, a slate of bills that deal with Universal school vouchers, the death penalty, consolidating his power as governor, treatment for transgender children, and abortion among many, many others. Joining us now from Miami is National Political reporter Marc Caputo, who covers Florida politics incredibly closely, Marc, you know, this is kind of just this remarkable ledge --